Articles Posted in Equitable Distribution

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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? Some sort of agenda-perhaps. But most likely because making things interesting is what sells. The issue today is the blurring of the lines between something of interest from that which is newsworthy. This is not limited to the political arena, but throughout all aspects of our culture and society. The law is not immune from this phenomenon-family law included.

On a regular basis we see or read stories in newspapers, magazines or on the internet of various celebrities or public figures going through the tribulations of separation, divorce or other domestic problems. Some are truly newsworthy, such as allegations of domestic violence or abuse. Some are just are disturbing, such as when children are thrown into the middle of custody disputes made public — the Alec Baldwin taped conversations with his daughter come to mind. However, most often we see banners trumpeting or headlines blaring the outcome of a celebrity’s divorce case-as though it was somehow newsworthy or legally significant-when in most cases it is not. How many times do we see reports of one celebrity parent or the other receiving “joint custody” of their child(ren) in a divorce or split-up? How many times do we see reports of a celebrity being obligated to pay alimony to their spouse?  How many times do we see reports of a celebrity being required to pay what is labeled as a generous amount of support for the benefit of their child(ren)? Beyond the fact that celebrity families are involved, these reports suggest that the disposition of these matters was somehow newsworthy, unusual or extraordinary in nature. As practitioners of family law, we know that in most cases they are not. Under the New Jersey’s divorce laws (as is generally true in most states), there is a presumption of parents sharing “joint” (albeit usually legal) custody of their children; dependent spouses are entitled to some level and/or duration of alimony or spousal support commensurate with the marital standard of living, particularly in longer term marriages; and children are entitled to be supported by their parents not only consistent with the marital standard of living but to also share in the “good fortune” of their parents.

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For many years Palimony actions were proliferating. Spurned on by the original landmark palimony case filed against actor Lee Marvin by his former girlfriend in California. palimony actions gave e3bc10d77963468f2705f7119c049b73-300x199 hope that people (usually women) in long term relationships without marriage would have some financial rights when the romantic relationship went sour. Palimony served a useful social function to level the proverbial social playing field once the concept of “common law marriage” was eliminated. For Palimony created legal right of support in situations were there was no legal marriage but there was a promise of support. Continue reading

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I would like to begin this blog post by thanking all those who are currently serving in the United States military and to all Veterans  that have served. Currently, there are approximately 22 million veterans of the U.S. armed forces and 1.5 million currently serving. On September 15, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling potentially affecting their military families. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in May, 2017, in the case of Howell v. Howell (No.15-1037) that a state court may not order a veteran to indemnify a divorced spouse for the loss in the divorced spouse’s portion of the veteran’s retirement pay caused by the veteran’s waiver of retirement pay to receive service-related disability benefits. Continue reading

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There are some points where federal law intersects with or affects the economic consequences of pending or finalized divorces. Recently one of those point of intersection was the topic Job-Application-SSN-300x225of conversation of a prospective client. Her concern I am sure are shared by many. The question dealt with Social Security and how one computes the 10 year requirement for derivative benefits. Continue reading

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On December 12, 2016 the Supreme Court of New Jersey decided the case of Thieme-v-Aucoin-Thieme, regarding equitable distribution and/or the use of a constructive trust in a post-judgmentDSC04154-B-300x225 dispute over deferred compensation paid to one spouse after the parties’ divorce. Continue reading

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This is another of a series of blog posts in which I will be highlighting some of the more commonly asked questions of divorcing clients as to whether they can or can’t do certain things in regards to aspects of their financial or personal affairs. Once again, the thoughts expressed in this blog post should not be construed as being in the nature of legal advice, but merely serves as an overview of things to consider if you are a client asking these questions or a lawyer confronted with how to respond to them. Now let’s get to my next two commonly asked questions. Continue reading

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SlashI was recently perusing a periodical and came across a story about a celebrity musician who was claiming he was never married to his wife of 15 years because of a known snafu in her earlier divorce paperwork. The headline stated “Slash claims he was never married to wife of 15 years”. (http://www.metro.us/entertainment/slash-claims-he-was-never-married-to-wife-of-15-years/zsJpjE—wsgif5AIi7dW6/). For those of you who don’t know, Slash, who’s legal name Saul Hudson (which better calls to mind the fictional character Saul Goodman of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul”),  is the prolific lead guitarist of the recently reformed rock group Guns N’ Roses.  Continue reading

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The news agency CNN Money recently published an article entitled “Panama Papers: How the rich try to hide assets from their exes.”  (http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/07/news/panama-papers-divorce/) T9-08-1he “Panama Papers” refer to hacked files from an international law firm based in Panama called Mossack Fonseca.  Those hacked files were analyzed by the press and later published in a report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The report’s findings have already lead to the resignation of the Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, after it was revealed that he owned an offshore company with his wife but he had not declared it when he entered Parliament.   Continue reading

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V. Stiviano, the former mistress of former Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Sterling, is being sued by his wife of over 50 years, Rochelle Sterling.  In her suit, Mrs. Sterling is seeking the return of gifts that Mr. Sterling purportedly gave to Ms. Stiviano.  Among the gifts Stiviano apparently received are a $1.8 million home, a Ferrari, two Bentleys and a Range Rover.  Mrs. Sterling claims that these gifts were purchased with the parties’ joint monies without her consent. Continue reading