Relevant things to consider when dealing with a Chronic Illness in the Middle of a Divorce in Monmouth & Ocean County
Divorce is already a complex process, and combined with chronic disease, it requires the help of a seasoned attorney.
On your wedding day, you vow, “in sickness and in health,” meaning it wholeheartedly and never expecting you would be filing for divorce. Embarking on such a powerful decision as divorce presents a myriad of changes and stress, added to the challenges of a chronic illness. Whether the spouse who is the caretaker or the spouse who is chronically ill, petitions for divorce, managing the ins and outs of this legal termination of their union, can be exceptionally difficult. An experienced divorce attorney can work with you to decide the best way to move forward.
What the Research Says about Divorce when a Spouse is Chronically Ill
According to U.S. Institute on Aging, the divorce rate of couples where a chronic illness is suffered by at least one person is 75%. In a specific study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior Researchers looked at the gender and chronic illness of 2,147 couples beginning in 1990. Chronic illnesses such as dementia, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, COPD, and Alzheimer’s were included in the study. The researchers were surprised to find that the healthy husbands were more prone to file for divorce, men were more inclined to acquire a chronic illness, and there was no significant difference in gender regarding the sick spouse filing for divorce. The study found a distinct relationship between the onset of the disease and the divorce. It did not consider other factors such as support from family or friends, the severity of the illness, or possible mental illness of either spouse.
What is Considered a Chronic Illness?
A chronic illness has many factors leading to its onset, an extended developmental period, a period of illness that extends more than six months, and associated disability that either remains stable or becomes progressively worse. The affected party has a reduced capacity to complete daily tasks such as housework, full-time employment, or childcare. Common chronic illnesses are COPD, cancer, Alzheimer’s, dementia, Crohn’s, hemophilia, traumatic brain injury, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, lupus, myasthenia gravis, and fibromyalgia, among others.
How Does Chronic Illness Affect Marriage in NJ?
A debilitating illness puts pressure on the household economically. Often, someone who suffers from a chronic illness is unable to work full time or sometimes even at all. Early retirement may not be a possibility for the healthy spouse to guarantee the income needed to support the family. Health insurance is another big concern as health benefits may be tied to the healthy spouse’s employment.
The social aspects of life such as vacations, reunions, even small get-togethers or dinners out with friends and family become impossible. Chronic illness can be isolating, and many sufferers and/or their spouses also develop depression/anxiety disorders. In the case of illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, drastic changes in personality and cognition may occur at such a profound level that the healthy spouse can no longer care for their husband or wife on their own.
When an ill spouse is in constant pain, they may lash out at their partner or at the least are constantly complaining and frustrated. No one enjoys being sick and the symptoms of a chronic illness wax and wane. On the “good days,” an outing for the day is perfectly fine, while on a “bad day,” even getting out of bed is a battle.
How Is Divorce Different with A Chronically Ill Spouse?
Divorce is complicated under the best of conditions. When a spouse is chronically ill, the complexities of health insurance, child custody, and property division can create the perfect storm and a divorce that is so tangled that it could be a recipe for disaster without an attorney by your side.
One of the biggest hurdles is health insurance. If the working spouse has their husband or wife on their insurance, that won’t be possible once they are divorced. The federal Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act (COBRA) forces employers to provide health insurance to the employee’s former partner for no more than three years. Once that period is complete, other insurance must be arranged. Not all chronic illness sufferers cannot work, but if their health continues to decline, full-time employment with health insurance benefits is no longer a possibility.
When it comes to child custody, judges prefer joint custody, but if the chronically ill parent cannot adequately care for the children, that isn’t a possibility.
Alimony is not necessarily a forgone conclusion for the ill spouse. Still, as New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, in all likelihood, some amount of spousal support will be arranged to contribute to health-related expenses. The severity, length, advancement, and prognosis (as to possible improvement or worsening and at what pace) are all considered.
Finding Another Way of Living if one Spouse is Sick in New Jersey
Frequently, when we think about divorce, images of courtroom battles and heated arguments are the first scenes that come to mind, but that is actually much rarer than you would think. Although to some, it may seem selfish or cruel to divorce a chronically ill spouse or a healthy spouse who has cared for you during some very tough times, it doesn’t mean that your relationship is forever broken. Some couples divorce, and the healthy spouse remains a caregiver but is able to seek romantic relationships outside of that connection. Someone who is chronically ill may want to release their spouse from having to care for them, allowing them to have a life outside of their illness.
Do you have a chronic illness that has put an irreparable strain on your marriage? Contact our NJ Divorce Firm to Review Your Situation
If your partner is chronically ill and in need of more care than you can give, it is recommended to look for the support of a talented team of attorneys to help you carry your burden. At Bronzino Law Firm, we understand the difficulties chronic illness can cause in a relationship. We have helped many couples reach an agreeable separation in places like Rumson, Point Pleasant, Colts Neck, Holmdel, Belmar, Asbury Park across Ocean, and Monmouth Counties. With our experience in child custody issues and equitable distribution, the services we provide are just what you need to handle your divorce. Whether you are sick or you are part of a couple with a spouse affected by a chronic condition, our firm is committed to helping you navigate and effectively handle the unique challenges you may face when divorcing.
You should call us today if you have questions and are looking for legal counsel. Let us help you plan for your family by calling (732) 812-3102 for a consultation today. You can also fill out our online form and will hear from us shortly.
Explore your Scenarios with Divorce Attorneys to Understand Gifts, Loans, Marital Property and how it is Divided in NJ
Over the course of a marriage in New Jersey, it’s common for persons in that relationship or civil union to receive monetary gifts or property from third parties, such as parents, in-laws, grandparents, or other family members.
If you are going through the divorce process or civil union dissolution and are unsure if certain gifts are subject to the equitable distribution of assets, the first thing is to determine what that particular relative’s wishes were in gifting that particular item, whether it was intended for an individual or both parties.
For divorcing high-asset couples, especially from wealthier families, for whom one spouse over the course of the marriage received significant gifts that impacted their marital lifestyle or helped sustain a certain standard of living, this could play a role in the parent’s or grandparents’ will and estate planning process. So although some gifts or loans may not be considered marital property, they could impact alimony and child support obligations.
Considering multiple factors, New Jersey’s property division statute requires courts to divide marital property in a “fair and equitable” manner to both parties during a divorce. This includes “interspousal gifts” or gifts exchanged or given to a spouse during the marriage (i.e., birthday presents, anniversary gifts, etc.). But understanding the difference between a “pure interspousal gift” and an “interspousal re-gift” such as when one party inherits money and in turn uses that money to buy a gift for their spouse, or what happens when a spouse deposits a final gift in a joint account, can make property division more complicated. Add in an existing marital agreement such as a prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial or mid-marriage agreement, and things get even more interesting.
The division of matrimonial assets can be challenging, complex, acrimonious, and may seem emotionally unbearable. Under such circumstances, it’s advisable to consult an experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer who can help you understand which assets fall within the scope of personal property, so don’t lose any energy or time rebuilding your life.
If you are in the process of crafting your will or estate plan and wish to protect beneficiaries named therein from having their inheritance affect divorce agreements such as alimony, marital asset division, and child support, trying to establish your marital standard of living budget or filling out your Case Information Statement, you want the judge to have as complete an economic picture of life a possible.
When Does a Gift Become Marital Property in Ocean County, NJ?
In previous articles, we listed the two basic property types within a marriage: separate and marital property, and discussed that property acquired before marriage and acquired during a marriage as a gift or an inheritance by one party alone, is generally considered separate property.
In situations where a financial gift or inheritance was originally intended to be given to only one spouse, but that recipient spouse deposited those funds into a joint account for an extended period of time, or that same recipient spouse used the monetary gift to benefit them both, then a judge may rule that by commingling the gift with an account used for the household, the gift has lost its separate character. However, if the spouse can provide evidence that the money is separate, was never intended to share with the other party, and they can trace the exact amount through banking documents, then there is a greater likelihood that the gift will be recognized as separate property.
Most interesting is the role equitable distribution laws may play regarding a family home if said piece of real estate was the separate property of one party before the marriage. Although there are several factors at issue, the marital contributions of each spouse, like time investments, renovations, general upkeep, appreciation in value, etc., could mean that the contributing spouse is entitled to a portion of the asset or debt. Consulting a knowledgeable local lawyer can help one determine who keeps the house, what happens to the house mortgage, and any fate of any vacation homes or property.
It should also be noted that in New Jersey, a portion of a personal injury award for medical expenses and lost wages can be subjected to equitable distribution. Still, any amount awarded to that individual for pain and suffering or disfigurement is not.
How Does New Jersey Define Interspousal Gifts?
Interspousal gifts or “pure interspousal gifts” are items exchanged or given from one spouse to another during marriage and that are not the result of a third party gift or inheritance. The most common divorce question regarding interspousal gifts is related to the engagement ring.
Because an engagement ring is considered a pre-marital or non-marital asset and a “conditional gift,” once the person fulfills the promise of marrying the other party, the obligation or condition has been met, and the ring belongs solely to that person as separate property.
Proving Your Assets Were Gifts or are Separate Property in a NJ Divorce
If you want to ensure an asset is classified as separate property in New Jersey and not subject to equitable division laws, you must prove that it was a gift. The burden of proof to establish the immunity of an asset from distribution rests on the spouse asserting the immunity. Although sometimes the best way to prove that asset’s exemption as a gift, is to provide a receipt or proof of some kind, under other circumstances a CPA, tax professional or forensic accountant may be employed to trace assets and possibly offer expert testimony.
Determining Whether A Matrimonial Asset Was a Gift or Loan in Monmouth County, NJ
On a basic level, this matter revolves around the simple elements related to the expectation of repayment. When someone gifts an item, they do not expect to be repaid and when someone makes a loan, there is an expectation between the giver and recipient(s) of repayment.
It is common within the context of a divorce that one party will refer to the existence of a “familial loan,” possibly given to be used towards buying a home or another more form of marital property, and often there is no clearly stimulated repayment date, or the repayment obligation terms are very lax.
Being able to clearly determine if this was in fact a loan or gift, can have a significant impact of either reducing or increasing the marital estate available for equitable distribution. If there is no canceled check, promissory note, substantiated written proof, gift tax returns, bank or mortgage records, wills, evidence of partial repayment, or verbal corroboration, the burden of establishing this kind of debt may require the court to use its discretionary authority to in allocation of the alleged debts,
If you face separate property issues regarding gifts or loans in a divorce, retain an attorney with expertise in equitable asset division and tracing property. Going it alone without the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney could mean losing your separate property entirely or partially to your spouse.
Get in Touch with a Sea Girt Equitable Distribution Attorney Today
At the family law firm of Peter J. Bronzino, our experienced team, has successfully helped clients draft fair matrimonial property division agreements which protect their rights, financial future, and what they care about most.
One of our distinctive features is our personal and mindful relationships with our current and new clients. We have constant and fluent communication with each of them, assuring they stay informed and are a collaborative part of the entire process from the moment of our first contact until the resolution of your case. If you need to retain a lawyer and live near Mantoloking, Rumson, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Bay Head, across Ocean and Monmouth counties, Bronzino Law Firm is ready to get or call or online form.
Fill out our online form or call our offices conveniently located in Brick or Sea Girt, NJ at (732) 812-3102 to go over your particular questions and doubts when it comes to the division of properties during divorce in an initial and confidential consultation with Mr. Bronzino or any other member of the team.
What happens to the Mortgage on the House when Divorce hits in New Jersey
Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce and as unpleasant as it seems, the fact is divorce is as prevalent now as it has ever been.
We see in movies and on television, that possession of the marital home is a central focus during a divorce. The characters complaining about how they are paying for a house in which they no longer reside and are living hand to mouth to keep up with two mortgages. Rarely is that the case. A knowledgeable attorney, such as those at the Bronzino Law Firm, can process your divorce and create an equitable agreement that will allow you and your ex to decide who will keep the home, who will pay the mortgage, or if the home will be sold. You and your ex have the control in determining which option to choose when handling the house with a mortgage while divorcing in New Jersey.
Mine, Yours, or Ours?
Before the marital home can be sold, or changes made to the mortgage, its owner must be determined. The marital home is usually considered marital property when it was purchased after the wedding, whether both names are on the deed or not. If one spouse has paid all of the mortgage payments up to the time of the divorce while the other stayed home raising the children or caring for the home, it is still considered marital property. If the home was inherited and only the beneficiary’s name is on the deed, they are the exclusive owner but if their spouse’s name is added to the deed, the house becomes marital property. Finally, if a spouse purchased the home and owned it outright before the marriage, it is not considered marital property.
Who Keeps The House?
There are several answers to that question. The first scenario is to sell the home and distribute the proceeds as stated in the divorce settlement. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, so there is no hard and fast rule that the assets will be split down the middle. Equitable distribution takes many factors into consideration such as the length of the marriage, the standard of living, education, and economic contributions, etc. One of the drawbacks of selling the property is the fluctuating housing market. You could have your house up for sale for 18 months to two years depending upon your area.
Secondly, you and your spouse can co-own the house. Many families choose to keep the house, mostly due to emotional ties to it, especially when children are involved. Frequently, families don’t want to send their children to school in a different school district or have the extra expense of moving. Keeping the house in both names does have its drawbacks. Having one mortgage and wanting to start over by buying another home may make getting a second loan difficult. Also, if you and your ex have agreed on how to handle the mortgage payments and either of you gets behind, your credit score is in the basement.
The third option is to buy your ex out of their share of the house. To get a large amount of cash, you will probably need to refinance your mortgage. Let’s say your home is appraised at $300,000 and according to the divorce settlement your ex is entitled to half of the house’s value after what is still owed on the mortgage is deducted. The unpaid mortgage balance is $100,00, which means your ex should receive $100,000. In order to pay that large a sum, by refinancing your mortgage, you can obtain the money for the buyout, but the negative side is that a loan that may have had 8 years left, is a new loan for 15 years.
Divorcing with the House, What About The Mortgage?
Whoever takes over ownership of the house should be on the mortgage. The only way to make any changes to whose name is on the mortgage is by refinancing a loan in the name of the sole owner. Frequently, there are several snags with this process. If the person requesting refinancing doesn’t have available credit or good credit history, they will not be able to refinance. If you and your ex agree to remain on the mortgage, but they will be making the payments and at some point cease to do so, the bank will pursue both of you.
Getting a divorce and dealing with what to do with the family home are extremely difficult situations. So much emotion, memories, and energy are tied into your home. There are ways to settle your divorce in the least painful way possible.
Do you need someone to help get you through the divorce process while handling a home with a mortgage? Contact our Divorce Attorneys in Monmouth and Ocean County, NJ
There are professionals ready to help you make the right choices for you and your family. It is so important to feel as though we are doing the right thing.
At Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our priority is to take you through the divorce process listening to your concerns, and providing the experience and knowledge to meet your unique needs. Our law firm excels in efficiency, empathy, and professionalism.
Contact us online or call us today at (732) 812-3102 and allow us to help you in this difficult time. We are ready to serve our clients in Mantoloking, Beach Haven, Barnegat Light, Lanoka Harbor, Lavallette, Lacy, and Waretown. Visit our offices in Brick and Sea Girt for a consultation.
Family Law Attorneys Help with Financial Information Statements in Your NJ Divorce
The Case Information Statement, which provides a comprehensive picture of your financials, becomes a critical document you need to pay attention to in your divorce process.
Arguably the most important document in a divorce process, the Case Information Statement, commonly referred to as a “CIS,” provides a picture of financials by outlining all your marital income, expenses, tangible personal property, assets, life insurance, and debt in one legal document. If you or someone you know is involved in a civil union dissolution, divorce, child custody, or child support issue in New Jersey, they are required to complete a Case Information Statement for arbitration, mediation, litigation, or simply resolve legal matters between the spouses themselves.
As such, a thoroughly completed CIS prepared with the assistance of a knowledgeable NJ divorce lawyer will inform the court of your exact financial situation, including the monthly budget, personal and marital assets, and a “Statement of Special Problems.” This area, also known as Part F allows the litigant to briefly summarize issues unique to their case that they want the court to consider, such as complex business valuation issues, matters related to a family member’s health, a child’s special therapies/care, if there was a separation, or if a spouse is earning significantly less than they had in previous years.
A CIS should therefore be taken seriously and be as detailed as possible as they are significant in most post-judgment proceedings to modify alimony or modify child support, can save you significant legal fees throughout one’s divorce proceedings, and reduce the likelihood of being accused of hiding marital assets from equitable distribution.
Are you or someone you know struggling with child support, custody, spousal support, or other family law matter in New Jersey, or need help navigating the detailed CIS document’s instructions? At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, we are ideally equipped to deal with tough circumstances like these and win favorable resolutions for clients in Ocean County, Brick, Jackson, Toms River, Point Pleasant, and the surrounding areas. We patiently identify each client’s unique concerns and needs and craft a plan of action in their best interest and that of their children.
Is Accuracy Important When Completing a Financial Disclosure Form?
Yes. As part of the “discovery phase” and the backbone of most divorce litigation, failing to timely submit or detail the proper financial information that substantiates one’s income (i.e., W2’s, receipts, invoices, bank or credit card statements), liabilities, or expenses, or by providing insufficient and/or inconsistent information of the same, could result in an inaccurate picture of either the type of support you will have to pay or possibly what you can expect to receive based on your current or future needs.
For example, it is critical to differentiate a regular salary versus a base salary that includes bonuses, commissions, restricted stock units, deferred pay, and other forms of compensation. With this information, judges have the most appropriate tools and resources to render a fair decision.
In addition, if there are childcare, school, sports, special dietary/allergy, or medical-related expenses as part of the monthly budget, these must be included to form a basis of temporary support as one awaits the final divorce decree.
Remember, an inaccurate and incomplete CIS could result in delaying the resolution of your case, destroy your credibility with the court, and prevent your lawyer from being able to advocate on your behalf effectively.
How Transparent Should I Be When Providing Financial Information for the CIS in Toms River, NJ?
An accurately completed Case Information Statement (CIS) form is a powerful tool to assess and uncover the true details of a family’s finances. You are obligated to disclose ALL earned and unearned income when completing this documentation. Overstating or understating expenses is not helpful and is unlawful.
Whether you expect you or your children to maintain a certain lifestyle, the judge will carefully evaluate your various current marital lifestyle expenses to determine what they believe are “reasonable” expenses and then determine the appropriate alimony award. If your expenses or certain child-related expenses may seem “high,” then consult your attorney about attaching the necessary confirmation or proof to substantiate your claim.
Since you must sign and certify that everything in your CIS is true, if you intentionally omit details, hide assets, or lie on your CIS, you could jeopardize your case and be subject to various fines, sanctions, be awarded a lesser portion of the marital assets, or face federal perjury charges.
Do I Need to Update My Case Information Statement if my Financial Circumstances Change?
Under New Jersey Court Rules, every litigant is obligated to update their Case Information Statement as their financial circumstances change. Most divorces take time to finalize, and due to the pandemic, the economic and living arrangements of many New Jersey citizens have drastically changed. Providing this updated information to your attorney will prevent confusion and save the court’s time and allow you to proactively modify your child support or modify your alimony, and help prevent you from being found in contempt of court for not fulfilling your court-mandated child support, child custody, or alimony obligations.
Examples of changed financial circumstances include a job loss, changing jobs, receiving unemployment benefits, and additional living expenses if one of the spouses has moved out of the family home.
Get Help Preparing Financial Documentation for the Divorce Process in Monmouth County, NJ
If you need help understanding the divorce process or preparing the necessary financial documentation for the equitable division of assets, talk to a knowledgeable family law attorney with experience crafting viable long-term financial solutions. Couples who are divorcing, dissolving a civil union, or are unmarried with children, can rely on the advice and creativity of the family law attorneys at The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, who have helped countless others come to reasonable marital arrangements in Keansburg, Fort Dix, Wildwood, Brick, Brielle, Island Heights, Lavallette, Manasquan, Mantoloking, Normandy Beach, and throughout Monmouth and Ocean County.
Completing the CIS form can be intimidating, confusing, and requires a substantial time investment. You don’t have to go it alone. We can assist you with this process.
Attorneys Handling Marital Torts in Ocean and Monmouth, NJ
Marital tort claims, some of the different types of wrongs for which marital torts are filed, and legal responses to those actions.
A marital tort is a civil action one spouse takes toward the other spouse or towards a third party that has interfered in the marriage. A marital tort is filed in response to the other person’s intentional or negligent behavior, according to the Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute. In a marriage, this type of behavior could include physical or emotional abuse.
Often, a marital tort is filed alongside a divorce. For example, a spouse may file a marital tort against his or her partner because of repeated emotional abuse he received. When a tort is filed as part of a divorce procedure, it is generally woven into the primary cause of the divorce that the judge will consider when determining asset distribution and other separation of property and parental duties. Often, a marital tort will be used by a spouse to gain some advantage in the divorce proceeding. However, this is not to say that they are always flippant or exaggerated ways for a spouse to financially bury another. The claims of physical and emotional abuse for which marital torts are filed are quite serious.
What are the different types of marital torts?
Some examples of marital torts include marital rape, assault and battery, repeated emotional stress, use of excessive force, false imprisonment, defamation, wiretapping, and Battered Women’s Syndrome. Additionally, some marital torts are filed during a divorce proceeding because one spouse claims that the other is hiding assets resulting in a fraudulent conveyance of marital assets. Other marital torts that often enter civil court during the process of divorce are claims that one divorcing spouse is invading the other’s privacy or that a parent is not abiding by temporary or long-term child custody arrangements.
The above is not an exhaustive list but speaks to some of the most common torts. It is important to note that many of the above examples are subject to domestic violence charges in the state of New Jersey. When they are brought to civil court in the case of a marital tort, however, they usually impact how assets are divided between divorcing spouses.
On Assault and Battery as an Initiator of Physical Injury Tort
Assault is the approach of a person with the intent to do harm, and the battery is the actual physical act of doing that harm. When violent assault and battery is an act of domestic violence, divorce may follow. An injured spouse can sue their partner for a tort of physical injury. If the injuries were serious, the civil tort could result in a substantial amount of money being awarded to the victim as part of the divorce agreement.
It is illegal for someone to tape a conversation in which they are not participating, even if that conversation is happening in one’s own home. A spouse who is, for example, trying to catch their partner cheating and secretly records a conversation can be slapped with a marital tort for wiretapping.
On Battered Woman’s Syndrome
Battered Woman’s Syndrome was first named in 1984 during the New Jersey Supreme Court case of State v. Kelly, 97 N.J. 178. A battered woman is someone who has been repeatedly physically or emotionally abused by her partner, so she’ll do what they want, creating long-standing psychological damage. To prove Battered Woman’s Syndrome, it was determined that the woman must have the support of a psychological medical expert, affirming that her experience caused long-term psychological harm.
Ten years later, in 1994, the New Jersey Superior Court: Law Division developed a four-part system for determining whether the cause of action for Battered Woman Syndrome can be proven. These four points are
- Engagement in a marriage or intimate relationship that approaches marriage in its proximity
- Continuous physically and/or psychologically harmful action caused by the defendant to their partner
- Longstanding harm caused by the continuous action during the relationship
- Inability to rectify the situation in the past or present, rendering the plaintiff in need of legal support
Malicious Use of Process
While there are very serious reasons for which a marital tort can be filed during a divorce, often, one spouse goes overboard in filing marital torts against their ex in order to get a leg up in the separation of assets. In order to curtail this, the partner can legally claim Malicious Use/Abuse of Process. This may or may not pan out to result in the wiping of some filed torts, but it could slow the partner in the question of brazenly filing torts down.
If you are undergoing a divorce and marital torts are involved, it is important to have skilled legal representation.
Contact our Divorce Attorney for a free consultation at our Brick Office
If you are considering filing or have filed a marital tort, or if you are defending yourself from one, we can help. At Bronzino Law Firm, we fight tooth and nail for clients in Lakewood, Toms River, Manchester, Red Bank, Stafford Township, Lacey Township, and other Shore towns.
Call Bronzino Law Firm today at (732) 812-3102 for a free consultation to explore your possibilities. We will work towards protecting you and help you.
Skilled Attorneys Help Advising on Vacation Home Division in Ocean County and other Jersey Shore Localities
Divorcing in New Jersey means dividing one household into two through an equitable division of marital assets. This often includes vacation homes and shore houses in towns like Sea Bright, Sea Girt, Lavallette, Belmar, and Long Beach Island.
Equitable means what is fair. Either the divorcing parties will agree to what they consider a fair division, which the court will approve, or the court will equitably divide assets if the parties cannot agree. They may also resort to mediators to resolve their disputes regarding property division. A mediator or judge knows that before splitting the assets, they must first determine marital property and separate property. All property acquired during a marriage is marital property, except inheritances, personal injury awards, property owned before or after marriage, and property the parties agreed to keep separate in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Typical marital assets include the family residence, bank accounts, vehicles, and other real property acquired as investment or vacation homes.
Aspects considered by the court to determine property division in Manasquan NJ
Fairly dividing assets does not require the court or the parties to split each marital asset down the middle. So, the spouses may not have to sell the family home to divide the proceeds in each instance. What is equitable for dividing a family residence is defined by each marriage, considering how long the couple is married, two years or 20. Also relevant are the family home’s market value, equity, and debt. In dividing a residence, a court also considers each party’s age, health, income, debt, and hardships. In addition, it looks at the separate property contributions to the property by each party, the child custody arrangements, and the standard of living during the marriage. Whether one party stayed home to raise kids, contributed to the other spouse’s education, or put their career on hold to help the other matters too. If one parent primarily cares for the children and needs the residence for the children, the court also considers that. And finally, the tax consequences of distributing the property are also a factor.
As to dividing the couple’s vacation home, the considerations differ from the primary residence, though the parties may link the vacation home to who gets the house. For example, the parties may decide to sell the vacation home and split the proceeds or award one party the property as an offset to the other party’s unequal distribution, say, of a business or the primary residence. The home’s value is the fair market value, meaning the price it would sell on the market. A realtor may supply comparable home prices to find that value, or an appraiser may calculate a value.
Parties must decide what they wish to do with the secondary property, sell it or keep it.
Both parties must agree to sell, or else the court decides. And if the parties do not outright transfer the property to one party or another, the court can allow one party to own or occupy the vacation property for a time until its future sale. Or one spouse can buy the other’s interest in the vacation home if they can afford the sale price or, minimally, the mortgage payoff. If there is a mortgage on the property, the person assuming the mortgage must refinance to eliminate the other spouse’s obligation on the loan, so they are no longer on the hook for the mortgage. The party refinancing must have the ability to maintain the property as well as pay the mortgage. Since the parties split debts and assets, the debt one party assumes for the vacation home may offset the additional value they receive in acquiring the property as sole owner.
So, for example, if a vacation home has a fair market value of $400,000.00, the parties would be entitled to $200,000.00 each. That assumes the property is debt-free, meaning they owe nothing on a mortgage or the couple paid cash for it. But if one party is buying the vacation home, they would owe the other spouse $200,000.00. And if they did not pay off the mortgage, the party acquiring the home would owe the other party $200,000.00 less one-half of what they owe on the mortgage. Thus, if the mortgage were $50,000.00, the purchasing party would owe the other spouse $175,000.00. That is one possible scenario of splitting a vacation home.
Is it Possible to split the vacation house time in Seaside Heights NJ?
Of course, they can also keep the property and split their vacation home time. But this can be complicated if the parties do not cooperate. It could also be unworkable if one party has more money to pay a mortgage and the maintenance on the property. Moreover, such an arrangement may cause friction if the couple has differing upkeep standards, such as one party does not maintain the property the same as the other, leaving it messy or damaged. And the memories stored in the place may make it psychologically and emotionally challenging to share. Similar difficulties arise with investment properties, like rentals. The spouses may not agree on who should rent the property, how much to charge, or how the division of labor breaks down. Rental properties need management for plumbing, landscaping, and structural integrity of the property. They must agree on the specifics of who does what.
And they do not always agree, even between the most amicable of divorcing couples. Divorce occurs because people cannot remain married any longer for various reasons. A couple may divorce because they are such opposites that they cannot agree or cooperate on anything from making simple decisions to significant lifestyle choices. Keeping property together may be too much to manage over a long time. There may also come a time when either party needs to sell to pay for other debts that arise. So, if they sell the vacation home or investment property, there needs to be a provision for what the parties do if they place the property on the market. However, the more the parties can maintain a cooperative and tolerant relationship, the more options they have with the vacation home and all property they must divide.
Contact our Monmouth Family Law Experienced Team of Attorneys Today
Fortunately, divorcing couples with properties can rely on the advice and creativity of family law attorneys at The Law Office of Peter Bronzino, who has helped others come to reasonable arrangements with real property.
If you are divorcing, know that you have more than one route to take to equitably dividing real properties. First, talk to a family law attorney who helps divorcing parties craft viable agreements for real property owners other than a family residence.
We can assist you with this process, as we often do for clients in Beach Haven, Wildwood, Brick, Brielle, Island Heights, Lavallette, Manasquan, Mantoloking, Normandy Beach, and throughout Monmouth and Ocean County.
Contact our office by calling (732) 812-3102 to discuss your current situation in a free, personal and confidential consultation.
Key Concepts you can Discuss with the Talented Team of Attorneys at Bronzino Law Firm.
You and your partner have decided to move forward with your divorce, and you are about to meet with your attorney for the first time. There are 5 key elements that you need to include in that discussion.
To be successful, your divorce attorney needs to know what the big picture looks like. What are your expectations? How would you like to proceed? What are your needs? Many of these things cannot be determined until you have provided all of the information necessary to build your case. Remember, the better prepared you are, the fewer hours you will be billed while your attorney searches for information you could have easily provided in the beginning. Consider it an investment of time that will pay dividends in the end.
TOPIC ONE: FINANCIAL INFORMATION
This topic has several branches. The first is employment: do both of you work? How much do you earn? Be sure to provide the 4 most recent pay stubs or direct deposit notices from you both. Tax returns are another great help in determining the finances of the household. Include all assets such as boats, cars, jewelry, heirlooms, the marital home, vacation home or timeshare, recreational vehicle, and other real estate, along with inherited money or land, retirement accounts, business accounts, and investment accounts with their estimated values. If assets are important, debts are just as well. All debts, including credit cards, college loans, mortgages, personal loans, outstanding tax debt, or any other kind of loan or debt owed by an individual or the household.
TOPIC TWO: SPOUSAL SUPPORT (ALIMONY)
There is no formula to determine the payment of alimony, which is why the above information is vital in deciding if or how much alimony will be paid. Some of the things the court analyzes are the length of the marriage, the need for financial support by one of the parties, the ability to pay support, the level of education if one spouse gave up a career to take care of the children, and what their possible earnings could have been. “Permanent Alimony” does not exist in New Jersey. Typically, a former spouse will receive alimony for the same length as the marriage lasted, but this is not always the case. If the primary caretaker of the children is the recipient of support, it may continue longer or if the former spouse or a child has a chronic illness.
TOPIC THREE: CHILD CUSTODY and SUPPORT
There are two kinds of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody considers all of the decisions made for a minor child: schooling, medical assistance schooling, religious-related aspects, and extracurricular activities. It is typical for parents to have shared legal custody as they make the decisions for the child jointly. Primary physical custody is with whom the child spends most of their time. Shared physical custody is a possibility, where each parent would spend the same amount of time with the child (one week on, one week off), but that is only possible when both residences are near the child’s school. There are many factors taken into account to determine custody. They include the mental and physical health of the parents, the level of cooperation between the parents, the stability of the home environment, and many others.
Child support is another issue that can be extremely complicated. Part of the decision to set up child support is determined by three kinds of expenditures: fixed, controlled, and variable. When the child is not residing in the home, expenses such as rent, electricity, water, etc., are attributed to the fixed expenses. Controlled expenses are incurred with the primary caregiver and include clothing, personal care, entertainment, etc. Variable expenses are counted only when the child is with either parent, covering expenses such as food and transportation. To devise a balanced plan, the judge must have all of this information.
TOPIC FOUR: DIVORCE OPTIONS
There are several alternative divorce options which you and your spouse can consider. They are negotiation, mediation, collaborative divorce, and arbitration. Negotiation is the loosest of the four in format and guidelines. All of the decisions are in the hands of the spouses. Mediation is done by way of a mediator who helps negotiate through the divorce agreement. A collaborative divorce is creating a divorce agreement between the spouses, the attorneys, child custody specialists, financial advisors, and more. Finally, arbitration is the least flexible in that once the arbitrator has decided, it is legally binding. The court will often request that couples go through a mediation process before taking their case to court. Knowing how willing your attorney will be to go to court is also important.
TOPIC FIVE: FEES AND RETAINERS
The average cost for a divorce in New Jersey runs between $5,500 and $24,100. The least expensive divorce has little to no disputes regarding the details of the divorce, while at the top of the scale, there are many disputes. The average divorce takes approximately 18 months to transpire. The quickest and least expensive divorce is a no-contest where the couple works out everything before submitting the request for a divorce. There are different kinds of fees, such as hourly fees, flat fees, legal costs, and retainers. Some attorneys choose to charge a flat fee frequently when the client has already gone through mediation, and there are few details to finesse. A retainer is a kind of deposit you make when the case begins, and the lawyer uses it to cover their fees and expenses. Few people enjoy talking about money, but it is necessary to maintain a realistic budget and keep costs in mind as the process continues.
Contact a Brick, NJ Attorney About Your Divorce Consultation Today
It seems like a lot to have to discuss right off the bat but to find a good fit lawyer, you need to give them an overall picture of your needs. At Bronzino Law Firm, family law is our passion, and we want to be there for you. Divorce is a multi-faceted process that can be overwhelming when you are alone.
We can walk you through, step by step, while listening to your unique needs. We are ready to serve and often assist clients in places throughout Monmouth and Ocean County, NJ, like Oakhurst, Neptune, Sea Bright, Asbury Park, Manahawkin, Toms River, Long Beach Township, and Ocean Township.
Are you thinking about getting a divorce? Do you know someone who is? Call us at (732) 812-3102 to make an appointment today.
If Parents Disagree about COVID-19 Vaccines, an Experienced Divorce Attorney can Help
Many divorces are rife with disagreements, some can be worked out in one conversation, and others require several before a consensus is achieved.
If an agreement-even through mediation cannot be reached-it must be decided in family court. Each partner feels that their opinion makes the most sense, and the decision should go their way. Sometimes, the disagreement comes from an emotional place, whereas the content is not as important as is “winning.” Frequently, it is helpful to seek legal advice from a knowledgeable source who can give you direction.
This is especially the case when deciding whether or not the children will be vaccinated. With the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines, which are now available in pretty much every pharmacy around, the WHO has recommended that children ages 12 and up to be vaccinated due to the stronger Delta Variant, which has recently been identified as a stronger strain. That being said, opinions differ over vaccines and some parents inevitably fall on different sides of the issue due to religion, medical, and other considerations and priorities.
What about the Child Custody Agreements?
Before discussing which parent has the say-so regarding vaccines, one must identify the type of custody and the rights there within. The custody agreement identifies what kind of custody is endowed to each parent. Legal custody can also be sole or joint and refers to the parent’s educational, religious, and medical decisions (s) for the children. Sole physical custody enables a parent to have the children reside with him/her. Joint physical custody means the ex-spouses share physical custody of the children. Frequently, a schedule is worked out between the parents; many choose one week on and one-off or two weeks at a time. Parent’s Joint custody means that both parents must reach an agreement. If, after discussion, the parents disagree, a trip to family court may be the only solution.
What are my Scenarios in Case of Disagreement?
Hopefully, the disagreement will be solved between you and your former spouse; however, if that isn’t the case, keep the following in mind:
Parents’ Personal Opinions
Both parents are permitted to present evidence/experts to support their refusal to vaccinate their child or not. Historically, personal opinions are not as vital as professional testimony from the child’s medical providers.
This is also another point of contention when vaccinating or not vaccinating the children is in dispute. The court must be convinced, with evidence demonstrating a devout following of the religion, to give credit to the argument. Even then, it is frequently insufficient evidence to sway a decision.
This is also taken into consideration by the court when making its decision. If the father has spent a much greater percentage of time with the children and is opposed to vaccinating them, the court may rule in his favor.
Parents have their children’s best interests at heart. If one parent refuses to have their children vaccinated, due to a religious belief or a health concern, when an agreement cannot be reached between both parents, the court must decide. You must have the best legal representation to guide you through this process.
Contact our Family Law Attorneys for a Free Consultation
Our knowledgeable attorneys are ready to go to bat for you and protect you and your children’s rights at Bronzino Law Firm.
Our team is committed to listening to your personal argument and helping you reach an agreement in the child´s best interests. We encourage you to contact us for immediate help in this respect. We have successfully represented a multitude of clients in Brick, Sea Girt, Toms River, Lakewood, Berkeley, Wall Township, and across the Jersey Shore.
If you are involved in or anticipate becoming involved in a legal fight over the COVID-19 vaccine, we urge you to contact us online for a free initial consultation or through our office in Brick, New Jersey at (732) 812-3102.
President Biden’s tax plans may affect different elements of your divorce in Toms River, Asbury Park, Seagirt, Point Pleasant NJ
When you divorce, your cash flow inevitably shifts, as do the income taxes associated with marital support you receive or pay.
President Joe Biden’s perspectives and actions on tax distribution may affect your preparation for, and process of, divorce. For example, what might changes to taxes mean for your after-tax cash flow and expenses for such things as alimony? Read on to learn more about how President Biden’s tax laws are likely to affect different elements of your divorce, and seek one of our experienced family law attorneys to support you in developing a holistic approach to planning your divorce in New Jersey.
When you divorce, your cash flow inevitably shifts, as do the income taxes associated with marital support you receive or pay. With some shifts to tax law already in place and others likely in the works given the platform on which President Biden campaigned in 2020, here are some elements of your life that may be affected by changes to tax law that you’ll want to take into consideration as you prepare for divorce.
Individual Income Tax Increase
If you have an individual income of over $400,000 per year, your income tax will return to a rate of 39.6 percent, a rate that was reduced to 37 percent by President Trump as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
Social Security Tax
In addition to increasing income taxes for those who make over $400k per year, President Biden’s tax plan includes for those earners a 12.4 percent Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (Social Security) payroll tax. This 12.4 percent tax is partially paid by the employer, half. This new financial group creates another edge, or what is called a “donut hole,” to the Social Security payroll tax already in place for earners of up to $142,800. Those who earn between $142,800 and $400,000 are not included in this payroll tax requirement.
Divorcing Couples with Children
The two main changes that involve children in President Biden’s tax plan shift tax credits. As such, parents who are going through a divorce proceeding will need to work together and with their divorce attorneys to consider how much tax credit the custody arrangement they are leaning towards earn and whether it is worth it to augment the proposed custody arrangement to increase the tax credit available to their marital estate.
Child Tax Credit
The Child Tax Credit, or CTC, provides a tax credit of as much as $2,000 for each dependent under 17. This tax credit, put in place by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 as an expansion through which the dependency exemption was eliminated, was eligible for individuals earning a gross annual income of up to $200,000 or a couple with a joint gross annual income of $400,000. On the other hand, the Biden tax plan greatly expands this child tax credit to $3,000 for children between the ages of 6 and 17 – and $3,600 for children under the age of 6.
Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit, or CDCTC, vastly expands the number of expenses that qualify, from $3,000 in qualified expenses to $8,000 in expenses that qualify for the credit. If there is more than one dependent, the qualified expenses of $6,000 for multiple dependents increase to $16,000 qualified expenses. Additionally, the CDCTC increases the maximum credit rate from 35 percent of qualifying expenses up to 50 percent.
President Biden’s tax plan places a cap on the tax benefit received for itemized deductions. For individuals who earn more than $400k, this tax benefit is reduced to 28 percent of the value. The plan also reinstates the Pease Limitation on Itemized Deductions for those with a taxable income of more than $400k.
Long-Term Capital Gains
The prior top capital gain rate was 20 percent. However, president Biden’s tax structure hugely increases this capital gain rate to the ordinary income tax rate – 39.6 percent – for those whose income is more than $1 million.
Navigating a divorce in the face of these tax changes requires the support of a skilled divorce attorney to help you navigate the process to ensure the best financial outcome.
To ensure that you navigate your divorce smoothly, it is important to support an experienced family law attorney.
Contact our Divorce Attorney for a free consultation at our Brick Office
Experienced family law and divorce attorney Peter Bronzino, Esq, is up to date with the new regulation you should know when moving forward in your divorce throughout Monmouth and Ocean County surrounding areas, such as Rumson, Brielle, Morganville, Manasquan, and Toms River.
To schedule a free and confidential consultation with our firm today regarding your divorce and family legal issues, please send us a message or call (732) 812-3102 to speak to an attorney who can help.
An experienced Family Law Attorney Will Help you Understand the Different Concepts that may Affect your Personal Case.
If you want a mid-marriage agreement in the Monmouth and Ocean County area, it needs to be crafted fairly and with an eye to an objectively reasonable outcome.
Marital settlement agreements (MSA) identify rights and obligations concerning marital assets, debts, equitable property distribution, and, if appropriate, alimony, child custody, and child support. A principal difference among these agreements is when they are made, since they are generally designed to protect assets acquired during the marriage. Often known as property settlement agreements (PSA), they are entered into after divorce proceedings and consequently when the marriage has lost its vitality.
Postnuptial agreements are relatively new types of agreements that couples enter into after they have married or have entered into a civil union. They may also be an intra-marital mid-marriage agreement or even a reconciliation agreement. Such contracts are typically entered into by spouses before the marriage loses much of its vitality. They define certain property rights and other issues such as equitable division of assets, alimony, wills, trusts, and insurance policies but exclude child support and child custody matters.
As addressed in the case of Pacelli v. Pacelli by the Appellate Division in New Jersey, the key to the enforceability of a post-marital agreement is that it is fair and equitable at the time of its entry and remains fair and equitable at the time of its sought enforcement. Under the guise of a mid-marriage agreement and with two children from their ten-year relationship, the husband in this landmark case presented his wife with an ultimatum, “he would divorce her unless she agreed to certain terms regarding their economic relationship. To punctuate his demand, [the husband] moved out of the marital bedroom and into an apartment above their garage.” Feeling forced by the imbalanced economic dynamics and as if she needed to decide between the destruction of their family and the stigma of a failed marriage, or to simply agree, she agreed to her husband’s terms.
Thus the Appellate Court ruled that the mid-marriage agreement signed by the Pacelli spouses fixing the terms of their economic relationship was not enforceable under the law.
What are Other Differences Between a Mid-Marriage Agreement & Property Settlement Agreement?
Often in a mid-marital agreement, couples experience a negative emotional or financial change in the marriage, which necessitates a change. Typically the parties are no longer on an equal footing. One party becomes less interested than the other party in ending the marriage, or one party seems to have more authority or control. This change in dynamics may result in one party, as in Pacelli v. Pacelli, feeling forced or coerced into signing off on a postnuptial agreement.
For a postnuptial agreement to be considered valid in New Jersey, there must at least be:
- no duress or coercion,
- equitable and fair terms,
- independent legal representation for both parties, and
- full financial disclosures by both parties.
With careful drafting and the appropriate language, a mid-nuptial agreement that takes into account the current marital circumstances, as well as possible future contingencies, is critical to helping to avoid possible pitfalls which may seem unfair if a spouse waives their interest in an asset or business which has later increased in value.
As a reminder, a Property Settlement Agreement (PSA), also known as a Marriage Settlement Agreement (MSA), covers not only the equitable distribution of property but also child custody, parenting time, division of assets (including personal property, heirlooms, real estate like the marital home, retirement assets and pensions, cryptocurrency, and businesses), alimony, and any other additional matter which have to be clarified in the event of a divorce or civil union dissolution.
Regardless of the type of postnuptial agreement, strict standards protect all parties and ensure a smooth divorce process.
How Does a Marital Separation Agreement Differ From a Postnuptial Agreement?
New Jersey does not have legal separations, so couples seeking to separate can file for a divorce from bed and board. Following New Jersey Statute 2A:34-3, a divorce from bed and board can be granted for the same reasons as a regular divorce. Both parties must request relief and show evidence for reasons which merit the divorce, which will not prejudice either party from filing for a full divorce later.
By preparing a separation agreement, spouses can resolve child custody, child support, equitable distribution of property, alimony, and any outstanding marital debt. Survivor benefits under many pension plans, and certain federal benefits, such as spousal social security retirement benefits, may be preserved during the divorce from bed and board.
Once the separation agreement is notarized, all the debts and assets shared by the couple are considered frozen and divided separately for each spouse. After a divorce from bed and board is granted, all new property rights stop accruing as if the parties had obtained an absolute divorce. Therefore, equitable distribution ends at the time of the entry of the divorce from bed and board. From a purely economic standpoint, the marriage is essentially over.
Although spouses legally separated by Divorce from Bed and Board are not obligated to live together, they are still subject to other responsibilities that come with being married (i.e., remaining faithful and respectful of the other’s wants and needs and assisting the other when necessary.
Contact a Postnuptial Agreement Attorney Serving Couples in Ocean and Monmouth County towns including Toms River, Wall, Asbury Park, Point Pleasant, and Brick, NJ
Postnuptial agreement attorney Peter J. Bronzino takes pride in serving couples from local Jersey Shore communities, including Bay Head, Wall, Toms River, Brick, Beach Haven, Lavallette, and across all of Monmouth and Ocean County, New Jersey. Attorney Bronzino started The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC in 2010 to provide clients with excellent legal protection while dedicating all of his efforts to achieving their desired results when prioritizing their individual needs.
The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC is built on the belief that strong attorney-client relationships lead to greater client satisfaction. We keep clients involved and informed throughout the legal process, allowing us to provide the highest level of focused legal service.
If you are considering drafting or modifying a postnuptial, prenuptial, separation, or cohabitation agreement, please contact us online or through our Sea Girt or Brick, NJ offices by calling (732) 812-3102 today for a free and confidential consultation.