Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

Under New Jersey child support laws the parent of primary residence should not gain extra money via child support due to “incidental” beyond what is necessary for the child to enjoy a lifestyle that they would expect to have due to the high amount of income that the family unit receives. This lawyer now analyzes a paramount case in New Jersey Child Support law for wealthy parents and their children.

In Loro v. Colliano, the mother filed for divorced from her husband after a four-year marriage. The parties had one child born of the marriage, a daughter, born on March 6, 1984. A judgment of divorce was entered on June 13, 1991 after very combative litigation. At the time of the divorce, the father was earning approximately $630,000 per year. The mother was awarded sole custody of the parties’ daughter and the father was ordered to pay the wife $1,500 per month for two years in rehabilitative alimony to make the wife whole again. The father was also ordered to pay $375,000 to the wife in equitable distribution. Lastly, the father was ordered to pay $500 per week in child support.

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Over the course of my career as a divorce and family law attorney I have watched technology change many aspects of New Jersey law, especially as it pertains to New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. When I started practicing in my hometown of East Brunswick, New Jersey, in 1996, many restraining order trials were most often “he said, she said” affairs as most times there were not any no witnesses or other proofs. Then technology altered many aspects of our society, including acts of domestic violence.

First, people would send harassing or threatening emails to one another.  Then texting and smartphones came into play and the game changed forever. By 2012 a survey discussed on the Today Show stated that over 90% of lawyers saw a dramatic increase in text messages being introduced as evidence in domestic violence trial. This recent case discusses how a judge of a New Jersey Family Court analyzes text messages during a restraining order trial ranging from the amount of messages, the time frame as well as the content.

In C.O. v. T.O., the parties were married and were divorcing. The New Jersey Appellate Division previously vacated a final restraining order entered by the Superior Court of New Jersey Family Part pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1990. The court supported the Family Part’s finding that T.O. committed a predicate act, which is an earlier crime or offense that is similar to the crime or offense being alleged. However, the Appellate Division sent the case back to the Family Part to be re-heard because there was no finding that a final restraining order was necessary to protect the victim from future harm or abuse. At the re-hearing by the Family Part, the judge heard testimony by the parties and reviewed the alleged predicate act. The judge reviewed the messages from T.O. to C.O., which constituted harassment under N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19(a), and found that the testimony revealed a combative relationship between the parties. The judge found that T.O.’s text messages established harassment and that a final restraining order was necessary to prevent C.O. from future harm because the parties’ divorce was going to be very hostile. The judge also found that T.O.’s conviction in March 2016 for violating the restraining order weighed in favor of supporting the need for the restraining order.

Michael Strahan is a retired Hall of Fame football player and now a host of the popular morning news show, Good Morning America.   However, he and his wife divorced after a notoriously messy trial in 2006 and was ordered to pay $18,000 per month in child support. However on appeal, the New Jersey Appellate Division reversed and lowered this amount as the Court found some of her claimed expenses (such as a nanny for her 10 ten day vacation to Jamaica) should have been excluded. The Court also found that Ms. Strahan also had a legal obligation to help support the children of their marriage. Following please find this lawyer’s analysis of this case and how child support in New Jersey is determined for the rich and famous.

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In Strahan v. Strahan, the parties began dating in October 1994. The parties moved in together in 1995 and married on July 18, 1999. Prior to the marriage, the parties agreed to sign a prenuptial agreement. Twin daughters were born of the marriage on October 28, 2004. During the marriage, the father was a football player with the New York Giants. The mother worked as a cosmetics company manager and model, earning approximately $70,000 per year before quitting her job when the parties moved in together. On March 14, 2005, the complaint for divorce was filed. The parties agreed to share joint legal custody of their daughters, meaning all, important decisions, such as health and education, would be made by both parties. The parties also agreed that the mother would have primary residential custody of the twins, meaning that the girls would live mainly with the mother. In June and July 2006, the parties litigated the matter and, on July 20, 2006, a dual judgment of divorce was entered. On January 12, 2007, an amended judgment of divorce was entered discussing equitable distribution, disability insurance for the father, child support, the legitimacy of the marriage, and attorney’s fees.

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It is difficult but not impossible, depending upon your facts. The good news is that the law of cohabitation and alimony was “modernized” in New Jersey back in 2014 which was part of the greatest overhaul I have ever witnessed to divorce and alimony laws since I became practicing divorce lawyer in New Jersey back in 1995.

Attorneys must provide facts and legal arguments to present to a judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey so that the court may consider a number of factors when deciding whether cohabitation exists. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Commingling of finances such as joint back or credit card accounts;
  • Sharing living expenses such as mortgage and rent payments;
  • Friends and family consider the relationship as a committed and intimate one such as attending holidays, weddings or funerals together;
  • How long has the relationship existed;

A major change in the New Jersey’s alimony law and cohabitation is that it is no longer required to prove actual cohabitation. This is because before the changes in the law folks would draft fake leases for apartments they rarely stayed at because the law of cohabitation was so rigid that often this was deemed to be enough proof. Now these games are over.

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Nevertheless, it is still hard to prove cohabitation. In the following case, one of the reasons the petitioner failed to prove cohabitation was because he failed to have his private detective update their report before filing his motion.

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It depends upon the parents’ respective incomes. The lawyers at our law firm located in East Brunswick, New Jersey advise our clients that when there is a true joint residential custody and parenting time arrangement, New Jersey’s child support guidelines account for this equal time and are adjusted accordingly. Now, if one parent has a much greater annual income than the other, there will be a child support component (although the amount will be dramatically less that if the parenting plan was an “every other weekend” scenario). In the following case, please take note that, as the parents’ annual incomes were nearly equivalent, the judge properly ordered that neither party shall pay child support to the other.

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In Raucci v. Valotta, the parties had been in a dating relationship that lasted approximately three years. The parties had one son from the relationship, born in 2014. The parties used mediation, a form of alternate dispute resolution that occurs outside of the courtroom, to solve most of their parenting issues. Continue reading

This is a red-hot issue for New Jersey lawyers, judges and child custody experts alike. This is because New Jersey law has recently changed the legal standard regarding a parent’s ability to move from New Jersey to another state. Previously, a judge of a New Jersey Family Court would consider the parent was moving away “in good faith” and is it in the best interest of the child. However due to the following new case that they attorneys at our law firm have studied with a close eye, the new stand is only whether or not the move would be in the best interests of the child.

In Bisbing v. Bisbing, Jaime Taormina Bisbing and Glenn R. Bisbing, III married on August 27, 2005. Twin daughters were born of the marriage on November 17, 2006. During the marriage, Jaime, the wife, commuted to work in New York City while Glenn, the husband, worked in New Jersey. The parties separated in 2013 and constructed a Marital Settlement Agreement (“Agreement”), which was executed on March 8, 2014. The terms of the Agreement stated that Jaime would be the parent of primary residence, meaning the children would live with their mother. According to the Agreement, the twins would visit Glenn one weeknight every other week and stay over Glenn’s house every other weekend. The Agreement also stated that the parties would share joint legal custody, meaning that Jaime and Glenn would decide together on important issues regarding their children. The Agreement provided a holiday parenting schedule and allowed both parents to attend all events relating to the children. The Agreement also addressed the issue of relocation. The relocation provision stated that the parties would notify each other if there was a change in residence, and that neither party would move out of New Jersey with the children without written consent from the other parent.

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No. Child Support under New Jersey law is clear that child support is intended for the “child” and not the “parent.” Therefore, the lawyers at our law firm in East Brunswick, New Jersey understand that as the child support is legally for the “child,” a parent cannot waive the money as it is not theirs to waive.

In Conte v. Ainsworth, the parties had one child, a daughter, born in 1992. After the child was born, the parties consented to an agreement that included a parenting time schedule and an amount the father was to pay the mother each week in child support. The father agreed to pay the mother child support each week until the parties’ daughter was emancipated, meaning when she would be legally recognized as an adult. The father never utilized his parenting time and did not see the parties’ daughter until she was an adult. At the time of the trial, the father was paying $330 per week in child support toward the parties’ daughter, who is presently twenty-five years old.

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Yes. Once a Judge of the Family Part of the Superior Court of New Jersey finds that domestic violence happened on the day(s) in question, they shall then allow your lawyer to take testimony of any and all acts of domestic violence that have occurred in the past. Significantly, a history of domestic violence shall be taken into consideration by a judge of a New Jersey Family Court even if was never reported to the police. This is because it is sadly often that the victim of the cycle of domestic violence is afraid to reach out for help for fear of revenge at the hands of their domestic abuser. Other factors that frequently come into play for the attorneys at our law firm is the victim is afraid they may lose custody of their children or they are at the mercy of their

In S.M.E. v. A.E., husband A.E. appealed from a final restraining order entered by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Family Part of Morris County on January 3, 2016, after finding that he assaulted his wife, S.M.E. at her house, and threatened her when they were in the middle of getting a divorce. The New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed the final restraining order, for substantially the same reasons expressed in David J. Weaver’s comprehensive oral opinion that was rendered before entry of the final restraining order. Generally, just proving that that one of the predicate acts of domestic violence established in New Jersey Statute 2C:25-19(a) occurred is not enough to automatically trigger the entrance of a domestic violence restraining order. While such a determination may be self evident, the authoritative standard is whether a restraining order is needed, according to an evaluation of the factors enumerated in New Jersey Statute 2C:25-29(a)(1) to -29(a)(6), to protect the victim from immediate danger or to prevent future abuse. However, in S.M.E. v. A.E. the New Jersey Appellate Division held that when a predicate act of domestic violence is an action that inherently involves the use of physical violence and force, the decision to enter a final restraining order is most often perfunctory and self-evident. As such, the New Jersey Appellate Division deferred to the findings of the Honorable Judge Weaver, which they found to be based on substantial credible evidence in the record, and affirmed the final restraining order entered by the Family Part of Morris County.

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First of all here in New Jersey, the child custody lawyers at our law firm understand that every child deserves to have weekend (i.e., “fun”) time with each parent, respectively. Furthermore, it is important for both parents, absent extreme circumstances, to have weekend time with their child. All told, if one parent does not have any weekend time with school aged children then they become the “bad cop” during the school week while the other parent gets to be the “good cop” on fun weekends. This lawyer’s following analysis of a recent New Jersey appeal demonstrates how these attorneys made their respective arguments as to the issue.

In Fisher v. Szcyglowski, mother Melissa Fisher appealed an order of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Family Part of Burlington County dated January 8, 2015, that directed that each parent would share equal parenting time, on an alternating weekly basis, with their only child, Tom. Melissa argued that the father’s, Gregory Szcyglowski, parenting time should have actually been limited to Thursday through Sunday on alternating weeks. After reviewing the relevant legal principles and the factual record, the New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed the order of the Family Part.

When Tom was born in January 2014, the parents had been dating for about two years. At the time of the litigation, Melissa lived in New Jersey and Gregory lived in Maryland. Both the parents worked for the United States Navy. Melissa worked at a naval base in Philadelphia, and Gregory worked at a naval base in Maryland. Due to their respective maternity and paternity leave benefits, the parents were able to live together after Tom was born, until June 2014. From Tom’s birth until Gregory’s paternity leave ended in March 2014, the family lived in Melissa’s house. After Gregory resumed his job, the family lived together in his house in Maryland during the workweek, and in Melissa’s house on the weekends. As such, for about the first five months of his life, Tom was cared for by both parents who lived in the same household.

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Yes. Under New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act any threats made through a mutual friend or family member intended for the victim to hear represents harassment to this restraining order attorney. In fact, all of the lawyers at our East Brunswick, New Jersey law firm are all well versed on all aspects of what amounts to domestic violence.

In S.R. v. M.D., the parties were married in February 2012 in Jordan. The parties had fraternal twins born in June 2013.   The parties separated later in 2013. The children lived with the wife in the United States while the husband traveled between the United States and Jordan because he was not a United States citizen. The wife filed a complaint seeking a Final Restraining Order (“FRO”) against the husband under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 (“PDVA”) on October 2, 2015. In the complaint, the wife alleged acts of domestic violence. In the complaint, the wife claimed that the husband harassed her on September 1, 2015 and September 25, 2015 by sending threatening text messages and phone calls to the wife and her friends. The wife also claimed that the husband called her inappropriate and offensive names, threatened to take the children away, and threatened to tell welfare that the wife had made fake claims. The husband allegedly made these threats because the husband’s immigration status was revoked when the wife discovered that the husband was married to another woman in Jordan and reported the husband to the immigration authorities. In the complaint, the wife also claimed that there was a history of domestic violence. Specifically, the wife stated that the husband threatened to kill her by holding a knife to her chest on March 5, 2013. The husband also allegedly drove his car toward the wife and a friend in July of 2014, and the husband allegedly threatened to rape the wife in May 2015.

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