Category: Marital Assets
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.
How 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?
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?
Some 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.
Tips on how to Manage your Estate Plan in Monmouth and Ocean County Divorce
Estate Plan Attorney educating on your financial well being in Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Ocean Township, Red Bank and across the Jersey Shore
Divorce has implications for every aspect of a person’s life, from their emotional, mental, and physical health to their financial wellbeing. During and after a divorce, most people reassess elements of their lives and plans for the future and refine them, in order to be more in alignment with their new trajectory. One financial rearrangement that may need attention is the estate plan. An estate plan doesn’t only strategically prepare you for your future – it affects your children and determines many important elements of their wellbeing in the case of your death or that of your ex. Having an understanding of how the divorce could and does affect the myriad aspects of your estate is essential in the early post-divorce process. So what are immediate steps to take involving updating your estate plan after finalizing a divorce? Read on to learn more.
Update your healthcare proxy
The healthcare proxy is the person who can legally make decisions for you if you are injured and cannot make decisions for yourself, and you likely don’t want your ex maintaining that legal power. Change your healthcare proxy to a trusted friend or family member.
Change your power of attorney
As is the case with the healthcare proxy, it is important to withdraw your ex’s legal role as the power of attorney if they are so named. In their place, name a trusted friend or family member.
Share your divorce agreement with your estate planner
Your estate planner has your family’s best interests and financial wellbeing in mind. As such, sharing your divorce agreement with them is an essential early step in the post-divorce process. Before the estate planner can help you update your estate plan, they need to know what your legal obligations are to your ex in the case of your death. What you can change will depend on what you must legally provide in the case of your death.
An estate planner can also check for holes in the divorce agreement that will adversely impact your financial wellbeing and that of your family, such as what the impact of the divorce is on retirement account beneficiaries and whether you are protected from having to pay state and federal estate taxes. The estate planner will review whether your ex can change beneficiaries and how your death would impact your children’s financial wellbeing as estate plans currently stand.
Change your will
There is a likelihood that you will no longer wish for your ex to be named in your will. If this is the case, it’s time to update it. The main revision will be removing your spouse from the role of executor of the will. Unless specifically desired, you do not want your ex to have power over your estate or your trust.
Update your beneficiaries
There are numerous savings accounts and policies for which you have named a beneficiary. Retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and IRAs are just some of the accounts you will need to update if you don’t want your ex to maintain a claim if you die. Some states automatically wipe an ex-spouse from being a beneficiary, but this is not always the case. If you named your spouse while you were married, forget to update, and then die, the process of the desired or secondary beneficiary receiving the funds could involve litigation.
Consider a trust
A shared life insurance policy will need to be addressed during the divorce proceeding. The person who owns the policy must pay premiums – yet they also have the power to change beneficiaries. In order to ensure that your children are cared for in the case of your ex’s death, it may be wise to name a trust as the owner of the insurance policies in order to ensure that a steady continuance of payment of the policy continues for the benefit of your family.
A trust can also be established in order to ensure a steady flow of alimony and child support. The creator of the trust, called the grantor, makes payments into the trust based on its outlined provisions. If the grantor dies, the beneficiaries can receive funds without probate. There are also tax advantages to setting up a trust as opposed to other forms of handling alimony and child support.
Consult an experienced Estate Planning and Divorce Attorney in Brick or Sea Girt NJ to protect your interests
At Bronzino Law Firm, our team is skilled in handling all matters of divorce and estate revisioning for our clients across in Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Ocean Township, and across the Jersey Shore.
Our unique approach ensures that your financial legacy is secure.
To meet with an experienced team member to go over your estate planning needs, please call 732-812-3102 to schedule a consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Brick and Sea Girt or fill out the online form and we´ll get back to you shortly.
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 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
This, 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.
Easy 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.
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.
The 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
Our unique and thorough approach ensures that our clients receive their fair share of the marital assets in a divorce.
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.
The 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
A 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.
Brick and Sea Girt NJ Same-sex Divorce Attorneys
Monmouth and Ocean County Divorce Lawyers discuss potential roadblocks that divorcing same-sex spouses may come across
Going through a divorce is difficult for anyone involved. It comes with emotional, mental, physical, and financial stress that can turn your world upside down. Often, there are complicating factors that make a divorce even more difficult to navigate, such as when children are involved. Another example is two spouses of same-sex divorcing. Their stresses may be augmented due to a few additional complications in the process.
Dividing Assets Prior to Legalization of Same Sex Marriage
One of the most difficult hurdles that many divorcing same-sex couples in New Jersey face is the division of their assets. New Jersey legalized same-sex marriage in 2013, relatively recently for many LGBTQ couples. Couples who have a longstanding relationship and many shared assets accumulated over the years will have a harder time legally dividing those assets, as their union was not recognized until their marriage was legalized in 2013 or later. As CNBC noted in its 2017 report “Same-Sex Divorce Poses Complications for Some Splitting Couples,” court systems don’t have a standard method of determining how assets are split from a couple that has been together for longer than their legal recognition. According to the report, some courts may accept, given proof, that the relationship functioned at the status of marriage, albeit unofficial, before the passage of the 2013 Garden State Equality Law. In such a case, the judge may consider all assets acquired since then shared assets. This certainly isn’t the standard, so a divorce involving a long-term relationship that has only been legalized in the last few years could mean a dependent spouse losing entitlement to many of the ‘shared’ assets.
State-to-State Discrepancies in Same Sex Marriage Law
States have dealt with the issue of same-sex marriage differently from state to state over the past decades. Until the Defense of Marriage Act was found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and repealed in 2013, determining that the federal government cannot discriminate against a gay, lesbian, or queer couple for the purposes of federal legal rights and protections, same-sex couples have had to navigate their relationships differently. Even after DOMA was overturned, it took years for many states to legalize same-sex marriage, though domestic partnerships may have been legally recognized. Until 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states in Obergefell vs. Hodges, couples who moved between states over the course of their relationship or were in states in which domestic partnership – or nothing – was legal had to live between blurred lines in the recognition of their union.
According to Forbes, one of the main difficulties same-sex couples face is that before the DOMA was repealed, many couples obtained the legal status of a domestic partnership. After the repeal, some states automatically converted domestic partnerships to marriages. However, some did not. This means that upon divorce, some couples have to terminate the marriage and terminate the domestic partnership.
The complications that a long-term, interstate relationship can add to a divorce are many, though they can be navigated and resolved with the support of a skilled divorce attorney who is knowledgeable in the state and federal legal timeline of marriage law before the federal blanket legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015.
When children are involved
As with any divorce, the inclusion of a child complicates matters. This is especially the case if the child was adopted before the marriage was legalized in New Jersey. The parent who has legal guardianship rights of the adopted child may receive custodial rights in a divorce if, at the time of adoption, the couple was not married.
If one member of the couple is the biological parent of the child, they will likely be granted custodial rights unless the other parent has undergone the process of adoption. This means that the other spouse is not required to pay child support after a divorce, though they may also not have custodial or even visitation rights after the divorce if there is no legal relationship between spouse and child. In order to have custodial rights or visitation rights – and pay child support, the spouse must have adopted or taken steps to adopt, or have obtained a parentage judgment.
CONTACT A BRICK, NJ SAME SEX DIVORCE ATTORNEY
At Bronzino Law, LLC, our team of divorce attorneys serves clients across Monmouth County and Ocean County towns including Neptune, Manasquan, Point Pleasant, Toms River, Brick, Asbury Park, Wall and more in all divorce and child custody matters.
Feel free to call our Brick or Sea Girt Bronzino Law, LLC office at (732) 812-3102 for a free and confidential virtual consultation today to discuss your specific situation when it comes to any kind of divorce or family law matter.
Divorce and Impact of Coronavirus Attorneys Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
Serving families facing challenging life uncertainties in towns like Wall, Sea Girt, Brick, Toms River, Asbury Park, Neptune, and more
If the quarantine experiences and statistics coming from China and the UK are to be believed, forced social isolation as a result of COVID-19 is taking marital tension and thoughts of separation, civil union dissolution, and divorce to new heights. As couples experience little or no time apart, balance childcare and homeschooling responsibilities with working from home, and possibly the presence of extended family members, marital issues that may have been swept under the rug in the past, are now being dragged out into the light. Combined with potential unemployment, financial worries, and health problems, this situation is a volatile mixture that can impact a person’s physical and mental well-being, the result of which, can be seen in families who have pre-existing domestic violence and child abuse issues and an increase of calls to law enforcement.
The stress and dramatic shift in relationship expectations, parental roles, and the attempt to balance working from home and homeschooling schedules in some cases, has emotionally stretched many previously happy couples, and family dynamics, forcing many to reassess how they perceive their future living situation to be once certain restrictions are lifted.
The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC is prepared to provide legal services in a safe, secure, confidential, and convenient way without compromising 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.
Contact us online or call us at (732) 812-3102 to arrange a free virtual legal consultation from the comfort of your home or office, and with the convenience of your smartphone, laptop, or tablet. The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, is prepared to protect your rights and answer your legal questions or family law-related issues.
Will the “Stay-at-home” Order Affect My NJ Child Custody or Support Agreement?
As we wrote recently in “Corona Virus Impacts Coparenting and Parenting Time Agreements”, parents who are in the divorce process or whose divorce or civil dissolution was finalized prior to the “shelter-in-place” restrictions, are concerned about their child custody schedule, fear that their child may be exposed during a parental visitation, and question whether they will be held in contempt if the other parent tries to enforce the custody agreement. In other cases, parents have sought to modify their child custody agreement because the co-parent, grandparent, or someone in their household or apartment building has contracted corona or due to co-parent’s unpredictable workplace demands or longer hours (i.e., essential personnel in the medical, law enforcement, service industry) and the belief they cannot provide the same level of safety and care as before.
Each situation is different. So whether you area parent already struggling to pay child support, who fears that their inability to work will affect their payments or a parent who wants to request a child support modification to reflect their temporary decreased earnings, having the support of an experienced family law attorney is vital to ensuring your rights are protected and you’re not in contempt of any legal orders concerning your case.
Contact an Ocean and Monmouth County Divorce Attorney Today
At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our New Jersey family attorneys are committed to supporting our clients throughout Ocean County towns such as Toms River, Wall, Point Pleasant, Asbury Park, Spring Lake, Brick, and all of Eastern New Jersey in matters regarding divorce, custody agreements and parenting time schedules.
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.
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
Divorce 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
The 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
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.
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.
There 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?
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.