Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

Articles Posted in Uncategorized

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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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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When I first began my career as a divorce and family lawyer in 1996 in my hometown of East Brunswick, New Jersey, I quickly understood that the credibility of my client in the eyes of a judge of the Family Part of the Superior Court of New Jersey was essential. To that end, as we have all watched the technology explosion dramatically change the way we live our day-to-day lives, both attorneys and judges alike now have a flood of hard evidence right there on everyone’s smartphones and the like.

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In fact, a vast majority of evidence entered into family law trials in the state of New Jersey are either text messages or Facebook posts. In a recent case, the mother of a child moved for sole custody alleging the child would be in danger if left alone with the father. However, hard evidence demonstrated that the mother repeatedly text the father, on the very same weekend that she was drafting her ex parte Order to Show Cause, repeatedly asking him to watch their child. Needless to say, this parent’s credibility was shattered and her request for sole custody was denied. Following please find a detailed analysis of this case that is a great example of credibility being king in a courtroom.

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In over 20 years of family law and divorce practice here in my hometown of East Brunswick, New Jersey, I can assure you that we strive to settle our cases. However, it is essential that your lawyer will not “blink” when our adversary states, “we shall have trial.”

Following you shall see how the zealous and diligent attorneys at our law firm prepare for trial. As the old lawyer cliché says, “Preparation is everything.”

TRIAL PREPARATION

No. As seasoned parenting time lawyers, the attorneys at our law firm appreciate that while most New Jersey Family Court judges prefer to grant a parent the right of first refusal, the court’s decision shall always be driven by the best interests of the child. In other words, if one parent cannot be with the child and the other parent is available, then that parent should have the right to spend time with their child before the child went to a third party such as a babysitter or daycare. However, if a New Jersey family Court finds that the child is not best served in such a scenario, the right of first refusal shall be denied. Of significant note, if the child’s parents are constantly fighting, this could cause a judge to limit their interactions. The case below contains similar facts as well as the court’s reasoning for denying the argument of right of first refusal in this instance.

In Ferrer v. Durkin, ex-husband Joseph Durkin appealed from an order of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Family Part of Camden County which was entered after a plenary hearing on December 16, 2015, that denied his request for more parenting time. On appeal, the New Jersey Appellate Division found that Judged Shusted, the Family Part judge, correctly applied the law to the specific circumstances of the case as he found them after hearing testimony, and affirmed the decision of the Family Part of Camden County.

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The ability to serve an individual with a lawsuit on Facebook and other popular social media and social networking services.is quickly becoming a reality under New Jersey law. In a recent case, an adopted ten-year-old child was being harassed by a stranger claiming that they were the child biological father, first via Instagram and then on Facebook. He even used pictures that he obtained from the child’s mother’s Facebook page and posted them on his Facebook page in order to further claim that he is the child’s father. The parents then hired an attorney to obtain a permanent injunction

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The typical manner in which an attorney shall serve a party is via “personal service.” A sheriff’s officer or a process server personally handing the Complaint upon the defendant effectuates service. However, the are other matters, pursuant to New Jersey’s Rules of Court, that allow for regular and certified mail as a proper method of serving a defendant. Finally, as a means of last resort, a lawyer may serve a defendant by was of publication.   Practically speaking this means obtaining permission from a judge to place a notice in the defendant’s local newspaper in order to give them notice that they have been named as a defendant in a lawsuit in New Jersey.

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Well, it depends. The child custody lawyers at our New Jersey based law firm understand that both parents have a fundamental right to have visitation (a/k/a parenting time) with their child. Having said that, the focus of our attorneys and the judges of New Jersey Family Courts is always on the best interest of the child.

With respect to mid-week overnight parenting time, many factors are taken into consideration. These include, but not limited to the child’s education ranging from homework to how far a parent may live from the child’s school. Furthermore, the parent seeking mid-week overnight parenting time must demonstrate that they shall be sure that the child’s study habits shall not be interrupted by the mid-week visitation. The following case is an excellent example of how New Jersey courts closely analyze such matters.

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Over my lengthy career as a divorce attorney with my law firm here in my hometown of East Brunswick, New Jersey, I have had many clients state to me, “my parents made me pay my own way for my college education and today I am a better person for it.” I then have a cumbersome conversation that if they had remained married that they then would have no legal obligation to pay. However, once divorced, it was highly likely that they would have to pay toward their child’s college tuition and costs. My client could only shake their heads in disbelief of this aspect of New Jersey divorce law.

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Since 2014, I have been closely following a case in which a Judge of the Family Part of the Superior Court of New Jersey ordered that divorced parents must pay for their daughter’s college education. This made international news as New Jersey law forced divorced parents to pay for college while an intact family is not legally compelled to do so.

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