Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

Articles Posted in Divorce

In 2014 New Jersey’s alimony laws were amended following a joint effort between divorce lawyers and the legislature to “modernize” our states’ alimony statute. One of many changes involves how New Jersey courts would interpret cases wherein the payor of alimony attempts to eliminate (or lower) their alimony payments due to losing a prior job wherein they were employed for a lengthy period of time and has now gained new employment. However, the new job provides a “significant” reduction in income that, in turn, compromises their ability to pay alimony at the same level as previously agreed upon in the Property Settlement Agreement prepared by one of the attorneys in the case or ordered by a judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey following a trial.

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In a recent case the payor of alimony was successful in obtaining a decrease in their alimony payments. First, the amount of alimony payments was lessened in amount when the payor lost their job (which must be W-2 job as per the amended alimony statute) and has successfully proven to the court that they made a realistic effort to obtain a similar job with comparable employment.

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Yes. Throughout my career as a family law attorney, I have observed New Jersey laws evolve along with technology. Ranging from divorce and child custody cases to domestic violence matters, posts on social media websites have become powerful evidence for lawyers to present to judges of the Family Part of the Superior Court of New Jersey. Such posts can be used to prove a plethora of behaviors spanning the cause for a divorce (i.e., pictures with a paramour) to child neglect and even terroristic threats.   Furthermore, what your “ex” expresses about you on a social media platform, especially when children are involved, can generate high emotions and serious problems ranging from embarrassment (especially considering the wide scope of people that social media reaches) to fear for one’s (or your family’s) safety and well being.  Moreover, with more and more children on social media, it is clearly not in their best interests to be watching their parents “go at it” for all to see.

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Therefore, the lawyers at my law firm have taken steps in cases wherein the parties agree that it is not in anyones’ best interest to have the other making disparaging, public comments on the internet. It is essential that both parties stipulate to such an arrangement to become a court order. This is because a judge cannot order such an arrangement due to a legal theory known as stare decisis (i.e., precedent). However, your attorneys may still draft language that would achieve the goal of neither “ex” disparaging the other on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.   Specifically, you may have your lawyer prepare a Consent Order that would memorialize such an agreement. Once the terms of the consent order are finalized, the judge assigned to your case shall execute the Consent Order and it then becomes law. Consequently, if the other party violates the consent order, you would have the right to have your attorney file a motion with a New Jersey Family Court to enforce your litigant’s rights, sanctions and attorneys’ fees in connection with the application.

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Throughout my career as a divorce attorney here in my hometown of East Brunswick, New Jersey, I have had many folks come to visit my office after their divorce has already been concluded and are now seeking my advice. Sadly, sometimes the lawyer who represented these folks did not exclusively practice divorce and family law. Consequently, myself and the associate attorneys at our law firm often find poorly written Property Settlement Agreements (“PSA”) that do not protect the client to the fullest extent. Many times this lawyer’s lack of experience in New Jersey divorce cases inhibits their ability to see problems down the road and therefore the PSA does not contain the proper language required to best protect the client.

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On the other hand, if the client had a more savvy divorce attorney in the first place, the PSA would extremely clear as to certain issues that would serve to protect the client down the road. The following case is an example of a litigant who lost out on a significant amount of money because their attorney failed to include specific language to that would have provided the client certain credits. However, as this PSA did not include specific language regarding these credits, they lost their motion. Let’s take a closer look. Continue reading

When it comes to the division of your assets in a divorce, that is. Under New Jersey law certain orders relating to alimony, child support, child custody, and parenting time may be modified upon a showing of changed circumstances. Therefore, you and your lawyer may return to a New Jersey Family Court to have these types of issues reviewed.

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However, Court Orders from the Family Part of the Superior Court of New Jersey regarding equitable distribution of assets are not subject to change absent fraud, misconduct and the like (and even then you have only one year to seek such relief). That is another reason that you should only hire an attorney with a law firm that only handles divorce cases because, as the saying goes, you only get one bite at the apple.

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Throughout my career as a divorce and family law attorney, I have seen many folks who feel that they can, “play the system.” Many times, this involves the high conflict issue of alimony. Let’s call it the way it is; no one wants to pay alimony to their “ex.” While the lawyers at our law firm sympathize, we always give our client’s an honest assessment of their case throughout the divorce process, including the “hot button” issue of alimony. However there are times that, notwithstanding our advice to the contrary some folks proceed, pro se, thinking that they can “play the system” and avoid their alimony obligation. Some folks quit their jobs thinking that this will allow them to circumvent alimony payments. Others hurry right back to court immediately after the divorce thinking that they can convince a judge that alimony is unfair. All told, a judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey can see right through these vain and fruitless attempts to avoid paying alimony. Sometimes, these folks make the situation only worse for themselves when they have to pay their “ex’s” attorney’s fees if the court finds that they are acting in bad faith.

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This is an excellent example of why you should consult with a law firm who only handles divorce and family law. The lawyers at our law firm stand prepared to assist you or a loved one if they would like an honest assessment regarding potential or ongoing alimony payments. Following, please find a recently decided case the illuminates the foregoing.

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No. Pursuant to New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination, an employer may not chastise, obstruct promotions or terminate an employee simply because they are getting divorced when it has no impact on the quality of their work product or adversely effects the atmosphere at their place of employment. About 10 years ago, an employee was fired because his supervisor was concerned that he was about to begin an “ugly divorce.” This week, the New Jersey Supreme Court handed down a decision clearly stating that it is discriminatory to fire an employee based upon their marital status.

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As an attorney for the past 20 years with a law firm in my hometown of East Brunswick, New Jersey, any and all new decisions are emailed to all lawyers at my office on a daily basis. This ensures that we stay on the cutting edge of divorce or family law in order to best protect our clients.

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In September 2014, New Jersey’s alimony laws became “modernized” in many respects. Consequently, lawyers who only handle divorce and family law cases have been monitoring how the courts interpret many aspects of the New Jersey’s modified alimony laws. To wit, in the past, an attorney would have to advise their client that it may be best to wait until they actually retire before filing a application to terminate or lessen the amount of alimony. Sadly, this would often become a “no-win” situation, as the retired person had to keep paying the alimony until a New Jersey family court judge would relieve them of this obligation. However, Judge Jones recently decided that the “new” alimony law allows for a court to order termination (or modification) based upon probable retirement instead of waiting until the individual has already retired. Following please find a detailed analysis of how the issue of retirement and alimony have become much more fair.

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In Mueller v. Mueller, the Honorable Judge Jones of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Family Part of Ocean County explored what exactly “prospective” means in New Jersey’s recently amended alimony statute, N.J.S.A. 2A-34-23(j)(1-3), in terms of terminating or modifying an alimony obligation on the basis of retirement. Judge Jones held that N.J.S.A. 2A-34-23(j)(1-3), the amended alimony statute, does not state a specific maximum or minimum period of time for getting a ruling in advance on a prospective future retirement. That said, the intent of the statutory amendment is for the prospective retirement to happen reasonably close to the when the motion is filed, not several years later.

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Here in New Jersey, divorced parents may be legally compelled to contribute towards their child’s college tuition and certain related expenses. However, the attorneys at our family law and divorce law firm embrace that the non-custodial parent has a right to receive documentation verifying that their child is in fact continuously enrolled in college on a full time basis as well as the grades and any other pertinent information. If the custodial parent (or child) refuses to disclose this information, our lawyers shall file a motion in the Superior Court of New Jersey to compel the production of any and all documents that would disclose these essential facts. Below we dissect a recent case from a New Jersey Family Court that verifies these rights. Following is a legal analysis of a recent case that was just handed down by a New Jersey Family Court regarding this red-hot issue.

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In Van Brunt v. Van Brunt, the Honorable Judge Jones of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Family Part of Ocean County was tasked with deciding whether a parent obligated to pay child support or contribute towards college costs, has a right to ongoing verification of the child’s collegiate status, and whether the responsibility to provide the non-custodial parent with ongoing proof of college attendance, credits, and grades lie s with the student, the custodial parent, or both. After a thoughtful deliberation, Judge Jones held that a court order that requires a college student to submit proof of attendance, credits, and grades as a requirement for ongoing child support and college expenses does not in fact violate the privacy rights of that student under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and both the student and the custodial parent have a duty to make sure that the supporting parent receives proof of the student’s college attendance, credits, and grades.

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Due to the nature of divorce and family law cases, experienced lawyers understand that many cases are decided on the testimony and the credibility of witnesses. As many of the trials and plenary hearings that the attorneys at our law firm have handled, it is well known that New Jersey Family Court judges are given broad discretion in evaluating witness credibility when rendering their divorce decrees. In turn, the New Jersey Appellate Division with afford deference to Family Part judges with respect to the credibility of witnesses that they observed during the divorce trial.

In J.K. v. M.T., a mother, M.T., appealed from two orders of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Family Part of Hudson County, dated February 20, 2013, and July 12, 2013. She challenged the decision to award her ex-husband, J.K., sole legal and physical custody of their three child, a provision in the judgment of divorce that restricted her from traveling outside of the United States of America with the children, and the limited duration alimony award that required J.K. to pay her $ 120,000 every year for six years. The New Jersey Appellate Division reviewed her contentions and found that she did not present any valid legal points, and that the trial court properly decided the issues of the case. The trial courts conclusions were based on witness testimony and credibility, which the New Jersey Appellate Division found were supported by credible evidence, and consistent with the law.

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As a child support lawyer, I have come across this issue in many cases as car insurance is expensive here in New Jersey, especially for young drivers. In fact, up until recently, the law was not clear as to whether a divorced (or single) parent would be deemed responsible to contribute to their children’s car insurance. Therefore, myself and the other attorney in a divorce or child support case would negotiate the issue, but at the end of the day the parents had to voluntarily agree to make automobile insurance payments on behalf of their unemancipated children. However, in light of a brand new case, the lawyers at my law firm shall now be advising folks that they are legally responsible and this amount can be included in New Jersey Child Support Guidelines.

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In Fichter v. Fichter, the Honorable Judge Jones of the Superior Court of Ocean County, Family Part, reviewed whether car insurance for a minor child should be included in the child support payment or if there should be a separate obligation for it. In 2013, the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines were modified by the State, to include new provisions having to do with the cost of car insurance. These new provisions, however, have only raised more questions about whether when a parent that is already paying child support, to a level sufficient to the guidelines, is also required to contribute to car insurance costs for an unemancipated newly licensed teenage child. There was no case law that answered this question when it presented itself in the Ocean County Family Part court, and the Honorable Judge Jones was left to tackle this issue of first impression. He held that Family Part courts, in their discretion, have the authority to increase or modify guideline-level child support on a fact specific basis, to cover for the extra cost of car insurance for a new teenage driver.

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