Category: Prenuptial Agreements

Redefining the Use of Prenuptial Agreements in Freehold and Toms River, NJ

Different from the past, more younger couples opt for a prenuptial agreement to cover aspects like student debt and other up-to-date topics.

Are Prenuptial Agreements Becoming a Trend?In New Jersey, as in all of the United States, marriage is a court-enforced union that brings many benefits and conditions to a couple’s legal and financial life. When a couple splits, however, the process of dividing their assets is a matter that must be settled, either by a couple or by the courts. New Jersey is a state that follows the equitable distribution model in divorce: when a couple legally dissolves the union, marital assets are distributed based on considerations the Superior Court: Family Part reviews, if the couple cannot come to a settlement agreement with the help of their own legal counsel or mediators. Assets obtained or developed while the couple is married are legal property of both parties, and if the spouses divorce, each has a fair claim to the assets, including savings, properties, valuables, and investments.

Because marriage is such a binding reality, and in this day and age, more and more young professionals are deciding to get married and bringing in assets of their own, many couples are choosing to develop prenuptial agreements to protect personal assets and prior investments in the case that the union dissolves.

Read on to learn more about the uptick in prenuptial agreements and why it is important to hire a family lawyer to help you with your prenup.

Prenups on the Rise Among Millennials

A prenuptial agreement is a legal document that outlines each individual’s rights and outlines specific conditions and controls, should the marriage be legally dissolved due to divorce or even death. Couples entering into prenuptial agreements generally outline such elements as distribution of particular assets and spousal support or alimony rights.

Many believe that only very wealthy couples enter into prenuptial agreements, or that signing a prenup means that the marriage is fated to fail. Neither of these is true. In fact, Business Insider reports that no evidence exists that couples who have a prenuptial agreement have a higher divorce rate than those who don’t. As more and more millennials are getting married, many of whom have established professional careers and a sense of independence that lends itself to forming a prenuptial agreement to protect one’s own assets in the long term, a more diverse subset of people in New Jersey include prenups in their marital preparations.

According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, more millennials are requesting prenuptial agreements. The study notes that later marriage and student loan debt play a role in the decision to sign a prenup. Over 60 percent of lawyers polled noted a rise in the number of prenuptial agreements among this population. And CNBC reported that prenuptial agreements have skyrocketed in the past two decades to five times their prior rate.

Common Reasons to Draft a Prenup in NJ

Family Law & Prenuptial Agreement Law Firm in Ocean County, NJAs noted above, many millennials are interested in protecting their assets, as they are developing their professional lives and marrying later than prior generations. Other common reasons that a couple would elect to enter into a prenuptial agreements to protect a business or joint venture in the case of a divorce and to protect dependents such as children. In order to prevent assets from being equitably distributed in a divorce in a manner that does not suit the couple, they may determine how certain assets would be distributed, allowing them to rest at ease that those assets are protected in the future.

Spouses of millennials with substantial student loan debt may want to enter into a prenuptial agreement to protect against inheriting that debt, just as those with substantial savings may want to protect their assets from equitable distribution once they become maritally claimable.

Profile of Couples Getting Prenups

The profile of the couple entering into a prenuptial agreement is diversifying. While traditionally, mostly very wealthy couples entered into prenuptial agreements, as the profile of New Jersey couples is changing, the profile of the ‘prenup couple’ is changing. Millennials filing prenuptial agreements is on the rise, as couples who have waited until later to marry seek to protect their professionally-gained assets and protect from taking on educational debt of their spouses.

Retain a Respected Ocean Township Prenuptial Agreement Lawyer to Draft Your Document

Having an experienced family law attorney on your side to help you draft a prenuptial agreement is an essential asset. New Jersey marital law is binding and the state’s equitable distribution model ensures a fair separation that may not suit the needs of each spouse in a relationship in the case of divorce. Having clear expectations and agreements about the agreed-upon distribution of assets and potentially spousal support, as well as other factors, is important when the couple is on the same page and seeing eye to eye. An experienced lawyer knows nuances of asset distribution that a couple entering into marriage will likely not have any idea about, and as such, their perspective is invaluable.

Are you entering into a marriage in New Jersey and want to protect your assets, as well as protect yourself from taking on your partner’s debts? Our family law team at Bronzino Law can help. We have successfully supported hundreds of clients in drafting a comprehensive and tight prenuptial agreement in Monmouth Beach, Red Bank, Rumson, Sea Bright, Bayhead, Long Beach Township, and other towns along the Jersey Shore. Contact us at (732) 812-3102 for a free consultation to discuss your marriage preparation today.

Top Reasons to End a Marriage with an Annulment in NJ

Since most of the grounds for annulment vary from divorce, couples seeking an annulment in New Jersey may anticipate relief mixed with dashed hopes, but the advantages of annulment are clear.

Benefits of Getting an Annulment over a Divorce in NJEnding a marriage under any circumstances is gut-wrenching. Couples change over time, as do priorities and values gained from life events. Many couples experience divorce grief as if a death occurred in their family. In fact, people suffer the end of their marriage in the same stages of grief, namely, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. And since being a couple has characteristics of a separate entity or being that forever disappears, spouses suffer loss. However, with an annulment, the parties to marriage end their marriage and treat it as if it never existed. Though many couples still experience the loss of what they thought they had, lifelong companionship, and a future together, the emotions may differ from divorce.

What are the Advantages of an Annulment in NJ?

Divorces feel like failures, while annulments appear like mistakes. Undoubtedly, people judge divorces as unsuccessful marriages, so divorce carries a social stigma. In addition, the financial burden of a divorce consists of dividing households in two and paying alimony and child support. In an annulment, spousal maintenance is uncommon. Typically, the marriage is short-lived, thereby reducing the chances that alimony is necessary. And finally, annulments allow individuals to continue practicing their faith within a religion that frowns on divorce. For example, the Catholic church considers divorce a sin, and thus, an individual seeking remarriage in the Catholic church may not be able to do so. However, the church does not view annulments the same and therefore does not prohibit church marriages to those with annulments.

Annulment is a less complicated process, even though the grounds for getting one are limited. Since a marriage qualified for annulment is usually short, and the court treats the marriage as never having taken place, there is no property division through the family court. Nevertheless, the parties to an annulment may resolve property disputes in civil court on a contract theory. For example, when two people agree to share households, including furnishings and items purchased in anticipation of married life, they may be held to their promises of sharing expenses or reimbursing one party for laying out the costs of what would have been marital property. Moreover, the terms of a prenuptial agreement do not apply since those agreements are relevant to divorces. Thus, if you agreed to divide your assets in a prenuptial agreement, that agreement does not apply to an annulment. And if children from the relationship exist, the court may order child support and alimony.

Reasons Supporting Annulment instead of Divorce

Unlike the grounds for divorce, such as irreconcilable differences, adultery, extreme cruelty, desertion, alcohol addiction, incarceration, deviant sexual behavior, and institutionalism, annulment grounds are fewer. The reasons for marital rescission pertain to the underlying marital qualities, such as trust, honesty, communication, and faithfulness. Thus, to get a New Jersey annulment, you can prove that your spouse deceived you in some way. For example, bigamy supports annulment. If your spouse is a bigamist, they already have a living spouse unbeknownst to you at the time of your marriage. Another cause for annulling a marriage is duress. If you married under the threat of extreme violence, you might seek an annulment. You must prove that you married under pressure, meaning you feared severe harm to yourself or others. For example, your spouse may have threatened to beat you or your children unless you married them.

Fraud is another reason to get an annulment. To prove fraud, you must be able to show your spouse made material representations about themselves that would have deterred you from marrying them had you known the truth. For example, your spouse represents they share your faith and want to raise children in that faith but after marriage, they do not wish to have children and practice a different religion than yours. Other common fraudulent representations at the time of marriage include a spouse’s drug or alcohol addiction, pregnancy, or immigration status. For example, one spouse may secretly marry to stay in the country or to find a father for their baby. Other grounds revolve around the capacity to marry, such as being underage or unable to consent to the marriage due to mental incapacity. Also, incest or blood relative marriages and those that cannot be consummated due to impotence or refusal to have sex are grounds for annulment.

How to File for an Annulment in New Jersey

Advantages of Finishing a Marriage Using AnnulmentTo obtain an annulment, you must begin by petitioning the court for an annulment. The party starts the process by filing a complaint to annul with the court and serving it on the other party by a qualified process server or disinterested person over 18. If the spouses agree to the annulment, they may acknowledge service in writing and alleviate the need for formal service of process. Since property division is separate from the annulment, the process may take shorter than a divorce unless one party contests the annulment or child support and custody are an issue. Unlike divorce, the finalization of the process, a judgment of annulment, allows the parties to remarry right away. Whether the complaint is contested or uncontested, you are encouraged to seek help from an experienced family law attorney to obtain an annulment successfully.

Knowing which papers to file and how to prove your grounds for annulment is complicated. You would need to convince a judge that you met the burden of proof to rescind the marriage, which may be challenging for the layperson. New Jersey courts have specific rules of procedure depending on the intended goal. As such, the process for obtaining an annulment has particular rules for filing papers with the court. Ignorance of the procedural requirements can delay your final judgment for months, if not years. Not only that, but failing to properly support your request for an annulment with valid reasons can mean the process proves unfruitful in the end. None of these outcomes is worth the risk of not having an experienced family lawyer handling things on your behalf.

Want to get an Annulment in New Jersey? Talk to a Lawyer Now

Consult a skilled and knowledgeable family attorney at Bronzino Law Firm to ascertain whether you have grounds for an annulment and what is necessary to get started with the process in your case. Get the advice you need to assure yourself that you are doing the right thing and can restart your life with a clean slate. Our firm assists clients with annulments, divorces, and civil dissolutions throughout Ocean and Monmouth County, including Jackson, Barnegat, Rumson, Point Pleasant, Toms River, Waretown, and Lavallette. When you enlist our help, you find an attorney who makes you feel safe and respected, a true professional who listens and fights for you.

Talk through your options and entrust your case to a qualified family law annulment attorney by calling (732) 812-3102 or setting up an appointment at one of our offices in Brick and Seagirt, NJ today. We offer free consultations and a member of our staff is available to assist you immediately.

Filing a Civil Union Dissolution with Your Family Law NJ Attorney

People who have entered one of these arrangements face a different set of laws regarding a separation because federal law does not recognize these unions.

What Is A Civil Union and How Does It Work?

A domestic partnership or civil union develops over time for many couples. Moving in together is the first step. Next, assets are purchased as a group. Then, children may enter the picture. All of this occurs in the absence of marriage. A cohabitation agreement can be written to safeguard the rights and property of both parties in a domestic partnership or civil union.

What Is A Dissolution, And How Does It Work?

What Is A Dissolution?

A civil union pair must file a dissolution complaint in family court under the Civil Union Act to formally dissolve their partnership. Divorce laws and principles control the dissolution process, and a civil union is disbanded in the same manner as marriage is.

The legal issues that a couple has when they leave the state where their civil union was granted, particularly if they transfer to a place where civil unions have never been granted, can be significant. In New Jersey, a civil union’s dissolution is regarded similarly to a divorce. In New Jersey, at least one participant of a civil union must have lived in the state for at least one year before filing a petition with the court to dissolve the relationship. In terms of nullification or dissolution and alimony, asset distribution, and responsibility for the partners’ children, a civil union follows the same procedures and circumstances as a marriage.

Under current civil union statutes, a supported partner may be entitled to spousal support, often known as alimony, based on the couple’s lifestyle during the civil union. The difficulty arises when partners have been “married” before the Civil Union Act’s implementation, similar to fair sharing. If a court merely considers the legal wording of alimony legislation, alimony will be determined only based on the couple’s connection from the beginning of the civil union to the termination date, with no regard for the time spent together.

To put it another way, when a civil union dissolves, spouses are entitled to support in the form of spousal maintenance, child support, custody, and equitable distribution of property accrued during the civil union, just as they would be if they were legally married. Before 2007, it was against the law for same-sex couples to enter into a civil union, which means there is some debate over how to measure a civil union best. Some scholars believe that a couple’s union should begin when they get property and acquire the designation of a legally recognized couple before 2006, rather than when they begin to live together as a pair in a binding agreement.

What Are the Justifications for Dissolution?

Although civil union dissolution in New Jersey is governed by the same laws and regulations as divorce, the reasons civil union couples in New Jersey can request a dissolution are different from those reasons married couples in New Jersey can petition for a divorce. For example, a married or civil union couple can get a dissolution on the following grounds:

  • Irresponsibility
  • Any cruelty to animals.
  • A span of time during which the relationship has been interrupted for a duration of at least 18 months (no-fault divorce in its origins)
  • The habitual use of a substance that impairs the ability to make reasoned decisions
  • Treatment for a lengthy amount of time (a year or more) in a mental health facility
  • For 18 months or longer, there is a prison term.

Civil Unions and Alimony

The fact that three samples are absent from the list has to be noted. These facts are significant in marriage simply when conflicts, deviant sexual behavior, and adultery cannot be reconciled.

Although civil union dissolution in New Jersey is subject to the same rights and duties as divorce, the reasons available to civil union couples seeking a dissolution differ from those available to married couples seeking a divorce. In New Jersey, both married and civil union partners may seek to end their partnerships for the following reasons:

  • Civil Unions and AlimonyAbandonment
  • Cruelty to animals.
  • A period of separation of 18 months or more (the original no-fault divorce)
  • Substance abuse or inebriation regularly
  • Hospitalization for mental illness for a period of 24 months or more
  • A sentence of 18 months or more in jail

Note that three examples are missing from the list. Irreconcilable differences, aberrant sexual activity, and infidelity are only relevant in marriage.

Following the dissolution of a civil union, civil union partners may be entitled to alimony or spousal support, similar to how alimony is considered in divorce proceedings. Additionally, equitable distribution will be established similarly to how it is after a divorce. In New Jersey, the following considerations are considered while determining alimony:

  • The partners’ true financial need and ability to pay;
  • The length of the civil union;
  • The ages and physical/emotional well-being of the parties;
  • The standard of living established during the civil union and the prospect of each spouse’s ability to maintain a standard of living.
  • Earning potential, educational degrees, vocational skills, and employability of the parties;
  • How long the party requesting support has been unemployed.
  • Children’s parental responsibilities;
  • The time and money required to get the needed education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find an acceptable job, the availability of such training and employment, and the possibility of future capital asset and income acquisitions;
  • A history of each party’s financial and non-financial contributions to the civil union, including contributions to the care and education of children, as well as gaps in a personal job or educational opportunities.
  • Income derived from the investment of any assets held by one of the parties;

Contact our Family Law Attorneys for a Free Consultation

Dissolving or ending a committed relationship, whether it be a marriage, civil union, domestic partnership, or simply a long-term cohabitation arrangement, brings with it a whole host of questions and concerns in addition to the inevitable emotional toll. Since the requirements for divorce and civil union dissolutions are alike in many aspects, the way to go about executing this process can be more readily understood. If you are seeking to dissolve a civil union or have chosen to move forward with a divorce, it is paramount to have an experienced divorce lawyer who can assist you with successfully navigating the road ahead.

At Bronzino Law Firm, our attorneys have a wealth of knowledge and skill in the realm of matrimonial and family law. Our team is equally committed to your success in completing the process of divorce or civil union dissolution, and we encourage you to contact us for immediate help in this respect. We take pride in successfully representing clients in Brick, Sea Girt, Toms River, and Wall Township, and across the Jersey Shore.

To get in touch with Peter Bronzino and our legal team in a free and confidential consultation about your divorce or civil union termination, please contact us online or through either our Brick or Sea Girt, NJ offices at (732) 812-3102.

Divorce and Property Division Handled with Professional and Experienced Knowledge

Providing Professional Divorce Advice on How Property is Split in Ocean and Monmouth County Areas

How Property is Divided in a Divorce in New JerseyIn late 2020, the Institute for Family Studies found that out of every 1,000 marriages that last one year, 14.9 ends in divorce. This statistic was seen as a promising one, as it marked a 50-year low in national divorce rates. However, though the numbers of divorces seem to be declining at a national level, divorce is still quite prevalent. When one or both spouses decide to file for divorce, they are setting up an extensive process to end the legal contract of marriage, which includes the division of marital assets. For each spouse to fairly receive the assets that are justly theirs, the support of a skilled and experienced team of family law attorneys is essential. A skilled divorce attorney knows how the division of property and marital assets is handled at the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part level, where divorces and custody arrangements are heard. Read on to learn more about how New Jersey Superior Courts handle property division in a divorce.

Community Property Model vs. Equitable Distribution Model

Marital assets are divided according to one of two different models, depending on the state. Some states use the community property model, which evenly divides property and assets between spouses without exception. The community property model is a direct split. However, most states, including New Jersey, follow the equitable distribution model of dividing property and other assets. While the equitable distribution model offers a fair division of assets, it does not necessarily offer an even division of assets. The Superior Court: Family Part is responsible for handling New Jersey divorce and custody agreements and reviews various factors to determine how to most equitably divides assets. While the Superior Court judge is a fair representative of justice in the New Jersey court system, there are many ways to divide assets that require the judge’s subjective determination in the review of the applicable factors. As such, you must have a skilled and experienced divorce attorney representing your rights and your claim to your fair share of the marital assets throughout the divorce process.

What is considered in the equitable splitting of marital assets?

Marital assets are those assets that were shared by the spouses. They could include the marital home, land, autos, savings, and investments, among other shared sites both parties own marital assets, and both have a claim to their shared value when the couple decides to split. Separate assets or properties, on the other hand, are not owned by both spouses. They include assets that one spouse owned before the marriage or a spouse obtained during the marriage from an inheritance or another gift. Inheritances received during the marriage are not shared unless they are invested in a joint venture, at which point the other spouse may have a claim to part. Again, these grey lines in the division of marital and separate properties and assets are why it is important to have the support of a skilled family law attorney during this nuanced process.

A judge will consider the itemized list of marital assets and take the following considerations into account when determining how to justly and equitably divide them:

  • Is there a standing legal prenuptial agreement that addresses the division of assets in the case of divorce?
  • What was the duration of the marriage?
  • What was the status quo, or the standard of living, experienced by the couple during the marriage? The judge will attempt to help each partner maintain that standard of living in divorce by dividing assets to support that or assigning payment of alimony by the breadwinning spouse.
  • How many assets did each partner bring into the marital home at the start of the marriage?
  • How many assets and financial contributions did each partner bring to the marital home throughout the marriage?
  • How was financial support established throughout the marriage for one partner to pursue education, a What is considered when equitably splitting up marital assets?profession, or stay at home to raise a family? Did one partner provide financial support for the other’s professional growth, or did one partner sacrifice their career to raise the family?
  • What is each spouse’s state, physically and mentally? Do funds need to be legally set aside to provide support, such as a trust?
  • Is it necessary to set up a trust for any children of the marriage?

To ensure that your rights are upheld in a divorce, it is imperative that you seek the support of a qualified family law attorney.

Contact our Divorce Attorney for a confidential consultation

If you are navigating a divorce and want to ensure that you receive your fair share of the marital assets in the separation, we are here to support you.

Highly skilled divorce and family law attorney Peter Bronzino, Esq, has the knowledge and extensive experience to assist you with all manner of concerns amidst the divorce process, including the appropriate distributing of your assets. With local offices in Brick, NJ, we regularly assist clients throughout Monmouth and Ocean County areas, including Berkeley, Spring Lake, Toms River, Point Pleasant, Manchester, and Middletown.

To schedule a free and confidential consultation with our firm today regarding your family financial support issues, please send us a message or call (732) 812-3102 to speak to an attorney who can help.

Family Law Attorneys Advising on the Importance of a Valid Prenuptial Agreement

Professionally Serving in Brick, Sea Girt, Toms River, Wall, Point Pleasant, and Ocean and Monmouth Counties.

Determining the Validity and Enforceability of a Prenuptial Agreement As a PriorityAs part of the wedding planning checklist, multiple soon-to-be-wed couples decide or are mandated by their loved ones to develop a prenuptial agreement, protecting their rights and assets if they face a later divorce or the passing of one of the spouses. Prenuptial agreements generally are a compilation of clauses describing how one or both parties would give up their rights, contrary to how it would usually flow in the absence of a prenuptial agreement. Some commonly found exclusions are receiving less than would be considered equitable distribution, less alimony or no alimony grant at all, not participating in family trusts or businesses, or alimony calculation not based on any trust income.

Are Prenuptial Agreements Unequal?

Having completed the prenup stage probably gives a sense of relief to most people —particularly to the party needing to protect their interests— trusting that most of the problematic issues faced in a divorce process will be covered in the prenuptial agreement, thus making it uneventful. In reality, that is hardly ever the case, and there are two main reasons this happens. The party that is less favored by the prenuptial agreement usually chooses to store it away and forget about it. So instead of working around the dispositions on this binding agreement as soon as it is recorded, several judges prefer to face the issue while ruling the final stages of the divorce. Therefore it might be months or years later that parties will be required to discuss its clauses and attempt mediation.

Time and again, what heavily weighs on the result of a divorce process is whether the prenuptial agreement has already been enforced or not. Parties end up investing a good portion of their financial assets on expert and legal fees while discussing and analyzing businesses or properties that are not suitable for equitable distribution once the agreement has been enforced.

Exceptions to Enforceability of a Prenuptial Agreement

A divorce process involving a prenuptial agreement starts with the spouse pleading for or against the prenup. Putting away a prenuptial agreement is complicated, as the legislation dictates that prenuptial or premarital agreements are always enforceable, except if the spouse wanting to disregard the agreement can prove with enough burden of proof the following:

1. the agreement was executed involuntarily;

2. the agreement seemed outrageous when initially enforced (the exception is reserved for pre-Amendment prenuptial agreements;

3. the Court has to review excessiveness at the time of implementation), the issue of unreasonable stipulations on a prenuptial agreement needs to be determined by a Court;

Exceptions to Enforceability of a Prenuptial Agreement4. if said party fits into either one of the following scenarios before the agreement application:

  • The party was not granted a fair and complete explanation of the other party’s property, income, and financial obligations.
  • The party did not voluntarily and clearly expressed the desire to waive (in writing) all rights to inform about financial obligations or property of the other party aside from what was formally disclosed.
  • The party was not properly aware of the financial obligations or property belonging to the other party.
  • The party did not seek independent legal advice and voluntarily waived the option to discuss the agreement with an independent legal advisor.

Nevertheless, the agreement is deemed outrageous if it leaves the spouse without reasonable support. This may be the case if the prenup’s terms would have the spouse become a public charge or if the standard of living it would allow is far from what the spouse was entitled to before the marriage.

Requesting to Set Aside a Prenuptial Agreement

Most of the time, the request to put away a prenuptial agreement is part of the “Whereas” clause along with the other requests for support (child support, alimony, restoration of maiden name, equitable distribution, fees). The Whereas clause explains the reasons for the execution of the contract as well as its purpose. According to New Jersey law, alleged fraud must be plead satisfying the elements of the claim.

More often than not, when cases are presented to judges, a party might request to store the agreement and request a further investigation to decide if they can prove the prenuptial agreement should be put away. Judges do allow parties to do this, regardless of the agreements, often including waivers on requiring validations or business appraisals, waivers of getting evidence regarding values included in the provided balance sheets, and waivers of further discovery (further evidence researching).

Matters get more complicated when parties have to spend tens or even thousands of dollars evaluating businesses involved, not having a positive outcome. According to the marriage date and when the complaint is filed, these businesses must be evaluated twice to calculate any increment in the value. However, if an agreement is upheld, it would still not be eligible for distribution.

If the Court arranges a plenary hearing to establish the legitimacy of the prenuptial agreement, there should also be some discovery regarding the stipulations in the agreement in an attempt to point out any irregularities in the agreement, thus having the party relying on the agreement, having to pay an additional amount.

Contact our Prenuptial Agreement Lawyers for a Free Consultation Motions for support pending litigation are often made and thought about seriously when the prenuptial agreement includes a waiver of both alimony and support pending litigation (pendente lite support). If the pendente lite support is greater than what is affordable under the agreement, the divorce case will not settle because the party receiving the support would accept a larger sum than what they are entitled to. Judges will generally rule that support is “without prejudice,” and the financially responsible party will qualify for a credit (if the prenup agreement is enforced).

If you are interested in learning more about prenuptial agreement, pros, cons, and why you should consider signing a prenup before getting married, click the link. You can also discuss your particular case and your needs by contacting our legal team.

Will Your Prenup Stand up during Divorce? Contact our Prenuptial Agreement Lawyers for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one are going through a divorce process and would like to understand your rights and responsibilities better when writing and enforcing a prenuptial agreement, seek legal advice to discuss the best way to protect your interests.

At the Bronzino Law Firm, we take pride in successfully representing clients in Brick, Sea Girt, Toms River, Wall, Point Pleasant, and across Ocean and Monmouth Counties. Whether you are currently involved in a divorce process or are considering initiating one, do not let a flawed prenuptial agreement affect your estate.

Contact us online or at our Brick or our Sea Girt offices by calling (732) 812-3102 today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your individual needs and doubts.

Children’s Rights vs. Parental Rights Attorneys Ocean and Monmouth County NJ

Serving Families in Ocean and Monmouth County towns including Toms River, Wall, Asbury Park, Point Pleasant, and Brick, NJ

Children's Rights vs Parental Rights Attorneys Ocean and Monmouth County NJNew Jersey child custody laws try to assure that in divorce, civil union dissolution, and unmarried parents child custody cases, that “the best interests of the child” are considered. This basic concept provides NJ Family Courts with the parameters and flexibility in making the most appropriate decisions regarding a child’s placement. As each family situation is unique and because no two cases are exactly alike, and although what constitutes a child’s best interest can vary from case to case, New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part holds the wellbeing of the child at the center of all negotiations in divorce and custody hearings.

Because divorce and custody issues can be emotionally charged experiences for a young child, which can leave a lasting impression on someone suddenly thrust into a very maturely adult process, many parents, as well as courts, are reluctant to involve a child in their decision-making process.

At The Bronzino Law Firm, we are ideally equipped to help you answer tough family-related questions like, “Who will my child live with? What will my relationship with my child look like? and Who gets to decide what is in my child’s best interest?” We understand how to identify each client’s unique concerns and needs when deciding on child custody and craft a plan of action that is in the best interest of our clients and their children. Having fought for – and won – favorable child custody resolutions for clients in Ocean County, Brick, Jackson, Toms River, Point Pleasant, and the surrounding areas, The Bronzino Law Firm is ready and willing to help you too.

Call our office today for a free and confidential consultation regarding your questions and concerns and discuss how we can best serve your needs.

How Does a NJ Child’s Age Factors into Their Ability to Choose Which Parent to Live With?

Divorce and parental separation will affect each child differently. By recognizing each child’s difference and the need to treat them as individuals, this awareness can also help parents understand their child’s ability to participate in deciding which parental figure to live with.

“Sufficient age and capacity” is not defined by law in NJ. Therefore, a child under age 8 is presumptively incapable of expressing a preference. However, the Family Court trial judge will conduct a private interview with the child, using each parent’s questions and the judge’s own. When interviewing children between the ages of 8 and 17, most judges take the child’s version of facts seriously. Using their judicial discretion, they will seek to accommodate the child’s stated wishes if possible.

Although there is no hard and fast age that a child can choose to live with a given parent in NJ, according to state law, a child cannot absolutely decide which parent to live with until they turn 18.  Before that age, a judge will pay close attention to the child’s stated parental living arrangement preferences and base their finding on their best interests.

NJ Children’s Bill of Rights: Can a Child Refuse to Visit their Non-custodial Parent?

The New Jersey Children’s Bill of Rights outlines children’s rights and what they should expect from their parents when the marital relationship ends. A child’s Bill of Rights has often been incorporated into the divorce decree and post-judgment agreements in many cases. Experienced family lawyers see the NJ Children’s Bill of Rights as a key way to ensure that parents understand that their child(ren) should always be their priority while co-parenting.

Your child should have adequate visitation with both parents and should never be denied those visits because of a disagreement between you and your high-conflict co-parent. Even if it is not the child’s desire, each parent has the right to visitation with their child.

A child’s persistent refusal to engage in parenting time with one of the parents can be a strong indicator that something has gone substantially wrong within the family unit and could be a sign of parental alienation. With the support of an experienced family lawyer, a judge may insist on some mental health intervention: a child custody and parenting time forensic evaluation, child therapy, child-centered therapy, family therapy, custody/parenting time mediation, divorce coach, parenting coordinator, parental therapy (individual or otherwise).

Therapy can play a vital role in unlocking your child’s emotional doors, help the child better understand their conflicted feelings, and can support a healthy long-term solution to various family relationship problems.

Contact a Child Custody Attorney with Offices in Brick and Sea Girt, NJ

Child custody attorney Peter J. Bronzino understands that custody hearings can be incredibly stressful. We take pride in mitigating the legal process’s many stresses while protecting our clients’ legal rights throughout Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Wall, Point Pleasant, Silverton, Toms River, Brick, Ocean, and Monmouth Counties. Lean on our extensive experience to secure an amicable and fair child custody agreement whether you are going through a divorce, civil union dissolutionannulment, or are unmarried parents. Attorney Bronzino works hard to reach civil resolutions to family law disputes but will not hesitate to litigate when necessary aggressively.

Please contact us online or through our Brick or Sea Girt offices by calling (732) 812-3102 today for a free and confidential consultation regarding your child custody needs.

Divorce and Marital Property Law Attorneys Monmouth and Ocean County NJ

Most couples who begin a divorce are unprepared and not even on the same page when they begin.

Divorce and Marital Propery Law Attorneys Monmouth and Ocean County NJThis lack of preparedness and readiness for divorce causes divorces to deteriorate into competitive contests, especially when it comes to dividing assets.

Also known as equitable distribution, property division divides property rights and obligations between spouses during a divorce. Property division may be agreed upon between the spouses through a property settlement or decided in court during the judicial process of divorce. The property division process is affected by state laws such as community property laws, definitions of marital contributions, etc.

New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, and only property acquired during the course of the marriage is subject to division following divorce. Some factors considered by New Jersey courts in a property division case include non-monetary contributions, contributions to a partner’s education, economic misconduct, and a list of other factors defined in New Jersey law.

Is there a set list of statutory factors for determining property division in the state of New Jersey?

New Jersey has a list of factors set by statute that specify what the court will use to determine a fair property division. Examples of factors that are often taken into consideration during property division cases include:

  • Marital Fault – In states that allow at-fault divorces, the fault of one spouse may be used by the judge to justify a higher percentage to the injured spouse.
  • Economic Misconduct – In New Jersey, spouses who wastefully or fraudulently spent marital assets may receive a lower percentage of the marital property.
  • Income and Earning Capacity – The court may consider each spouse’s relative gains and earning capacity, which may be affected by factors such as age, education, and health. The spouse with lower economic prospects may receive a larger percentage of the estate.
  • Educational Contributions – In New Jersey, spouses who contributed significantly to their partner’s education or earning capacity may receive a percentage of the marital property.
  • Custody of Children – If one spouse has full custody of the couple’s children following the breakup, this may result in a higher likelihood of receiving a higher percentage of the estate or certain marital property pieces (like the family house).

What do the courts in the state of New Jersey consider in the decision of equitable distribution?

The standard of living established during the equitable distribution law in New Jersey is similar to most equitable distribution states. New Jersey law directs the Court to consider fourteen factors in determining an equitable, fair, and just division of assets. They are:

  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The age and physical and emotional health of the parties.
  • The income or property brought to the marriage by each party.
  • The standard of living is established during the marriage.
  • Any written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage concerning an arrangement of property distribution.
  • The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property become effective.
  • The income and earning capacity of each party including education background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children, and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage.
  • The contribution by each party to the education, training, or earning power of the other.
  • The contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property and the contribution of a party as a homemaker.
  • The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party.
  • The present value of the property.
  • The need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence and to use or own the household effects.
  • The debts and liabilities of the parties.
  • The need for the creation, now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse or children.

Does New Jersey consider a spouse’s economic misconduct in property division?

New Jersey law allows courts to consider the economic misconduct of a spouse as a factor in determining equitable property division. Economic misconduct generally means dissipation of assets, which is the legal term for the wasting or losing marital funds or assets by a spouse through means like excessive spending, gambling, fraud, etc.

If a spouse is found to have dissipated marital funds in a way that injured the other spouse, the court may take punitive or restorative action by awarding a higher percentage of the divided property to the injured spouse.

Can a pre-nuptial agreement affect property division in New Jersey?

prenuptial agreement, or prenup, is a binding, legal contract signed by both spouses before getting married in New Jersey. A prenup containing a property division agreement can take precedence over New Jersey’s property division laws by establishing what is considered separate vs. marital property and agreeing on how finances will be structured during the marriage and divided in the event of a divorce.

The existence of a valid prenuptial agreement can prevent a New Jersey court from having full reign to determine how assets are divided between the spouses and instead allow them to be divided in a way agreed to by both spouses before the event.

CONTACT AN OCEAN COUNTY, NJ EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION ATTORNEY TODAY

Divorce is tough and determining who gets what does not make it any easier. At Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our job is to make the process as smooth as possible.  Our goal is to help couples and families restructure, rather than destroy, their relationships through our legal and collaborative divorce services. We guide our clients to the best possible outcomes, both emotionally and financially, in the face of life’s most stressful experience. Contact us by calling (732) 812-3102.

Pre-Nuptial Agreements and Full Financial Disclosure Attorneys Brick NJ

As couples wait longer to get married, each person in the relationship has established their own income and assets singularly.

Understanding the Importance of Pre-Nuptial Agreements and Full Financial Disclosure with your Monmouth AttorneysFrequently, a prenuptial agreement is put in place to protect those assets obtained individually before the marriage.  Historically, prenups were usually seen as a way for wealthy people to protect themselves from “gold diggers,” but they are relevant to a much broader population in reality. Another common misconception is that prenups are divisive. In truth, they present an opportunity to understand each other’s financial expectations and give the marriage a healthy start. Conversely, settling financial arrangements after a relationship has soured can be an acrimonious and expensive proposition. A prenuptial agreement can ease the monetary stress that weighs on many marriages because it makes the financial future certain even if the marriage is not.

Why Do You Need A Prenuptial Agreement?

Often, a prospective spouse plans to sacrifice education, job training, or a promising or established career in the marriage and family’s furtherance. If you plan to make such a sacrifice, a prenuptial agreement can help you safeguard your financial future. If you have family property, you wish to keep separate; this can be accomplished with a prenup. If you are entering into a second or third marriage or marriage later in life, you likely have hard-earned assets (e.g., a professional practice) and children to protect. A premarital agreement can protect those assets and set aside property for your children.

When a marriage ends in divorce, property acquired during the marriage (“marital property”) and even some property acquired before the marriage (“separate property”) will be divided equally or equitably, depending on state family law statutes. When a married person dies, most states give the surviving spouse one-third to one-half of the estate, even if they will say otherwise. However, the terms of a valid prenuptial agreement usually supersede the state divorce and estate laws.

Are All Prenups Enforceable When One Spouse Dies?

Typically, yes, they are.  In a recent decision In the Matter of the Estate of James J. Gillette, the enforcement of a prenuptial agreement upon the husband’s death is addressed when the wife sought to invalidate the agreement to claim her elective share from his estate instead of the terms of the agreement.  The case tells us that the rules for prenuptial agreement enforcement upon a spouse’s death are the same as they would be in the event of divorce.

In this case, the parties entered into a prenuptial agreement on August 29, 2013, before their marriage in November 2013.  Both parties had independent counsel.  They affixed their full financial disclosure schedules to the prenuptial agreement and acknowledged within the document they had time to review the agreement with their respective counsel.  The parties agreed to share in certain assets, keep premarital assets separate, and waive their right to an elective share of the other spouse’s estate.

Reach out to a Monmouth and Ocean County PreNup AttorneyThe husband passed away on April 21, 2017.  The wife received the proper notice of probate on May 11, 2017.  She had six months to seek to enforce her elective share. However, she did not file a complaint until July 12, 2018 – fourteen months after the probate notice.  As part of her complaint, the wife sought to invalidate the prenuptial agreement, claiming that the husband did not provide full financial disclosure.  This is the key to the entire case.

The wife claimed that she was never provided full disclosure of her husband’s earnings, property, assets, and financial obligations and did not benefit from independent counsel at the time of the signing of the prenuptial agreement.

However, it was found that not only did she have an attorney, but both of their signatures are on the financial records of her soon-to-be spouse.  The financial statement identified a list of assets with approximate values. His disclosure was complete and accepted by her. The wife had the benefit of the husband’s financial statement attached. The wife acknowledged that she read and understood the agreement within the agreement and had the necessary time to discuss the same with counsel to the agreement.

Do You Want To Know More? Reach out to a Monmouth and Ocean County PreNup Attorney

If you have questions about prenuptial or civil union agreements or need assistance in negotiating a prenuptial agreement under New Jersey law, at the Bronzino Law Firm, attorneys are prepared to guide you every step of the way. While no one enters into a marriage thinking of its end, our lawyers know that a divorce or death can have far-ranging effects on our clients’ lives. We work diligently to ensure that our clients take the right steps to plan and avoid costly, extended, and unpleasant litigation.

You can fill out our contact form, or you can call us at 732-812-3102.

Divorce Proceedings and Mediation Attorneys in Monmouth and Ocean County NJ

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

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

What is divorce mediation?

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

The importance of quality representation

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

What is divorce mediation?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Estate Plan Attorney educating on your financial well being in Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Ocean Township, Red Bank, and across the Jersey Shore

Tips on how to Manage your Estate Plan in Monmouth and Ocean County DivorceDivorce has implications for every aspect of a person’s life, from their emotional, mental, and physical health to their financial wellbeing. During and after a divorce, most people reassess elements of their lives and plans for the future and refine them to align with their new trajectory. One financial rearrangement that may need attention is the estate plan. An estate plan doesn’t only strategically prepare you for your future – it affects your children and determines many important elements of their wellbeing in the case of your death or that of your ex. Understanding how the divorce could and does affect the myriad aspects of your estate is essential in the early post-divorce process. So what are immediate steps to take involving updating your estate plan after finalizing a divorce? Read on to learn more.

Update your healthcare proxy

The healthcare proxy is the person who can legally make decisions for you if you are injured and cannot make decisions for yourself, and you likely don’t want your ex maintaining that legal power. Change your healthcare proxy to a trusted friend or family member.

Change your power of attorney

As is the case with the healthcare proxy, it is important to withdraw your ex’s legal role as attorney’s power if they are so named. In their place, name a trusted friend or family member.

Share your divorce agreement with your estate planner

Share your divorce agreement with your estate plannerYour estate planner has your family’s best interests and financial wellbeing in mind. As such, sharing your divorce agreement with them is an essential early step in the post-divorce process. Before the estate planner can help you update your estate plan, they need to know what your legal obligations are to your ex in the case of your death. What you can change will depend on what you must legally provide in the case of your death.

An estate planner can also check for holes in the divorce agreement that will adversely impact your financial wellbeing and that of your family, such as the impact of the divorce on retirement account beneficiaries and whether you are protected from having to pay state and federal estate taxes. The estate planner will review whether your ex can change beneficiaries and how your death would impact your children’s financial wellbeing as estate plans currently stand.

Change your will

There is a likelihood that you will no longer wish for your ex to be named in your will. If this is the case, it’s time to update it. The main revision will be removing your spouse from the role of executor of the will. Unless specifically desired, you do not want your ex to have power over your estate or trust.

Update your beneficiaries

There are numerous savings accounts and policies for which you have named a beneficiary. Retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and IRAs are just some of the accounts you will need to update if you don’t want your ex to maintain a claim if you die. Some states automatically wipe an ex-spouse from being a beneficiary, but this is not always the case. If you named your spouse while you were married, forget to update, and then die, the process of the desired or secondary beneficiary receiving the funds could involve litigation.

Consider a trust

Consult an experienced Estate Attorney in Brick or Sea Girt NJ to protect your interestsA shared life insurance policy will need to be addressed during the divorce proceeding. The person who owns the policy must pay premiums – yet they also can change beneficiaries. To ensure that your children are cared for in the case of your ex’s death, it may be wise to name a trust as the owner of the insurance policies to ensure that a steady continuance of payment of the policy continues for the benefit of your family.

A trust can also be established to ensure a steady flow of alimony and child support. The trust creator, called the grantor, makes payments into the trust based on its outlined provisions. If the grantor dies, the beneficiaries can receive funds without probate. There are also tax advantages to setting up a trust instead of other forms of handling alimony and child support.

Consult an experienced Estate Planning and Divorce Attorney in Brick or Sea Girt, NJ, to protect your interests

At Bronzino Law Firm, our team is skilled in handling all matters of divorce and estate revisioning for our clients across Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Ocean Township, and across the Jersey Shore.

Our unique approach ensures that your financial legacy is secure.

To meet with an experienced team member to go over your estate planning needs, please call  732-812-3102 to schedule a consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Brick and Sea Girt or fill out the online form, and we´ll get back to you shortly.