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In an unpublished decision in the matter of  T.M. v. R.M., A-4724-16T3 (App.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.

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At the time of divorce, defendant was attending nursing school. Pursuant to the  parties’ Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA), the plaintiff agreed to pay the defendant $3,000 per month in permanent alimony, and “$1,000 per month payable twice a month in child support.” The MSA stipulated these figures were based on plaintiff’s yearly income of $100,000, and no income for defendant. The MSA also obligated plaintiff to pay defendant seventeen percent of his annual gross earnings exceeding $100,000, and maintain medical insurance. The MSA stated defendant was working toward her nursing degree, and was expected to graduate in December, 2013. The MSA anticipated defendant would become employed because it stipulated a review of spousal support would occur one year after defendant’s graduation. The MSA stated if defendant did not complete her education, an income would be imputed to her.

In 2015, the plaintiff filed a motion seeking modification of his alimony and child support obligations. The Plaintiff argued that he had experienced a permanent change in circumstances as a result of the change in his income. Specifically, the plaintiff stated he earned $38,400 in 2014, $43,000 in 2015, and that he expected to earn $50,000 at the time of the hearing. The plaintiff also argued the parties’ MSA provided for a built- in review period tied to defendant’s attainment of a college degree and job. In addition, plaintiff argued a reduction in child support was warranted because one son had completed college, was employed full time, and was thus emancipated; their other son had entered college.

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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

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Most people would be shocked to find out that an individual who obtains a final restraining order against their spouse could be ordered to pay alimony to support his/her abuser. The Prevention offile000388004075-3-200x300 Domestic Violence Act (“Act”) specifically states that victims of domestic violence are entitled to financial support from their abusers. However, the Act is silent on whether a victim of domestic violence who is also the income producing spouse has to support the abuser. Continue reading

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On January 17, 2018, the New Jersey Appellate Division decided the case of G.M. v. C.V. (A4820-15). The case involved the appeal of a May 6, 2016 order that denied the defendant’s request to vacate a final restraining order (FRO) entered in 2004. The reason for the denial that Trial Court gave was that the defendant’s motion did not include the transcript of the underlying 2004 FRO hearing. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading