Not Mandatory but Highly Advisable to Have Legal Counsel for Your Palimony Case
A Skilled Lawyer from Our Legal Team Can Help you Deal With the Financial Aspects of Ending a Long-term Relationship.
If you are living with a long-term partner, but are unmarried, and thinking about the future, you may have heard of the term “palimony”. Palimony is not an official legal term, but it refers to monetary support that is paid by one partner in a long-term, unmarried relationship to the other partner during their relationship or after the relationship ends.
While “palimony” gets its name from a play on the word “alimony”, it is fundamentally different from alimony in several ways. New Jersey law has also changed in the last decade in respect to the legal requirements surrounding palimony agreements.
In this article, we will explore the basics and nuances of New Jersey law on palimony, so you can make an informed decision about whether it might be the right option for you and your partner, and why having a lawyer handling your agreement can be extremely advantageous for preserving your interests in the future.
Understanding Palimony and its Legal Conditions in New Jersey
The term “palimony” refers to a contractual agreement by two long-term domestic partners for support payments and property division between the partners during the relationship or if and when the relationship ends. It can be thought of as a kind of prenuptial agreement between two people; only they are unmarried.
Under New Jersey law, unmarried, cohabitating people do not have the same legal rights as those who are married or in a civil union. Whereas, in a divorce proceeding of a married couple, a spouse may ask the court to award them alimony or spousal support from the higher income earning spouse, unmarried couples do not have a legal right to financial support after the end of their relationship without an enforceable, contractual agreement.
Prior to 2010, this agreement, known colloquially as a palimony agreement, could be written or oral. However, in 2010, the New Jersey Legislature amended the state’s Statute of Frauds to include palimony agreements. The Statute of Frauds lists the type of contracts that must be in writing to be enforceable. When including palimony as one of those types of agreements, the Legislature also set forth certain additional conditions of a valid and enforceable palimony agreement.
Under the amended law, agreements between non-marital partners for financial support and other consideration during or after the end of the relationship could no longer be oral. The law required that these agreements be in writing, signed by the party in which it will be enforced against, and that each party receive independent legal counsel when entering into the agreement. However, the last requirement for independent legal counsel has since been removed by the New Jersey Supreme Court. This change is discussed in further detail below.
Written vs Oral Palimony Application Retroactively
The New Jersey Supreme Court held in Maeker v. Ross that the amended Statute of Frauds, requiring palimony agreements to be in writing, does not apply retroactively to oral palimony agreements that were entered into before 2010, when New Jersey recognized oral palimony agreements as enforceable.
In Maeker v. Ross, a couple that had cohabitated for many years and entered into an oral palimony agreement prior to the change in law in 2010 separated in 2011. The court enforced the oral palimony agreement, finding that the couple was not required to anticipate that the Legislature might later require that such agreements be in writing. Therefore, the court found that the writing requirement did not apply retroactively to agreements created before the law was amended.
Is a Lawyer’s Participation Mandatory for a Valid Palimony Agreement in NJ?
While it is still wise to seek the advice of a lawyer prior to entering into a palimony agreement, whether you are the party who will be providing or receiving support, a lawyer is not required to approve a palimony agreement based on the New Jersey Supreme Court’s ruling in Moynihan v. Lynch.
In this case, the court found that the requirement for each party to have independent legal counsel violated the parties constitutional rights to enter into an agreement. Furthermore, the court noted that no other contractual agreement legally required the advice of counsel in order to be enforceable.
Benefits of Having an Experienced Palimony Lawyer on Your Side
Even though you are not required to have an attorney help you execute a palimony agreement, retaining legal counsel to draft or review your agreement can help you to ensure that the terms of the palimony agreement will protect you. If you are the party who may potentially provide support to your current or then-former partner, it is important to make sure that the terms of the agreement are ones that you can realistically fulfill and will not be harmful to your other legal and financial interests.
If you are the party who may be receiving support pursuant to a palimony agreement, you must understand the implications of the agreement you are signing and its potential impact on your financial choices before it is ever enforced. If you are in a long term, cohabitation relationship, it is important to think about and plan for the future needs of each partner. Contact our team of skilled and experienced attorneys today to discuss how we can assist with all aspects of your palimony case.
Contact Our Palimony Lawyers to Ensure Your Interests are Preserved in Toms River, NJ
As cohabitation has grown in popularity, it has raised a variety of problems about spousal support. Palimony is still a developing legal term, but a proactive divorce lawyer from our firm will be able to demonstrate its relevance. When you’re in a relationship that could lead to palimony after the relationship ends—whether or not you have a written commitment of support—it’s crucial to speak with an attorney to learn about the laws surrounding palimony.
If you or a loved one has been in a long-term relationship in New Jersey without being legally married and is seeking or agreeing to palimony after the relationship ends, you should contact the attorneys at The Bronzino Law Firm. We serve areas such as Little Egg Harbor, Barnegat, Rumson, Lacey, Colts Neck, Long Beach Township, and Eatontown in Monmouth and Ocean Counties and South New Jersey. Call (732) 812-3102 or contact us online for a free consultation to discuss your personal circumstances and how our firm can help.
What rights do unmarried partners have during their relationship and what is the extent of their rights during separation?
Consult our Family Law Attorneys who have the knowledge to help you navigate the rights and responsibilities of your Unwed Relationship in New Jersey
Over the past decades, the incidence of couples choosing to live together without getting married has increased substantially. However, rights for non-married couples continue to be few and far between, which has an impact on couples who separate and are not afforded the same rights as married couples obtaining a divorce.
Is common law marriage a thing in New Jersey?
No. There are only eight states that still legally honor common law marriage, and New Jersey is not one of them. Nor is there a certain number of years after which a domestic partnership is afforded the same legal protections traditional marriages (and divorces) have.
What rights do traditionally married couples have that unwed couples do not?
Any credible attorney will tell you the myriad reasons it is wise to get a marriage license if you are in a long-term relationship. The main legal benefits married couples enjoy that domestic, unwed partners do not are tax benefits. When a couple files taxes jointly, they have access to such tax credits as the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child, and Dependent Care Tax Credit, if the couple has children, as well as write-offs for adoption expenses if applicable. The Lifetime Learning Tax Credit and the American Opportunity Tax Credit both allow parents paying for their child’s education to enjoy more tax savings to help lower the financial burden of a college education.
Long-term couples who work together in a joint business are highly encouraged to make their partnership legal in New Jersey because they are then eligible to apply through federal tax law for what is called family partnership. Under family partnership status, income earned through the business can be divided among family members.
In addition to tax benefits, New Jersey couples with a marriage license enjoy employment benefits. For example, a married person can receive health benefits from their spouse’s employer, and they can be awarded time off to take care of a spouse if they are ill. None of these benefits are available to unwed couples. Additionally, an unmarried partner has no claim to the workers’ compensation benefits, retirement benefits, or unpaid wages of their partner if they pass away.
Many more legal benefits to getting married exist, but the rights that cause the most issue for unwed couples when they separate regard the separation of assets. Unmarried couples do not have the same rights as married couples when it comes to estate planning: they aren’t eligible to inherit a portion of their partner’s estate, for example; and they don’t receive tax breaks on property they plan to leave their long-term partner after their death, the way that married couples do.
How is custody handled for unmarried couples?
Custody is one area of New Jersey law handled for unmarried parents in the same way it is handled for married parents. The New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part handles all custody arrangement procedures, child support orders, and parenting time agreements in exactly the same way they are handled in a traditional divorce.
What is palimony and how does it apply to unwed couples?
‘Palimony’ is a legal term for providing financial support that a person is legally required to give their long-term partner in a separation of the unmarried couple. It is a non-traditional, though legally enforced, version of alimony. Palimony is one of the few areas of New Jersey law that is directed specifically at unmarried couples. While palimony is based on alimony and is essentially the same, there are large differences between the two in the eyes of New Jersey Superior Courts.
While the payment of alimony is often one of the byproducts of divorce, palimony is only ordered by the Court in the case that there was a written agreement between the couple stating that one partner would provide financial support for the other in the long term. Before 2010, this agreement could be implied. Still, in the last decade, New Jersey Courts have determined that, as it regards unmarried couples, some written agreement must be provided to allow for such order of financial support.
You deserve your fair share in a separation, whether or not you were married. As such, you must hire a skilled family law attorneywho understands your rights and can assist with the process of asserting them.
Contact our Family Lawyer Assisting Unwed Couples for a free consultation
If you are separating from your unmarried partner and seek palimony or other legal or financial support, need to resolve an issue with children who are the product of the relationship, or require assistance with property that you two may have shared throughout the relationship, we can help.
At Bronzino Law Firm, led by seasoned New Jersey Attorney Peter J. Bronzino, we successfully represent clients in towns like Mantoloking, Island Heights, Seaside Park, Allenwood, Toms River, Sea Bright, Berkeley, Long Beach Island, Monmouth Beach, and around Monmouth and Ocean County.
Contact us online or at our Brick, NJ office today at (732) 812-3102 to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your individual matter, as we are prepared to walk you through the process of handling all of your family law concerns.
Filing a Civil Union Dissolution with Your Family Law NJ Attorney
People who have entered one of these arrangements face a different set of laws regarding a separation because federal law does not recognize these unions.
What Is A Civil Union and How Does It Work?
A domestic partnership or civil union develops over time for many couples. Moving in together is the first step. Next, assets are purchased as a group. Then, children may enter the picture. All of this occurs in the absence of marriage. A cohabitation agreement can be written to safeguard the rights and property of both parties in a domestic partnership or civil union.
What Is A Dissolution, And How Does It Work?
A civil union pair must file a dissolution complaint in family court under the Civil Union Act to formally dissolve their partnership. Divorce laws and principles control the dissolution process, and a civil union is disbanded in the same manner as marriage is.
The legal issues that a couple has when they leave the state where their civil union was granted, particularly if they transfer to a place where civil unions have never been granted, can be significant. In New Jersey, a civil union’s dissolution is regarded similarly to a divorce. In New Jersey, at least one participant of a civil union must have lived in the state for at least one year before filing a petition with the court to dissolve the relationship. In terms of nullification or dissolution and alimony, asset distribution, and responsibility for the partners’ children, a civil union follows the same procedures and circumstances as a marriage.
Under current civil union statutes, a supported partner may be entitled to spousal support, often known as alimony, based on the couple’s lifestyle during the civil union. The difficulty arises when partners have been “married” before the Civil Union Act’s implementation, similar to fair sharing. If a court merely considers the legal wording of alimony legislation, alimony will be determined only based on the couple’s connection from the beginning of the civil union to the termination date, with no regard for the time spent together.
To put it another way, when a civil union dissolves, spouses are entitled to support in the form of spousal maintenance, child support, custody, and equitable distribution of property accrued during the civil union, just as they would be if they were legally married. Before 2007, it was against the law for same-sex couples to enter into a civil union, which means there is some debate over how to measure a civil union best. Some scholars believe that a couple’s union should begin when they get property and acquire the designation of a legally recognized couple before 2006, rather than when they begin to live together as a pair in a binding agreement.
What Are the Justifications for Dissolution?
Although civil union dissolution in New Jersey is governed by the same laws and regulations as divorce, the reasons civil union couples in New Jersey can request a dissolution are different from those reasons married couples in New Jersey can petition for a divorce. For example, a married or civil union couple can get a dissolution on the following grounds:
- Any cruelty to animals.
- A span of time during which the relationship has been interrupted for a duration of at least 18 months (no-fault divorce in its origins)
- The habitual use of a substance that impairs the ability to make reasoned decisions
- Treatment for a lengthy amount of time (a year or more) in a mental health facility
- For 18 months or longer, there is a prison term.
Civil Unions and Alimony
The fact that three samples are absent from the list has to be noted. These facts are significant in marriage simply when conflicts, deviant sexual behavior, and adultery cannot be reconciled.
Although civil union dissolution in New Jersey is subject to the same rights and duties as divorce, the reasons available to civil union couples seeking a dissolution differ from those available to married couples seeking a divorce. In New Jersey, both married and civil union partners may seek to end their partnerships for the following reasons:
- Cruelty to animals.
- A period of separation of 18 months or more (the original no-fault divorce)
- Substance abuse or inebriation regularly
- Hospitalization for mental illness for a period of 24 months or more
- A sentence of 18 months or more in jail
Following the dissolution of a civil union, civil union partners may be entitled to alimony or spousal support, similar to how alimony is considered in divorce proceedings. Additionally, equitable distribution will be established similarly to how it is after a divorce. In New Jersey, the following considerations are considered while determining alimony:
- The partners’ true financial need and ability to pay;
- The length of the civil union;
- The ages and physical/emotional well-being of the parties;
- The standard of living established during the civil union and the prospect of each spouse’s ability to maintain a standard of living.
- Earning potential, educational degrees, vocational skills, and employability of the parties;
- How long the party requesting support has been unemployed.
- Children’s parental responsibilities;
- The time and money required to get the needed education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find an acceptable job, the availability of such training and employment, and the possibility of future capital asset and income acquisitions;
- A history of each party’s financial and non-financial contributions to the civil union, including contributions to the care and education of children, as well as gaps in a personal job or educational opportunities.
- Income derived from the investment of any assets held by one of the parties;
Contact our Family Law Attorneys for a Free Consultation
Dissolving or ending a committed relationship, whether it be a marriage, civil union, domestic partnership, or simply a long-term cohabitation arrangement, brings with it a whole host of questions and concerns in addition to the inevitable emotional toll. Since the requirements for divorce and civil union dissolutions are alike in many aspects, the way to go about executing this process can be more readily understood. If you are seeking to dissolve a civil union or have chosen to move forward with a divorce, it is paramount to have an experienced divorce lawyer who can assist you with successfully navigating the road ahead.
At Bronzino Law Firm, our attorneys have a wealth of knowledge and skill in the realm of matrimonial and family law. Our team is equally committed to your success in completing the process of divorce or civil union dissolution, and we encourage you to contact us for immediate help in this respect. We take pride in successfully representing clients in Brick, Sea Girt, Toms River, and Wall Township, and across the Jersey Shore.
To get in touch with Peter Bronzino and our legal team in a free and confidential consultation about your divorce or civil union termination, please contact us online or through either our Brick or Sea Girt, NJ offices at (732) 812-3102.
COVID-19 “Shelter-in-Place” Divorce Attorney Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
Brick and Seagirt Divorce Attorneys helping clients prepare for a post-pandemic and post-divorce life they deserve.
For people considering or in the process of divorce litigation, civil union dissolution, or filing for separation, the COVID-19 pandemic and “shelter-in-place” order may be the tipping point in their already stressful marriage. Whereas work, school, or other activities meant the possibility to avoid one’s spouse or partner, working and e-learning from home means once less-frequent activities, like cooking dinner together or sharing the same space for 24 hours, has significantly impacted the day-to-day living situation of many New Jersey couples.
Though some couples may consider isolation or self-quarantine as a period in which to create greater family dynamics, reevaluate their marital values, or work on their relationship intimacy, many others have become more committed to ending their marital union, as what may have previously been trivial matters escalate to incidents of increased tension and in the worse cases, domestic violence.
The uncertainty of the current COVID19/Corona virus situation and physical distancing means that the attorneys at The Bronzino Law, LLC are prepared to provide legal services in a safe, secure, confidential, and convenient way without compromising on quality. Our lawyers will fight to protect your rights and are ready to arrange convenient, free virtual consultation meetings via Skype, WhatsApp video, FaceTime, Zoom, or Google Hangout to discuss how we can best support you meet your legal needs.
The Bronzino Law Firm manages all divorce-related matters, including child support, child custody, division of assets, alimony and spousal support, and post-divorce modifications for clients across Ocean County and Monmouth County.
Contact us online or call us at (732) 812-3102 to arrange a free virtual legal consultation from the comfort of your home or office and with the convenience of your smartphone, laptop, or tablet. The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, is prepared to protect your rights and answer your legal questions or family law–related issues.
8 Things to do for your Divorce During the Corona Pandemic
Here are some positive and actionable ideas, which are also a productive use of your time as you prepare for your NJ divorce.
- Collect the financial documents and paperwork necessary for the full financial disclosures, which are vital to the divorce process and are necessary before reaching any financial agreements related to child support, child custody, alimony and spousal support, and the equitable division of assets.
- Conduct a lifestyle analysis to realistically determine what your future post-divorce housing and budget may be like.
- Practice self-care, exercise, protect your mental health, and document your expectations for your post-divorce life and that of your children or pets if you have any. Write down your ideal living or co-parenting situation and the kind of future you envision for yourself.
- If you have children, focus on protecting your child’s emotional and psychological well-being by providing a positive family atmosphere, keeping them calm and busy, and planning fun activities (i.e., watching online tutorials for cooking, exercise/dancing, music, arts & crafts, etc.).
- Take the opportunity to declutter your home and organize your things. Identify items or assets that are truly important to you and those prepared to donate or throw away.
- Avoid hostile conversations with your spouse, and if there are children present, aggressive confrontations could escalate growing familial unease and tension.
- Take a positive daily inventory, acknowledging what you learned, or are grateful for. It will help put your day in perspective and balance some of the negative or depressing thoughts you may have.
- Educate yourself. Whether it is online free language classes or apps, youtube tutorials, or skills-based technology programs, invest time in improving your future professional and personal development opportunities.
Isolation and the related feelings surrounding it may not be easy, but knowing that it won’t be forever can help you remain positive, keep an open mind, and maintain a patient heart. By effectively managing your time under the current situation, you are preparing to live the post-pandemic and post-divorce life you deserve.
Dealing with Divorce and COVID-19? Contact an Ocean and Monmouth County Divorce Attorney Today
The Family Law attorney Peter J. Bronzino has extensive experience helping clients with all divorce-related matters across Ocean and Monmouth County towns, including Toms River, Brick, Point Pleasant, Manasquan, and across the Jersey Shore.
At our law firm, we get to know the people we represent, determine what is most important to them in the divorce, then work with them to develop a strategy designed to meet their individual goals and needs.
Discuss Divorce Home Marital Issues with a Brick and Sea Girt Family Lawyer
Read on to explore some potential benefits and pitfalls of leaving the marital home before divorce proceedings are complete.
The decision to separate from a spouse and the process of divorce is emotionally, physically, and financially trying time. There are many aspects of the division of a marital home that are simultaneously being considered, including how to split shared assets and how to split custody with any children of the couple. If the conflict between the couple is high, a person may consider moving out of the marital home to create a physical and energetic space. Is this a good idea, or could it have negative consequences for the outcome of your divorce? Read on to explore some potential benefits and pitfalls of leaving the marital home before divorce proceedings are complete.
The benefit: space
When going through a separation that is not amicable, it may be in the best interest of all involved to create space. Because this could have implications for the outcome of the divorce, it is important to consider whether such self-care practices as exercise, meditation, or therapy could help support an inner state of calm before moving out of the marital home.
Pitfalls of moving out of the marital home
Unless it is absolutely necessary or a 100 percent amicable separation, most will coach someone going through a divorce to continue living at the marital home. Here’s why.
In New Jersey, when a spouse leaves the marital home before a divorce is finalized, the other spouse may file a motion in court to temporarily take sole possession of the marital home. If this motion were accepted by the New Jersey Superior Court, the person who leaves the home would not be legally able to inhabit the home during the entirety of the divorce proceedings (and potentially after).
Of course, moving from one home to another while still legally, financially required to split the expenses of the marital home means more money spent. While marital expenses are still on the table, it is important to consider additional expenses that leaving the home would add.
Naturally, when a divorce includes children, their wellbeing is the most important consideration in decision-making. The New Jersey Superior Court will always uphold as its first priority the best interest of involved children. As such, they may look at a spouse leaving the marital home during the divorce proceedings as a sign that the person is comfortable with being a non-custodial parent.
Ex’s intentions and capacities
One would hope that, even in the absence of a completely amicable divorce, no ex would purposefully cause harm to shared assets in order to spite the other. However, there have been cases in which, for example, the spouse who stays in the marital home when the other moves out fails to maintain the home, lowering the property value when it comes time to sell.
Options to support the separation process
Whether or not you decide to move out of the marital home before the divorce is finalized, there are specific ways to navigate the shared time and space in service of supporting an amicable divorce.
Parenting Time Schedule
- Even if you are living in the marital home during separation, if children are involved it is important to begin to shift into a routine that primes all parties for shared parenting. New Jersey courts include parenting time schedules in the custody proceedings, yet if you have already worked together as a family to develop a sustainable agreement, it will strengthen the bond necessary for successful co-parenting. It will also increase the chances of a favorable custody arrangement, even if you leave the marital home before the divorce is finalized.
- Many divorce attorneys recommend mediation as a way to identify obstacles to an amicable separation and, hopefully, resolve them, for a swift proceeding that saves time, money, and emotional wellbeing.
- One only has so much resilience. At such a stressful time as divorce, it is important to make self-care a priority in service of all concerned. Lowering cortisol, or stress, levels in the body and building emotional resilience will make for a clearer mind and heart during the divorce, and set you up for your future. Hydrate, rest, exercise, meditate, and surround yourself with the community at this time.
Retain a Wall Township Divorce Lawyer Today to Help Navigate your Options
At Bronzino Law Firm, our divorce attorneys are experienced in guiding the divorce and custody proceedings of our clients across Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas in all related matters.
Our direct approach handles communication with all involved parties and represents the best interests of our clients and their children for an amicable separation, so our clients can orient themselves toward their future.
Post-Divorce Housing Monmouth and Ocean County Family Law Attorneys
Providing Assistance to clients dealing with Post-Divorce Issues throughout Monmouth and Ocean County towns such as Toms River, Point Pleasant, Asbury Park, Spring Lake, and all of Eastern New Jersey
The process of divorce is a complicated one. Throughout the separation proceedings and into the transition into your new life, it is important to consider specifically the effect that your divorce will have on the other aspects of your life. One such consideration is whether to buy a home after you and your ex have decided to sell your marital home. Is it a better idea to buy or rent after a divorce? What type of house, apartment, or condo is appropriate; and what is there to consider when making that decision? Read on for support in your transitional process of moving into your own home after a divorce.
What is my budget for post-divorce housing?
An obvious consideration after divorce is your budget. After a divorce, there are expenses that didn’t exist prior, and one household budget has now been split into two and must sustain two households. Your divorce attorney in concert with that of your ex-spouse has helped you draw up a budget schedule, and you can use those figures to determine what you are reasonably able to spend monthly on a mortgage or rent. There will likely be additional expenses to consider if you purchase your own home, apartment, or condominium. As such, take into account the following inquiry.
Renting vs Buying a Home Post-Divorce
Because there is so much going on financially, physically, mentally, and emotionally during a divorce and its immediate aftermath, setting yourself up for success regarding your new home and giving yourself plenty of time to process and plan for the next chapter of your life is important. When it comes to homeownership or rental, consider the following:
- Can I afford to buy a house or condo, given that I will be responsible for maintenance costs that will inevitably arise?
- Do I have a financial source of income at this time that will allow me to put a down payment on a house and sustain the monthly mortgage, or is it wiser to rent for the time being and stabilize myself in my new life before moving toward homeownership?
- Is my credit up to par? Will I need to make smaller purchases and stabilize my income to build credit, or am I financially capable to enter the system of homeownership?
- What are my goals for the next year, five years, and ten years? Given my personal development goals, does it make more sense to rent or own at this time?
- How will my children be affected by my choice to rent or own? Is it in their best interest for me to rent -in order to be near them, for example – or buy in a more affordable and personally-aligned area?
As far as maintenance is concerned, remember that purchasing a house will include much more maintenance than purchasing a condo or renting, given the larger area including the outdoors. Make a decision that is aligned with the amount of time, energy, and money you are interested in investing in your home.
Choosing a place to live after divorce
A community, like family, turns a house into a home. As such, one of the most important considerations to make after a divorce is where to put roots. If you have children, their well-being comes first, and in a shared custody agreement with your ex-spouse, you will want to ensure that your home allows for your children to stay put in their current, quality school, if possible, and travel between the two homes with relative ease. This could mean staying in the same community as the marital home or moving to a nearby town. This is especially possible in New Jersey, in which there are many lovely townships close to one another but that allows for diversification of community.
When making the decision to rent or buy, be gentle with yourself and take your emotional needs into consideration. Is it more important for you to be near your friends with whom you were close during the marriage, or is it important for you to make a fresh start and find your own sense of belonging without the potential baggage of the past? A healthy balance between the two may be the most nourishing option. Give yourself plenty of time and space to reflect on what you want to cultivate in your future relationships, and then scout out a community that has those elements, whether that is the same community in which you were living with your ex or a new scene altogether.
Retain an Experienced Post-Divorce Attorney helping clients from Asbury Park to Toms River and across the Jersey Shore
Peter J. Bronzino, our divorce attorneys are experienced in supporting separating partners Spring Lake, Brick, and all of Eastern New Jersey in all divorce and custody matters.
Our direct approach handles communication with all involved parties and represents the best interests of their children and amicable separation, so our clients can focus on aligning themselves with their future.
Sea Girt Attorneys Review Cohabitation And Changed Circumstances in Alimony Modifications
Alimony Modification Attorneys helping Clients navigate Post-Divorce Claims in Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Wall, Ocean and across Monmouth County Area
Alimony, child support, child custody, and division of assets decisions are based on the financial and living circumstances of both parties at the time of their divorce or civil union dissolution. Significant changes to either party’s financial circumstances (i.e., remarriage) after the divorce, may warrant the modification, suspension or termination of the settlement. Cohabitation is a changed circumstance when combined with beneficial economic changes that result from this cohabitation. Absent a specific provision in the property settlement agreement (PSA), cohabitation may be grounds to justify relief.
At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC our alimony agreement modification lawyers have extensive experience drafting, enforcing, modifying, and terminating alimony agreements. Our smaller firm size allows us to offer highly personalized legal service while charging fair and reasonable rates. Find out why we have earned clients for life in Ocean and Monmouth County towns including Brick, Sea Girt, Neptune, Toms River, Point Pleasant, Wall, and across all of Eastern New Jersey.
What Constitutes “Cohabitation” in Sea Girt, NJ?
Unlike remarrying where termination of alimony is often certain, an alimony award may or may not be terminated upon cohabitation. According to NJ Rev Stat § 2A:34-23 cohabitation includes, but is not limited to:
- living together
- a mutually supportive and intimate personal relationship
- duties and privileges commonly associated with marriage
- intertwined finances such as joint bank accounts
- sharing living expenses and household chores
- recognition of the relationship in the couple’s social and family circles
- whether the recipient of alimony has received an enforceable promise of support from another person within the meaning of subsection N.J.S.A. 25:1-5(h) and
- other evidence deemed relevant by the court
Modifying, Suspending or Terminating Alimony in Neptune, NJ
The landmark NJ Supreme Court case Lepis v. Lepis set the standard for alimony judgment modification, by ruling that an existing alimony agreement can be modified if it can be demonstrated that circumstances have changed for either the payor, or the payee. If you as the payor are requesting an alimony modification, you must show the court that your change of circumstances has “substantially impaired your ability to support yourself.” Although there are no specific legal terms which constitute a changed circumstance, reasons such as a substantial involuntary decrease of income, unemployment, retirement, and major illness, injury or disability are often cited.
If the ex-spouse or payor are seeking to modify their alimony obligations due to the dependent party’s remarriage or cohabitation, the payor bears the burden of proving their request of “changed circumstances,” are permanent, substantial, and unanticipated.
Economics of Cohabitation Can Terminate Alimony in Brick, NJ
Cohabitation cases are fact sensitive and through the discovery phase of the modification petition our experienced attorneys will seek to obtain the necessary evidence to definitively prove that a cohabitative relationship exists. With their team of private investigators and forensic accountants they can help establish patterns of shared financial responsibility and cohabitation activity by monitoring social media sites and interpreting financial statements to find changes in spending habits.
The Court will then analyze the economic relationship of the parties living together (i.e., bank records, living expenses, and legal interviews in the form of depositions). If the Court decides that the dependent spouse is being subsidized by the other party and financially benefiting from the act of cohabiting (e.g., Reese v. Weis, 430 N.J. Super.552 and lifestyle enhancements which raise the dependents ex-spouse’s standard of living) alimony may be modified or terminated.
If you are receiving alimony payments and are in a romantic relationship with another adult, you should consult an attorney who can help you gain a better understanding of whether this relationship will affect your current alimony.
Divorce Decree Clause clearly defines Cohabitation in Alimony Modification Claims Ocean NJ
Adding a cohabitation clause to your divorce decree, could avoid future financial problems or misunderstandings. This clause would clearly define what you both would consider “cohabitation” and explicitly outline what circumstances would result in the termination of alimony payments.
CONTACT A TOMS RIVER SPOUSAL SUPPORT MODIFICATION ATTORNEY
Having already served many clients across Point Pleasant, Spring Lake, Toms River, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County area, the Bronzino Law Firm, LLC has the experience and track record you need when pursuing or defending against a modification of your alimony agreement.
We believe that straightforward and regular communication with our clients is key, allowing us to provide an honest assessment of their case, and then working together in order to deliver optimal results. Our smaller size allows us to develop personal and attentive relationships with our clients, while charging reasonable and fair rates for our services.
To speak with Peter J. Bronzino today in a free and confidential consultation regarding the modification of your alimony agreement, please contact us online or through our Brick, NJ office at (732) 812-3102.
Attorneys Defend Those Falsely Accused of Domestic Violence in Ocean County NJ
Providing support and counsel necessary to those accused of Domestic Violence in Sea Girt, Brick, Wall, Seaside Heights, Toms River and across the Jersey Shore
For many years domestic violence and domestic violence allegations were not viewed or treated as seriously by the courts and law enforcement as they are today. However, the view of domestic abuse against a girlfriend, spouse, child, or anyone else has changed substantially as we now understand how destructive domestic violence and abuse overall can be both in the short and long term. This has caused the courts to err on the side of caution, and in most cases address an allegation of abuse or violence in the home very seriously. The consequences of a guilty verdict and terms of a Final Restraining Order can be quite severe and do not go away; they are enforced for the rest of your life.
If you have been unfairly accused of committing an act of domestic violence, your future is at stake. You need an experienced and capable lawyer able to protect your rights and prepare a solid defense. The skilled and experienced legal team at Bronzino Law Firm are ready to provide the counsel you need to navigate this difficult process and are prepared to be by your side every step of the way. Call us at (732) 812-3102 or fill out a contact form to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
Why people make false allegations of Domestic Violence
The reasons why someone may accuse an innocent person of domestic violence vary greatly. However, the truth is that falsely accusing someone of a crime is the result of gravely emotional and mental instability that may have been evident in some instances early on in a relationship, but become much more apparent and egregious once things start to fall apart in the home and the prospect or reality of divorce becomes too overwhelming to bare.
Some of the most common instances where we see false allegations made are:
- Attempt to gain child custody or more parenting time
- Attempting to gain a greater share of the property in a divorce settlement
- Revenge for some slight (real or imagined).
No matter the reason, none are acceptable, fair, just, and most of the time they are not legal. Be sure to attack this circumstance swiftly and aggressively with an attorney that you can trust. The consequences of a false conviction resulting in an FRO or Final Restraining Order can and will impact you for the rest of your life. These are not allegations to take lightly just because you know you are innocent.
Defending yourself against False Accusation of Domestic Violence
An effective defense against domestic violence actually begins before any accusations are made and hinges on knowing your partner. Signs of emotional instability and a vindictive personality are not always clear early on in a relationship, however they do tend to become more apparent as the relationship is tested and a prospective end is in sight.
If you feel that your relationship may be turning sour and your partner may accuse you of domestic violence you should:
Notify friends and family members about your concerns.
Keeping those close to you and your relationship informed of your accuser’s erratic and troublesome behaviors, as well as your fears of what they may do, may prepare your family for any false allegations and have them be more inclined to believe your side of the story as well as provide witnesses to help debunk any future accusations.
Change all login information that may be compromised.
This includes bank accounts, computers, laptops, vehicle entrance, hard drives, cell phones, and anything else you can think of that requires your password should be changed as soon as possible. Accusers have been known to send messages from the defendant’s cell phone and then later accuse them of sending threatening messages.
If an allegation has been made or you feel an accusation is imminent you should:
Consult a domestic violence defense attorney.
Even if you are not planning to hire an attorney, though it is recommended, they can give you invaluable information to help you better understand what your options are.
Gather evidence if you are being abused; in most circumstances that is the case.
There have been many cases where the person who is accused of committing domestic abuse is actually the victim of physical and/or emotional abuse. If this is the case, you need to gather as much evidence as you can without putting yourself in danger.
In truth, exposing false allegations of domestic violence is not easy. However, knowing your partner and predicting their actions may go a long way toward bringing the truth to light.
When a “not guilty” verdict still hurts in a Domestic Violence Case
Some might even argue that an underlying predisposition to believe all charges of domestic violence has caused many problems for those who have been and are being falsely accused of such a horrible act or pattern of behavior. When a person charged with domestic violence and is not guilty of their alleged crimes, it does not necessarily guarantee a fair, just, and accurate legal proceeding or verdict. Many unscrupulous spouses and girlfriends have used these allegations to gain an advantage in divorce or child custody court cases understanding full well the power that even an accusation can have.
If an individual is accused and they are lucky enough o prove their innocence through the court proceedings, the negative allegations can still impact their lives and in many cases it does. Sadly, even proof of innocence may not be enough to repair one’s life, reputation, and most importantly their relationship with their children once a person has been accused of these types of crimes.
Contact a Brick and Sea Girt NJ Restraining Order Lawyer
These situations can be very serious as a conviction for domestic violence can mean an unfair judgment of divorce, loss of child custody as well as loss of freedom. For these and many other reasons, if you or someone you know has been accused of domestic violence it is critical to contact an experienced and knowledgeable domestic violence attorney as soon as possible.
For a free initial consultation about your legal options for resolving a domestic violence charge, contact Peter Bronzino today. His experience is what you need during this time of frustration and confusion. Contact us online or call (732) 812-3102 for your free case evaluation with our domestic violence attorneys.
Financing Your Ocean County Divorce
When a person is unhappy in their marriage and starts considering a divorce or civil union dissolution, often the next questions that often arise are surrounding what the financial implications are, how much will the total process cost and how will the individual pay for it. Unlike the actual wedding itself, most couples may be less eager to solicit financial assistance from family, friends, or take out a bank loan. Knowing your family´s true and accurate financial situation and educating yourself about matrimonial retainer fees, can help reduce any concerns you may have about securing legal representation, and financing your divorce.
If you are considering a divorce, or are currently going through a divorce, look no further than the Bronzino Law Firm. We handle all divorce related matters including child support, child custody, division of assets, alimony and spousal support, and post-divorce modifications for clients across Ocean County and Monmouth County.
For many Ocean County and Monmouth County residents, Attorney Peter J. Bronzino has been that dependable and tenacious advisor. Peter Bronzino and his team of Family Law Attorneys take a collaborative approach on all divorce cases, pride themselves on keeping clients informed and involved in all matters, and are ready and willing to speak with you over the phone, via a virtual meeting, or at one of the two offices conveniently located in Brick and Sea Girt.
Evaluating the Cost of Divorce in Monmouth County, NJ
Aside from the emotional toll divorce often takes on one´s psychological and physical well-being, the financial costs of divorce in New Jersey is unique to each couple and comes with its own specific facts and circumstances. Factors such as the type of divorce (no fault vs fault divorce), the distribution of assets, assignments of alimony and child support, child custody, and using expert testimony (e.g., tax professionals or real estate professionals) or child custody experts, can significantly increase the amount of negotiation required among the lawyers or in front of a family court judge. Disagreements, lack of consensus, and the number of motions or hearings can also result in additional legal fees.
Retainer Agreement vs Contingency Fee with Your Brick NJ Divorce Attorney
A retainer fee is an advance payment similar to a “down payment”, in that it may cover a portion of the overall attorney fee that the client pays the attorney before hiring them. Although the fee varies from attorney to attorney, some attorneys have established fixed retainer amounts for given services and stick to those amounts.
Since attorneys bill on an hourly basis, the retainer fee will be determined by your attorney and is based on the anticipated amount of hours your attorney expects to invest in your case. Often, a retainer will not cover the entire cost of your divorce and more funds will need to be deposited as the divorce proceeds; how you will replenish that fund (if necessary) should also be stated in your agreement.
As work is completed, the money is withdrawn off of the total retainer amount and detailed records are kept and recorded to accurately outline this process. Clients will receive an accounting, usually monthly, stating the details of the work performed and the amounts paid out of the retainer, as well as the balance remaining. Some will work with you on monthly payments toward that retainer.
A contingency fee agreement, is most commonly used in civil cases such as personal injury, workers compensation, or employment law claims. In these types of cases, the attorney’s fee is “contingent” upon the amount of damages or overall compensation the client is awarded. Contingency fees are not permitted in family law matters in New Jersey, so each party almost always pays a retainer fee to their respective attorneys to begin the divorce process.
Paying for a Divorce Attorney in Point Pleasant, NJ
In New Jersey, each party is entitled to use marital funds for divorce litigation. The Family Court may direct each party to sell or mortgage various assets or property to enable both parties to finance their legal costs.
Fortunately, due to N.J.S.A. 2A: 34-23 the New Jersey Family Court can compel a spouse with more income or financial standing to pay, in part or in full, for the other spouse’s attorney. For spouses with less financial standing, it makes the financial aspect of litigation process more equitable, “reasonable and just.”
Contact an Ocean and Monmouth County Divorce Attorney Today
There are numerous factors when considering if to proceed with divorce litigation. Whether you choose mediation or it´s an uncontested divorce, the vast amount of paperwork, court document filings, and procedures to follow can be overwhelming, especially if you already work a full-time job.
Family Law attorney Peter J. Bronzino has extensive experience helping clients with all divorce related matters across Ocean County, NJ including Brick, Jackson, Toms River, and Point Pleasant.
Our law firm does not offer a one-size-fits-all-divorce strategy. Instead, we get to know the people we represent, determine what is most important to them in the divorce, then work with them to develop a strategy designed to meet their individual goals and needs.
With experience handling high-net worth divorces involving the division of family owned businesses and properties as well as diverse investment portfolios, the family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Peter Bronzino have the experience and legal knowledge necessary to helping you through this complicated time in your life.
Monmouth County Cohabitation and Alimony Lawyers
Alimony can be terminated, modified or suspended based on a finding of cohabitation. Cohabitation is usually defined as two people who are living together, in a serious committed relationship that there’s financial interdependence. If you believe that your ex-spouse is cohabiting and you are paying out money then you should file an application with the court to modify or terminate your alimony. The burden after you provide any proofs that you have shifts to your ex-spouse to proof that they are not cohabiting.
Application to Modify or Terminate Alimony Based on Cohabitation
Definition of Cohabitation in NJ
The definition of Cohabitation as defined in New Jersey is as follows: “mutually supportive, intimate personal relationship in which a couple has undertaken duties and privileges that are commonly associated with marriage or civil union.”
Factors the Judge will Consider when Ruling on Cohabitation
- If the couple shares finances like joint bank accounts or shared holdings and/or liabilities
- If the couple share responsibilities for living expenses
- Recognition of the relationship by family and social circles
- Whether or not the couple is living together, and if not, the frequency of contact, and the duration of the relationship in question
- If the couple shares household chores
- Any other evidence the court deems relevant
A common misconception occurs when a couple does not live in under the same roof “full-time”, and based on that fact the couple feels that they are protected from any financial implications that would arise from a cohabitant relationship. Instead of drawing a hard line on the concept of “full-time”, the courts will consider a number of different factors when determining and ruling on cohabitation and a potential impact on alimony.
How Can Cohabitation in Ocean County NJ Affect my Alimony?
If a party who is paying alimony to a former spouse believes that that spouse has entered into a relationship and shares a space as a cohabitant with another adult, the supporting party may wish to pursue an alimony modification petition. A paying spouse will have to file a motion to modify or terminate alimony and set a hearing before a judge. If the court decides that a supported spouse’s new boyfriend or girlfriend is cohabitating, a judge may reduce, or in some cases end, spousal support.
In the case of a remarriage, proving that the dependent spouse now has another source of financial support, and thus may no longer require as much as support as is currently being paid in the existing agreement, is relatively straightforward.
“Prima Facie” and The Discovery Process
In the case of cohabitation, however, proving that cohabitation exists can be somewhat more difficult. For example, it may be particularly difficult to know, or prove, whether or not your former spouse is sharing a bank account with their new partner. This is where the legal idea of “prima facie” comes into play. Prima facie involves the process of essentially vetting the case or the argument and determining whether or not to move it into the discovery phase.
Once in the discovery phase, you and your attorney will be awarded the opportunity to pursue and review necessary documentation, depose witnesses, and obtain the evidence necessary to definitively prove that a cohabitative relationship exists, one which warrants a modification to your existing alimony agreement. It is highly recommended that you retain counsel who, at this point in the process, will be looking into bank records, pay stubs, privately owned business records, living expenses, payment of living expenses, and most importantly you will conduct legal interviews in the form of depositions. In most circumstances, this information is difficult to dispute and it is very clear that cohabitation has occurred and even the length of time the couple has been under the same roof.
How to Modify Alimony Based on Cohabitation in Toms River NJ?
There are a number of cases that helped establish this precedent for determining cohabitation, and the New Jersey Case Law groups said cases together and provide the legal definition in New Jersey’s alimony statute N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(n). Here is a basic look at the process, that should be prepared, reviewed, and delivered by an experienced Ocean County Attorney.
- A paying spouse will have to file a motion to modify or terminate alimony and set a hearing before a judge.
- If the court decides that a supported spouse’s new boyfriend or girlfriend is cohabitating, a judge may reduce, or in some cases end, spousal support.
- Courts will typically reduce a spousal support award by the amount of the cohabitant’s monetary contributions.
- Couples can include a provision in their divorce settlement or final divorce judgment that makes cohabitation a triggering event to terminate alimony.
- In cases where the divorce order is silent, a cohabitation relationship may still be enough to justify a reduction in spousal support.
Contact a Wall NJ Cohabitation and Alimony Lawyer Today
Attorney Peter J. Bronzino has received countless favorable reviews from past clients, their words speak for themselves. If you are looking for an experienced, knowledgeable, hard-working and tenacious alimony attorney, look no further. Bronzino Law Firm is ready to begin advising you and fighting for your rights today.
To schedule a free and confidential consultation with our offices today, contact us online or through our Brick, NJ office at (732) 812-3102. We also handle modifications of existing alimony agreements, as well as enforcement of alimony when your ex is not complying with the agreed upon terms.