Category: Marital Assets

Stimulus Check in Ocean and Monmouth County NJ Divorce Attorneys

The U.S. government stepped in to provide stimulus funding to counter the instability that the pandemic has caused for individuals and families.

Stimulus Check in Ocean and Monmouth County NJ Divorce AttorneysThe Covid-19 pandemic has wrought havoc on the entire world. The physical, emotional, and financial effects of the Coronavirus have forced people everywhere to adjust their lives. The U.S. government stepped in to provide stimulus funding to counter the instability that the pandemic has caused for individuals and families. Stimulus funding of $1,200 per person was based on the gross income they reported in their most recent tax return, as well as their filing status — couples who submitted one tax return received a joint stimulus check. This has created confusion for couples who have separated or divorced since they last filed a joint tax return. In this case, who gets the funds? Read on to learn more.

What was the stimulus check?

The U.S. government provided each United States citizen and resident alien with a stimulus check, called an Economic Impact Payment, of $1,200, as long as their adjusted gross income was no larger than $112,500 for heads of household or $75,000 for other eligibles. In the case that a couple filed their taxes jointly, the government provided a joint stimulus payment of $2,400, given that the married couple’s joint filing was no larger than $150,000. To be eligible to receive the Economic Impact Payment, the filer also could not be a dependent of another taxpayer, and they have to have a work-eligible Social Security number.

What if my spouse and I separated or divorced after our last tax filing?

If you and your spouse filed your taxes for the last fiscal year jointly, but have since separated or divorced, the government still sent you a joint stimulus check. In this case, these funds are considered marital assets, and as such, are subject to being equitably distributed. It is essential that you seek the counsel of your family law attorney in properly reporting and distributing these funds. Failure to do so could result in consequences that affect the marital assets you receive in the divorce because it could be considered withholding assets, which is illegal.

Even if you and your partner have already filed a financial affidavit with the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part, which outlines all of your marital assets, when you received the stimulus funding, you must report it after the fact, as it is considered one of those marital assets. Though the government funding was not included in the affidavit you and your partner each signed, all marital assets obtained after the fact due to extenuating circumstances such as this one are likely considered part of those legally binding provisions. Hiding such assets could even be considered an act of perjury, as you signed off on all marital assets in the affidavit but withheld one, even if received after the fact. According to N.J.S.A. 2C 28-1, this type of contempt of court is a third-degree offense in New Jersey that is punishable by the financial penalty or even time in jail. Punishment for such a crime could be a fine of up to $15,000 and jail time of 3-5 years. Is that worth it for a relatively small stimulus check?

What if my spouse and I separated or divorced after our last tax filing?Aside from the obvious desire to be in alignment with New Jersey law, another reason to make sure you have the counsel to properly report the joint funding is that a judge has the legal reach to take your own stimulus check from you if the court finds you have withheld that funding from the proper procedure distributing marital assets. Consider the following ways in which marital assets are sometimes withheld, and make sure that you are not accidentally committing any of these crimes: hiding money at your place of employment or in a business bank account in order to not report it to your joint account; transferring funds to a family member; putting funds in your child’s accounts without the intention of keeping it there, and without the permission from your spouse to use their rightful money in that way; loaning funds to friends that includes marital money, without your spouse’s permission.

Brick Divorce Attorney Guide you File your Case

When in doubt, seek the support of a trusted legal advisor to ensure that you and your ex receive your fair share of marital assets during your divorce process.

At Bronzino Law Firm, our skilled team of family law attorneys supports clients across Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas in all divorce processes, including the separation of marital assets and the receipt of stimulus funding post-affidavit submission.

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

How can I make sure that child support is calculated according to my income?

During a divorce in New Jersey, the process of determining what each party’s income is a complex one.

How can I make sure that child support is calculated according to my income?Income determines whether alimony will be paid to maintain the other party’s standard of living, as well as be considered in the determination of child support payments. One would think that determining income would be as simple as reviewing the person’s income tax returns. This, however, is not the case; many other factors play into one’s “income,” as it is defined by the New Jersey Superior Court, including non-monetary assets, unnecessary business expenses that falsely deflate income, in-kind goods and services, and professional skills and employability that have not been utilized due to marital circumstances. Read on to learn more about how income is determined for the purposes of alimony and child support.

The Many Faces of Income

New Jersey child support laws dictate that a detailed review of each parent’s gross income be considered in determining monthly child support obligations. Income takes many forms, including non-monetary ones. Below are some examples of income that lend themselves to alimony and support duties, though they may not be reflected in common tax documents.

Determining Gross Income

Income includes salary or profits, in the case of business owners (minus “ordinary and necessary business expenses”), as well as non-monetary forms such as assets, income from management of rentals, and in-kind goods and services enjoyed. For those who make a salary or are contract workers, gross income is what is earned before taxes are withdrawn. Additionally, investments that either party holds are subject to being considered as income for the purposes of determining child support payments.

For business owners, the business’s net profits are considered income, and only exclude the business’s ordinary and necessary expenses. These expenses must be directly tied to the functioning of the business. For example, payments for a company car can be considered ordinary and necessary business expenses. On the other hand, personal vehicle expenses are not.

In many cases, a spouse will use the business account to pay for personal expenses, such as utilities, technology, or even vacations, among many others. If an attorney proves or the court deems that an expense is not directly related to the functioning of the business, the amount will be added back to the business’s profit for purposes of determining income, according to New Jersey child support laws.

Additionally, money flowing in that is not directly business-related can be considered income for the purposes of the child support payment. For example, if the business has extended a loan and monthly payments are coming in, or if the business owns a property that is being rented, and monthly rent is being received, each of these will add to the company’s gross income.

Imputing Income

Brick Child Support Attorney Help You Navigate through your CaseSometimes, one’s actual income doesn’t reflect their professional capacity. This could be true in the case of a stay-at-home parent who, despite limited or absent traditional income, has an advanced degree and therefore high employability. In this case, a divorce attorney can help to identify the resources to prove what their income would be if they were engaged in the workforce. This is called imputing the party’s income. In order to find what the spouse’s earnings would be, experts look at their professional qualifications, education, and training; the region in which they live and the corresponding available jobs that match their qualifications; and average earnings for corresponding professions as reported by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. From this research, a spouse’s income is imputed, and the argument is made that they are responsible for providing child support payments based on their potential employment income figure, though they have not made such an income recently due to their marital circumstances.

Finally, non-monetary in-kind goods and services are audited to determine their monetary value and added to income for the purposes of determining child support payment. Whether these in-kind means are personally or professionally tied (usually business enjoy in-kind options in exchange), the court will determine what the market value of the goods or services are and add this figure to the party’s gross income.

Throughout this process of determining fair monthly child support payments, having the support of a skilled and experienced divorce attorney is imperative to ensure that the payments you give or receive are fair.

Brick Child Support Attorney Help You Navigate through your Case

At Bronzino Law Firm, our attorneys are experienced supporters of clients across Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas in determining and meeting their custody and child support obligations.

To schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our firm today to discuss your child support obligations, please visit our online form or call us at  (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your options.

Divorce Proceedings and Mediation Attorneys in Monmouth and Ocean County NJ

Contrary to popular belief, divorce mediation is not utilized as an attempt to reconcile the relationship.

Divorce is a complicated matter. Even couples whose relationship is amicable must navigate the rocky terrain of fair division of marital assets and, in the case of couples who share children, custodial arrangements. When separation is mutual or both parties are willing to work together to ensure an expedited and respectful process, they sometimes decide to use private mediation to facilitate their divorce proceedings, instead of the more traditional litigation, handled by the New Jersey Superior Court system.

What is divorce mediation?

A divorce mediator is not a couples therapist. The ins and outs of a spousal relationship are of no concern to the office of mediation. A divorce mediator is an uninterested third party who serves to facilitate the legal divorce proceedings. In order for mediation to be a viable option for a divorcing couple, each spouse must be an active participant in respectful collaboration. Mediation is often considered a less-costly alternative to litigation, but this is only because, during divorce mediation, a couple’s negotiation involves less fighting and more getting down to the business of separating assets and ensuring that each spouse’s quality of life post-divorce is in comparable to the marital quality of life.

The importance of quality representation

Using a divorce mediator does not mean that you and your spouse will not each have your own attorney. While the mediator facilitates the private separation, much like a judge would in a public court setting, it is imperative that you are represented by an experienced divorce attorney so that the mediator has all the information they need to properly distribute assets, so you are ensured your fair share. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state. This means that all marital assets and debts – the savings, properties, vehicles, valuable items, and unpaid expenses you and your spouse accumulate following your marriage – are fairly distributed in the divorce.

What is divorce mediation?

Like a judge, a divorce mediator will use the documentation of assets provided by both parties to determine what fair distribution is. The support of an attorney will support you in making sure that you have properly accounted for all assets and make a strong argument as to the quality of life you expect to uphold following the divorce. An attorney can also help to ensure that your spouse does not withhold assets that are rightfully yours to share, doing the due diligence necessary for complete and fair distribution. Again, mediation is typically undergone by couples who are on speaking terms and actively open in the mediation process. However, the expertise and experience of a legal representative will keep oversight – accidental and otherwise – from affecting your right to receive the divorce arrangement you deserve.

So could mediation be an option for a couple that is not on the best of terms? Yes. The key element of divorce mediation is the mutual agreement of each party to participate. A divorce mediator is trained in facilitating a collaborative environment that services the best interests of both parties and any involved children. A mediator is aware that even the most amicable couples will be affected by the emotional nature of a divorce and division of sometimes sentimental assets, as well as the formalization of the death of a relationship. As such, they will take the time necessary to ensure that each spouse is on the same page and in agreement at each stage of the process. That said, while emotional barriers and arguments in the negotiation are par for the course, if you and your spouse have a history of abuse or other unresolved traumas, or if you don’t see eye to eye about what is “fair” in terms of the divorce, mediation may not be for you. Conflicts that arise may not be reconciled by a mediator, and in this case, litigation before a judge will be the necessary next step.

Similarly, a mediator can help facilitate the process of coming to custodial arrangements and New Jersey-mandated parenting time schedules, to be finalized by the Superior Court: Family Part. However, if there are deep divisions in perspective about what is in the best interest of the children, completing the process before the courts are likely your best option.

Wall Township Divorce Lawyer Helps in the Mediation Process to Reach a Positive Agreement between Parties

At Bronzino Law Firm, our divorce attorneys are experienced in providing our clients across Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas the necessary support to ensure a fair divorce settlement, so they can move on with their lives from a place of calm and quality.

If you would like to schedule a consultation with a member of our team today regarding mediation or other facets of your divorce, please fill out the online form or call us at  (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your legal options.

Bitcoin Assets and Divorce Attorney Monmouth and Ocean County NJ

As times change and technological advances seem to arise almost daily, the equitable distribution of assets during a divorce is more challenging than ever.

Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin can be tough to trace when one suspects that a spouse or partner is hiding their true financial worth by using this unregulated monetary system.  Here at the Law Offices of Peter Bronzino, we are aware of how complicated the process can be.  Read on to see the warning signs if your spouse is using Bitcoin to hide assets and how we can help you reach a fair settlement.

What are Bitcoins?

Bitcoin Assets and Divorce Attorney Monmouth and Ocean County NJBitcoin is a worldwide digital currency developed back in 2009, which has seen an increase in almost mainstream popularity over the past year or so. The Bitcoin exchange is completely decentralized, meaning there are no attachments to banks or governments.

There is no compelling reason to give names when managing in Bitcoins; all that is required are the person’s wallet IDs. It is additionally a lot simpler to move Bitcoins out of the country, making them significantly harder to find. This anonymity, the lack of paper trail that would typically be found through conventional transactions and the current lack of regulation is why divorce attorneys are concerned that these transactions could provide new opportunities for a divorcing spouse to be disingenuous in regard to their assets. The following tips can help you and your attorney discover any virtual money that your spouse has not disclosed.

Bank and credit card records show a transaction with a cryptocurrency exchange.

Certain online sites work as the section point for a great many people keen on acquiring or exchanging Bitcoin and other advanced monetary forms. Trades include Coinbase, Binance, Etoro, Coinswitch, Luno, and PaxForex. All it can take is one exchange in “typical dollars and pennies” to enter this new universe of Bitcoin, where untold computerized cash can be acquired. So in the event that you see any crypto action, anyway slight, it is deserving of further examination — particularly if your partner excluded it from the Case Information Statement. Each crypto wallet (where computerized money is kept) accompanies a one of a kind “key” that would then be able to be followed to show all exchanges related to the wallet.

History of large Amazon Purchases

History of large Amazon PurchasesSome crypto companies allow trades that permit clients to obtain a computerized wallet with restricted proof of identity required (sometimes just an email address.) In order to hide their holdings, some spouses rather than buy more Bitcoin and put it in their wallet directly, they interface with a Bitcoin client in one of the numerous client gatherings who is happy to receive merchandise that will be paid in Bitcoin to the purchaser. It goes like this:  Person A who wants to keep their Bitcoin transactions under wraps, buys several large items for Person B.  Person B then deposits Bitcoin into their online wallet and the transaction is practically invisible. Check Amazon, eBay, and other online vendors. Has your companion made unordinary or huge purchases of items that have never been brought to your home? Are there names and addresses in your Amazon account dispatching list that you don’t recognize?  Should you not have access to those accounts, your lawyer can request it during divorce disclosure.

The presence of crypto exchange apps or digital wallet apps your App store account.

It is likely your spouse has a crypto banking app on their phone. If you share the same phone account, you may be able to access the history of all apps downloaded to any phones on your plan. If you are not able to obtain this information on your own, your attorney can add to this to items to be produced during discovery.

Bank accounts show large singular cash withdrawals or a pattern of smaller withdrawals of similar size.

This kind of pattern warrants further investigation. What was the money used for? Trading cash for Bitcoins is one possibility, but there are many more. Transferring cash to a Paypal account is another red flag. What was the purpose of this transfer and to whom is the money going?

Secretive behavior with account statements.

Has your partner become secretive about financial statements?  Maybe the password for your online banking has been changed and your spouse shrugs it off as some technological glitch, promising to contact the bank later that day. Call your bank and credit card company to request copies be sent directly to you for all joint accounts. Let your attorney know as soon as possible so that steps can be taken to make your spouse produce the paperwork for all joint accounts.

Retain a Wall Township Divorce Lawyer TodayThe New Jersey Law Journal recently tackled the issue of the impact of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency on divorce. Although Bitcoin is largely anonymous and difficult to trace, when it enters digital space, it is traceable. For example, if it can be proven that large amounts of money have been transferred through currency exchange, your attorney or a financial forensic analyst can support your accusation. A good divorce lawyer will be able to advise you on the best approach with regard to proving the existence of assets in Bitcoins. Although digital currencies may be harder to value than more traditional assets such as stocks, shares, and property, this does not prevent the court from determining a fair evaluation.

Retain a Wall Township Divorce Lawyer Today

At Bronzino Law Firm, our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients across the Jersey Shore in Point Pleasant, Toms River, Jackson, Wall, Sea Girt, and Brick favorably and effectively divide marital assets during a divorce or mediation process.

To schedule a consultation with a member of our firm today regarding your asset doubts, please visit our online form or call us at  (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your options.

Tax Issues in Divorce Attorney Monmouth and Ocean County NJ

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

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

HOW DOES ALIMONY AFFECT MY TAXABLE INCOME?

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

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

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

CAN BOTH PARTIES CLAIM CHILDREN AS DEPENDENTS?

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

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

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

WHEN SHOULD A SEPARATED COUPLE STOP FILING JOINTLY?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tips on how to Manage your Estate Plan in Monmouth and Ocean County DivorceDivorce 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

Share your divorce agreement with your estate plannerYour 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

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

What is a prenuptial agreement?

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

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

Myths about prenups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hidden Assets in Divorce in Ocean and Monmouth County NJ

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

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

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

What are the potential consequences of hiding assets?

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

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

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

How are assets often hidden?

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

Hiding money at the office

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

Use the IRS to hide funds

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

Transfer of assets to family or friends

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

Custodial accounts

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

‘Friendly loans’

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

Retain a Brick and Sea Girt Asset Division Attorney Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be aware of your assets, including your retirement funds

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

Check your prenuptial agreement

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

Be aware of the Qualified Domestic Relations Order

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

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

Contact A Brick Retire Savings Attorney Today

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

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

To schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced member of our firm regarding your divorce case or settlement, please contact us online, or through our Brick, NJ office at (732) 812-3102.

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

Brick and Sea Girt NJ Same-sex Divorce AttorneysGoing 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.

State-to-State DiscrepanciesAccording 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.