FERMON v. FERMON (App Div. 3rd Dep’t)

The parties divorced in 2012 and executed a written stipulation settlement which, among other things, resolved issues of equitable distribution by directing the husband to transfer a portion of his retirement account to the wife.  Thereafter, wife successfully sought modification of the stipulation from Supreme Court after it held that the husband had fraudulently misrepresented the value of his retirement account and ordered the husband to pay an additional $11,500 to the wife.

Per the stipulation, the parties agreed to distribute the husband’s individual retirement account based upon the December 2011 value.  However, by the time the stipulation agreement was signed in March 2012, the account had appreciated considerably.  Although husband made no effort to learn the value of the account as the latter date and was not aware of the appreciation in value, the Appellate Court held that “nondisclosure is not the equivalent of fraud.”  Therefore, the Appellate Court reversed the holding in husband’s favor and further supported its holding by noting that the wife had acknowledged in the stipulation that she did not require further information from the husband in order to proceed knowingly.