Misconceptions about the Divorce Process Ocean and Monmouth County NJ
Providing support and counsel to those considering divorce in Sea Girt, Brick, Wall, Seaside Heights, Toms River, and across the Jersey Shore
Getting a divorce in New Jersey, or any state is not exactly a straightforward process for most couples. Having a skilled and experienced team of family law attorneys is essential for a swift and just divorce proceeding that ensures you receive your fair share in the split, both because of the many nuances to New Jersey divorce law, as well as the delicate dance that a separating couple must do in navigating the division of assets and decisions surrounding important and sensitive matters such as child custody.
Another reason it’s important to have a skilled divorce attorney is that they can help you determine truth from falsehood when it comes to New Jersey divorce law, filing for divorce, and navigating the proceedings. There are many misconceptions about divorce that the collective takes to be true when in reality they couldn’t be further from it. Read on to learn more about some common misconceptions regarding New Jersey divorce, and seek the guidance of our skilled and experienced team of family law attorneys to ensure that your rights and best interests are honored and reflected in your divorce agreement.
True or False? One must remain in the marital home if they wish to have rights to it as an asset.
Contrary to popular belief, one does not forfeit rights to a marital home if one leaves the house and marriage before or during the divorce proceedings. ‘Abandonment’ can be claimed as a reason to file for fault divorce. However, when someone leaves the marriage, they are not leaving their financial right to the marital assets, of which the marital home is one.
True or False? Only those who have been married for 10 years are eligible to receive alimony.
The granting of alimony rests on a number of determining factors, none of which are the number of years that a couple has been married. Factors that determine a spouse receiving alimony include whether the person gave up working to tend to a family, therefore placing themselves out of the job market; whether they financially supported their spouse in receiving professional or educational training during the marriage; whether the spouse is able to sustain the standard of living they had prior to the divorce, et cetera. These considerations will be made by a judge to determine the amount of alimony a spouse is required to pay, and for how long.
Similarly, there is no guarantee that a spouse will receive alimony because they have been married for more than ten years. Again, the length of the marriage is not a determining factor in the granting of alimony. While it is more likely that a spouse will receive alimony if they have been in a marriage for a long time because it is more likely that one of the determining factors will have been met in this case, this is not guaranteed.
The only exception to this rule is ‘durational alimony,’ which was set in place with the passage of the New Jersey Alimony Reform Act of 2014. Under the Act, a person can be granted alimony for the number of years that a couple was married, if the marriage lasted fewer than 20 years, and there are addendums that can be placed by which this alimony can be lifted if circumstances change. As such, there is no such thing as permanent alimony, another common misconception regarding New Jersey divorce law.
True or False? There is a legally-binding 18-month separation period for divorce in New Jersey
While the traditional 18-month separation is a relative equivalent of a ‘no-fault’ divorce, it is not the only legal way out of a marriage. The 18-month separation period in which the exes do not live together for 18 months leads to a legal divorce with no cause of fault determined.
On the other hand, if there is fault listed as a cause for divorce – such as adultery, abandonment, substance addiction, domestic violence, etc – there is no time requirement for the filing, and the spouse can seek to exit the marriage immediately.
The State of New Jersey has recently recognized ‘irreconcilable differences’ as legally sound grounds for divorce that do not require the 18-month no-fault waiting period. Instead, a filing for divorce for irreconcilable differences requires a 6-month period, or otherwise put, proof that for at least six months, irreconcilable differences led to the filing for divorce.
In order to ensure that you receive your fair share of the marital assets and custody arrangements in a divorce, have a skilled member of our team working on your behalf.
Contact a Divorce Attorney for clear and accurate legal advice at our Brick or Sea Girt NJ Offices
If you are navigating a divorce and are swimming through the sea of misinformation, make sure you schedule a consultation with our highly qualified family law attorneys to help orient you to clarity regarding your options and next steps.
We support clients in Sea Girt, Brick, Wall, Seaside Heights, Toms River, and across the Jersey Shore. Whether you are part of a fault- or no-fault divorce and have children or not, we can support you in this important transition.
Gray Divorce: How to Survive a Divorce Later in Life or After a Long-term Marriage
According to the National Center for Family and Research (NCFMR), the divorce rate among “baby boomers” or people in their 50s or 60’s, has more than doubled since 1990. This increasing trend of late-in-life divorces often referred to as “gray divorce,” “silver splitter,” or “diamond divorce,” became mainstream in 2004, when AARP published a study on “divorce at midlife and beyond.”
The current rise of “gray divorce” can potentially be attributed to multiple factors: people living longer, both spouses working and therefore being more financially independent, and the destigmatization of divorce; which might empower unhappy couples to separate.
If you’re considering or going through a separation or divorce later in life or after a long-term marriage, then you may have to address concerns about the division of retirement benefits, jewelry, artwork, confusion over beneficiaries, and worries about how best to resolve complexities related to dividing the marital estate or assets accumulated over the life of the marriage, as well as any existing debt. Not to mention any costs associated with relocating and selling the family home.
As we have previously discussed in “Divorce Ages 50 and Over,” many of these questions and others you may, require extensive investigation, high levels of financial knowledge, and the ability to negotiate – something which we at the Bronzino Law Firm are prepared and eager to provide our clients with.
Unique Financial Circumstances Facing Gray Divorcees in Passaic County, NJ
In addition to the standard issues of a divorce at any age, like equitable distribution and alimony, other problems associated with “gray divorce” may include division of complicated high-asset marital estates, real estate evaluation, health insurance, and Medicare benefits, healthcare expenses overall, and who gets the pets. Furthermore, a financially dependent spouse may feel they need more support given the reduced likelihood of starting a career late in life, and a financially supporting spouse may be worried about their ability to keep up support payments as their work-life slows down or they retire.
Divorcing Senior Citizens Caring for Grown Dependents After Their Divorce
As of late, it is all too common for older couples considering divorce to have to care for their adult children living at home, as well as their own elderly parents who may either be residing in the same household or are being cared for at an assisted living facility. This fact also comes with the realization that following the division of the marital estate there may be fewer assets, thus making caring for “boomerang children,” children with special needs, and other dependents more difficult to manage.
Couples in the situation of possibly having a less disposable income will have to carefully weigh the options available to them to meet these related needs, and decide how best to divide retirement accounts, pensions, inheritances, and other assets.
For such a potentially drastic change in post-divorce financial needs, those considering a divorce in their twilight years should seek out a financial advisor, a sound professional estate planning attorney, and consult an experienced trustworthy, and knowledgeable “gray divorce” attorney who can successfully mediate or litigate a fair divorce settlement that does not leave either party financially stranded.
Although estate planning generally includes a will, medical and financial powers of attorney, an advanced care directive, and in some cases a “special needs trust,” it could also serve to legally protect your wishes for your estate and your family if you happen to pass away before a divorce decree is issued.
Mediation and Valuing a Strong Foundation & Clear Expectations in a Gray Divorce
It’s critical for those considering or going through a divorce later in life, to create a strong foundation and clear expectations about what you want your next chapter to look like. Although litigation is an option, an alternative dispute resolution method, such as mediation is a powerful tool of the divorce process that can usually keep costs lower, take less time, and be less stressful for all parties involved.
Contact our Passaic County Gray Divorce Lawyers for a Free Consultation at our Brick or Sea Girt, NJ Office
At the Bronzino Law Firm, we understand the emotional and financial trauma of divorce. We have extensive experience and resources to properly value all your assets and those of your spouse or domestic partner. We are committed to negotiating fair settlements but we’re also ready to litigate your case in court.
The Bronzino Law Firm takes pride in successfully representing clients in Ocean County and Monmouth County communities including Asbury Park, Neptune, Manasquan, Point Pleasant, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and across Central New Jersey.
Divorce Attorneys Helping Ocean and Monmouth County Clients Rebuild
Serving Brick, Sea Girt, Toms River, and Wall Township and across the Monmouth and Ocean County area.
No one enters into a marriage expecting it to fail. Still, more than 20 percent of first marriages end in divorce within five years, and 48 percent of marriages dissolve by the 20-year mark, according to 2006-2010 data from the government’s National Survey of Family Growth. Separation and divorce are emotionally difficult events, but it is possible to have a healthy breakup and heal once the divorce is over.
The end of a marriage typically unleashes a flood of emotions including anger, grief, anxiety, and fear. Sometimes these feelings can arise when you least expect them, catching you off guard. Such a response is normal, and over time the intensity of these feelings will subside. In the meantime, be kind to yourself. Researchers have found that people who are kind and compassionate to themselves have an easier time managing the day-to-day difficulties of divorce.
What Can I Expect Emotionally After My Divorce?
People often exhibit signs of grief, such as feeling unmotivated and having trouble sleeping. In fact, going through a divorce can be similar to going through grief, but it can be further complicated by layers of legal issues, financial strain, individual mental health challenges, the experience of parental alienation, the challenges of co-parenting, and the realities of dividing assets. That leaves one’s plate very full and can be a mammoth situation to handle.
Psychologists suggest that there are six stages of emotional and mental change during and immediately after a divorce:
- It can be difficult to finally accept that you are in the middle of a divorce. You may think that it was your inability to solve your own marital troubles. This can send you into a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts which prevent you from accepting the truth. You may even believe that there is something you can do to get back with your partner.
- You may act in a way that is not normal. The sheer shock of the divorce will create different emotions inside your head, making you panic. This shock becomes more pronounced when you realize how much time you invested in your marriage and family.
- Contrasting Emotions. It won’t be easy to keep your emotions under control. From feeling hope to feeling nothing but despair, you will try your best to make sense of all that has happened leading up to this point.
- You are still hopeful that your marriage will work out. You are willing to do anything to change yourself and make things work. You may resort to drastic measures to get your ex to change his or her mind. What you will need to realize at this point, though, is that you cannot control the feelings of other people. Bargaining only delays the inevitability of the separation.
- Letting go. When you realize that nothing you say or do will bring your marriage back, you stop blaming your ex-spouse and start to understand what contributed to the end of your marriage. You may also feel a sense of freedom and a better outlook about what the future holds for you.
- The negative emotions finally stop. You feel that you are finally fit to lead a life that is filled with happiness and satisfaction. This stage will accompany a period of growth. You will finally understand that there is life after divorce and that there are more positive things to look forward to in your life.
What are the Kinds of Therapy Available For Divorcing Couples?
Individual therapy. Therapy can help people work through those feelings and make sense of the divorce. It may help people gain a new perspective. People who have divorced may learn about their needs and dislikes in partnerships. They may gain a deeper knowledge of themselves.
Couple’s therapy. Therapy is also available for couples going through a divorce. This type of therapy may facilitate a healthy and constructive divorce. A divorce therapist can act as a sort of mediator. They can set guidelines to ensure the divorce happens with less negative impact. Therapists can also help address pertinent issues. These can include living arrangements, financial obligations, and parenting.
Family therapy. Therapy can be important for children whose parents are divorcing. Parents may often be consumed with their own feelings during a divorce. They might overlook the emotional state of their children. Divorce can cause children to feel confusion, guilt, loss, pain, or abandonment. Children may not be sure which parent they should “choose” or be loyal to. They might also worry they are the cause of the divorce. They may worry they are to blame for the separation. Family therapy allows all family members to share their feelings about the divorce. This can help everyone process their emotions and adjust to the changes.
Self-Care Can Help
Self-care between therapy sessions (or in lieu of them if need be) can include things such as guided breathing exercises or meditation. Breathwork and meditation can help increase mindfulness. Mindfulness is the act of being aware of and focused on immediate physical sensations around you. It can be useful for calming stress.
Talking with a trusted friend. When looking for someone to talk to, choose another adult. The stressors that come with divorce can be too much for children to handle. It is vital that you not speak to your children about adult problems as it could cause them increased stress and anxiety.
Take a bubble bath, go for a run, or watch a favorite movie. Pick up a sport or a hobby that involves other people. Create a social circle of friends who can provide you with ways to have fun. Taking care of yourself can refresh your mind and body. It can also increase your ability to handle stress in difficult times.
Set goals and keep a journal. Journals are a fantastic way to express yourself, find insight, reveal undiscovered ideas, and plan out your next steps.
Contact our Pedestrian Personal Injury Accident Lawyers for a Free Consultation at our Brick Location
If you are considering a divorce or are interested in beginning divorce proceedings immediately, we are ready to handle all of your divorce needs right away. Our experienced, knowledgeable attorneys are here to make sure your divorce is properly handled. Your rights are our first concern.
At Peter J. Bronzino, we take pride in successfully representing clients in Allenwood, Bayville, Beachwood, Brick, Brielle, Howell, Island Heights, Lakewood, Lavallette, Manasquan. Whether you are filing for divorce or considering doing so, let us be the law firm to lead and guide you through every step. Our interest is your well-being and to make sure your rights are upheld.
For more information, or to talk with one of our licensed and experienced New Jersey, matrimonial law attorneys, please contact us online or through our Brick or Sea Girt offices by calling (732) 812-3102 today for a free and confidential consultation.
Divorce and Asset Distribution Attorneys in Ocean and Monmouth County
Serving Brick, Sea Girt, Toms River, and Wall Township and across the Monmouth and Ocean County area.
The cost of a divorce process is a common concern expressed by people who want to file for divorce and want to know the financial benefits and consequences of the process itself. Aside from financial assets, both parties also wish to know beforehand what they are to claim as their own or what might need to be split with their spouse or now become entirely their spouse’s. Finding out the answer to those concerns is not necessarily an exact calculation though, multiple factors and events can change the outcome.
What Does Equitable Distribution Refer To?
Although attorneys often use the legal concept of Equitable Distribution during divorce proceedings, many people do not actually comprehend the proper meaning. The literal reading suggests a balanced or half-and-half division of assets, financial debt, and any existing joint resources. Nevertheless, the actual term of equitable distribution means having a fair or comparable distribution.
Misunderstanding also arises when building a checklist of eligible resources to distribute, leaving any assets, properties, or capital acquired before the actual marriage start date. This, in fact, is inaccurate. Equitable distribution means the distribution of marital assets (properties, income, funds, estate) by a court in a divorce process or trial, following the applicable statutory guidelines designed to produce a fair, although not necessarily equal or objective, division of the property in question.
How To Determine Fairness?
Fair distribution is determined by several aspects, including but not limited to each spouse’s financial status as well as the type of capital, assets, estate, and financial debts they need to honor. A parallel process to select, value, divide and list all assets potentially subject to equitable distribution also needs to be carried out as part of the overall divorce process.
If there are any retirement or investment accounts such as brokerage accounts, pension funds, or IRA, those accounts’ opening dates need to be clarified, as happening either before the marriage start date or while the marriage was still in effect. If the account holder did acquire the account before the marriage, what matters is whether or not any marital funds (joint or individual income earned while still married) were contributed to an account initiated before the marriage itself.
An account of this nature can also have an active variable if the account holder is still contributing funds to the account, therefore changing the typical status of passive assets with changing value without any account holder’s participation. If, on the other hand, the account holder does continue adding capital value to an investment account after getting married, then part of the assets do qualify as marital estate.
As far as real property or dwellings, people often assume that if they became homeowners or owners of a piece of property while still single, it is then considered premarital and will not be included in the equitable distribution. Once again, this is not necessarily always true. Many questions arise in this regard. Was the house in question the dwelling where the parties resided? Did the other party look after the house? Were any home improvements or renovations paid with marital funds, and was the work supervised and ordered by one of the spouses? Was any combined marital income used to reduce the amount owed on the mortgage? The aforementioned variables must be considered once a property becomes subject, either partially or in full, to equitable distribution, even though it had been previously considered as exempt.
Each equity distribution case must be assessed individually and considering the particular elements which render it unique. An equity distribution process becomes more complicated the more debts or assets are involved. How easy or complicated, and detailed a case might become cannot be predicted at first glance.
Contact our Divorce Lawyers for a Free Consultation at our Linden Office
If you are participating in a divorce process and need to ensure a fair equity distribution process involving any assets, property, or joint funds, you are entitled to attorney representation to protect your rights and secure justice.
At Peter J. Bronzino, we successfully represent clients Lavallette, Manasquan, Mantoloking, Normandy Beach, Ocean Gate, and Pine Beach. Whether you are currently involved in a divorce process or are considering initiating one, do not let a faulty equitable distribution affect your life; please contact us online or through our Brick or Sea Girt offices by calling (732) 812-3102 today for a free and confidential consultation.
Linden, NJ Attorneys Addressing Mistakes Made in Your Divorce Settlement
Family Law and Divorce Settlement Attorneys serving in Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Ocean Township, Red Bank, and across the Jersey Shore
The processes involved in a divorce settlement are extensive, and certain elements can get lost in the fray. Having an experienced and skillful team of family law attorneys by your side is essential to ensuring that the results of your divorce settlement are fair and that you receive the most comprehensive split of the assets available to you. Even with the most tried and tested team of attorneys, however, sometimes mistakes in divorce settlements are overlooked even by a court judge. So what do you do when your divorce settlement agreement has an error? Is it easy to fix, or could it cause problems down the road? Read on to learn more about mistakes in divorce settlements and how New Jersey courts handle such issues.
Once a Final Judgment of Divorce has been approved by the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part, there are means by which a mistake within can be corrected; however, the path to correction isn’t straight and narrow, and not all mistakes can be corrected in any circumstance. The difference between a mistake that a New Jersey trial court will consider correcting and a mistake that either or both of the separated spouses must accept depends on specific factors as laid out within New Jersey Court Rule 4:50-1, which addresses when a party may seek ‘Relief From Judgment or Order.’ The Relief from Judgment or Order Rule states that there are six circumstances under which the Court will entertain a change to a Final Judgment of Divorce. The New Jersey Court Rule 4:50-1 outlines the circumstances under which “relief” can be gained by a party bound by a Final Judgment of Divorce using the following language:
“(a) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect
(b) newly discovered evidence which would probably alter the judgment or order and which by due diligence could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial;
(c) fraud (whether heretofore denominated intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party;
(d) the judgment or order is void;
(e) the judgment or order has been satisfied, released or discharged, or a prior judgment or order upon which it is based has been reversed or otherwise vacated, or it is no longer equitable that the judgment or order should have prospective application; or
(f) any other reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment or order.
While the terms of the Rule are fairly clear that a court can correct a mistake or other circumstance, it is not always easy to gain relief. For one, there is a timing component to the rule. For parts (a), (b), and (c), the request for relief must be made within one year after the judgment or order. All other bases for relief (parts (d), (e) and (f)) must be made “within a reasonable time.’”
As one can see, there are strict yet multiple means by which a divorced spouse can appeal to the court for a change to the Final Judgment of Divorce. However, if the Court denies the request and the party believes this denial was erroneous, they can appeal the relief denial.
Appealing a Relief Denial
Like any judgment by a trial court that the denied party believes is erroneous, they can appeal to the New Jersey Superior Court: Appellate Division. During the appeal, the appellate court will determine whether the lower court was mistaken in denying the original request for Relief from the Judgment or Order. One high profile example of such an appeal occurred in Goethals v. Goethals, an appellate case in which a divorcing couple who evenly split the husband’s 13,293 shares of stock awarded because of his role as an executive within a large company later found out – after the Final Judgment of Divorce that he had twice the shares of stock he originally thought he had.
The wife applied for Relief from the Judgment or Order due to the new information and assets being split. Still, the trial court denied her request, stating that, though she had filed the request within a year of learning of the error, she had not filed the request within a year of Divorce’s Final Judgment.
The wife appealed this decision by the lower court, citing the ‘catch all’ clause in section (f) of New Jersey Court Rule 4:50-1, which states that the request for relief was made “within a reasonable time.” The Appellate Division reversed this decision, noting that she had acted in sufficient timeliness given the circumstances of the new awareness regarding stocks. In this reversal of the trial court’s decision, the Appellate Division stated that because there was an understanding that stocks would be fairly split as part of the original divorce agreement, and new stocks were only discovered later, the original agreement split those stocks evenly still stood.
Mistakes in your orginal Divorce Settlement? Contact a Toms River Divorce Attorney Today
At Bronzino Law Firm, our experienced team of attorneys supports clients across Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Ocean Township, Red Bank, and across the Jersey Shore in all divorce settlement agreements and necessary follow-up in the case of error.
Why Hire a Skilled Lawyer in Divorce Mediation Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
The following case story will show you how important it is always, but especially in divorce, to have a good lawyer who ensures that all the documents in a divorce are consistent with each other.
This story has to do with a mediated divorce, one with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) generated by a divorce mediator. In a mediated divorce, each spouse takes the MOU to their individual divorce attorney to review it, to explain all aspects of the MOU, and to discern whether or not it is a fair and equitable agreement. When that part of the process is settled, an attorney then drafts what becomes the official divorce settlement.
What if the MOU is not consistent with the divorce settlement?
This story will reveal why you should work with an attorney who specializes in divorce.
Let’s call the case David vs. Marie. They had three children and a long history of marital difficulties. In 2010 they went to a divorce mediator, who wrote up an MOU that contained certain agreements they had reached during mediation. Then they executed a Settlement Agreement and attached the MOU to it as an exhibit. David and Marie then proceeded with the divorce without representation by counsel, and a final judgment of divorce was handed down in 2011.
Terms of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
The MOU stated that the terms described within it would not be binding on the parties until it was incorporated into a settlement agreement prepared by attorneys and signed by both parties. In regard to alimony, the MOU stated that David would pay Marie permanent alimony of $100 per week. It also stated that the alimony would terminate upon either party’s death or Marie’s remarriage.
Settlement Agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding
The Settlement Agreement stated that the parties would be governed by “the terms of this Settlement Agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding.” Here’s the catch: The Settlement Agreement also contained a provision, in the section on alimony, that the youngest child reaching the age of 18 and subsequently being emancipated would trigger the termination of alimony. This condition was not mentioned in the MOU.
In 2016, David filed in court to emancipate their youngest daughter and terminate child support and alimony. The judge granted David’s request to emancipate the daughter but denied his request to terminate alimony. In his reasoning, the trial judge stated that the Settlement Agreement and MOU revealed the parties’ intent that the alimony was to be permanent.
Appealing an MOU
David appealed the decision. He recognized that the MOU did not include the qualifying event (emancipation of the child) and that it stated only that alimony would be paid permanently. But he argued that “the Settlement Agreement, a subsequent and more comprehensive document than the MOU, does NOT state that alimony is permanent and had additional alimony termination language—that alimony would terminate upon emancipation of the child.” He stated that the Settlement Agreement’s language took precedence over the MOU’s.
Marie responded by stating that the MOU was incorporated into the Settlement Agreement and that the Agreement should not be regarded as a stand-alone, separate document. She argued that she had specifically requested permanent alimony to be in her divorce agreement, and the subsequent MOU reflected that intention.
Appellate Division Examines Multiple Conflicting Document After Mediation
In its review, the Appellate Division cited the basic principles of contract law. The anchor of contract interpretation is the intention of each of the parties “as revealed by the language used, taken as an entirety.” A contract is therefore ambiguous if there is more than one way for it to be reasonably interpreted. In this case, because of the two different documents and two different interpretations, the Appellate Division found that simply examining the language of the two documents would not reveal the intent of the parties.
The Appellate Division held that it was necessary to examine whether additional negotiations took place after the mediation that may have led to an agreement for the termination of alimony. Without this, it ruled, it was incorrect to hold that the parties intended the alimony to be permanent.
The Appellate Division said it was not able to determine the intent of the parties and remanded the case for further proceedings focused on whether the parties in fact engaged in additional alimony negotiations after the initial mediation.
Consult with a Brick Divorce and Mediation Lawyer to Make Sure Your Agreements are Solid
That is the outcome so far. You can see that a good attorney, writing documents consistent with each other, could have saved both David and Marie a lot of time spent in court, and money spent on attorneys to represent them in court.
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.
Don’t leave yourself open to these sorts of difficulties and expenses. Consult the divorce experts at Bronzino Law. please fill out the online form or call us at (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your legal options.
Final Order of Protection Attorneys Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
Advising our Family Law clients in Brick, Toms River, Point Pleasant, Spring Lake, Jackson, and Freehold
New Jersey’s state protects domestic violence victims and certain other crime victims with protective orders, commonly known as restraining orders. New Jersey law permits restraining orders as part of the 1982 law known as the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. A restraining order is a court-ordered document that can prohibit one person from contacting or coming within a certain distance of someone else for a set period. A final restraining order imposed by a judge can be vacated or revoked but requires a special process. Otherwise, it could remain in effect for the rest of your life. Violation of a restraining order can be a criminal offense, even when the protected party wants to lift the order and consents to contact. Even in these cases, you could be charged with a criminal offense. A New Jersey restraining order attorney can help construct and submit your appeal.
What Is the Purpose of a Restraining Order?
In New Jersey, the courts use restraining orders to protect domestic violence victims and sexual assault victims from their abusers or assailants. They can also use restraining orders to prevent contact between the parties, provide spousal or child support, and order temporary child custody. Restraining orders are a necessary protection for victims of violence and sexual assault.
But restraining orders can also have severe consequences for the defendant. If a court orders a final restraining order (FRO), the defendant will be fined $500, fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a domestic violence registry. New Jersey law also prohibits the defendant from owning or possessing firearms. In some cases, police can remove the defendant from their home. The defendant may lose custody of their children, be ordered to pay spousal and child support, and continue paying a mortgage or rent. If you face a hearing for a restraining order, it’s essential to contact an experienced New Jersey criminal attorney as soon as possible.
Why Should I Appeal a Restraining Order?
Restraining orders can have strict consequences in New Jersey. The court may remove you from home you share with the plaintiff and prevent you from contacting the plaintiff or any children you share. You could lose custody of your children, and the court could order you to pay spousal and child support. The court could also order you to continue paying the rent or mortgage in a home you do not occupy. Additionally, the court will fine you $500 and order you to be fingerprinted, photographed, and placed in a domestic violence registry.
If you violate a restraining order, it is a criminal offense and considered criminal contempt of a court order. Any allegation of violating a restraining order mandates an arrest. The violation can be inadvertent or be as small as a text or email to the victim. A second violation will result in a mandatory 30 days in jail. If you face a restraining order hearing, it’s essential to contact an experienced New Jersey criminal attorney as soon as possible.
What Is the Process For an Appeal?
You cannot appeal a temporary restraining order (TRO). A judge typically enters a TRO without notice to the defendant, and the order is only good until the hearing for the final restraining order (FRO). The hearing for the FRO is typically within ten days of entry of the TRO. At the hearing for the FRO, both parties will have the opportunity to tell their story and present evidence and witnesses to the court.
Once a judge has issued a final restraining order against you, you have a limited time in which to file your appeal. That time to file your appeal is limited to 45 days after its imposition. In the appeal, you will be required to allege that there were errors made during the trial that warrant a reversal of the final restraining order’s imposition.
The error must relate to the facts, evidence, or law to be a valid basis for your appeal. Grounds for reversal may include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- The judge incorrectly interpreted or applied the law: If the judge misapplied or incorrectly interpreted New Jersey law, that mistake can be grounds for a successful appeal. Judges are required to do their job correctly, and when they do not, you should not be punished for it.
- The judge misinterpreted the facts: Judges are also expected to correctly analyze and apply the facts of the case to New Jersey law. Judges commonly misremember testimony or flat out get things wrong. When they do, it could be the basis for a successful appeal of your final restraining order.
- The judge misapplied the rules of evidence: Specific rules are in force regarding what evidence the court may consider when deciding on the final restraining order. When the court gets it wrong, the final restraining order may not be valid.
- The judge’s findings were not complete: The opinion the judge sets forth must state in detail the ground for the restraining order, including the prior history of domestic violence, the predicate act, and that a restraining order was necessary to protect the well-being and safety of the plaintiff. Failure to state any or all of these is grounds for reversal of the final restraining order.
If you are considering filing for divorce or know of someone, all your rights must be protected. You need someone in your corner to support you doing this difficult time.
Contact a Domestic Violence Lawyer Today to Protect Your Rights
At Bronzino Law Firm, we successfully represent clients in Brick, Toms River, Point Pleasant, Spring Lake, Jackson, and Freehold. Whether you have yet to decide your next steps fully or are ready to move forward immediately, our knowledgeable team of attorneys is only a phone call away.
Contact our Brick office by calling (732) 812-3102 today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your individual needs and concerns.
How is child support enforced for parents living in different states?
Read on to learn more about how enforcement of child support payments in different states works, and who can support you in your process.
The ins and outs of establishing child support payment are complex in any situation in which parents are separated. However, these complexities are amplified when parents live in different states. Which state’s courts enforce child support payments? To which state’s system does a parent turn when a parent has not paid child support, or they would like to amend the terms of a support agreement?
According to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), each state must defer to the child support orders of the child’s home state. The UIFSA was signed into law by President Clinton to provide a framework by which child support orders can be established, enforced, or modified. In the case that a child lives in one state but the child support order was established in another state, the UIFSA breaks down which state’s orders take precedent.
What is personal jurisdiction, and how does it determine interstate enforcement?
In general, cross-state orders under the UIFSA only go into place if the non-custodial parent in another state has a connection to the state in which the child support order was initially filed. This connection creates an anchor for jurisdiction – that is, because of this connection, the court of the state in which the connection exists has personal jurisdiction over the individual and can hear a case involving child support enforcement.
So who can a state’s court claim personal jurisdiction over? An issuing state court may obtain or retain personal jurisdiction over an individual living in another state who is personally served a court summons or notice regarding the child support payment and either voluntarily agree to the state’s hearing of the matter or doesn’t respond or contest. A court retains personal jurisdiction over an obliged parent if at any point they lived in that state with the child or provided prenatal financial support from that state for the child. Also, if the child was conceived in that state or lives in that state as a result of the directives of the other parent, the court may have personal jurisdiction over them and have the right to demand child support payment, though the parent is now in a different state.
The UIFSA allows for multiple mechanisms of enforcement, such as having a court order mailed directly to the parent’s employer, which allows the employer to withhold their pay until support payments have been received. In order to reach enforcement of this kind, the following steps are taken.
Establishing the Court’s Personal Jurisdiction Over a Non-Custodial Parent in a Different State
The first thing a custodial parent must do in order to enforce or make changes to child support payments is to file a request with the court that originally issued the child support order. Using the above determinants of whether the state has or can obtain personal jurisdiction over the non-custodial parent in a different state, the court will determine whether a child support payment can be ordered across state lines.
If personal jurisdiction is determined, the submitting state will calculate, based on its own laws, how much the out-of-state parent is obliged to pay; as well as for how long the payments will continue and whether they will include future college expenses support.
Even if a state’s court does not have personal jurisdiction over an obliged parent, they can apply with the non-custodial parent’s state, their home state, to pay child support.
Modifying Child Support Payments
After personal jurisdiction has been established, the court will have the capacity to modify the amount of child support required based on a change in either parent’s income. According to the UIFSA, the state that originally filed the child support order has continuing exclusive jurisdiction over this particular child support case. If one parent, be it the custodial or non-custodial parent, still lives in the state in which the order was issued, that state has continuing exclusive jurisdiction over the case. The parent seeking a modification must apply with the state with continuing exclusive jurisdiction to do so.
If both parents have moved out of the state in which the original child support order was issued, the rules and means by which the first child support order was obtained will be used to determine the state that will have the jurisdiction to move forward with a modification.
Enforcing an Out-of-State Modified Child Support Order
A parent can apply for enforcement of child support in the case of a delinquent obliged parent either with the state that has continuing exclusive jurisdiction or with the state in which the non-custodial parent lives. Because making child support payments is a legal obligation, applying for enforcement of support payments is easier to do for a custodial parent.
Wall Township Divorce Lawyer Helps You and your Support Agreement Together Through Difficult Times
At Bronzino Law Firm, our experienced family law team supports clients across Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas in all matters regarding child support.
Is Permanent Alimony a Viable Option in the middle of your Divorce Process?
A bill into law to create major changes to alimony laws and regulations in our state was signed last month by Governor Christle.
One of the most polemical and important changes is that “permanent alimony” is being eliminated.
The most challenging conversations that some lawyers have with their clients are usually related to notifying them about permanent alimony risk. Clients’ main concern is whether or not they will be able to retire; meaning will they ever be able to stop paying alimony costs. It used to depend on each individual’s particular situation, which required a thorough analysis of the many criteria and appropriate legal counseling. The law is now more straightforward.
What Is a Permanent Alimony?
Permanent alimony is the alimony award granted for life to a person who obtains a legal separation (divorce or termination of civil union) from his or her spouse or significant other, as deemed by a ruling court.
The concept of “permanent alimony” has been officially removed from the records and replaced by a new legal concept: Open durational alimony. Other than having a nicer feel than “permanent,” the law itself’s changes are significant in law exercise.
More precisely, according to previous New Jersey alimony laws, the retirement age used to be vague and questionable; and has now been set to 67 years old. Reaching this age makes a person eligible to receive the Federal Social Security Act’s complete retirement benefits. Before modification affecting New Jersey’s alimony law, some people were obligated to work past 70 years old. This is the main fact why amendments to the existing law are favorable for all individuals now. It is emotionally encouraging to know that there will be an end to a difficult situation involving your financial prosperity. Under the old law provisions, the scenario was set against the person attempting to terminate or decrease the amount allocated for alimony awards. Nonetheless, the new law stipulates about a “rebuttable presumption” (a particular rule of law that may be inferred from the existence of a given set of facts and that is conclusive unless there is conclusive evidence proving otherwise) that at age 67, an individual should be released from their obligation to pay alimony.
Alimony Law Amendment Provisions and Exceptions
We notice another significant change related to civil unions or marriages lasting less than 20 years. As of now, the term of alimony should not be longer than the duration of the marriage itself. In many cases in the last 20 years or so, permanent alimony would be imposed, except when the involved parties got married while still quite young. Furthermore, the amendment to New Jersey alimony law states the changes clearly and fairly.
Nevertheless, a New Jersey Family Court has the ability to extend the period determined for alimony obligations in a case having “exceptional circumstances.” What are exceptional circumstances? A scenario in which one of the parties filing for divorce is a Social Security Disability benefits received from the Federal Government.
The amended New Jersey alimony law is effective immediately and has no room for alterations to any previous final judgment of divorce or resulting court orders. Divorce attorneys who collaborated in outlining the changes done to the new alimony law agree this was a compromise to achieve further other objectives related to this new law, thus making it feasible.
Contact our Woodland Park, NJ Alimony Lawyers for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one are facing a divorce process or divorce-related dispute and are at risk of being obligated to pay for alimony payments or would like to understand better how the new alimony law might affect your eligibility for other sources of income, you are entitled to the representation of a divorce attorney who can help you determine your best options.
At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our experienced team of attorneys is ready to stand in your corner. If you live in Sea Girt, Brielle, Point Pleasant, Bay Head, Manasquan, Toms River, and Eastern New Jersey. You can call us at (732) 812-3102 or contact us through our online contact form.
Warning Signs That an Attorney-Client Relationship Isn’t Working
You are setting the stage for the close of one chapter and the beginning of another.
Divorce is a critical time in your life. You should feel as if your attorney is giving you information to make an educated decision and have faith in his or her ability to do so. This is not the time to have an attorney with whom you are not comfortable, have no confidence, do not like, and/or do not trust.
If your attorney is doing any of these things, then changing attorneys during your divorce might make sense:
- Not returning your phone calls or voice mails within a couple of days, or ever.
- Consistently missing court appearances.
- Not letting you know what is happening in your case.
- Telling you she/he will do something and then not doing it.
- Yelling at you, calling you names, insulting you, or making you cry.
- Refusing to send you a bill so you can see how your money is being spent (or how much you owe).
Raising the Issues With Your Attorney
Firing your lawyer may not be the right step at this point. Rather, it may be worth raising your concerns in a polite, calm, and professional fashion. If you feel more comfortable expressing these thoughts in writing, send the lawyer a letter or an email. If you prefer face-to-face interaction, call for an appointment. Name specific instances and communicate honestly about what is on your mind. Ask your lawyer to explain the situation and be open-minded as to the reasons given.
As the client, it is up to you whether to accept your lawyer’s explanations or not. Considering whether to change attorneys, realize that a new attorney may not necessarily be any more helpful or responsive. For example, if your case is moving slowly through the court system simply because the court is backlogged (as is often the case), a new lawyer may not move the process along any faster than the old one.
Making the Change
If you still think the relationship is unsalvageable, it might be time to switch to a new attorney. However, there are a few issues to keep in mind:
- Carefully review any retainer agreement that you signed regarding payment. The retainer agreement may have important language regarding the process for termination and the return of any unspent retainer monies.
- Notify your attorney in writing that you have decided to terminate his or her services. Be sure to mention how you would like a copy of your case file’s contents (mailed to you, to your new attorney, or provided to you in person, for example).
- Be polite and professional in your communications with your old attorney. Remember, you will still need this person’s prompt cooperation in transferring files, forwarding any straggler correspondence, and perhaps working with your new attorney.
- Find your replacement attorney before you fire your old one. Finding a new lawyer can take time, especially if your matter is complex. You might find yourself in trouble if you have a gap in your representation.
The Disadvantages of Switching Attorneys
Before you decide to change attorneys during your divorce proceedings, you should contemplate the possible negative consequences:
First, consider where you are in the course of your legal representation. Is it the week before a trial, or are you in the heart of a heated negotiation? You may not be able to hire a new lawyer quickly enough to research and handle your matter fully. Your old lawyer is very familiar with the facts and laws applicable to your case, including clerical issues like various documents’ locations.
Second, consider whether you have changed lawyers before on this same legal matter. Judges, in particular, might become annoyed at a client who is repeatedly changing lawyers because this delays the matter and clogs their dockets. It also suggests that you are a difficult client or that your claims are not meritorious. While changing lawyers once during the course of a case might be acceptable if the circumstances require it, be careful about doing it multiple times.
Third, consider whether a new lawyer will be able to create a different outcome. A new attorney may do no better than your old attorney, and the switch could cost you time and money.
Fourth, speaking of money, your new lawyer will have to review everything that has gone on in your case up to that point. If your divorce case has only been pending for a few months, then switching lawyers may not cost you all that much. The same thing is true if your divorce is relatively simple. But if you and your spouse have been locked in a battle for years, or your case is complex, then paying a new divorce attorney to spend days going through your file can be expensive. Remember, too, that your new attorney will probably want a retainer before taking your case. Depending upon your case, that retainer could range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.
The Decision Is Yours
The decision to switch attorneys can be difficult, and it is important to make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. You need a divorce attorney that has the experience and skill to construct an approach for your unique case.
Peter J. Bronzino, Esq, delivers our clients a custom-tailored solution when we communicate clearly, often, and well.
Our attorneys will ensure that you know what is happening in your case and have the information and legal advice to make educated decisions about how to move forward. You can call us at (732) 812-3102. Our skilled, knowledgeable attorneys are ready to help you.