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In the case of M.C. v. G.T., A-4781-15, decided and approved for publication by the Appellate Division on January 2, 2018, the Appellate Division addressed essentially the equitable authority of afile000799318829-2-300x200 family court judge to enter a restraining order without there being a finding of domestic violence.

Monica and George had a dating relationship when Monica filed a domestic violence complaint against George alleging that he harassed her.  The trial judge did not think either party was credible.   The trial judge did not find that an act of domestic violence occurred.   The judge, however, used her “equitable powers” to enter a final restraining order against George and in favor of Monica.

The Appellate Division examined  the trial court’s reliance on P.J.G. v. P.S.S., 297 N.J. Super. 468 (App. Div. 1997).  In that case, the parties sought domestic violence restraining orders against the other based on assault.  The trial court in that case found that Paul had sustained his claim against Patricia and entered a final restraining order against her.  Although the trial judge found that Patricia had not proven that Paul committed any acts of domestic violence against her, the court nonetheless entered a restraining order against Paul.   The Appellate Division in P.J.G. held that there is no jurisdiction for the entry of a final domestic violence restraining order against a defendant whom was not found to have committed domestic  violence.  However, the appellate court also held in  P.J.G., the Appellate Division also held  that a family judge can still enter restraints by invoking a judge’s “ample inherent power”, and that Paul’s ability to obtain a restraining order against Patricia due to assault allowed the trial judge to impose restraints against Paul even though Patricia did not prove he committed acts of domestic violence.   This is because the Appellate Division P.J.G. relied on N.B. v. T.B., 297 N.J. Super. 35, 42 (App. Div. 1997), in which the Appellate Division  held that a family court can use evidence in a failed domestic violence action to issue restraints in the parties’ matrimonial action.

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FAKE NEWS! It seems like every year new words or phrases enter into the lexicon of our increasingly dynamic culture and society. For 2017 the term “fake news” would be at the top of most people’s lists. Largely attributed to President Trump, many believe this refers to news stories that are false or are alleged to be. While this may sometimes be the case, most often the term is used to refer to matters reported in the news media as somehow being a newsworthy or significant when in reality they are not.Fake-News-Lincoln-300x188

In this politically polarized country of ours, the use of the term “fake news” is derided by some and cheered by others. However, what has now been characterized as “fake news” is really nothing new. From time immemorial statements made, events occurring, things seen or observed, have been sensationalized, exaggerated, if not twisted and turned – not to the point of being false, but to give them unwarranted weight, meaning or significance. Why? Continue reading

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file00032137357-300x225The 2017 Tax Reform Act has been signed into law by President Trump. This law significantly changes the tax liability of individuals. For individuals, it preserves the marriage penalty forcing dual income households to file jointly to increase their tax bracket or face the faster escalated tax rates imposed on those married filing separately. The intermediate tax haven for married persons filing separately or head of household is preserved, allowing for some planning in divorce proceedings with regard to filing status. Continue reading

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In this recent decision in the matter of New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency  v. A.B., (A-27-16), the New Jersey Supreme Court reviewed a trial court’s determination that

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defendant A.B. abused or neglected A.F. (her sixteen-year old daughter), that A.B. willfully abandoned A.F.; and that remarks attributed to A.B.’s sister, J.F., were subject to suppression as embedded hearsay. Continue reading

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During the New Year’s season we often reflect on the blessings we have received over the course of the last year and give thanks. Many of us visit family during this time and if we are fortunate enough our parents. This past week, the Sixth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the United States District Court in the case of Sun Life Assurance Co. v. Jackson that involved the distribution of a deceased father’s life insurance policy proceeds to his daughter even though he failed to change the beneficiary designation to his daughter from his brother. Continue reading

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When custody disputes arise, I often consider the Biblical narrative, 1 Kings 3:16-28,  which tells the story of how King Solomon resolved a custody dispute of sorts between two women who lived 296050aba1c021ff4a7e4cab0ed498d2-3-300x200 in the same home.  The women came before King Solomon, each claiming to be the mother of the same baby boy.   King Solomon called for a sword and rendered his judgment:  He would cut the baby in two so that each woman could receive half.  The first woman did not contest Solomon’s decision, arguing that if she could not have the baby, then neither woman could.  The second woman begged King Solomon to give the baby to the other woman instead of killing the baby. King Solomon declared the second woman as the infant’s true mother, reasoning that as a mother she would give up the baby if she had to in order to save his life. Continue reading

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More and more women are choosing to exclusively breastfeed given the reports as to the superior health benefits, not just physically but psychologically, of breast feeding.  Arranging parenting file000956778186-225x300 time between divorced or separated parents of a child who is still breastfeeding poses issues not just with overnight parenting time but daytime parenting time as well. Children who are exclusively breast-fed may reject a bottle.  Nevertheless, there is an argument that the child should be given breast milk from a bottle during parenting time. After all, not only should the child receive the best nutrition, but also facilitating a relationship with the father at the earliest age possible is in the child’s best interest. Continue reading

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On November 8, 2017, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued the unpublished opinion in the domestic violence case of J.R. v. C.R. (A-4936-15) affirming the issuance of a final restraining order (FRO) entered against J.R. who was in a dating relationship with C.R. Here, C.R. obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the grounds of harassment and assault based upon an alleged predicate act of domestic violence that occurred on February 29, 2016.  The parties testified that although they had broken off their relationship several times, they were involved in a long-term dating relationship. Continue reading

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file0001610872997-212x300Marriage is not as popular as it once was.  Based on 2011 data available to the Pew Research Center, barely half of all adults in the United States were married, which was a record low.  In 1960, 72% of all adults ages 18 and older were married.  Contrast that with 2011, where only 51% of adults aged and 18 older were married.  In addition to higher incidences of divorce and cohabitation  in this century, as compared to 1960, another significant reason for the decline in the overall number of married adults, is that people do not marry as young now as they did in 1960.  Continue reading