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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

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On May 3, 2018 the New Jersey Appellate  Division published the case of DCPP VS. T.D., R.C. AND R.G., IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF M.G., B.C. AND A.G. (FG-20-0040-13, UNION COUNTY AND STATEWIDE)(CONSOLIDATED) (RECORD IMPOUNDED) (A-4918-c1b55e653e97997fd3f08500aae0ee83-225x30015T1/A-4923-15T1), an Opinion affirming the trial court’s decision to not terminate the parental rights of T.D., a mother suffering from multiple sclerosis, and R.C., the father of her two youngest children, born in 2012 and 2014, and removed from the care of their parents soon after birth.  The Appellate Division, in denying the appeals of the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (Division), and the Law Guardian on behalf of the two young children, stated that the “United States Supreme Court has held that biological parents’ relationships with their children ‘is an interest far more precious than any property right.’ Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 758-59 (1982). Therefore, New Jersey courts protect that interest by imposing “strict standards for the termination of parental rights.” Continue reading

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For the third time since 2012, the New Jersey lawmakers have passed legislation that would allow persons to enter into gestational carrier agreements; namely for the intended parents to enter into a contract with a woman 21 years of age or older to become pregnant by assisted reproductive technology without the use of her own egg, and to surrender custody of the child to the intended parent immediately upon birth, and considered neither an adoption nor termination of parental rights, as long as the requirements of the statute are strictly adhered to. While two prior legislative attempts were vetoed by then Gov. Christie, it is expected that this Baby-M-movie-300x238current legislation (S482) will be signed by Gov. Murphy soon and become law. Many people continue to refer to the agreements covered by the statute as “surrogacy contracts”, and that they would in effect overturn the Supreme Court ruling in Matter of Baby M, 109 N.J. 396 (1988) which deemed such surrogacy contracts invalid. Continue reading

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In an unpublished decision in the matter of  T.M. v. R.M., A-4724-16T3 (App. Div. April 5, 2018), the Appellate Division considered a plaintiff’s appeal of the trial court’s denial of his motion to modify his alimony and child support obligations based on changed circumstances. At the time of the parties’ divorce, the plaintiff was earning a salary of $100,000 per year as a limited partner with OTR. In 2011, plaintiff lost his job and was unemployed for eighteen months. The plaintiff became employed again in 2012, earning $38,400 per year. Continue reading

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How does the law define what constitutes a parent and who is a parent?  According to New Jersey’s Parentage Act, a “parent and child relationship” is “the legal relationship existing between a child and the child’s natural or adoptive parents, incident to which the law confers or imposes rights, privileges, duties, and obligations. It includes the mother and child relationship and the father and child relationship.” N.J.S.A. 9A:17-39.   With advances in technology, many more people have been able to conceive and have a child.  Over the years, that has meant that family law has had to adapt to new circumstances by which file0002066893977-225x300people might have children, and thus disputes about having children.  Continue reading

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The legal fees incurred with regard to a divorce can be substantial. I have written several blog posts in the past cautioning litigants of how their decisions and actions during a divorce matter can dramatically impact the level of legal fees that can be generated, and the ways litigants can reduce or limit those fees. 1040-300x193The more legal fees incurred, the less money there is in the marital pot to be divided between the parties, to have available for future needs and expenses (college educations, retirement, etc.), and/or income to pay support or one’s own living expenses. Continue reading

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It is not uncommon for a litigant to be dissatisfied with a court’s order. Even if you think you have a solid case, there is no guarantee that the court will see things your way.  Additionally, judges dofile7001246481267-300x225 not always get it right.  When a court makes a legal error, the typical way to address that error is to file an appeal.  But a case has to be decided with finality on all issues to get to the Appellate Division as of right, without having to ask for permission to appeal, which is difficult to get.  Continue reading

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The tragic and senseless massacre that unfolded this past Valentine’s Day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida has left a grieving Nation searching for answers. Much of the debate focuses on the Second Amendment toconstitution-998x660-300x198 the United States Constitution which states: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” History has shown that the strong language of the Second Amendment does not leave it immune from lawmakers enacting safeguards in an attempt to keep guns from falling into the wrong hands.  Continue reading

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At the end of 2017, Congress passed the long awaited Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which was a sweeping tax reform act that broadly file000802276456-300x225amended the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.  Tax rates were lowered in general for businesses.  As for individuals, the tax code may be more simplified as the standard deduction and family tax credits were increased, while most personal exemptions were eliminated.  New Jerseyans may have heard and may be disappointed by limiting deductions  for state and local income taxes and property taxes (capped at $10,000), and limiting the deduction for mortgage interest.  Continue reading

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If you have listened to local radio in recent years, (certainly those stations geared to a more mature audience), you were hard pressed to miss commercials from a “large” insurance broker toutinginsurance-300x184 his ability to obtain “affordable” life insurance coverage for persons, notwithstanding whether you had various chronic health conditions, took medications, or were otherwise not in the best of shape. Recently, that same insurance broker has been running a new series of commercials clearly geared to divorced or divorcing spouses, who may be in the position of having to secure life insurance coverage for the benefit of their ex, maybe even more than one. Continue reading