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Vexatious litigation: What to do when your ex won’t stop dragging you into court

Some divorces are so hostile and contentious that the fight continues throughout the entire process and even long after the judge issues the divorce decree. Spouses who feel that they have been slighted feel compelled to punish the other one and don’t care whose time they waste while doing so. They begin a campaign of harassment that can last an uncomfortably one long.

One regrettably common form of revenge is vexatious litigation, which is the act of filing one baseless motion after another for the sole purpose of harassing one’s former husband or wife. Most spouses who go this route act pro se, meaning that they represent themselves. The reason why is obvious: few if any New York attorneys want to get involved in filing several unrelated cases to spite someone and cost them a fortune in attorney’s fees.

If this happens to you during or after your New York divorce, then you have different options available, but the first thing you should do is speak to your attorney about the situation and get their feedback. If they agree that your ex is abusing the legal system solely to punish you, then your options include:

  • Directing your attorney to file a motion requesting that the judge in the case strike whatever pleading the other person filed. Judges have little patience with frivolous lawsuits and will usually comply if the motion is without merit.
  • Ask the attorney to file a motion for contempt if the court has already warned your ex to stop filing vexatious and baseless pleadings. Disobeying a court order has serious consequences that include fines and even jail time. At the very least, the judge may require the person to have an attorney review their future pleadings for merit before filing is allowed.

If the court believes that your former spouse is filing one motion after another for the sole purpose of saddling you with a fortune’s worth of legal costs, they can order him or her to pay your attorney’s fees. If this doesn’t solve the problem or the person refuses to pay, other penalties include contempt charges, fines or even a jail sentence.

If your former spouse is indulging in nuisance lawsuits that are stressing you out and costing money, speak to your New York family law attorney. They will help you stand up for yourself in court, support all attempts to bring the harassment to an end and prevent your ex from filing baseless motions in the future. When the court system is used to punish innocent parties, judges can—and usually will—come down on your side and put the other person out of the litigation hobby for good. Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx family court lawyer. If you need representation for cases related to child support, child custody, visitation or spousal maintenance, then contact Mr. Lutzky’s office. He has 35 years of legal experience and has offers free in-person initial consultations. Call 718-329-9500 to set up an appointment or visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com.

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