Articles Tagged with 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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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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When it comes to romantic couples “living together”, attitudes have changed from what they were a few decades ago.   The negative stigma attached to couples cohabiting outside of marriage has waned and fewer people view unmarried couples who live together as inappropriate or immoral.   In fact, many couples view “living together” as a way to live without marriage, as part of dating, as a means to reduce expenses or as a useful step or “test run” so to speak in the road towards marriage. Continue reading

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Recently a divorce case made the news with screaming headlines such as “Ex-wife of US Oil Baron to appeal $1 Billion Divorce Award”. Yes, that was billion with a “B” . Intrigued, I was drawn to read how someone could not only receive such an award, but more importantly, on what basis someone would even want to challenge it, representing an amount far beyond most peoples’ wildest dreams. Continue reading

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Many in today’s society would view the court’s treatment of dogs and other pets as merely property to be equitably distributed in the breakup of relationship as antiquated, given the increasing role that pets are play in today’s society. A common scenario playing out in relationships across the Garden State today is that many couples begin to cohabit and soon after get a dog or another pet to raise together.  Those of us on social media regularly see pictures posted of couples and their dogs in which they are categorized as their “baby” or loved one.  Couples spend significant time in researching which pet to purchase or rescue from the shelter.   They spend significant time and money on training and caring for an animal that many consider to be a member of the family. Continue reading

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When it comes to questions regarding equitable distribution, the one that seemingly gets overlooked or underappreciated the most often is the question revolving around how to divide or distribute the marital liabilities or debts of the marriage.  It is so much easier to comprehend and make distributions of the assets of a particular marriage, but clients often do not necessarily understand or conceptualize that the marital liabilities and debts need to be “distributed” too.   Continue reading

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Last week, Padraic Dugan addressed the concept of how a gift or transfer of property to one or both spouses may be treated in a divorce.  Butgive what occurs if one of the spouses transfers marital money or marital property to a person or entity outside of the marriage?    Continue reading

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It is well settled in New Jersey that when there is a question of whether a transfer of property was a gift or not, “Proof of gift requires evidence of unequivocal donative intent on the donor’s part, actual or symbolic delivery of the gift’s subject matter, and the donor’s absolute and irrevocable relinquishment of ownership.”  Continue reading