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A frequent post-divorce concern or criticism often heard from the parent who has primary residential custody of child is that their former partner does not exercise their parenting time and thatvisitation-300x200 the failure of their partner to keep to the schedule has negative monetary and lifestyle implications. I have always viewed a failure to exercise parenting time as a matter that needed to be addressed economically.   Many matrimonial attorneys and judges, however, relying on a 2006 case encaptioned J.S. v. L.S, 389 N.J. Super. 200 (App.Div. 2006), have opined that the failure a parent to exercise parenting time did not give rise to a right for economic relief.

The Appellate Division on August 2, 2018 in the matter of Qian Zhong v. Xue Ye, A-1904-16T1, has clarified the reasoning in J.S. v. L.S. and the judicial philosophy regarding unexercised parenting time. In this matter the father, who had significant parenting time, elected to return to his native China  which left his two children, one of whom has special needs, in the care of his former wife. She complained, particularly with regard to the special needs child, that there were cost associated with the care of the children, some of which were extraordinary, which she would incur during the period that was supposed to be her former husband’s parenting time. The parties Marital Agreement recognized that these expenses needed to be addressed if parenting time was not exercised, however, neither the Trial Court or the Appellate Court addressed the issue as one of contract. Rather, the Trial Judge indicated that consistent with J.S. v. L.S., the costs incurred by one parent for the care of a child when the other parent did not exercise his parenting time was not recoverable.

In this matter the Appellate Division distinguished the J.S., where that court addressed the issue of compensation for the the non-exercise of parenting time under under the exceptional circumstance where the husband was found not to be the true father of a child, and where child support was prospectively terminated. The issue dealt with the amount of prospective arrears due, and in that context the court opined that the cost of the non-exercise of parenting time could not be recovered. Here the Appellate Division found that the father’s relocation was a change in circumstance that warranted a re-evaluation of child support based on the additional costs incurred by the mother as well as any costs associated with the impact of the move on the child’s emotional needs. In a mobile society such as ours in New Jersey, moving is often a necessity. When this happens and the person moving is not the primary parent there are frequently changes to the parenting schedule. However the social and financing cost to the child and the primary parent are often ignored. The Qian decision addresses this frequent but difficult issue in a thoughtful and child centric manner, recognizing that every child custody decision focuses on “[T]he safety, happiness, physical, mental and moral welfare of the children.”

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The Jolie/Pitt “Fight Club” continues. I previously blogged about the Jolie/Pitt divorce in “Fight Club: What You Can Learn From Angelina Jolie’s and Brad Pitt’s Long Term Relationship With Short Marriage“.  This week the media was abuzz with news of Angelina Jolie’s claims that Brad Pitt is not paying “meaningful child support,” which begs the question, what is “meaningful child5d984e7b33cffbf6bc1f5cd9b12b51d5-300x200 support”? Clearly, Jolie and Pitt are not your average parents. They both earn a significant amount of money. And, even though Jolie may very well be able to support their children on her income alone, that does not negate Pitt’s obligation to support the children.  I have blogged before about New Jersey child support when the parties earn more than the income stated in the Child Support Guidelines.

The philosophy behind the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines as stated in the appendix to the Guidelines is as follows:

Child support is the constant duty of both parents.

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A few weeks ago The New York Times published an article about a divorce in the United Kingdom caught my attention.  The article was called  “Divorce on Demand? In the U.K., It’s Not Quite That Simple“.   Does the UK have “divorce on demand”?  What even is divorce “on demand”?   Can spouses in New Jersey get a “divorce on demand”?65dca231ec54a9e1f958b731f86574be-300x225

The facts of the case at issue in the article seemed very familiar to me, although the outcome was very surprising.    In 2015, Tini Owens in England, moved out of the home she shared with her

husband, Hugh, and into a neighboring property, claiming that he had verbally abused her.  Tini filed a divorce complaint against Hugh, but Hugh objected and contested the grounds for divorce.   Their trial judge in his written opinion sided with Hugh, finding that Tini had not made out sufficient grounds under their divorce statute to divorce Hugh.

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Words matter. Cliche? Perhaps it is.

This is a week that illustrates how words have power.  Remember when then President Clinton responded to a question with the infamous line about the meaning of the word “is”? Presidential words-300x225impeachment dangled on a two letter word which most of us took for granted. President Trump attended a “summit” with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki this week.  That’s if it was a “summit”.  Some said not to use that word. Continue reading

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Mass shootings in schools, colleges, movie theaters, churches, concerts and other public spaces have been in the news regularly, leading to disputes over gun control and issues involving4168c94f1d5117faacc4fa82b69915a3-300x200

the Second Amendment also in the news, while politicians grapple with how to respond.   It is interesting that after a mass shooting, when those who knew the shooter are interviewed, they commonly indicate that there was no way to predict that the shooter would engage in such violence.   A large portion of mass shooters, however, appear to have in their past abused and/or committed acts of violence towards women in their lives. Continue reading

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Kate Spade’s recent suicide has been the subject of widespread speculation in the news. How could it be that this attractive and successful icon of fashion would take her own life? After all she soldfile4801310649783-300x249 her business for billions. She was attractive, popular in the media and in the “right” social circles. She had everything to live for including a 13 year old daughter with whom she had a loving relationship. Continue reading

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One of the many rights litigants have is the right to be represented by counsel of their own choosing. Simple, right? Well, not really. An attorney of your choosing could be disqualified from file0001869482997-225x300representing you if that attorney had participated in the matter prior to your representation and your adversary does not consent to the attorney representing you.  Additionally, an attorney could be disqualified from representing you if the attorney is likely to be a witness in the matter, under certain circumstances pursuant the Rules of Professional Conduct (“RPC”).  Whether the RPC prevents an individual from being represented by an attorney of their own choosing is a fact sensitive matter. Continue reading

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In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the United States to recognize same sex marriage.  Numerous states thus enact differing laws regarding the ability of same sex couples to marry infile000224065590-300x200 their states, with numerous states  passing laws to ban same sex marriage, and various states over the years, voting to allow same sex marriage.  Some states began to allow same sex couples to enter into “civil unions”.  New Jersey did so in 2006.  In 2012, Governor Chris Christie vetoed a potential law in New Jersey that would have allowed same sex marriage. Continue reading

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If only for a sliver of time, a joyous occasion made everyone in the world forget all of its trials and tribulations. North Korea, Gaza, the Mueller investigation, MS13 – mere distractions. A dividedRoyal-wedding-300x169

nation, a divided world came together as one to witness the Royal Wedding between Price Harry and Meghan Markle to share in the magic, the pageantry, their unbridled love. Questions like whether there was Russian collusion or if Iran has nukes were insignificant when compared to what kind of wedding gown would Meghan be wearing, who was on the guest list, or what color pocketbook would the Queen be carrying. What else would be important enough to get me up at 4am on a Saturday morning? Continue reading

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In modern society, it is common for unmarried couples to live together without being married.  When an unmarried cohabiting couple separates, however, the rights to equitable distribution and6a3146dbdf81597192112ac03d77c7e4-300x200 alimony does not exist.  No matter how long an unmarried couple has lived together, they do not have the legal rights and protection that divorcing couples enjoy.  Cohabitating, unmarried couples also do not enjoy the rights and protections that married couples having during their marriage, such as filing joint tax returns; receiving distributions from estates free of estate tax; receiving survivor’s benefits from retirement plans and Social Security; obtaining “family” health insurance, dental insurance, and other employment benefits; and automatically sharing in his/her partner’s property in the event he or she dies without a will. Continue reading