Tag: Family Law Attorneys Ocean County NJ

Building Bridges between Parents & Parents and Children

Family Reunification Therapy is a Court-Ordered Intervention That Demands Family Members’ Commitment.

NJ Family Court Ordered Reunification Therapy

Divorce can put a family on its head, especially when it comes to children. Frequently the non-custodial parent feels excluded as the children don’t want to visit or stay with them according to the family plan. There is typically an impression by the children that the other parent is the reason for the divorce, or the children are not interested in seeing the non-custodial parent because they are resentful of the lack of time that has been spent with the non-custodial parent since the divorce. High conflict custody and divorce cases also pose a potential long-term challenge for an amicable family life functioning after the divorce has been finalized.

The Reunification Therapy Method in New Jersey

Reunification Therapy is a method used by a counselor to hold sessions with the children and both or one parent to build a bridge from the parent to the children and to facilitate cooperation among the parents as well. The counselor typically encourages all family members to receive individual therapy to process the group sessions. Group sessions should be light as they include the children. Role-play, games, association activities, and more are based on the children’s ages and comfort levels.

Programs could be long-term or short-term, and they are based partially on the family’s willingness to assimilate their unification as a whole. It is tough to find success when one or more family members are resistant to the process. Sometimes reunification therapy is court-ordered in family law matters, and some sessions require extended family participation, especially when an extended family member takes care of the children in a babysitting role.

The Reunification Therapy Process Main Goal

The goal of reunification theory is to bring the family together. It is a series of sessions where the parents encourage each other and the children to have positive relationships. Divorce can place a wedge between a mother or father and a child. Frequently, children blame one parent for the divorce and demonstrate hostility toward that parent. Also, sometimes dangerous circumstances are in one or both homes, such as illegal substances, mood-altering substances, unsafe visitors, or domestic violence. This provides the children with a platform to express their concerns regarding those matters.

Getting Ready For Your Reunification Therapy

The therapist will meet with each parent separately while discussing family plans, court orders, visitation, and parameters regarding screen time, junk food, and sports. The goal here is to get the parents on the same page and demonstrate a united front. It may not be easy, but it can help create a solid relationship. Frequently, the therapist will bring in specialists to help with the heavy psychological lifting. Sometimes the custodial parent is less than supportive but is supportive if the process shows progress. The beginning sessions will build trust between all of the family members. The children may negatively perceive a parent who has cheated as slick or untrustworthy, and therapy can possibly change that vision.

Therapist Role in Reunification Therapy Sessions

The therapist has to set up a plan and begin by working with the parents. All decisions are made for the family’s greater good as a neutral party. The therapist does not support the side of another parent. Their role is to offer sympathy to all family members and teach them a new way to treat one another. Time management of the sessions is up to the therapist. This could mean determining the length of each session and the participants for specific sessions. The therapist teaches the family how to express themselves and respond to other people’s negative emotions such as fear, anger, or frustration and processes them into manageable pieces. Parents are taught to react less and listen more. It is about building relationships and having the tools to maintain them, thereby creating a healthy family unit.

Besides the therapeutic section, the therapist will report to the court each family member’s progress (or lack thereof) and any refusal to cooperate or positive breakthroughs.

Expected Outcome of Reunification Therapy

What to Expect for Family Reunification Therapy in Monmouth NJTherapy results are different from one family to the next because the needs, emotions, expectations, and history are as unique as the family itself.

So what do successful results look like? Children have an open, honest, respectful relationship with both parents. They can express frustrations, joy, fear, academic concerns, insecurities, and even constructive criticism to the parents in a respectful manner where they are heard, and their message is received with maturity and an open mind.

Parents can express their concerns to one another and their children, keeping topics age-appropriate. Parents do not accuse each other of manipulating the children into favoring one over the other while supporting one another to follow the parenting plan. They avoid arguing, gaslighting, and alienating the other ex-spouse.

Results are fluid and can take weeks or months. Some families put up little resistance, while others have difficulty processing the necessary exercises. 20% of families that the court mandates are unsuccessful.

Reunification Therapy Cost and How It is Handled

Once the court has mandated the family for reunification therapy, the cost is shared between the parents, 50/50. There is a deposit of $500 before the sessions begin. A report at the end of the sessions for the court is prorated to provide payment for the court report, which is $200 hourly. Its cost Each 50-minute session is $160.00. There is another fee of $160 hourly for lawyers. The exact number of sessions or their length cannot be known because it varies based on the family’s enthusiasm, cooperation, and participation.

Questions about Reunification Therapy in Your Family Law Matter? Contact our Law Offices in Brick and Sea Girt NJ

Reunification Therapy can be a vital tool to keep your family together. The conflict between parents and children can set a harsh environment. Your lawyer can find a therapist and get them approved. The court will approve your therapist, and you could be on your way to a life-changing experience. Your family may leave with excellent communication tools, and perhaps you’ll be interacting better than ever.

Bronzino Law Firm is a family law practice with a focus on our clients. Our family lawyers are skilled in custody law and can help you resolve your unique legal challenges, address your needs, and answer your questions about family reunification therapy’s role in your case in Ocean Township, Toms River, Sea Bright, Lacey, Berkeley Township, Point Pleasant, Rumson, Wall, Mantoloking, Lakewood, Colts Neck, and other towns in Ocean and Monmouth Counties.

Call (732) 812-3102 for a free consultation or to schedule an appointment at our local office nearest you. We look forward to discussing your case, your family’s goals, and how best to create your future with your children.

It May Not Be a Good Idea Opting for a “Do It Yourself” Divorce

It’s Highly Recommended to Walk into Court with an Experienced Family Lawyer by Your Side

Top Reasons You Shouldn’t Represent Yourself in Divorce NJYou and your spouse have talked things over and agreed that an amicable, quick divorce is best for the family.  Your spouse has chosen a lawyer, and you, wanting to save some money, have decided to represent yourself. You can get all of the forms online and watch some how-to videos that will explain everything.  Besides, you have already agreed to keep everything civil.

Divorce, like potato salad at a picnic, can go bad before you know it.  Your spouse has someone protecting their rights and making the most strategic choices while you are struggling as you read your notes from the online information you have gathered and use all the legalese you have seen on tv or in the movies. It is not going to go well for you, and once the divorce is filed and signed by the judge, there are no do-overs. It is imperative to seek a professional divorce lawyer to protect your rights.

Options in Divorce Representation in NJ

Yes, you most certainly can. Should you choose to do so, there are some essential tips it would behoove you to keep in mind. If only a few issues have you and your spouse from getting a divorce, try mediation.  A divorce mediator can help you straighten out the sticky wickets that are preventing you from moving on.

It is valuable to acknowledge whether you have the time to complete all the forms and file them at the specified times.  Some people use document preparers who are brick and mortar locations or online.  For an extra fee, document preparers will fill the documents for you with the court.  The level of reliability of each business is subject to investigation, so do your homework.

If you and your spouse agree on property distribution, spousal support, custody, child support, and a parenting plan, you could be a candidate for a DIY divorce. Still, emotions often get high, and the agreements go out the window.

Legal Jargon Can Be an Issue in Self Representation

Just because you and your spouse appear to be on the same page regarding your divorce, that does not mean that a DIY divorce is a good idea. By doing the divorce yourself, you are liable to make hundreds of mistakes that commonly include calculating child support, a solid picture of assets and expenditures in the home, visitation, child custody, and more.

Everyone has a pretty good idea of the economics of their household, but the financial part of the divorce is not about good guesses.  It is about gathering evidence and filling out a CIS (Case Information Statement), a detailed form that presents all of the financial information of the home.  It is a complicated form and needs to be done carefully as it is an official court document. If your statement is miscalculated, it can change the number of assets and how much will be divided.

You and your spouse talked about you buying their share of the house or getting a new loan with only your name on the deed.  Now your spouse wants to keep the house for the kids. According to the equitable distribution, the judge can make several decisions, such as selling the home and dividing the proceeds or one of you buying out the other and getting a new loan.  But what happens if neither of you can get a new loan or other property issues arise?

Probably the most complicated part of divorce is when children are the topic. Before child support is talked about, a visitation schedule is established.  This is more than a PowerPoint calendar with two different colors.  The type of custody must be decided.  When support is discussed, if an agreement cannot be reached, the judge will set an amount that may be higher than the non-custodial parent can pay.

Consider the Following Aspects Before Your Final Call

Aspects to Consider Before Representing Yourself in a Divorce in NJYou are not a lawyer.  You don’t know how to prepare documents, calculations, or witnesses (if need be).  You are on a raft in the ocean without a paddle, you know where you want to get, but you haven’t the slightest notion of how to do it.

The discovery process can be a minefield.  You and your spouse must exchange pertinent documents to outline the divorce agreement. Your spouse’s lawyer will know what information is protected because it is considered privileged; if your spouse does not want to release everything, you will have to file a subpoena to obtain what is missing (if you know what you are looking for.)

Maybe you don’t know what an equitable settlement is.  If your neighbors got a divorce, and they have three children the same age as you and assets similar to yours, then what worked for them should probably work for you, right?  Wrong. Every divorce is different.  If you represent yourself, how will you approach the judge with the “But-it’s-not-fair” clause when their decision is far different from what you expected?  You cannot use other people’s divorce results as a springboard for yours.

The most important reason you shouldn’t represent yourself in your divorce is perspective.  You are too close to the situation and cannot see it clearly, try as you might. For as kind and amicable as you and your ex have been with one another, there are still deep feelings that could cause you to act with poor judgment.  This is even more true when there are children involved.  A lawyer is familiar with all of the child custody laws and can protect your rights and those of your children.

Thinking You Should Represent Yourself when Getting Divorced? Think Again. Contact Us for Help from a Seasoned Ocean NJ Divorce Lawyer

Divorces are frequently adversarial, and you need a knowledgeable divorce lawyer working with you to make sure your rights are protected and you are not taken advantage of.  Your lawyer will investigate and obtain all the necessary documents and forms to represent you completely.  They will represent you in court and keep you abreast of every step to be taken as well as being an expert negotiator.

In conclusion, CAN you represent yourself in your divorce? YES, you can.  SHOULD you?  If you are a divorce lawyer, maybe.  If you aren’t, absolutely not.  When you go to a restaurant, do you go back into the kitchen and cook your favorite dish?  Of course not.  You let the pro make your favorite meal and par for the privilege.

Is divorce expensive?  Yes.  Is your family’s future worth the expense? I would think so.  The great Pres. Abraham Lincoln had something to say about this topic that hits the nail on the head, “…Every man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.” At our firm, we have represented clients in Mantoloking, Jackson, Holmdel, Oakhurst, Brick, Ocean Township, Rumson, and across Ocean and Monmouth County.

If you are getting a divorce or know someone who is, Bronzino Law Firm has excellent divorce lawyers who, through experience, have been shown to be talented, astute, and, if need be, aggressive. Call us today at (732) 812-3102 or send us a message online to get a free consultation or make an appointment.

Married for More Than 20 Years? This Type of Alimony May Apply to You

New Jersey replaced permanent alimony with open durational alimony, which can last for different periods of time depending on the specific case.

Analyzing Open Durational Alimony as an Option in New JerseyAlimony refers to payments of support made by one spouse to another by court order following a divorce or dissolution of a civil union. The purpose of alimony is to support a spouse who was financially dependent on the other during the marriage.

Under New Jersey law, there are four types of alimony: open durational alimony, rehabilitative alimony, limited duration alimony, and reimbursement alimony. This article will explore the basics of and most commonly asked questions about open durational alimony.

What is Open Durational Alimony?

Open durational alimony refers to an alimony arrangement under New Jersey law available when the couple was married for at least 20 years. There is no fixed end date for this type of alimony besides the payor reaching retirement age. Open durational alimony will not end until the court terminates the alimony, the parties agree to terminate the alimony, or the payor reaches retirement age (with some exceptions). It is only awarded in specific circumstances.

Open durational alimony was created in New Jersey’s new alimony law which passed on September 10, 2014. It replaced “permanent” alimony with some key differences described below.

Is Open Durational Alimony Permanent?

Open durational alimony is not permanent. It was created to replace and do away with “permanent” alimony under New Jersey law. In the past, permanent alimony was commonly awarded upon divorce. However, in recent years, it was only ordered if the court believed it was unlikely that the supported spouse would ever be able to support themselves at the same standard of living they had during the marriage.

The creation of open durational alimony continued the feature of no fixed end date for support payments to a spouse, making it often the longest lasting type of alimony awarded.However, the replacement of permanent alimony with open durational alimony also added some significant limitations, including that this type of support can only be awarded in marriages that lasted for 20 years or longer.

Furthermore, open durational alimony generally ends when the paying spouse reaches retirement age, though this is a presumption that can be rebutted by the supported spouse.

How Long Do You Need to be Married to be Eligible for Open Durational Alimony?

To be eligible for open durational alimony, the parties must have been married to each other for at least 20 years. Under New Jersey law, if a marriage lasted less than 20 years, then the duration of alimony cannot exceed the length of the marriage unless exceptional circumstances apply.

How Long Does Open Durational Alimony Last?

Open durational alimony lasts from the time the order is issued until the payor becomes eligible for full-time retirement benefits from Social Security. Currently, the age of eligibility is 67. In certain circumstances, the term of open durational alimony can be shortened or extended by the court or by agreement of the parties.

Can the Court Vary the Termination Date for Open Durational Alimony?

The court can terminate open durational alimony before the payor reaches the age of retirement or extend the support order past retirement if the petitioning spouse can demonstrate that such an order would be proper given the circumstances. Under New Jersey law, there is a presumption that open durational alimony will continue until the age of retirement. Therefore, it is the burden of the payor to overcome this presumption to terminate alimony before that time and the burden of the supported spouse to overcome this presumption to extend the length of alimony past retirement age.

If the payor retires before the age of Social Security benefit eligibility, they may petition the court to terminate the open durational alimony by proving termination is proper based on factors including but not limited to:

  •  The age of the parties
  • The average age of retirement in payor’s field
  • Expectations of parties about retirement age during the marriage
  • Ability of payor to maintain support payments
  • Supported spouse’s financial situation and independence
  • Can Open Durational Alimony Continue After Retirement?

Open Durational Alimony Lawyers in Rumson NJIf the payor has reached retirement age, but the supported spouse petitions to extend the open durational alimony, the supporting spouse must overcome the presumption of termination by demonstrating to the court that the circumstances warrant continuing support. These factors may include:

  • Supported spouse has not yet reached the age of retirement
  • Supported spouse is not financially independent
  • Supported spouse’s income is very low
  • Payor is financially able to continue support payments

If the supported spouse demonstrates to the court that a continuation of support is proper, the court may continue the alimony after the payor’s retirement.

How Can a Lawyer Assist Me With Open Durational Alimony in My Divorce in New Jersey?

An order for open durational alimony typically results in a high amount of alimony paid overall during the term of support. Therefore, if eligible, a supported spouse can greatly benefit from this type of alimony compared to rehabilitative alimony, limited duration alimony, or reimbursement alimony. Conversely, an award for open durational alimony will often be more burdensome to the paying spouse.

Whether you believe you may be eligible and entitled to receive open durational alimony or potentially liable to make such payments to your spouse after a divorce, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced and knowledgeable family lawyer in Sea Girt, Monmouth Beach, Red Bank, Manalapan, Marlboro, Beach Haven, Toms River, Little Egg Harbor, Holmdel, and across the Jersey Shore.

While some eligibility requirements for open durational alimony are established by statute under New Jersey law, there are many factors unique to the circumstances of the spouses involved. It is crucial to understand these factors and how they may apply to your case so that you can craft a persuasive argument that best serves your interests.

Our team of experienced divorce lawyers at Bronzino Law Firm would be happy to set up a free consultation to speak with you about your case. Please contact us today at (732) 812-3102  or fill out our online intake form for more information.

What to Know about Guardians ad Litem (GAL)

The best interest of the child is the supreme goal of a Guardian ad Litem, called upon in family law cases where custody and visitation issues exist.

Guardian ad Litem Intervention in NJ Custody BattlesIn divorces, custody battles, and child protective services cases, decisions rest on the best interests of each child. Best interests include where and how a child thrives by meeting their security and development interests. Thus, the child’s education, healthcare, and safety needs weigh heavily in a court’s custody apportionment when parents have a contested custody or a department of child protection and permanency (DCPP) case. Often the court relies on a third party to represent the interests of children in disputes. As the voice of the children, the guardian ad litem (GAL) plays a critical role in the court’s decision.

At Bronzino Law Firm, our talented family lawyers provide support, guidance, and skillful representation in custody and parenting time disputes in Toms River, Jackson, Point Pleasant, Bayhead, Lacey, Brick, and towns in Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Contact our offices at (732) 812-3102  today to schedule an appointment or a free consultation to discuss what steps you can take to protect your rights in a guardian ad litem case and how our lawyers can help.

Characteristics of a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) in New Jersey

When you are fighting a highly contested battle for child custody, visitation, or parental rights, a guardian ad litem is a lawyer, mental health professional, or other suitable people who you will get to know. So, if you and your spouse are vying for primary custody in a divorce, the court has the authority to appoint a GAL, though they use this option sparingly. However, only lawyers can represent children whose parents face abuse and neglect accusations, as when the state threatens to terminate their parental rights (N.J.S.A. 30:4c-15.4). Known as law guardians, these lawyers speak for the children they represent, a mouthpiece for their desires and complaints, and advocate for their best interests (N.J.S.A 9:68.23). The court also appoints the law guardian.

Understanding the Role of the Guardian ad Litem (GAL)

Thus, when an evaluation of the parents is part of a divorce or custody dispute or a minor child is a party to the court action, the guardian ad litem determines and promotes the children’s best interests to the court. On the other hand, the legal guardian participates in court proceedings involving the dispute, including cross-examining witnesses and appealing court decisions. Whereas the legal guardian is the lawyer for the children, representing them as a party in a dispute, the GAL reports to the court what the children want and what other professionals recommend after an investigation and evaluation of the involved parties. The GAL must interview the children, parents, siblings, and other relevant parties to investigate and evaluate the child’s circumstances. They obtain documents, such as school, health, and police records about the family and hire experts like counselors, therapists, and lawyers for the children, if necessary and approved by the court. They also speak with lawyers for the parties.

Key Information Gathered by the Guardian ad Litem

The GAL’s investigation and evaluation are for informing the court of the child’s best interests. The GAL’s research, interviews, summaries, reports, and assessments are one component of the court’s overall determination of what constitutes “best interests,” including the relationship of each parent to the child, the relationship between the parents, the child’s relationship with their siblings or others in the household, and the safety and stability of the home. For example, looking at the parents, the court wants to see the parents are mentally and physically capable, able to communicate, and free of substance addiction and domestic violence incidences. In addition, the court examines their education, employment, and willingness to accept custody responsibilities.

Factors Considered by the NJ Family Courts

Each parent’s situation, their ability to reliably maintain a parenting schedule, the proximity of their residences, and the quality time each parent spent with their child before separation are factors for the court. In addition, the court considers the child’s age, needs, education, and preference if old enough (N.J.S.A. 9:2-4A). So, if one parent works nights and lives alone, they might not be able to meet the child’s or children’s safety needs. However, a court or lawyer may have a creative solution to address the overnights, perhaps awarding custody or visitation to the parent on their days off. A party may be willing to change jobs to gain custody. And if either parent abuses substances or has a history of driving after drinking alcohol, the court may consider that parent an unsafe parent. But typically, each parent’s situation or lifestyle may not best fulfill the child’s needs in some way or another, and an evaluation of all factors is necessary to determine where the child should live.

Importance of Having the Advice of a Family & Custody Lawyer when a Guardian ad Litem is Called in Your Case

Key Information Gathered by a Guardian ad Litem in NJWhen the court appoints a guardian ad litem or a party requests one, both parents should know what they do and what to expect. They should know the role of the guardian ad litem and how that involves each parent. Before an investigation begins, each parent must understand their interview answers become critical in a court’s custody and visitation decision. As such, a parent’s preparation is crucial to advancing their interests or, in the case of parent termination cases, to protect their parental rights. Hiring a family law attorney guarantees that a parent knows what questions a guardian ad litem might ask, how the interview affects the case’s outcome, and what evidence the parent might provide to enhance their position as a responsibly bonded parent to their child.

Get Representation from Point Pleasant Family and Custody Lawyers

Contact a family lawyer at the Bronzino Law Firm for advice and representation if you are in a contentious custody or visitation dispute with your co-parent. Our lawyers in our Brick and Sea Girt locations can prepare you for an evaluation and the court’s best interests criteria by highlighting your parental strengths and strong relationship with your child or children. We have years of experience identifying and presenting your most vital attributes and profile of a loving, responsible parent and willingness to do whatever it takes for your children. We can also recommend you take parenting classes, change your living situation, or make other changes to show the court your earnestness in gaining custody of your child if there are additional hurdles that need to be addressed. In a word, our family law and child custody lawyers can prepare you for the preparatory phase of the custody hearing and every aspect that comes after.

We can cross-examine witnesses and your co-parent at a custody hearing, defending your interests and deflecting accusations of parental neglect, disinterest, or inability to meet your child’s needs. A custody hearing is a trial that includes your testimony, your co-parent’s testimony, and that of the guardian ad litem and other experts who have counseled or treated your child. It takes legal prowess and long preparation to win a custody battle. Thus, hiring an expert family lawyer who regularly deals with guardians ad litem and their importance for your case is your best move. Call (732) 812-3102  or fill out our online intake form to get in contact with a family law attorney on our team for your custody case involving a guardian ad litem in Holmdel, Red Bank, Lakewood, Neptune, Freehold, Sea Bright, Bay Head, and across Monmouth County and Ocean County.

Family Lawyers Discuss Steps to Secure Your Child’s Best Interest When Transitioning to a Second Home After Divorce in Middletown, NJ

A Child Calling Two Places Home? It’s Possible. Here’s How.

Helping a Child Transition to a Second Home After Divorce in New JerseyThe transition for a child from a two-parent home to two one-parent homes can, understandably, be difficult and emotional for a child. In addition to getting used to shifting family dynamics, there are new environments and communities to navigate. All of this can be overwhelming for a child. For this reason, a divorcing couple with children must take special care to work as a team to support the child’s transition experience.

Creating a Positive Environment for the Kids After Divorce in NJ

The key to creating a positive environment for children after divorce is co-parent communication and collaboration. Moving from one home to two homes is hard enough for a child; conflict between parents adds an unnecessary stressor for them. Through a little planning, collective effort, and organization, co-parents can create a stable transition for their child that honors the child’s needs for consistency and participation in their changing life. Read on to learn specific tips for supporting your child through this time.

Essential Tips Parents Can Follow to Support Their Children in the One to Two-Home Transition

Have you ever felt the disconcerting feeling of walking through a dark space? You must continue forward, but you don’t know what to expect around you or whether there is danger at the next turn, leaving you in a constant state of uneasiness. This is one of the main feelings a child experiences when moving to a second home due to their parents’ divorce. They are unfamiliar with the home itself, the new school and community, and even with how the relationship with their parent will continue in this new reality. For this reason, supporting your child through this transition stage into two homes revolves around creating transparency and consistency.

Just like walking through a dark room, a child experiencing a post-divorce home transition will likely feel unsafe in the face of uncertainty. So, involving the child in as many of the transitional plans as possible is crucial for their sense of security. Inviting the child to help select furniture for the living room and their bedroom, inviting their new teacher and some neighbors or classmates over for a getting-to-know-you luncheon in their own (new) backyard, and creating a calendar of parenting time for them to keep track of their movements will all make the child feel more secure in their new reality.

Co-parents can also work together to create a sense of fluidity between separate-home experiences. For example, they can each agree to read to the child before bed, so the child can always count on that nighttime ritual, as well as agree on other daily routines that will occur in both households. Because a child is highly sensitive to stimuli and susceptible to an aggravated nervous system during this time, co-parents can decide on a calming scent such as lavender or rose geranium and each has candles or essential oil diffusers in the home to emanate that comforting and familiar smell.

Smoothing out the Split for a Child’s Adjustment to Multiple Homes

Divorce & Child Custody Lawyers in Ocean County, NJJust as the New Jersey Family Courts who oversee divorce and custody cases hold as their central pillar for action the best interests of the child, co-parents transitioning into life after divorce with their young ones would hold their child’s best interests as paramount to their decision-making. Far and away the most supportive way a parent can consider the child’s best interests in the transition to a two-home living situation is maintaining a sense of collaboration, respect, and consistency between the two parents and two homes.

If there is a conflict between parents, it should be addressed outside of the presence of the child; a child is not a pawn with which any parental conflict is played out. Do not put the child in the middle, and similarly, include the child in the expectation that one parent will not be pitted against the other so that the child gets what they want in a situation. Set up clear household rules for each home as well as shared guidelines and routines for both. Set a clear expectation with the child that what one parent says goes: the other parent will respect their co-parent’s good judgment and will trust consideration of the child’s best interests in their decision-making; as such, they will not undermine the other’s decisions.

Contact a Talented Brick Divorce & Child Custody Lawyer for Help Preparing for a Successful Split

A family lawyer can be invaluable support for the process of transition between one home to two homes and the enforcement of parenting time agreements and custody arrangements. If one parent is not respecting the court-enforceable agreements laid out in the divorce settlement, a family law attorney can advise the other in the best way to move forward with enforcement. In the best interests of the child, a skilled family law attorney will provide detailed advice regarding how to come to a mediated solution with the co-parent that maintains peace in the homes and consistency for the child. They will also be prepared to ensure that, for the child’s best interests, the custody arrangement and parenting time agreements are upheld by taking additional measures swiftly if necessary.

A skilled family law attorney is an important ally in the divorce transition process. Are you separating and have children? We successfully support divorcees across Manalapan, Rumson, Howell, Toms River, Freehold, Holmdel, Point Pleasant, Middletown, and towns throughout Monmouth and Ocean County to ensure that their family’s transition into a two-home situation is conflict-free.

At Bronzino Law Firm, we understand how important it is to maintain consistency for your child in big transitions. Contact us at (732) 812-3102 or through our online contact form for a free consultation to discuss your divorce.

Learn How to Deal with Criminal Interference in Child Custody Cases in NJ

Abduction of children by their non-custodial parent is happening with more frequency in the United States. In fact, authorities find that more than 90% of child abductions are the deed of one of the parents.

Parental Kidnapping in New JerseyOne reason for the increase is that people from different countries are marrying each other more often, and the divorce rate for them, and for everyone, is very high. And if one parent changes his or her mind about the custody agreement, they may decide on their own to change the situation. As a consequence, more than 200,000 parents kidnap their children every year in the U.S. Though we may feel sympathy for the offending parent, what they’ve done is actually a crime with serious consequences. The people most hurt are the children themselves.

The act of kidnapping by a parent is not merely a custody issue. It’s a crime under NJ law. And no, the courts do not agree with the old saying that possession is nine-tenths of the law.

In this article, we’ll define parental kidnapping in New Jersey, the options a parent has who is afraid a kidnapping might occur, the legal consequences for the person convicted of it, and the viable defenses a person might have for doing it.

Delineating Parental Kidnapping Under New Jersey Law

According to the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice – Title 2C, Section 2C:13-4, passed in 2013, kidnapping by a parent is defined as interference with custody and includes:

1) Taking a child (a minor, that is) with the intent to hide him or her and thereby deprive the child’s other parent of custody and parenting time with him or her;

2) In the gap of time between becoming aware of an upcoming action or order affecting custody but prior to the action or order becoming official, a parent takes or hides the child, either in New Jersey or in another state, with the intent of depriving the other parent of custody and parenting time or to evade the ruling of the courts of New Jersey;

3) After a temporary or final restraining order that spells out custody rights, one parent takes or hides a child in violation of the order.

Absconding with a child to a foreign country with no intent of return is actually not a state crime but a federal crime, punishable with up to three years in prison, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

How Can I Protect My Child from Being Kidnapped by their Other Parent?

For some families, a restraining order may be what’s needed to keep a parent who presents a real threat from getting in the vicinity of the child. Or a comprehensive custody order might need to be in place to limit or even to deny the other parent’s visitation rights.

In both of these scenarios, the burden of proof is on the parent seeking to restrain the other parent from seeing the child. You will need a convincing body of evidence to persuade a judge that there should be close restrictions on visitation, or no visitation at all, to protect the child. Judges are reluctant to keep a child from seeing both parents. If necessary, our lawyers can help you gather the right evidence.

Legal Ramifications of Kidnapping my Child in NJ

A person convicted of parental kidnapping can be charged with a third degree crime or a second degree crime in New Jersey, depending on the circumstances of the case. For a second degree crime, applicable to taking a child outside of the U.S. for more than 24 hours, a defendant may be forced to pay a fine of as much as $150,000 and to spend time in prison, specifically between 5 and 10 years. In cases involving criminal interference with custody that occurs in the United States, the charge is considered a third degree crime and thus, subject to a prison term ranging from 3 to 5 years. As an important aside, even a third degree crime for violating N.J.S.A. 2C:13-4 does not benefit from the presumption of non-incarceration that other third degree offenses typically have attached.

Viable Defense Options if you are Accused of Kidnapping Your Child in New Jersey

Criminal & Family Law Lawyers Handling Parental Kidnapping in Ocean and Monmouth County, NJYou and your lawyer will need to prove clearly and convincingly that:

  • You truly believed that the abduction was necessary to protect the child from abuse and danger. However, you will have no defense if you did not notify authorities within 24 hours, either the police of the town your child lived in, or the county prosecutor’s office in the county your child lived in, or the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the New Jersey Department of Children and Families.
  • You reasonably believed that the other parent, or a state agency with authority, had consented to taking or detaining the minor child.
  • The child is age 14 or older and was taken with his or her own volition, with no intent on the parent’s part to commit a criminal offense either with or against the child.

In a Parental Kidnapping Case, it’s Critical to Seek Legal Representation from a Firm Well-Versed in Both Family and Criminal Law in Monmouth and Ocean County, NJ

There are a number of factors that go into an indictment for parental kidnapping. The Bronzino Law Firm has in-depth knowledge of all the factors that have to be proven in order to prosecute someone charged with parental kidnapping successfully. To avert kidnapping from ever happening, talk to us about custody agreements and restraining orders. Get in contact with our firm, and we’ll discuss your options with you if you’re concerned about a kidnapping happening.

Our lawyers can also use our expansive defense experience to defend a parent accused of kidnapping. In the past, we have made such convincing cases for defendants that sentences have been reduced or dismissed. If you’ve been arrested for parental kidnapping, you will need an expert criminal defense lawyer to present your case in court. Don’t ever talk about the incident without a lawyer present. If and when the police question you, politely refuse to answer and ask for your attorney. Bronzino Law Firm will discuss your options with you if you’re in this predicament.

If you are involved in a parental kidnapping or interference with custody case in Manasquan, Sea Girt, Jackson, Belmar, Marlboro, Beach Haven, Tinton Falls, Toms River, and nearby towns in Ocean and Monmouth Counties, contact us at (732) 812-3102 to connect with one of our lawyers, who will listen to your case, explain the process, and how we can help you.

Family Law Attorneys Advising on the Potential Impacts of Divorce on Immigration Status

What happens when a couple divorces before the immigrant spouse has reached U.S. citizenship status in New Jersey?

Impacts of Divorce on Immigration Status in NJThe path to citizenship in the United States is a long and extensive one. Many couples undergo years of legal process to obtain one or both partners’ permanent residency status, accompanied by the famous ‘green card,’ and ultimately full U.S. citizenship. When a person from another country marries a U.S. citizen, and the citizenship journey for the immigrant begins, it’s often difficult to tell what bumps will occur in the road to becoming a citizen, as well as in the road of matrimony.

How Does Divorce Affect My Conditional Immigration Status? Do I Need To Report My Divorce To Immigration?

A person’s permission to live in the United States based on their being married to a U.S. citizen is a strong condition. Removing this conditional status for permanent residency and obtaining a visa to remain in the country based on employment instead is a difficult but not impossible task. First of all, you must file Form I-751 with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to remove the condition of permanent residence based on marriage. If you are a derivative beneficiary according to your visa, you must report your divorce to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Can I Renew My Green Card If I’m Divorced in New Jersey?

After divorce, you cannot file Form I-90 to renew your Permanent Residence (Green) Card if you are in the U.S. on the condition of marriage. Again, requesting a waiver to remain in the country on a work visa may be the best path forward.

What Happens If I Get Divorced Before I Get My Green Card?

Most people applying for permanent resident status when they are married to a United States citizen are doing so conditionally, as “derivative beneficiaries” of the marriage that awarded them an entry visa. This means that their entry status depends on another person and was not awarded personally, as would a visa for employment. A primary beneficiary status is granted to those foreigners coming to the United States for specific employment, such as with a work visa.

When you get divorced before the interview for your green card, you will lose your derivative beneficiary status, which means you lose your condition to remain in the country. However, if you have been married for over two years after you are legally divorced, you may ask for a waiver to change your status from derivative beneficiary to primary beneficiary, essentially asking for a work visa.

Will I Be Deported If I Get Divorced in Toms River, NJ?

The path to citizenship for immigrants is set up so a person without full citizenship will not be automatically deported if they lose the reason for their visa — their marriage. As noted above, a person who has been married for over two years to a U.S. citizen can request a waiver after divorce to be granted an employment-based visa. This allows them to stay in the United States, living continuously, which is a central provision of the citizenship path.

Divorce, Immigration and Family Law Attorneys, NJAll green card holders who have lived in the United States for three years (continuously) and are married to a U.S. citizen can legally apply for full citizenship (including complete protection from being deported). According to the “three-year rule,” the couple must have been “living in marital union” for the entire three years before application. That said, they must remain legally married until naturalization, though the “living in marital union” element is not required after filing. This means that a married couple living in union in the U.S. for three years could, after the immigrant has filed, continue to pursue the three-year naturalization path even if separated, as long as they remain married.

However, divorce before three years (or before the naturalization path completes) still doesn’t mean deportation.

Whether married or not, all green card holders can apply for full citizenship after five years.

Set Up A Consultation with a Family Lawyer to Discuss How Your Divorce May Affect Your Immigration Status in NJ

When it comes to your immigration status and the essential and detailed maneuvers required to naturalize as a United States citizen, there is no end to the invaluable support an experienced attorney who understands the intersection between immigration and family law will provide on your path. Particularly when divorce is concerned, you’ll be faced with questions from the immigrations offices regarding the bonafide truth of your marriage as a partnership rather than a ploy to attain citizenship. Our skilled and experienced team of attorneys is equipped to guide you through the process of handling your immigration and other concerns amidst divorce, while making sure you’re 100 percent supported in every step of this exciting journey and helping to allay any fears that the road inevitably brings up.

Have you divorced your spouse before your naturalization process is complete? Are you considering divorcing before becoming a permanent U.S. citizen? Do you have your green card, but you’re not sure if you can continue towards citizenship after separation or legal termination of your marriage in New Jersey? We have a long history of helping clients with family law and immigration issues that come into play when undergoing divorce, even after their initial entry point has shifted across Ocean and Monmouth County in towns like Brick, Lakewood, Toms River, Middletown, Freehold, Jackson, Sea Girt, to mention a few.

At The Bronzino Law Firm, we understand what a benefit you bring to this society, and we want to help you move on from your divorce and continue your road to naturalization. From preparation to execution and questions along the way, we’re on your side.

Contact us at (732) 812-3102 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our attorneys.

Divorce Attorneys Providing Assistance with Automobile Insurance Concerns for Children after Divorce in Brick, NJ

One particular issue has plagued many divorced parents long past their divorce when their children reach driving age: car insurance for their young driver. Who pays?

Car Insurance for Young Drivers After DivorceThere is a multitude of issues and potential challenges that need to be addressed and resolved amidst a divorce. When a couple decides to split, they must work together with their attorneys and even a mediator or a judge in Family Court, to identify all marital property and equitably distribute it; they must determine whether spousal support payments will be provided to one spouse and for how long; they must come to an agreement on custodial arrangements if there are children involved, as well as develop parenting time agreements that provide the child an opportunity to spend time with both parents; and they must determine weekly or monthly child support payments.

When a couple is getting a divorce, and their children are still young, the bustle of parenting time agreements and custodial arrangements take up all mental space, and some balls get dropped. Some of these balls include long-term considerations for the evolving needs of children as they grow. Why don’t divorce attorneys catch such issues? Well, some prefer to rely on modifications to child custody and support arrangements when the time comes, so they don’t even bring it up. However, making modifications to things like child support arrangements can be time-consuming and costly because they require re-entry into the court system, so it’s best to address children’s future needs in the original child support and custody agreement arrangements if possible.

Do I have to add my child to my car insurance in NJ?

According to New Jersey law, all drivers must possess a driver’s insurance policy. As such, your child will need automobile insurance to be allowed to operate a motor vehicle on New Jersey’s roadways. You can financially contribute to this policy, but your young driver will need to have their own.

How does car insurance work for children of divorced parents?

As part of a child support payment agreement between divorcing parents, a child’s financial needs are considered according to the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. These Guidelines raise the issues of the various financial needs a child will have to have met to ensure their best interest as they grow. Such needs include their basic needs such as food and shelter, child care, healthcare, insurance, and medical expenses such as over-the-counter medications and doctors’ visits.

In 2013, these Guidelines were updated, and one of the updates, as explored in the case of Fichter v. Fichter (2015), regarded car insurance for a young driver. The couple in the case divorced in 2011, and at the time, they had a 17-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter. When determining weekly child support payments, they took in the car insurance payments for the 17-year-old son. However, they did not have an established arrangement when the time came for the daughter to begin driving. The father, who provided regular child support payments, would cover the additional cost of split car insurance payments.

The judge presiding over Fichter v. Fichter, in reviewing the 2013 update to the Child Support Guidelines, noted that it was written in the amendment to the Guidelines that “principal cost, finance charges (interest), lease payments, gas and motor oil, insurance, maintenance, and repairs” would be included as automobile expenses a parent paying child support would be expected to contribute to. Given that it could be taken literally that “insurance” means the young driver’s auto insurance, the judge determined that a contributing parent would be required to modify and augment contributions to allow for these expanded expenses.

Who pays for the car insurance for my teen driver in Holmdel?

Who pays for auto insurance for children of divorced parents?As noted above, according to The New Jersey Child Support Guidelines, auto insurance costs are included in the required expenses covered by child support payments.

If you are in the midst of a divorce, and you have a young child who is not yet of driving age, it would behoove you to consider that you will one day be required to include driver’s insurance payments with your ex-spouse in the weekly expenses owed. As such, write into the child support arrangement that comes at a certain time, the payments will be increased to reflect this contribution. If you do not write this modification into the original child support payment arrangement, the child support agreement will have to be modified in court when the time comes, which is best handled with help from an experienced divorce lawyer.

Negotiating Child Support-related issues in Ocean or Monmouth County? Contact our Family Law Attorneys Today

If you are involved in a divorce and are negotiating child support terms, it is essential to have the support of a family law attorney on your side. At Bronzino Law Firm, we understand how important it is to ensure that your children are taken care of in a divorce. We successfully represent clients in Jackson, Township, Keansburg, Colts Neck, Red Bank, Little Silver, Tinton Falls, and towns in Monmouth and Ocean County to address key questions and concerns, for now and the future, with a child support arrangement that serves your child’s best interest.

Contact us at (732) 812-3102 for a free consultation to discuss your child custody and support arrangements.

NJ Child Support Attorneys Advising on the Options if your Ex can’t Pay because they are Incarcerated

All children in New Jersey have the right to their parent’s financial support.

How Does Child Support Get Paid If My Ex Goes to Jail in New Jersey?If one parent pays child support to the other parent, that money is for the children’s health, welfare, and maintenance. The amount of support a non-custodial parent pays is configured according to state guidelines that take into consideration the income of each parent, their time-sharing arrangement with the children, and the expenses of the parties, mandatory retirement, healthcare, and other payments the parties pay monthly, like taxes, childcare, medical expenses, student loans, or private school tuition.

Although the child support guidelines exist to form a basis for child support, judges may award a different amount than what the guidelines suggest if there is good reason to do so. For example, some children have special needs, or some parents have other child support obligations. These and other circumstances form the basis for the court’s child support amount consideration, such as the standard of living the child enjoyed with both parents, the parents’ assets, education, work history, and roles they have played in their children’s lives historically. And the age of the child or children makes a difference as to their financial needs. Young children have financial needs different from older children, who may be planning for college.

Can I stop paying Child Support if I have a special situation?

Taking all relevant factors into the equation, the court orders a child support payment that becomes the law of the parties’ divorce or child custody arrangement. Since the payments belong to the children, a paying parent may not pause or cease payments without permission from the court in the form of a child support modification. They cannot unilaterally stop paying child support, even if they suffer hardship, like illness, unemployment, or incarceration. Since the parent receiving the child support payments can enforce the order through the state Child Support Agency, the paying parent may be surprised to find out that the child support arrears continue accruing and the state keeps track of child support payments even if they are incarcerated. New Jersey state laws ensure children receive support and health coverage, so the payor must pay or modify their order.

What Happens if a Parent in Prison Stops Paying Child Support?

Child Support Enforcement if in jailIf a parent does not fulfill their child support obligation, the New Jersey Child Support Agency can collect past-due child support and current child support through various enforcement methods. They can garnish or withhold income from the payor’s paycheck, report the debt to credit reporting agencies, suspend the payor’s driver’s license, deny them a passport, seize assets, offset tax refunds, or lottery prize money, and get both civil judgments and criminal enforcement through warrants. The enforcement method depends on the payor parent’s income, as a wage earner or independent contractor, for example. For wage earners, income withholding makes the most sense as the employer can deduct child support payments directly from the earner’s paycheck for all outstanding child support.

Getting Money from other Sources if your Ex is in Jail in New Jersey

The Agency may also intercept lottery winnings and tax refunds to pay for child support if the payor parent owes at least one month of child support and wins $600.00 or more in the lottery. If that is not enough to pay all the outstanding support, the Agency can confiscate a portion of a federal or state tax refund or other rebates to pay the child support order. The Child Support Office can also attach bank accounts, stocks, and bonds to collect an unpaid support amount of one month’s support or more. Any civil lawsuit awards may likewise be attached. However, if the custodial parent received public assistance for children, the amounts owed to a public assistance agency get paid first from any of the sources from which the Agency collects.

Other enforcement methods aim to incentivize the payor to fulfill their obligations, like reporting child support arrears of more than $1,000.00 to credit rating agencies so that the delinquent payor cannot get credit for major purchases, like homes and cars. Also, the non-custodial parent may lose any licenses they hold or are applying for, such as driver’s, professional or recreational licenses, if they owe six months or more of child support payments. Passport agencies also check to see if an applicant owes child support through government agencies that report child support debts to the U.S. State Department. A child support arrearage of $2,500.00 can justify a passport restriction and denial.

A NJ family court may enforce a child support order upon a hearing request by the custodial parent.

Both parties appear in court, after which the court decides to order immediate payment, arrest, or other order to get child support paid. A court can issue a warrant for disobeying a court order or a missed court appearance. Moreover, a child support judgment may attach to real property the debtor owes, and they cannot sell or transfer the property without satisfying the debt. And delinquent payors cannot escape their child support debt as New Jersey uses the New Hires Directory to find non-paying parents at their work. The directory tracks employees through their employers by releasing the employee’s social security number, name, and address.

So, even if the parent ordered to pay child support is incarcerated, they still must pay support until and Need a Lawyer to Enforce Child Support for Someone in NJ Prisonunless they file for a hearing with the family court to pause or reduce the child support payments. And even then, a court may order the child support payment arrears, if any, be paid by means other than wages if the payor has assets or any sources of income, such as rental income, residuals, or royalties. Whether your children’s parent owes an outstanding child support obligation, or you need assistance filing a motion to get child support arrears paid, you will need a family law attorney to make sure you are not accruing insurmountable child support arrears that your children need.

Ex isn’t paying child support while in jail? Call one of our attorneys to schedule a confidential consultation at our Brick office.

New Jersey offers a wide variety of options to enforce child support payment. Our family law attorneys handle both types of cases, whether you are the one needing a child support payment modification or the one wanting to enforce a child support obligation. We know what to anticipate as defenses from the other side and how to position your case for the best outcome while protecting your interests.

Do not wait until a child support debt, whether yours or the other parent’s, is overwhelming. Contact Bronzino Law Firm at (732) 812-3102 to book a free consultation and get immediate assistance to discuss your case today. Our team is ready to receive your call. If you live near Jackson, Wall, Point Pleasant, Sea Girt, Brick, or another town in South Jersey, do not hesitate to contact us for help today.

How to Understand Imputed Income in a Child Support Case

There are many cases where a person’s gross income does not reflect their professional capacities due to marital or family circumstances.

How does New Jersey law ensure child support is fairly paid by imputing income?When a couple is divorcing and has children, many factors determine the custody arrangement, how parenting time will be divided, and how much child support will be required from the non-custodial parent. So how is income calculated to determine child support payments? In some cases, the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part looks at each parent’s income to determine child support payments, but there are situations in which the determination of child support is not so cut and dried. Read on to learn more.

How is income determined?

Determining income is a straightforward process, right? It’s as simple as looking at a person’s income tax filings? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple to determine what a parent’s income is. The New Jersey Superior Court considers many factors when determining income, including business expenses that have greatly decreased the person’s income, non-monetary assets and other in-kind goods and services, and capacities for employment that have not been utilized due to the marriage or other reasons.

New Jersey business owners most often have non-monetary assets that can be included in their gross income. Additionally, their net profits are considered income for purposes of determining child support payments; only the business’s ordinary expenses are left out of the calculation of gross income, and those expenses must be directly related to the functioning of the business. Because there are many cases in which a person uses their business account to cover personal expenses such as car payments, etc., the Superior Court is hypervigilant in determining that all business expenses withdrawn from the person’s gross income are directly related to the running of the business. If the other spouse’s attorney finds a discrepancy in what is claimed to be a business expense, the Court will confirm and return the expense to its rightful place as part of the business owner’s gross income.

For those who are in traditional employee situations, their gross income is calculated as the amount of money earned before state and federal taxes are withdrawn. In the case of all New Jersey residents for whom the Superior Court is considering child support payments, their financial investments can be considered as an element of their gross income that will augment the amount of child support payments they are required to pay.

This Superior Court’s consideration of a partner’s status of employment – whether they are unemployed or underemployed due to marital or other circumstances – is the source of the Court determining whether they need to impute a spouse’s income in determining how much the person will be required to pay in monthly child support payments.

What is imputed income, and how does it affect child support payments?

What is imputed income, and how does it affect child support payments?There are many cases where a person’s gross income does not reflect their professional capacities due to marital or family circumstances. For example, a professional teacher who decides to become a stay-at-home parent does not have the income afforded to New Jersey teachers at their level of training, though they may be quite employable. In these cases, the Court may determine the person’s income if they were working and require that the person pay child support payments in alignment with that income. This is called imputing income.

The Court and other legal experts will review the person’s training, experience, education, and professional qualifications. They will review where the person lives and look at the going rate for professionals in that area with their level of qualifications. Because some people voluntarily choose to be unemployed or underemployed to lessen the financial responsibility to make child support payments, New Jersey Courts counter this by imputing income. This is the case both for people who avoid paying child support by becoming voluntarily underemployed or unemployed and people who lessen their professional impact to receive more in child support payments. In both of these cases, the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part system is poised to conduct an audit of personal and professional income and expenses to ensure that the child receives the full extent of child support payments that they have the right to.

If you are divorcing and in the midst of a child support determination, you must have the support of a family law attorney.

Contact our office for a free consultation with our Family Law Attorneys

If you and your ex are being audited to determine child support payments, our legal team is prepared and dedicating to helping you.

At Bronzino Law Firm, LLC., our founder Peter Bronzino, Esq and our team´s skilled attorneys will guide you through the process of getting a positive outcome of your child support case. Either on the phone or by visiting our conveniently located offices in Brick, NJ, we provide assistance to clients in Monmouth and Ocean County areas, including Marlboro Township, Matawan, Sea Girt, Howell, Toms River, Jackson, Ocean Township, and Middletown.

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