Category: Equitable Distribution

Tax Issues in Divorce Attorney Monmouth and Ocean County NJ

Frequently, couples filing for divorce rarely consider the tax implications and changes in their filings after the divorce is settled.

Divorce Attorney Discussing Tax-Related Issues Monmouth and Ocean County NJHow will alimony change your tax situation? Can both couples claim the children as dependents? When do you have to stop filing jointly? Does sale or equitable distribution of the assets change the amount of taxes to be paid? It is a complex process that requires expertise and knowledge of the changing laws in order to meet your needs and specific situation.

HOW DOES ALIMONY AFFECT MY TAXABLE INCOME?

A major change that came out of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a new tax rule that applies to alimony orders put in place on or after January 1, 2019. Before, the spouse required to pay alimony could deduct payment amounts from their income taxes. The spouse who received alimony had to claim it as income. Couples who divorced prior to 2019 are not included due to what is known as a grandfather clause which creates an exemption based on circumstances that existed previously.

Under new tax rules applied to new orders, alimony payors can no longer claim the deduction; alimony payments remain part of the taxable income. Spouses who receive alimony are not required to claim it as income because that would mean the amount of alimony would be taxed twice, both from the payee and the recipient.

Unfortunately, this new law can affect the way alimony is negotiated making the divorce process more complicated than ever before.  Lump-sum payments of alimony rather than monthly payments are becoming more popular considering the new tax laws.  Negotiating marital assets is another way to handle the present tax situation.  For spouses who receive alimony, any plan must be subject to great scrutiny to ensure their financial security will be safeguarded.

CAN BOTH PARTIES CLAIM CHILDREN AS DEPENDENTS?

CAN BOTH PARTIES CLAIM CHILDREN AS DEPENDENTS?After a divorce complaint is filed, the court may require one spouse to interim support, to maintain as much financial stability as possible during the divorce litigation.  When the court orders this interim support, the judge may not specify that as being for the spouse or the children.  Unless the judge indicates that the interim support is non-taxable, if the recipient spouse does not file a joint income tax return, that interim support received is taxable.

Child support payments determined at the time a divorce is granted are not considered income taxable to the parent who is receiving them, nor the parent paying child support is able to deduct those payments on his or her tax return.

Post-divorce the litigants may have a dispute over deductions or exemptions.  The parent with primary residential custody may claim the children as exemptions on his/her income tax return.   In a settlement, the parties may agree to share the exemptions or alternate them in some way. That agreement should be placed in writing to insure adherence by both parties.

WHEN SHOULD A SEPARATED COUPLE STOP FILING JOINTLY?

This is often a point of contention during divorce litigation when the parties are in the middle of litigation still at tax time.  Should they file jointly?  Should they tile separately?

Your marital status as of December 31 of the tax filing year will determine your filing status for that year. If your divorce is finalized by that date, you must file separately. If that is not the case, and one spouse wants to file a joint income tax return to be able to take advantage of the tax deductions available to married persons filing jointly, that spouse may make an application to the court to either obligate the other spouse to sign a joint income tax return or to have that spouse bear the financial consequence of not signing a joint tax return.   The party seeking to file jointly would have to provide the court with a mock-up of how the returns would appear based on filing a tax return jointly and individually. The spouse objecting to filing a joint return would need to have a reasonable explanation for not wanting to file a joint tax return.

One good reason for not wanting to file a joint income tax return occurs when the other spouse is self-employed or the recipient of a large settlement or inheritance and is manipulating his or her income for tax purposes. Also, as alimony and child support are based on income, filing a report with a lesser amount could be a way to decrease spousal financial obligations.  By filing jointly, the couple could be charged with tax fraud rather than the one spouse who was dishonest in his/her claim.

What Are Tax Considerations for Selling Assets to Distribute in a Divorce?

Wall Township Divorce Lawyer Help You Explore different scenarios related to taxesSome spouses who are divorcing might desire or be forced to sell assets in order to equitably distribute assets acquired during the marriage.  There are serious tax implications to be considered. If a home or other real estate is being sold, there may be capital gains on the sale that must be allocated.  Any stocks or bonds cashed in are also subject to taxation.  Retirement money and 401K’s are distributed equitably and will be charged penalties for restructuring.  In some cases, a capital gains tax is applied so it is important to include them in the tax plan of the divorce settlement.

Wall Township Divorce Lawyer Help You Explore different scenarios related to taxes

Divorce can be stressful, painful, even scary sometimes, but it need not be your burden alone.  There are empathetic, top-notch attorneys with the experience and knowledge to guide you through this difficult time.  If you would like more information, please visit our online form or call us at  (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your options.

Understanding Prenuptial Agreements in Monmouth and Ocean County NJ

Read on to learn what a prenuptial agreement is, why it is used, and myths about prenups that may impact your premarital decisions.

Prenuptial Agreements: Fact and FictionPrenuptial agreements have gotten a bad name in modern culture because it appears to be a death sentence for a marriage – before the marriage has even begun. This is not the case. A prenuptial agreement serves many purposes, and its use is not solely to ensure that, in the case of a separation, each party will walk away with pre-determined assets still in their possession.

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement, or ‘prenup,’ is a legal contract a couple enters into before joining together in marriage or civil union that provides them with certain controls in their marital legal rights, whether the marriage ends in death or divorce. New Jersey law sets certain legal precedents regarding the rights of a spouse in the case of separation by death or divorce, including division of assets, the right to seek alimony, and fair distribution of the estate of the spouse. A prenuptial agreement, however, can supersede those precedents

Prenups provide legal rights to couples regarding more than simply division of assets, however. Read on to learn some common myths about what a prenup is – and isn’t, and the reality of prenuptial agreement.

Myths about prenups

Fact or Fiction? The existence of a prenuptial agreement means the marriage will end up failing

This is, of course, fiction. There are many reasons a prenuptial agreement is a wise contract into which to enter, and fearing for the worst is rarely one of them. According to Business Insider, there is no conclusive evidence that the presence of a prenup results in a higher divorce rate.

Fact or Fiction? Only people with lots of money enter into prenuptial agreements

Only people with lots of money enter into prenuptial agreementsThis, too, is fiction. Because the legal rights addressed in a prenup cover more than the division of assets, they are not all about big money. Prenups include legally-binding agreements from whether a spouse will be legally entitled to alimony payments in the case of a divorce to who will get the pets. They can outline how assets will be separated amongst any children and how shared debt will be handled. Because a marriage or civil union is a business partnership, a prenup acknowledges the many financial and non-financial assets to be considered in a partnership, and upon its termination.

Fact or Fiction? New Jersey prenups can include child custody arrangements in the case of divorce

This is false. The New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part holds children at the central consideration in all divorce and custody arrangements. Because the court uses this ‘best interest of the child’ standard, they must take into account the living situation each parent would offer the child at the time of the divorce, no sooner. The inclusion of a child custody arrangement in a prenuptial agreement would be invalidated by a judge.

Fact or Fiction: A prenup can be drawn up and signed without a lawyer in New Jersey.

This is factual. New Jersey law mandates that prenuptial agreements must be in writing and signed by both spouses, and included an attached statement of the assets addressed in the agreement. While New Jersey couples are encouraged to seek the support of an experienced family law attorney before submitting a prenuptial agreement to the State, it is not legally required. If one spouse hires an attorney and the other does not, a statement of acknowledgment and consent to not having an attorney must be filed as part of the prenuptial agreement. After the entry of a prenuptial agreement into law, it can only be amended or nullified with signatures from both spouses.

Fact or Fiction: If you decide later that you want legal right over your assets after you get married, you can simply sign a post-nuptial agreement.

Get in touch with a Wall Township Prenuptial Attorney TodayEasy there! It is not as easy to protect your assets after you get married as that. Any assets that you have accrued between your marriage and the time you decide to arrange a postnuptial agreement are considered marital assets, and as such, they are shared equally. The process of determining what assets will remain with whom will likely require the support of an attorney, and open communication and amiability between spouses.

Get in touch with a Wall Township Prenuptial Agreement and Family Law Attorney Today

At Bronzino Law Firm, our experienced attorneys support clients in Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas in their marriage and family arrangements, including prenuptial agreements.

To schedule a consultation today with a member of our team regarding your prenuptial agreement, please fill out our online form or call us at  (732) 812-3102 to discuss more details about your case.

Hidden Assets in Divorce in Ocean and Monmouth County NJ

Studies show that dissolving marriages that include a large number of assets are often more susceptible to one or both partners hiding assets in order to maintain more than their fair share in the split.

Hidden Assets during the Divorce Process in Ocean and Monmouth County NJThe details of any divorce are complex. They take a toll on the mental, emotional, physical, and financial health of an individual. When the divorce is not amicable, however, stress increases and the risk for damaging behavior is higher as well.

Studies show that dissolving marriages that include a large number of assets are often more susceptible to one or both partners hiding assets in order to maintain more than their fair share in the split. This illegal trickery is not only limited to high-asset divorces, however. Many spouses, especially those that do not have a respectful relationship with their exes, attempt to hide assets during the divorce process. Read on to learn more about what happens if you are found to hide assets and some ways to suspect if your ex is hiding assets during your divorce proceedings.

What are the potential consequences of hiding assets?

Withholding assets is a dangerous move because it is illegal. When you and your spouse file a financial affidavit with the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part that outlines all of your marital assets, each of you signs it. Submitting a signed affidavit to the court signifies that you swear all information is true. If you are hiding assets from your spouse and legal teams, as well as the Court, this constitutes an act of perjury.

If you are found to have committed perjury, you will be found in contempt of the court and punished in a variety of ways: either by a penalty or even by incarceration. N.J.S.A. 2C 28-1 notes that perjury is a third-degree offense in New Jersey. Someone convicted of perjury in New Jersey could face up to 3-5 years in jail and fines of up to $15,000.

A judge also has the legal standing to determine what to do with the assets a spouse attempted to hide if they were discovered. Hidden assets face the potential of being stripped completely, instead of being more fairly distributed if they had been disclosed.

How are assets often hidden?

If you are in the process of divorce, you would hope that your spouse is being honest in their disclosure of their assets. However, that’s not always the case. There are some common ways that spouses hide assets that can be investigated if you suspect that your spouse isn’t reporting the full extent of assets that you have a legal right to share in the split.

Hiding money at the office

  • This is a very common move and rests on the assumption that a spouse will not investigate assets that may reside – or be stashed – at the place of employment. Using business to withhold assets could also look like temporarily storing funds in a business bank account or safety deposit box. If your spouse owns a business and you suspect foul play, it is wise to talk to your divorce attorney to discuss legal steps you can take to ensure you receive your fair share. One such way is having counsel serve subpoenas upon the business or bank.

Use the IRS to hide funds

  • How are assets often hidden?It’s risky, but a spouse may underreport their income so that their ex’s attorneys and the courts believe they have less money coming in than they actually do. They will then file amended taxes after the completion of the divorce proceedings to rectify the ‘error.’ Additionally, if assets are tied up with the IRS because they have been used to overpay taxes for the coming years, these shared marital funds used for personal gain could be hidden unless investigated.

Transfer of assets to family or friends

  • A quality divorce attorney is going to seek the tax records of your spouse for the last many years to determine what accounts have existed to house assets. If there is a discrepancy between past accounts and amounts and present, or accounts are not listed in the financial disclosure statement, your attorney will have reason to follow up on this red flag.

Custodial accounts

  • Some spouses may open up a custodial bank account or an account under their child’s name to make it look like the money belongs to the children and is not a shared marital asset.

‘Friendly loans’

  • A stealthy spouse may ‘loan’ money to a friend or family member that they will soon reclaim. Keep a close eye on bank accounts to ensure that this doesn’t happen.

Retain a Brick and Sea Girt Asset Division Attorney Today

At Peter J. Bronzino, our attorneys support clients across Ocean County, NJ including Brick, Jackson, Toms River, Wall, Asbury Park, and Point Pleasant in all divorce and child custody needs.

Our unique and thorough approach ensures that our clients receive their fair share of the marital assets in a divorce.

To schedule a consultation with a member of our team regarding your divorce, please contact us online or through our Brick, NJ offices today at (732) 812-3102.

Will my Retirement Account/401k/IRA be Protected in my Divorce?

Learn from an Ocean and Monmouth County Divorce Lawyer, some strategies for maintaining your hard-earned savings when you legally separate from your partner.

Protecting your Retirement Savings during a DivorceThe process of divorce is full of moving pieces that can wreak havoc on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Having a skilled divorce attorney can ensure that financial distress doesn’t have to be part of the separation, too. The separation of assets is a key piece of any divorce, and when you have been in a marriage for a substantial amount of time, chances are that you will have a large 401 (k) as a marital asset. How do you protect your retirement savings from being taken in the divorce?

Determine how you would like to handle your divorce: in court or out of court in settlement

The direction you choose to take in your divorce proceedings will impact how you go about handling the division of assets – and the protection of your retirement savings. If you choose to go through the courts to finalize your division of assets, ensure that you properly and transparently report all assets. A judge who learns that a person has been hiding assets will likely rule in favor of awarding an amplified amount to the spouse.

If you and your spouse decide to settle the division of assets outside of court, the process will likely be more rapid and less costly. This is a great option for a couple who is still on amicable terms. Because the proceedings are not open to the public and driven by a New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part judge, a separating couple can experience a much more flexible process, in many ways setting their own rules. The finalized agreement is, of course, subject to approval by the court.

In order to ensure a just division of assets and the protection of retirement savings, however, it is imperative that you ensure a fair settlement and, if possible, not take cash, or lump sum, payout, as it is subject to steep penalties. At the end of it all, one who receives a lump sum ends up receiving much less money and, unless immediate cash is required, loses out on their fair share in the division of assets.

Be aware of your assets, including your retirement funds

Be aware of your assets, including your retirement fundsA divorce is a business transaction. While it is emotionally trying and exhausting of physical, mental, and financial resources, it is ultimately a legal arrangement to determine who takes what in the split. As such, it is important to make sure that you are clear about what your marital assets and your shared debt are. It is also important to have a firm handle on what your personal assets are, as they may be taken into question during the course of the divorce proceedings. What was the balance of your retirement savings when you got married? What is it now? Taking the initiative to know this information will save you stress and potentially money in the long run.

Check your prenuptial agreement

All income added to a 401 (k) during the course of a marriage is considered a marital asset and is therefore considered to be shared with your spouse. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, the court will take responsibility for dividing the assets among spouses. If you and your spouse signed a prenuptial agreement, however, the court will rule based on the legally-binding agreements outlined within.

Be aware of the Qualified Domestic Relations Order

A spouse may take a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to their ex’s employer to ensure that they receive their fair share of the retirement account. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order is a court-ordered document that enables the spouse’s retirement administrator to swiftly and legally transfer retirement funds into the partner’s bank account. The entitled amount will reflect a deduction if you have paid into the retirement fund of your spouse during the course of your marriage.

Attempting to hide or resist marital assets such as retirement funds in order to improperly protect shared marital assets is not worth it. Seek the support of a skilled and experienced divorce attorney to help you protect as much of your assets as you can while complying fully with New Jersey Divorce Law and avoiding lengthy and potentially costly litigation with your spouse.

Contact A Brick Retire Savings Attorney Today

Attorney Peter J. Bronzino is committed to serving our clients across Spring Lake, Sea Girt, Point Pleasant, Toms River, and the greater Ocean County area in all divorce and family law cases.

Our unique approach supports our clients’ financial wellbeing, leaving them to focus on their emotional and physical wellbeing as they move into the next chapter of their life.

To schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced member of our firm regarding your divorce case or settlement, please contact us online, or through our Brick, NJ office 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.

COVID-19 “Shelter-in-Place” Divorce Attorney Monmouth and Ocean County NJFor 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 and 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 lawrelated 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Conduct a lifestyle analysis to realistically determine what your future post-divorce housing and budget may be like.
  3. 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.
  4. 8 Things to do for your Divorce During the Corona PandemicIf 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.).
  5. Take the opportunity to declutter your home and organize your things. Identify items or assets which are truly important to you and those that you are prepared to donate or throw away.
  6. Avoid hostile conversations with your spouse, and if there are children present, aggressive confrontations that could escalate growing familial unease and tension.
  7. Take a positive daily inventory, acknowledging what you learned or are grateful for. It will help put your day in perspective and balance out some of the negative or depressing thoughts you may have.
  8. 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 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.

Contact us online or call us at (732) 812-3102 to arrange a safe, secure, confidential, convenient, and free virtual legal consultation.

Life After Divorce: Tips from Monmouth and Ocean County Family Lawyers

Divorce Attorneys Guiding Clients through the Post Divorce Process in Brick, Sea Girt, Wall, Toms River and across the Jersey Shore

Life After Divorce Discussed by Monmouth and Ocean County Family LawyersDivorce is an emotionally, mentally, and financially stressful time that can wreak havoc on the life of you and your family. Heart-wrenching considerations and actions litter the process, from making the decision to divorce instead of reconcile, to determining best next steps for yourself and your family, to engaging with attorneys representing you and your spouse and attempting to care for your emotional health as you parse through logistics of splitting the marital assets and determining child custody arrangements. Following the legal proceedings that result in a finalized divorce, when the majority of the mental and financial groundwork has been laid and it’s time to put it into practice, the emotional work of integrating this new change into your life really begins.

During the course of the divorce process and after, it is essential that you take your personal health into account and prioritize activities and routines that support your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Below is a list of ways to support you through the divorce and post-separation process, setting you up for an aligned path forward to your happiest future.

Staying Healthy After Divorce

Listen to your body

  • It has often been said that your body keeps the score. We don’t often realize that our consistent states of mind and emotion affect our biochemistry, including our hormones, our muscles, and our nervous system. When we experience stress in our lives, an ancient part of the brain called the amygdala, which is responsible for ensuring our survival and initiates the fight-or-flight stress response, is activated. This means that when we feel stressed, our body receives directives to be on guard for a life-threatening situation. We move through the world as if we are about to be attacked by a bear, and our bodies take on a chronic state of muscle tension, elevated stress hormones like cortisol flooding our system, and digestive and reproductive imbalance.
  • Getting into the habit of listening to your body and checking for symptoms of stress like tight shoulders or jaw, constipation or diarrhea, or headache can point to the need to take a step back and rest.

Rest more than usual

  • Getting eight hours of sleep per night is a long-held doctor’s recommendation that few of us follow in this day and age. However, because of the elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol that almost certainly accompanies divorce proceedings in all of its stages, the body needs extra time to recover its parasympathetic state of rest and digest.

Feel, from above

  • Emotions are energy in motion. When we are triggered by intense emotion, our thoughts often immediately go to a story that matches the ‘reason’ for that emotion. The thoughts, then,
    generate a biochemical response that creates more of the same feeling, which encourages the thoughts, and off we go into a hamster wheel of downward spiraling distress. Waves of emotion after divorce are inevitable, as your whole being releases what no longer serves it and creates space for a new life. When an intense feeling comes, tune into your breath to stay present with right here and now, resisting the urge to follow the story that arises.
  • Feel the physical sensation of the emotion and the sensation of the breath moving through it, as if you are a curious child witnessing something in nature that you’ve never before experienced.

Eat the rainbow

  • Getting a vast array of nutrients through the form of a plant-based diet will help keep the body clean and detoxified, which can help detox your emotional and mental states, too. Drinking tons of water is also essential.

Move-in nature

  • Spending time with the elements is an ancient and wise practice. Tapping into the profound simplicity of the earth helps put your conflicts into a larger perspective and creates space for new inspiration and ideas to come through to you.
  • Exercising your body, also, is crucial at this time and reduces stress and inflammation while oxygenating the muscles and tissues to build strength, flexibility, and stamina on all levels.

Find community

  • As you move toward your new, more highly aligned life, surround yourself with people who are a positive and healthy influence on you. Seek the support of a New Jersey certified therapist if you need help processing the old relationship or separation, and then step fully into the path ahead with your chosen family.

Consult with a Wall Township Divorce Lawyer Today and Discuss Your Post Divorce Life Plans

At Bronzino Law Firm, our team of divorce attorneys supports our clients across Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas in their transition to a new life initiated by a divorce.

Our approach is centered on facilitating a smooth and amicable divorce proceeding so our clients can focus on aligning themselves with their future, knowing that they are structurally and financially set up for success.

To speak to a member of our team about your divorce, please visit our online form or call us at  (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your options.

Challenging an Executor or Administrator of Estate Attorney in Monmouth and Ocean County NJ

After the owner of the estate has died, the executor is responsible for probating the owner’s last will and testament.

Challenging an Executor or Administrator of Estate Attorney in Monmouth and Ocean County NJThe process of finalizing payments and distributing a decedent’s assets after their death can be a long and drawn-out process. It involves many moving pieces that increase the potential of an error on the part of the estate’s executor. Is it possible to challenge the actions of an executor if you believe there to be an accidental or purposeful mistake that affects the decedent’s desired distribution of assets? Read on to learn more.

The executive’s role in the probation process

The executor, or administrator, of an estate in New Jersey, has a very specific role. After the owner of the estate has died, the executor is responsible for probating the owner’s last will and testament. Probation of a will is a court-supervised process in which the will is authenticated, the appointed executor posts a bond to serve as insurance in case they commit a grievous error, assets are inventoried, all debts owed are paid, taxes are filed and paid, and, finally, the estate’s assets are distributed.

What happens if an estate executive does not perform the duties for which they are legally responsible?

An executive is legally responsible for overseeing the probation process from start to finish. They have a fiduciary duty to all beneficiaries and involved third parties of the estate, meaning that it is their legal responsibility to ensure that the written desires of the decedent and the best interest of those involved are met. Any backroom dealing that advances their own best interests at the expense of the wishes of the decedent during the long course of the probation process is illegal. If an executor abuses their role or withholds information that affects proper distribution and settling of the estate, they are in breach of their fiduciary duty and can be legally removed from their position, and even face a lawsuit brought forth by the heirs.

According to New Jersey Revised Statutes Title 3B, an executor can be removed from their legal duties for the following reasons:

  • Neglect or refusal to file an inventory, render an account, or properly secure estate assets
  • Neglect or refusal to obey a court order or judgment within the specified time frame
  • Embezzlement or illegal misapplication of estate finances, or any other action that betrays the trust underlying their fiduciary duty
  • Inability to conduct the required business of estate probation
  • Neglect or refusal to collaborate with another legally appointed fiduciary in resolving estate matters

What happens if an estate executive does not perform the duties for which they are legally responsible?If an executor has been accused of one of the above actions, a judge will most certainly consider whether the continuation of that executor will mean a detriment to the proper settlement and interests of an estate. If the answer is yes, the judge will have grounds for removal. If a beneficiary or another involved party take personal issue with the manner in which the executor is handling the probation process, but the executor has not committed any illegal or detrimental act, the judge will not find grounds for removal. There must be clear evidence that one of the above breaches of fiduciary duty has occurred.

New Jersey is a probate friendly state

This means that, for most actions, the executor need not receive permission from the court to handle most settlement aspects of an estate. The court will only get involved if there is an alleged breach of the fiduciary duties laid out in the last will and testament and New Jersey law.

One of the most common examples of a breach of fiduciary duty is the improper accounting of the assets and finances settled. In order for beneficiaries to receive their inheritances, the court must receive proper accounting of all settlements. The required frequency of disclosures regarding the settlement, as well as the detail with which accounting must be disclosed, depending on the complexity and value of the estate assets, the estate’s tax liability, as well as the number of beneficiaries.

If the court finds that the executor or other appointed administrator has not satisfactorily completed accounting, beneficiaries can be kept in limbo. As such, beneficiaries can file a petition that requests a court order for accounting. If the executive is not able to provide proper accounting under the court order, they will be removed as executive.

Consult a Wall Township Estate Planning and Administration Lawyer Today

At Bronzino Law Firm, our estate attorneys are experienced in guiding the settlement needs of our clients across Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas.

To connect with an experienced member of our firm today regarding your loved one’s last will and testament, please visit our online form or call us at  (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your options.

College Tuition and Divorce Lawyers Sea Girt and Brick NJ

New Jersey law stipulates that both parents are legally obliged to share the cost of college tuition for their child.

College Tuition and Divorce Lawyers Sea Girt and Brick NJThere are many things to consider when going through the process of divorce. In addition to navigating the splitting of assets and tending to the emotional and financial upheaval that the end of a partnership can immediately cause, one must consider long-term agreements between the separating spouses, including alimony and child custody payments. When children are involved in a divorce, the skilled support of a divorce attorney is essential, because they ensure that the financial well being of their clients and the highest benefit of the children are protected in a divorce. This includes coming to an agreement on a fair division of college expenses for their children, no matter how young the children are at the time of divorce. So how is college tuition cost split in a divorce?

New Jersey law stipulates that both parents are legally obliged to share the cost of college tuition for their child. This includes the responsibility to share both the base tuition and any additional room, board, and material costs. A spouse’s financial capacity will determine what their required contribution will be; if they are able to work at all, they will be required to contribute.

Many New Jersey parents wonder why there is a legal requirement that parents must support a child in college when the legal age of emancipation in New Jersey is 19 years old. In February 2017, New Jersey clarified its laws on emancipation of a minor to state that a child is considered legally emancipated at the age of 19 unless

  • they require continued support from a parent due to a documented mental or physical disability
  • they are still attending high school or a technical school, or they are enrolled full-time in a university undergraduate or graduate program
  • there is an existing court-ordered child support agreement that specifies a different age

Given the above, New Jersey courts will hold you as a parent accountable for financially supporting your dependent child through college according to a fair child support arrangement with your spouse. When the child turns 23, parents are no longer legally obliged to support their financial needs.

How is financial responsibility determined?

How is financial responsibility determined?Legal financial responsibility for tuition and college support costs are generally determined during the divorce proceedings and are based on each spouse’s current income and projected income at the time the child will be in college. Because college tuition obligations are separate from child support obligations, they require an additional process with the support of each spouse’s divorce attorney. This process is often much more nuanced than the assets splitting and other divorce proceedings, and the legally binding agreement is often drawn up out of court with divorce attorneys or a mediator. When the college tuition support agreement is finalized within the court system, the judge takes into consideration the following factors:

  • the amount needed for a child’s college tuition and room/board
  • each parent’s financial capacity to cover said costs
  • the financial resources of each parent in general
  • any financial resources of the child, in the form of trust, etc.
  • the availability of financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, or loans

If parents have the financial capacity to contribute to the child’s higher education, New Jersey courts will almost definitely require them to do so. Other more nuanced factors such as the family’s educational history that may point to their view of higher education as a cornerstone of a healthy, successful adulthood may sway a judge to order that they contribute.

Before considering contributions, a judge will look to whether the parents have set up a custodial account that is specifically designed to house higher education costs and paid into over the course of the child’s youth. In the case that there is one, the judge will assume that those funds will be drawn from first before determining contribution requirements.

Because New Jersey is a progressive state as it relates to the higher education of its younger citizens, it is generally difficult for parents to evade solid contributions. In the case that a divorced spouse has become estranged from their child due to forceful removal – for example, the other spouse refusing visitation despite efforts, they may have a stronger case in court to lessen the financial contribution they are required to make, shifting the responsibility of tuition coverage to the custodial parent.

Consult a Family Law Attorney with Offices in Brick and Sea Girt NJ

Peter J. Bronzino, our divorce attorney is experienced in guiding the divorce and custody proceedings of our clients Asbury Park, Spring Lake, Brick, and all of Eastern New Jersey 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.

To connect with an experienced member of our firm today regarding your divorce, please contact us online or through our Brick offices at (732) 812-3102.

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.

I’m getting a divorce. What happens if I move out of the marital home beforehand?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.

Shared assets

Pitfalls of moving out of the marital homeIn 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).

Financial implications

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.

Children affected

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.

Options to support the separation processParenting 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.

Mediation

  • 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.

Self-Care

  • 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.

To connect with an experienced member of our firm today regarding your divorce, please visit our online form or call us at  (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your options.

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

Post-Divorce Housing Monmouth and Ocean County Family Law AttorneysThe 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:

  • Renting vs Buying a Home Post-DivorceCan 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.

Choosing a place to live after divorceWhen 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.

To speak with our firm today regarding your divorce, please contact us online or through our Brick offices at (732) 812-3102.