Category: Family Law
Despite Impact of COVID-19 & Social Distancing Limitations, NJ Judicial Staff Work Diligently to Ensure Justice is Served Securely & Safely
With court hours based on a county-by-county decision, these measures and options to operate remotely to a certain extent, are to ensure that both the staff and the public everyone can stay healthy and safe.
COVID-19’s significant impact on the New Jersey Judicial system can easily be seen in the volume of curtailed court proceedings and backlogged trial court cases. Although all federal civil and criminal jury selections and jury trials have been postponed until January 4, 2021, the courts are working diligently to ensure that justice as well as other court services, can be served and transacted remotely, as well as securely.
According to recent NJ state guidelines and information, both Superior and Municipal Courts have resumed some in-person court services, with a limited number of judges and judicial staff working on-site each day to accommodate attorneys, litigants, and those members of the public with scheduled appointments or legal proceedings.
With court hours based on a county-by-county decision, these measures and options to operate remotely to a certain extent, are to ensure that both the staff and the public everyone can stay healthy and safe.
If you have received a Municipal court summons or have a scheduled hearing, now more than ever, is the time to not ignore these appointments or delay in seeking experienced legal guidance. Being convicted of a crime in a NJ municipal court can result in jail time, heavy fines, loss of driving privileges and seriously impact your employment, educational, and housing opportunities, and result in a permanent criminal record.
This means protecting your rights by keeping on top of any scheduled hearing, motion, conference, or other legal matter and having a knowledgeable lawyer on your side to answer questions about application deadline filings, family law matters, or exploring your legal options. In addition, courts aren’t eager to create an additional backlog of divorce and family law cases either, so sometimes alternative methods of resolving disputes such as mediation or arbitration may be more effective and economically sound alternatives to facilitate settlements agreeable to all parties.
No matter the kind of family law issue, criminal case, real estate transaction, or municipal court summons Bronzino Law Firm, LLC is ready to begin helping you today. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been able to provide our clients with the same level of quality legal services and representation as always, targeted to their needs. Conveniently located in Brick and Sea Girt, New Jersey, we know how stressful these situations can be, and are dedicated to providing highly attentive, effective, and knowledgeable legal counsel to each of our clients. With our honest, communicative, and dedicated approach to handling any legal issue, we believe we can find solutions to and overcome, even the most difficult of issues.
Have You Missed a Court Date? Are You Wondering What To Do?
Unexpected events happen, which may prevent someone from being able to make their court appearance. In one of our recent articles, “Consequences of Failing to Appear in Court or Respond to a Court Summons”, we discussed how if you or someone you love in New Jersey missed a court date for a traffic violation or a criminal offense or needs guidance on resolving a license suspension, arrest warrant, or an outstanding case, it is critical that you consult an experienced attorney who can best present your unique circumstances and explains your missed court appearance. Thus, possibly minimizing or avoiding any resulting penalties.
Open and honest communication with one´s legal counsel can provide context, prevent misunderstandings, arrest warrants, or time spent away from loved ones. In addition, a strong defense of the underlying charges can increase the chances of an acquittal or reduction to a lesser charge.
How Does Your Office Communicate With Clients During the Pandemic?
Since before the pandemic, The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, has been committed to safely and securely, serving and communicating with clients. We understand and believe that each client is different, with unique needs and goals, and as such, unique strategies must be crafted for each case in order to favorably settle them for our clients.
We want to keep our employees, as well as our clients and potential clients safe, so our new integrative approach of email, phone, video chat apps, and video conferencing options, gives our clients the personal connection and quality service they have come to expect from us, combined with the comfort that modern technology and the internet provides.
Does Your Office Support Client In Remote or Virtual Court Proceedings?
As the digital transformation of virtual court proceedings has tried to meet the challenges the pandemic has placed on the judicial system, it has also exposed numerous social challenges and discrepancies between internet access and connectivity.
As lawyers, we are committed to eliminating any disparities, in the same way, we would in a physical court, by making sure that if our clients are using technology remotely (i.e., via our office), they can still get justice. Just imagine how not having access to more modern means of internet connectivity (i.e., somewhat modern laptop or computer, high-speed internet) and the connection is lost or dropped or how lacking an environment conducive to properly hearing the proceedings or sufficient privacy to give testimony, could affect a client’s remote case hearing case.
We work with our clients to ensure they can focus on protecting their rights and seeking justice, by supportively guiding them through this “new normal” of a remote judicial process.
Contact Our Monmouth County Family Law Firm Today
At the Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our experienced attorneys provide our clients with the necessary support to negotiate with local courts, protect their rights, and ensure their and their family’s future, so they can move on to a place of calm and stability.
If you would like to schedule a free confidential consultation with a member of our team today regarding a municipal court summons or any family law issue you may be facing, please fill out the online form or call our Brick or Sea Girt office at (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your legal options.
Tips for Harmonious Co-Parenting Without the Active Participation of Your Ex
How to move forward with co-parenting planning, even in the absence of your ex’s active participation and collaboration. Our Monmouth and Ocean County Team of Family Lawyers are here to assist you in all of your Divorce, Support, and Custody related needs.
The process of divorce is an extensive and often stressful one. It takes a toll on your mental, physical, emotional, and financial life. Co-parenting classes are a phenomenal way to learn skills that will help you and your co-parent communicate and work together as a team in raising your children, focused on one common goal. When children are involved in the process of separation, however, the stakes – and the potential for stress – are amplified. Coming up with a plan to co-parent your children in a way that serves their best interest, regardless of whether you and your ex get along, is essential. However, when the relationship between ex-spouses is tenuous, or one parent is not willing to do their share to ensure successful co-parenting for the benefit of the children, a myriad of issues can arise. So what can a parent do to support an amicable co-parenting arrangement, when they’re in it alone?
Co-parenting classes are a phenomenal way to learn skills that will help you and your co-parent communicate and work together as a team in raising your children, focused on one common goal. What do you do, though, when your ex is not interested in attending co-parenting classes? In some cases, attending such classes is court-mandated, and both parties must participate or face sanctions. In the absence of that requirement, however, a mutual agreement to participate is obviously required in order for both parties to take part. There is, though, a great benefit to participating in a class even when your co-parent isn’t there to practice with you.
A co-parenting class provides a wellspring of tools for effectively communicating with your co-parent in service of meeting all of the needs of your children and establishing routines and rituals that create consistency in your children’s lives. Classes focus on such tools as nonviolent communication, in which ‘I Statements’ are used, along with observations actions, in order to state how you feel when those actions are taken, how you would like to feel, and specific requests to that end.
Another way that co-parenting classes can be supportive to you in your interactions with your co-parent and your child is that they help you become aware of your emotional triggers. When we are emotionally triggered, something in the present moment ignites a past emotional wound or block. The result of this is that we tend to react rather than respond. By getting to know your emotional triggers, and then learning techniques for how to pause when you feel upended, breathing and centering yourself quietly instead of projecting your feelings onto a person, you can single-handedly evolve the nature of your interactions and relationships. As your children grow, the communication and team-building skills you develop in co-parenting classes will serve you with your children as well. As such, it is an excellent investment of your time and energy, regardless of whether your ex participates with you.
Other Ways to Foster Supportive Co-parenting, Even Without your Co-Parent
Being the only one in a co-parenting relationship with the intention of collaborating in service of the best interests of your children can make you feel like the odds are stacked against you. However, with clear intentions and a bit of persistence, your effort to work alongside your co-parent in a goal-oriented way can pay off.
Keep High Expectations of Respect
Regardless of how your ex shows up to the table, by maintaining your own integrity and committing to yourself to show (and expect) respect, you immediately shift into a grounded state of power over force. When you can’t count on receiving the same kind of respect that you give, set firm boundaries. You are not required to invite them into your emotional life anymore; your relationship can be strictly logistical and your communication to the point and respectful while firm.
Ensure that your expectations are not transactional in nature – for example, be a clear and generous communicator, but try not to harbor resentment when your ex is not capable of the same decency. Remember that you’re showing up as your best version because you are a strong, sovereign person who loves and supports your children. Adversity – even in the form of a former spouse – can be overcome when you hold this perspective.
Model Positivity for your Children
Your children are the faultless – and impressionable – victims in the middle of any issues you have with your ex. Do your very best to not disparage your ex in front of them; and, as much as possible, speak of your co-parents’ strengths and qualities, showing your child that you do value them as a human and a parent.
Wall Township Divorce Lawyer Helps You and your Co-parent
At Bronzino Law Firm, our experienced team of family law supports clients across Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas in all matters regarding divorce and custody.
To schedule a consultation with a member of our team today to discuss your parenting time agreement, please fill out the online form or call us at (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your legal options.
Practice Self-care after Divorce advised by our Brick and Sea Girt Family Lawyers
The process of divorce takes an enormous toll on one’s life and health. Here are some ideas on how to nourish yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, and relationally after divorce.
If you are going through a divorce or have recently gone through one, you may feel like you’ve been run over by a steamroller, and regaining your footing, headed towards a sovereign and happy future, may seem far from your grasp. In order to secure a stable foundation for your multifaceted being as you move into a new chapter in your life, it is essential that you practice self-care during the divorce proceedings and immediately after. What that looks like can take many forms and affect many different areas of your life.
It has been said that the body keeps the score. This means that what is going on in your mental and emotional world often makes an appearance on the ground through your physical body. Stress and discontent manifest as disease, just as calm and inspiration manifest as physical vitality. What we offer to our bodies during this stressful time will have an impact on our mental and emotional state, thereby creating an allyship between our bodies and our minds.
During this time, it is essential that you listen to your body. According to the life science of Ayurveda, the body always strives for balance, while the mind always strives to exacerbate imbalance. This means that when you listen to your body, following its urges, you’ll likely move towards a state of inner harmony. During and after a divorce, committing to a healthy and consistent diet is key. Eat plenty of organic fruits and vegetables, which clean the physical (and, by proxy, mental-emotional system); and prepare plenty of root vegetables to help ground you during this anxiety-producing time of uncertainty. Make sure to stay hydrated: The American Heart Association notes that if you are feeling thirsty, it means that you are already dehydrated. When you are dehydrated, you have a higher concentration of toxins in your body than is proper for a healthy balance.
In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular exercise is important. Exercise causes the brain to produce endorphins like serotonin that improve your emotional state, giving you an overall sense of wellbeing. Whether you engage in strenuous activity such as jogging or weight training, or mind-calming movements such as yoga or martial arts, you will feel the benefits on physical, mental, and emotional levels.
The emotional experience one undergoes during and after divorce often feels like being in the middle of a storm at sea, with waves crashing into your ship and threatening to capsize you completely. In order to navigate these choppy waters, however, it is important that you allow yourself to fully feel your feelings. This doesn’t mean getting lost in the story of why you feel the way you do. On the contrary, it means sitting with the way the energy is moving through your body – and where-in this very moment. Learning how to identify your feelings and how they manifest in your body will help you master the practice of keeping your head above them and allowing the wave to subside of its own accord, while you hold space. Sitting with your feelings is an act of great courage (and perhaps many tears), but it is a gold mine of information about where you are stuck, and how leaning into the feelings may help old patterning release into emotional freedom.
One helpful ally in this intense process is nature. Connecting with the natural world around you helps develop presence, perspective, inspiration, and humility.
Now is the time to set time aside for yourself – focusing on what makes you feel inspired and creative. Get your creative juices flowing by envisioning a craft or project that you’ve been wanting to devote time to but haven’t had the bandwidth for. Even if you don’t yet have the time, money, or energy to dive full in, you’ll benefit from directing your mental intention to something that fills your love tank and has you looking toward the future.
Additionally, meditation is a tool that helps clear your mind and rebalance your nervous system, which may have gotten frazzled – locked in a fight-or-flight stress response – during the divorce. Try mindfulness or vipassana meditation to come home to yourself and find peace of mind.
Divorce can make you feel like you’re all alone. In reality, there are vast networks all around you into which you can tap. Seek the support of like-minded and like-hearted friends and groups who share similar interests. Start a new hobby to meet new people, and seek the professional support of a therapist.
Divorce Attorney in Brick Help You in your divorce process
At Bronzino Law Firm, our team of family law attorneys supports our clients across Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas in all matters relating to divorce and custody proceedings.
We focus on the fair and swift resolution of your divorce, so you can focus on your future.
Divorce and Finanaces Attorney Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
Finance related issues are often unavoidable when divorcing your spouse. Allow our qualified Divorce and Family Law Team to support you through the process. Give us a call at our Brick or Sea Girt location today.
Emotionally, divorce is one of the hardest challenges most of us will ever face. But separating from a partner isn’t just tough on our emotions and mental health, it can also pose all sorts of problems when it comes to our finances.
Finances can be hard hit by the cost of legal advice and filing fees. It varies by state, but on average, getting divorced in the U.S. costs approximately $15,000. When you add to that the cost of obtaining and moving into separate housing and surviving on a single income, it can be very challenging.
But as usual in life, there is an upside. Divorce can be a time to downsize, sharpen your pencil, figure out what you really need, and ultimately gain more control of your finances.
And if you know what NOT to do, you can spare yourself falling into some difficult pitfalls.
Here’s our list of pitfalls to avoid when figuring out your finances during a divorce.
1) Not Protecting Your Credit Score
A mistake made here can have lots of ramifications. While dividing your credit card debt or settling mortgage payments, keep your personal credit score top of mind.
The first thing to do is order a breakdown of your credit score. This reveals what you owe yourself, as well as debts you hold with your spouse. Try to pay off these debts now, because worrying after the divorce that your former spouse isn’t paying their share is no fun.
If you do need to work on repairing your credit rating, consider partnering with a reputable company.
2) Not Tracking Expenses
When you begin to realize that your marriage probably isn’t going to make it through, start keeping track of your expenses. General categories to work with are:
It would be wise to begin digging into several years’ worth of your old credit card statements and add things up that fall into the category of recurring expense. This might come in handy for your attorney as you decide how to split your assets—and debt. It will also show how child and spousal support should be split.
3) Making Legal Changes Without Telling The Court
Don’t change your will or the beneficiaries of your financial instruments. That will be done during your legal proceedings. The courts will not look favorably on you taking your finances into your own hands and making these changes yourself. In fact, the courts have been known to cite people with criminal contempt charges for doing this.
4) Spending Large Amounts
Don’t fall into the trap of worrying about how much money you’ll have after the divorce and start making big purchases as a result.
You might be unsure how you’ll afford presents for your kids, or a vacation, after your divorce. But resist spending large amounts of money before you divorce. The courts will not look indulgently on any unusual spending habits in the time before you officially split.
5) Not Organizing Your Documentation
Start to organize your financial documentation: tax returns, pay stubs, credit card statements.
Your lawyer is going to ask for them. Having them organized will make things less stressful, and it will help speed the process up.
6) Not Paying Off Your Credit Cards
Married couples share the responsibility equally of your joint accounts. If you don’t close these accounts as soon as you separate, you’ll still share the responsibility. So, if your ex-partner runs into debt, it will affect your credit score as well as theirs.
You should also notify your joint creditors, in writing, that you and your partner have divorced. Ask them to close the accounts once the balance is paid off. That way there’s no temptation for an ex-spouse to use or abuse them.
7) Not Researching Your State’s Divorce Law
Familiarize yourself with the divorce laws in your state, and start as soon as you think a divorce is quite possible.
State law guides the court in deciding your divorce and finances. If you live, for example, in a ‘community property state,’ everything you’ve acquired during your marriage will be considered joint property that belongs to you and your partner equally. These states include:
- New Mexico
8) Overlooking Your Tax Implications
Divorce affects the tax you and your partner will have to pay once you’ve separated. There are all sorts of tax-related issues you’ll have to solve, from whether your attorney fees are tax-deductible, to which of you will get the tax exemption for your dependents’ child support.
Become aware of all the tax issues that will probably arise after your separation. Taxes will affect your income and outgo.
9) Seeking Financial Revenge On Your Ex
Divorce can be highly emotional, and if the split isn’t amicable, it can be tempting to seek revenge on your ex, especially through money.
People sometimes sell their ex-spouses belongings or refuse to be transparent about their finances. But the courts do not approve of people’s attempts at revenge and have been known to penalize the perpetrator when dividing assets or even custody.
10) Being Too Emotional
Just as you shouldn’t lie to your partner or the judge when it comes to sorting everything out, you shouldn’t lie to yourself. Be aware of what you’re feeling. If you feel resentful towards your spouse, you could be in danger of convincing yourself that you don’t want to touch their money. Or, you might have the impulse to take as much as you can and run.
Try to stick to facts. Know what you’re entitled to. Don’t let your emotions cloud your judgment. Instead, be honest with everyone involved, including yourself, about your new financial situation. If you can foresee that you’re going to struggle, make sure that your pride doesn’t stop you from fighting for what you’ll need in the future.
Separation and divorce are difficult processes. By avoiding financial pitfalls, you can emerge from the divorce ready to build a better future.
Contact a Wall Township, NJ Finance, and Family Law Attorney to Reach a Positive Agreement between Parties
Divorce is a difficult situation, but a good lawyer knows how to work toward your best outcome. Here at Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, we have the experience and expertise to work things out well for you. To learn more, you could read about our skills at creating Equitable Distribution.
Pregnancy and Divorce Lawyers Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
The physical and emotional demands of pregnancy are compounded with the stress at the loss of a marriage that is no longer viable.
Coming to the realization that your marriage must come to an end can be devastating at any time—but even more so when you are expecting. The physical and emotional demands of pregnancy are compounded with the stress at the loss of a marriage that is no longer viable. Perhaps you are arguing about how to raise your child regarding religion, discipline, education, or other factors. You could be dealing with infidelity or domestic violence. Maybe there are questions about the paternity of the child, or you and your spouse have simply drifted apart.
Before you do anything, it is imperative to seek legal counsel immediately and begin a three-pronged approach to prepare for your upcoming separation.
The health of the mother and baby is crucial.
The subject of healthcare is crucial. One reason a couple may not want to divorce during pregnancy is the continuance of the health care coverage for both mother and baby, although the father of the baby can be ordered to provide insurance until after the baby is born regardless of their marital status.
In all cases following a divorce, an employer will no longer cover a spouse under an employee’s healthcare policy. A spouse will have 60 days to notify the employee’s health plan administrator that they would like to continue coverage. They will be able to do so as long as they pay the healthcare plan premium.
Also, during a divorce, temporary orders by the court may mandate that a spouse continue to provide health insurance until a divorce is finalized. If a spouse violates that order and drops a spouse anyway, the spouse that loses coverage can file a petition for a violation of the court order. The spouse will be required to add the person back on to the policy and incur any additional costs to do so.
If the parties wait to be divorced until after the birth of the baby, health care coverage continues uninterrupted for both mother and baby. Upon divorce, the mother will be responsible for her own health care coverage and the baby will continue to be eligible to be covered by either parent.
Spousal Support is Important.
Alimony is often awarded to the lesser-earning spouse to help them adjust to life after the divorce with the goal of achieving financial independence. While a new mother may wish to stay home with the new baby, the courts are not obligated to impose that arrangement on the father. However, the timing of the birth can be considered when striking an alimony agreement.
A judge probably will not expect a new mom to go out and look for a job if she is not currently employed. If she is employed but does not have paid family leave, the other spouse will likely be expected to support her until she can go back to work.
Typically, alimony is awarded to the “dependent” spouse for a specific period of time. In most instances, the amount and duration are determined on the basis of how much time and money is needed for the recipient (dependent spouse) to achieve the standard of living that the parties enjoyed during the marriage. In some instances (particularly in divorce cases involving long-term marriages), a court will order “permanent” maintenance. In New Jersey, at the end of a divorce case, a “final” decision regarding the amount and duration of maintenance will be made by the court and/or agreed upon by the parties.
A Child Support Agreement is Crucial
An unborn child is not a legal person under the law in New Jersey. Custody cannot be filed for or determined until the child is born. You cannot actually file for custody during your pregnancy, but despite this, there are some things you can do to lay the groundwork.
In a child support case, there is the custodial parent (the payee) who lives with the child most of the time and takes care of the daily responsibilities and the non-custodial parent (the payor) who also has important responsibilities aside from providing financial support. Co-parenting is vital to maintaining a healthy relationship with your child. Although one person may have the day-to-day duties, taking shared responsibility is a key element in the support and success of a child.
The biggest factor in calculating child support is how much the parents earn. Some states consider both parents’ income, but others consider only the income of the noncustodial parent. In most states, the percentage of time that each parent spends with the children is another important factor.
The fact is, having a baby is stressful, and the experience can challenge even the best of marriages. The birth of a baby usually brings about role changes, lifestyle adjustments, and financial struggles that both spouses can find frightening. As the arguments increase, the tension may build, until the divorce.
Contact a Monmouth County Divorce Attorney Today
There are many issues to decide when settling a divorce and it can be stressful to have to wait until the baby is born to get things in motion. The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC has extensive experience helping clients with all divorce-related matters across Ocean County, NJ including Brick, Jackson, Toms River, and Point Pleasant. He can get you prepared and have things in order so that when the time is right, you can move forward with your divorce.
The people represented by our firm are the ones who determine what is most important and we work with them to create a plan to meet their individual needs.
COLA Clause in Divorce Agreements Attorneys Brick and Sea Girt NJ
Child support payments are based on each parent’s current income, earning potential, housing situation, and of course the child’s specific financial needs.
The purpose of child support is to financially pay for the things a child will need. The non-custodial parent is paying the custodial parent to provide basic needs such as shelter, health care, education, food, and clothing. In New Jersey, the person paying is known as the obligor and the person receiving the support is the obligee. The supporting parent is not paying the custodial parent. The money is for the care of the child with the custodial parent overseeing the money utilized for the child’s care.
Can a Child Support Order be Modified?
Child support payments are based on each parent’s current income, earning potential, housing situation, and of course the child’s specific financial needs. But since situations can change at a moment’s notice — such as job loss, or even a promotion — child support modification is always an option. You and your child’s other parent may agree to modify the child support terms, but even an agreed-upon modification for child support must be approved by a judge to be legally enforceable.
If you and your ex cannot agree on a change, you must request the court to hold a hearing in which each of you can argue the pros and cons of the proposed modification. Generally, the court will not modify an existing order unless the parent proposing the modification can show a change of circumstances. This rule helps prevent the court from becoming overburdened with frequent and repetitive modification requests.
Examples of the types of changes that frequently support modification orders are:
- a child’s medical emergency
- the payer’s temporary inability to pay (for instance, because of illness or an additional financial burden such as a medical emergency or job loss), or
- temporary economic or medical hardship on the part of the recipient parent
- either parent receives additional income from remarriage
- job change of either parent
- cost of living increase
- disability of either parent, or
- a change in the needs of the child.
If there is an agreement on the part of the judge that the changed circumstances have been proven, the other parent will be required to provide financial information to the court and then the judge will review the available facts in the case and come to a decision on the modification request. After that, an order will be issued by the judge that will take into account the same factors that were taken into account when the child support award was initially made.
What is a COLA clause?
A Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) clauses make it so the child support payments change each year in accord with the increase or decrease of the annual cost of living. This amount is normally determined by an economic indicator, like the Consumer Price Index. If a COLA clause is included in your child support order, you need not go before a judge in order to modify the payment amount based on an increase or decrease in the cost of living.
The intent of a Cost of Living Adjustment clause is to increase support (spousal or child) as the costs of living rise, without having to make a motion to the court for future increases (post-divorce modification). Without such a clause, a party receiving maintenance must make a motion for an increase in payment to balance his or her growing financial needs. However, having a COLA clause does not take away a party’s right to make a motion for modification of the maintenance agreement due to a change in circumstances.
Even if the divorcing couple includes a Cost of Living Adjustment clause in their maintenance agreement, the court may not approve it. The court has the discretion to deny a COLA provision in a marital dissolution if the agreement fails to meet, or meets, certain criteria. Some conditions may include if the agreement already contains incremental increases in payment over a specified period of time, if the Cost of Living Adjustment option has been voluntarily waived by the parties or the court determines that, based on the party’s income, an increase in payments would not be feasible.
Why Should My Divorce Agreement include a COLA clause?
In a recent child support case, a NJ court judge determined that the passage of time does not necessarily mandate an increase in child support. What that means is that without a previous agreement, going back to court to request a custody modification based on the time that has passed, be it 2 years or 10, does not guarantee an increase. Having a COLA clause means your child is provided with financial support that fluctuates with the cost of living.
If the party making support payments has a reduction in his or her income, it is possible to file a motion with the court to reduce the number of support payments and modify the original maintenance/child support agreement. Also, if the original agreement did not include a limit to the COLA increases, the limit may be either monetary or a period of time.
If a party fails to pay child support, this does not automatically suspend the Cost of Living Adjustment increase. The two are separate issues. If a party cannot pay the COLA increase due to a change in circumstances, he or she will have to petition the court to reduce the number of payments or modify the agreement. Similarly, if child support payments are not being paid, the party not receiving the payments will have to file a claim in court for failure to pay the Cost of Living Adjustment increase and failure to pay child support. For any questions regarding this procedure, seek an attorney in your jurisdiction.
Contact a Monmouth County Family Law Attorney Today
A COLA clause is not a cure for child support disputes; however, it does provide divorcing couples with a set of guidelines that will allow their support payments to change based on changing economic times. If you are interested in creating a support agreement or need help filing for divorce, our family law attorneys have the knowledge and experience you need now.
We can create a plan tailor-made to your unique family law needs. Call The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, and feel free to contact us at (732) 812- 3102 or fill our online form and we´ll get in touch with you shortly.
Constructive Trusts and Child Support Attorneys Brick and Sea Girt NJ
A constructive trust is a judicially imposed remedy used to prevent unjust enrichment when one party wrongfully retains title to the property.
If you are involved in a dispute with your ex-spouse and you believe he or she is recklessly spending the money from joint accounts and/or unethically taking money from savings, such as college funds for children, an appropriate remedy could be the imposition of a constructive trust over his or her share of the assets (i.e., restraining his or her share of the assets to secure future payment).
What Is A Constructive Trust?
A constructive trust is a judicially imposed remedy used to prevent unjust enrichment when one party wrongfully retains title to the property. As the Supreme Court has held, this “is a fiction of equity created for the purpose of preventing unjust enrichment by one who holds legal title to property which, under principles of justice and fairness, rightfully belongs to another. A constructive trust is one that arises by operation of law against one who, by fraud, actual or constructive, by duress or abuse of confidence, by the commission of a wrong, or by any form of unconscionable conduct or questionable means, has obtained or holds the legal right to property which he ought not to have.
How Has the Court Dealt with Constructive Trusts and Child Support?
In D.M.H. v. H.G.H. NO. A-4267-17T2 (App. Div., June 12, 2020), a case argued recently in New Jersey, the defendant alleged that due to the termination of his six-figure salary and the change of technology that impacted his current employment, making alimony and child support payments was now an impossibility. However, the plaintiff demonstrated at trial that the defendant had taken money out of their accounts while in Europe to pay an alleged debt, had gambled away money, and had withdrawn $77,000 from the children’s college savings account. It was also proven that the defendant had removed nearly $15,000 in cash from ATM machines in nearby casinos. The defendant assured the court that all of the withdrawn funds were used to repay heavy debts but was unable to produce adequate documentation with which to substantiate the debts or document the repayment of the same. After considering the money Defendant had spent and his failure to contribute toward his children’s support, the court deemed it necessary to impose a constructive trust over his share of the assets to secure his future payment of child support and other financial obligations.
If the claimant cannot demonstrate that a constructive trust is appropriate, then a money order is usually awarded instead. The Court has stated that in family situations when determining the amount of a monetary award for an unjust enrichment claim:
A claim may be made for a constructive trust, giving one partner the right to live in the family home or the right to divide property, if:
- the couple share custody of a child and lived together in a relationship of some permanence, or
- one partner contributed financially to the home by paying part of the mortgage, property taxes, repairs or upkeep, and so on.
Generally speaking, the longer the relationship between unmarried cohabitees or common-law partners the more likely there is a remedy. Obtaining these rights, however, usually requires hiring a lawyer and often results in going to court. Division of property in a common-law relationship can be extremely complicated.
What Is My Next Step?
While the imposition of a constructive trust is not commonplace, there are specific factual circumstances that may necessitate it. If you believe that the specific facts in your matter require the imposition of a constructive trust, you should discuss it with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.
When going through a separation, divorce, or child custody it is important to make sure you are protecting your and your children’s financial future. Our experienced family law lawyers can provide information, legal assistance, and advice when you need it most.
Contact a Monmouth County Child Support Attorney Today
If you are considering hiring a lawyer to represent you, for legal advice and assistance regarding child support and unjust enrichment and constructive trust claims, and other family law matters, contact Peter Bronzino at our law offices located in Ocean and Monmouth counties. Call us at (732) 812-3102 or contact us online. We look forward to helping you resolve all of your legal issues with personalized, experienced service.
Domestic Violence Act, Household Members, and Blended Family Attorneys Brick NJ
As times change, with divorce rates at an all-time high, families are much more complex than they have ever been.
When individuals remarry and create a “blended family” with stepparents, stepsiblings, and half-siblings, laws regarding domestic living and discord require closer scrutiny and, in some circumstances, change. Recently, the definition of a “household member” in the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PVDA) was expanded to include family members who do not necessarily share a domicile.
“Household members” are the people who live in the house, right?
That isn’t exactly true. The definition of “household member” as it relates to who can meet the definition to be considered a “victim” under the PVDA in order to obtain a restraining order has been expanded. New Jersey courts have continued to stretch the circumstances under which the PDVA can be utilized.
A recent decision from the Honorable Gregory L. Acquaviva, J.S.C. in Monmouth County in the matter of S.C v. J.D, the family court addressed the definition of a “household member” in the context of a modern, blended family. In this case, the parties were half-siblings who did not reside together, but who spent regular time together as part of their blended family.
The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act requires that certain relationships exist before the statute can apply to them. Relevant here, “victim of domestic violence” is defined as: “any person who is 18 years of age or older . . . who has been subjected to domestic violence by . . . any other person who is a present household member or was at any time a household member.” N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19(d). The PVDA does not define “household.”
What have the Courts said about this issue?
Prior to the 2015 amendments, a “victim of domestic violence” included “any . . . person who is a present or former household member.” The Appellate Division reversed the entry of a final restraining order between middle-aged brothers who had not lived together in two decades. In 2012, the Appellate Division revisited the definition of a “household member”. According to the court, the analysis shifted from the amount of time that elapsed since the parties resided together to an evaluation of whether the current conflict arose from a prior domestic relationship. The sibling parties had stopped residing together in 1960. There was no contact between the estranged siblings for 19 years. However, despite the lengthy time apart and “sporadic episodes of intense strife” among them, because the defendant’s behavior was “a direct outgrowth of the parties’ earlier household relationship,” the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court’s finding of jurisdiction to apply the PDVA.
Another relevant case is Storch v. Sauerhoff, where the family court held that an adult stepdaughter who lived on the same block as her stepmother, but who had not lived under her stepmother’s roof for more than twenty years, was a “former household member.” In holding that “step” relationships may satisfy the “household member” requirement under the PDVA, the court rejected a literal reading of the PDVA, instead of applying a common-sense interpretation that recognized familial, emotional, and financial ties.
What were the findings in this latest Court decision?
In order to determine what the term “household” means in terms of the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, Judge Acquaviva in S.C. v. J.D. also drew upon the interpretations of the same from insurance policy cases, in which courts have found that “residence under a single roof is not a touchstone, and the meaning of ‘household’ inherently must vary depending on the circumstances.” A “substantially integrated family relationship” is a “household,” even where the household members are not continually under the same roof. The trial court found that “this flexible approach to defining “household” should similarly be implemented as a baseline in the PDVA context as “public policy concerns demand that the term ‘household member’ be defined even more expansively in domestic violence cases than in insurance . . . .”
Defining an Integrated, Modern, Blended Family
The trial court found that the facts of S.C. v. J.D. demonstrated an integrated, modern, blended family, in which the defendant resided at his own mother’s home, but spent meaningful, regular periods of time at his father’s home, which was the home of his half-sibling. That time included: regular bi-monthly weekend, overnight parenting time; extended and more frequent overnight parenting time during the summer; and extended vacation and regular camping trips. In modern parlance, his father was the parent of alternate residence and exerted meaningful, regular parenting time at his home – with the Plaintiff uniformly present.
“Household Member” Requirements in NJ Family Court
In view of the facts of S.C. v. J.D., the family court explained that pursuant to the PDVA that, for purposes of the jurisdictional “household member” requirement, includes:
“A child whose parents are separated during youth but who spends meaningful, regular periods of time at a parent of alternate residence’s home such that he or she is substantially integrated into that ‘household’ may simultaneously have two households creating jurisdiction vis-à-vis a victimized half-sibling who resided solely with the shared parent. ‘Household member’ as used in the PDVA’s definition of ‘victim of domestic violence’ must be sufficiently flexible to accommodate the ever-changing dynamics of modern families. To restrict a child whose parents are separated to only one household despite meaningful, regular time in a second household would alter the statutory construct, discriminate against members of blended families, and unduly restrict the broadly designed, legislatively crafted protections afforded victims of domestic violence.”
In other words, the half-sibling/defendant who resided with the mother and visited the father regularly, where he was in contact with the accused, was considered a “household member”. The importance of this is the victim’s ability to press charges under the PVDA.
Who else is considered a “household member”?
The courts have exerted “household member” jurisdiction in various circumstances, including roommates, tenants, cohabitants, college suitemates, and de facto family members who spend a lot of time with members of the family.
Contact our skilled Domestic Violence Attorneys in Monmouth and Ocean County Today
Domestic violence is an unfortunate and sad reality that occurs in many households. Should you find yourself in need of legal support regarding domestic violence we are here to orient your legal decisions. Our expert legal team will tailor a plan that meets your unique needs. At the Bronzino Law Firm, we take pride in having successfully represented clients across New Jersey, including Ocean and Monmouth counties.
Staying Healthy Through the Divorce Process and Building a Life After Divorce
Brick Divorce Attorneys offer the following suggestions to support you in your transition to the next chapter of your life.
Going through a divorce isn’t easy. Even when separation is inevitable and a split is healthy for both parties, the divorce proceedings and transition process can take a serious toll on your mental, emotional, and financial health. When there is tension between exes, the stressors increase, but even the most amicable divorce can leave you feeling drained and disoriented.
The support of an experienced and conscientious family law attorney will allow you to focus your attention on your emotional wellbeing, as well as ensure that you receive your fair share of the marital assets. A family law attorney also makes it possible for you to develop the networks of social support during this important time of transition so that you are grounded moving forward into your new life.
How can I take care of myself after a divorce?
We offer the following suggestions to support you in your transition to the next chapter of your life. Divorce proceedings aren’t only taxing on your relationship with your ex and your finances. They represent a dismantling of entire life orientation and a redirection. Navigating this tumultuous time – which is also a powerful opportunity – with the help of proper resources and perspectives can make all the difference in how quickly you are able to move forward into your future.
Be gentle with yourself.
It is normal to mourn the death of a relationship and life you built with your ex. Whether you began the process of moving through the eight stages of grief long before the divorce or you are just feeling the sadness now, allowing yourself time to feel is essential to complete healing and moving into your new life whole. Many things will change as a result of a divorce – friendships may fall away; the sense of security and stability you once took for granted may feel pulled out from beneath you; and your relationship with your children may go through a turbulent time as everyone acclimates to a new normal, each within their own stage of the grief and transition process.
Take care of your body.
Stress affects both the body and the mind. During the course of the divorce proceedings, you may find your appetite to be erratic and your self-care rituals thrown by the wayside. This, however, is the most important time to be diligent about grounding in routines and rituals that nourish you on physical, mental, and emotional levels.
- Eat a healthy diet. Making sure you eat a well-rounded diet during this time, focusing on grounding foods such as root vegetables and hearty grains, will support as you face the waves of emotion and stress brought on by a divorce. Eat a variety of organic fruits and vegetables to maintain a clean system, and stay hydrated.
- Move your body. Whether it is taking a stroll through a park, participating in a yoga class, or elevating your heart rate with high-intensity training, all physical movement is going to support your nervous system and immune system at this time. The endorphins released in your brain, like serotonin, will increase your feelings of wellbeing and resilience.
- Sleep is essential to help the body recuperate, especially from the effects of the fight-or-flight responses that the body produces during a testy experience like a divorce, such as elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Similar to rest, meditation activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest-and-digest counter to the fight-or-flight response. Finding 15 minutes to focus on your breath moving through your body can have remarkable impacts on your resilience and even your immune function.
The presence of inspiring and supportive figures in your life at this time is essential. Seek out people who lift you up, and gather around activities that exercise your mind, body, and spirit – like book clubs, yoga classes, and group hikes. Develop your hobbies and seek out the community that is gathering around them. You never know who you might meet and what you might learn!
Divorce Attorney in Brick Help You Transition the stages in your divorce process
In addition to having a community around you, seeking the support of a professional therapist can help you find perspective and actively heal aspects that are struggling with this transition process.
At Bronzino Law Firm, our team of divorce attorneys brings extensive experience supporting our clients across Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas in coming to a swift and fair divorce settlement that aligns them with a bright future.
Does Refusing Overtime Imply Underemployment when calculating Child Support?
With experience handling child support related issues, at Bronzino Law, we understand that each client is different, and requires a specific plan of action suited to their own individual needs.
Whenever parents of children divorce or dissolve their legal relationship, one of the most important issues to be decided is that of child support. Although determining a child support arrangement in New Jersey can be a complex issue, the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines (NJCSG) were developed to dictate how to calculate child support and to provide fairness and uniformity in child support settlements.
When assessing the financial means or assets each parent has available for support purposes, is important to consider is not only the actual earned wages but what the parents’ income capabilities are. If a parent is voluntarily underemployed or unemployed and earning less than what he or she is capable of earning, the Child Support Guidelines allows the court to impute income to the parent who could or should be earning more.
It’s not always clear what a parent is capable of earning or if a parent is voluntarily underemployed. Some people have seasonal, occasional, variable, a second job, or “sporadic” income like overtime.
At the Bronzino Law Firm, LLC we take great care getting accurate income figures from both you and your spouse, as well as factoring in child custody arrangements in order to accurately determine your child support obligations and rights.
With experience handling a wide variety of child support related issues such as paternity actions, and child support modifications, we understand that each client is different, and requires a specific plan of action suited to their own individual needs.
Contact us online or our Sea Girt or our Brick office at (732) 812-3102 to discuss your unique needs and concerns related to any child support or family law matter in a free and confidential consultation with a member of our legal team today.
What is the Difference Between Underemployment and Unemployment When Calculating Child Support?
Underemployment usually refers to a person that is fact working but in some cases not as much as they’d like to or not to the full extent of their abilities, skills, or education. An individual working part-time instead of full-time may be considered underemployed. It can also refer to a person with very high qualifications working in a lower position with less money.
Unemployment or being without a job can be voluntary or involuntary. When a capable person actively seeking employment cannot find work, at any level, they are considered involuntarily unemployed. Conversely, if an individual refuses employment due to factors such as hours, wages, etc., they are considered voluntarily unemployed.
Can the Court Impute Income Based on Income Available From Overtime Hours If A Parent Does Not Take Advantage of Said Overtime?
As a result of the recent NJ Superior Court case of Ferrer v. Colon, FD-2392-07 (Ch. Div. 2020), the trial court specifically decided that overtime pay is “sporadic income,” which is fluctuating income that may be offered but is not guaranteed to an employee. Bonuses, commissions, and seasonal work are also types of sporadic income. If sporadic income is included in the NJCSG, then it should be averaged over a period of no more than three years. It was also determined that averaging overtime pay is fair because it considers that a party may work multiple overtime hours in one year and not at all in a different year.
In addition, the trial court held that there was no evidence that the party whose income was in question worked all available overtime provided by the employer and, therefore, it was not appropriate to include the total available overtime this person could have potentially worked, in the NJCSG. To calculate child support based on available overtime pay instead of averaging the overtime pay actually earned could serve to punish a party for having employment where overtime pay is available, and being unfair, might require one party to work harder than the other.
What Proof Can I Give to Prove True Hardship Related to My Unemployment or Underemployment?
The most recent causes for unemployment and unemployment are evident in the effect COVID-19 has had on many businesses; producing a catastrophic economic downturn on the local, state, national, and international levels. As money becomes tighter, companies have been cutting on hiring, hours, or simply laying-off current staff.
If a parent becomes involuntarily underemployed or unemployed then they should obtain copies of all termination notices, cover letters seeking employment, lists of appointments and interviews, job searches, and a calendar of daily efforts made to find suitable employment. This type of documentation can prove to a court that the parent was in fact let go or fired from work. In addition, this provides evidence of a sort that the parent has been or is making a good faith effort to seek suitable employment opportunities.
Has your financial situation changed recently and you want to if you qualify for a COVID-19 modification? Are an unmarried mother interested in collecting or enforcing financial support from the father of the child or an unwed father and you want to know about your rights and obligations related to paying child support?
Contact a Brick Support and Visitation Enforcement Attorney Today
Bronzino Law Firm, LLC has extensive experience helping clients in towns like Toms River, Point Pleasant, Wall, Jackson, and the surrounding areas to quickly and efficiently petition the courts to intervene in cases where a former spouse or co-parent is not living up to their child support agreement, or an unmarried parent is interested in collecting financial support or just needs to know about their rights and obligations.
Our smaller size allows us to develop personal and attentive relationships with our clients while charging reasonable and fair rates for our services. We believe that by communicating regularly and honestly with our clients, we can best help them to make the difficult decisions necessary when it comes to divorce law, and effectively and favorably resolve any resulting issues.
To speak with our firm today in a free and confidential consultation regarding enforcement of your child support, spousal support, or parenting time order, contact us online or through our Brick, NJ office at (732) 812-3102.