News & Noteworthy

Authored - NJ Contract Law Update - Course of Performance Wins the Day; Matrimonial Disputes As a Source of Law
JUNE 09, 2014 | Windels Marx - Commercial Litigation

In Valenti v. Bassinder, 2014 WL 861487 (N.J.App.Div. March 6, 2014), a multi-year course of performance carried the day in the face of what would otherwise have been a contract ambiguity. In Valenti, because the father had been paying for certain extracurricular activities for a series of years, he was no longer able to claim that the clause in the parties' settlement as to reasonable extracurricular expenses excluded those precise activities.

Although arising in the matrimonial context, sometimes contractual issues that arise in matrimonial cases are conceptually indistinguishable from 'pure contract' matters. This can be argued to be reasonably 'pure'.

In fact, Valenti involved a consent order rather than a contract. However, since Valenti explained that our courts apply contract principles in ascertaining the meaning of a consent order, an attorney handling an ordinary contract dispute might consider citing Valenti as to course of performance.

Contact & Legal Disclaimer

Clark Alpert is the author of Guide to New Jersey Contract Law, published by the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education and now in its third edition. His updates on New Jersey contract law are based on recent issues and practical methods for addressing similar situations in your practice or business. They are not intended to serve as legal advice. Clark welcomes your questions and comments.

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