Articles Tagged with modification

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In the case of Slawinski v. Nicholas, 448 N.J. Super. 25 (App. Div. 2016), the Appellate Division addressed a dispute involving parents who entered into a consent order establishing rights to grandparent visitation but then later wished to abrogate those rights. In this case, a motion was brought by the mother to terminate the visitation rights of the fraternal grandparents, claiming that the children were being harmed by the visits. The Appellate Division reversed the decision of trial court and stated that a parent could not unilaterally modify the consent order granting rights of grandparent visitation. The Court rejected the mother’s argument that, “[T]here is no burden that [mother] has to do anything other than say this is not working out, I tried.” The Appellate Division addressed grandparent visitation, as follows:

“We recognize that a parent’s fundamental right to raise a child as he or she sees fit encompasses the authority to determine visitation by third parties, including grandparents. See Moriarty v. Bradt, 177 N.J. 84, 114-15 (2003), cert. den., 540 U.S. 1177 (2004). Yet, that autonomy gives way to the need to protect the child from harm. Id. at 115. Thus, “grandparents seeking visitation . . . must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that denial of the visitation they seek would result in harm to the child.” Id. at 88. “If the court agrees that the potential for harm has been shown, the presumption in favor of parental decision making will be deemFAye_and_Dick-300x230ed overcome.” Id. at 117.

Still, proof of harm involves a greater showing than simply the best interests of the child. Id. at 116 (stating that a dispute between a “fit custodial parent and the child’s grandparent is not a contest between equals[,]” Consequently “the best interest standard, which is the tiebreaker between fit parents, is inapplicable”). Substantively, it is a “heavy burden.” Major v. Maguire, 224 N.J. 1, 18 (2016); cf. Fawzy v. Fawzy, 199 N.J. 456, 479 (2009) (“The threat of harm is a significantly higher burden than a best-interests analysis”). The harm to the grandchild must be “a particular identifiable harm, specific to the child.” Mizrahi v. Cannon, 375 N.J. Super. 221, 234 (App. Div. 2005). It “generally rests on the existence of an unusually close relationship between the grandparent and the child, or on traumatic circumstances such as a parent’s death.” Daniels v. Daniels, 381 N.J. Super. 286, 294 (App. Div. 2005). By contrast, missed opportunities for creating “happy memories” do not suffice. Mizrahi, supra, 375 N.J. Super. at 234. Only after the grandparent vaults the proof-of-harm threshold will the court apply a best-interests analysis to resolve disputes over visitation details. Moriarty, supra, 177 N.J. at 117.

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Nothing is more precious to us than our children. The Supreme Court of the United States has established the right to know one’s children as a fundamental Constitutional right. In New Jersey the9-08-3-300x225 right to know and raise one’s children is firmly entrenched in statutory and case law.  In our mobile society the right to know one’s children post-divorce has often come in conflict with the post-divorce business or social needs of the parents.  New Jersey, like many North Eastern states, has a highly transient population who has come here for business or personal reasons and may find business or social needs more compelling than identity to the State as home. When parents of children feel compelled to move, there is often contention over the impact of such a move on custody of the children. Continue reading

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I was at a social event recently. A woman attending that event, after learning that I was a divorce attorney, came up to me. She told me that her ex-husband had just filed court papers seeking to modify or terminate her alimony payments. With indignation in her voice she explained that “He can’t do that because I have permanent alimony!” It was obvious that this person had taken the word “permanent” literally, and believed that her alimony rights were forever immutable. She seemed genuinely shocked when I explained, without getting into the details of her case, that even “permanent” alimony may be modified or terminated upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances. Continue reading

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In Mills v. Mills, 447 N.J. Super. 79 (Ch. Div. 2016), the family court was confronted with the issue of whether the defendant (payor spouse) should receive a reduction in his alimony obligation3e728f0b3d0e026b62a8cb4b38918e95 upon the loss of long-term employment and his subsequent hire at a new job – at a significantly lower salary. Continue reading

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In September 2014, the New Jersey Legislature amended this State’s statute on alimony.   Among thefile0001270953716 changes that the new alimony statute contains was a provision related to retirement.    The addition that the Legislature made to the alimony statute to include a provision for alimony is lengthy.  N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(j) now provides that alimony may be modified or terminated “upon the prospective or actual retirement of the obligor.”   Continue reading

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We have written previously about issues of cohabitation and it’s impact on the right and obligation to receive and pay alimony. We have also written about the courts’ attitudes towards the file0001849487704enforcement of Property Settlement Agreements. On May 3, 2016 the Supreme Court of New Jersey in the matter of Quinn -v- Quinn, — NJ — (2016) [(A-5-14) (074411)], addressed the issue of enforcing terms of a Property Settlement Agreement involving the effect of cohabitation on provisions dealing with alimony in the matter. In this matter the parties, who were married in 1983, entered into a Property Settlement Agreement in 2006 providing that upon the Wife’s cohabitation, per case or statutory law, her alimony would terminate. Continue reading

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In New Jersey, it is well established that both parties have an obligation to support their children financially.  Accordingly, child support obligations are one of the primary issues dealt with when a marriage or relationship ends between people who have children, whether it be my consensual agreement or court order. However, the amount of child support due may be subject to a later modification.  After the entry of a child support obligation, there are a number situations or circumstances that can occur that might warrant a later termination of modification of that child support obligation, including but not nearly limited to the following: the child’s emancipation, a change in the child’s needs, the involuntary loss of income to one of the parents, or a substantial increase in the income of either parent. Continue reading

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Previously we have written about the 2014 modifications to N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23 which dramatically changed the law in New Jersey as it relates to alimony. As outlined in that blog, the statute not only eliminated permanent alimony as a judicial option but clarified the law as it related to the impact of: cohabitation, retirement and loss of employment on alimony. The effective date of that statute is September 10, 2014. The bar has been awaiting cases dealing with the new alimony statute’s impact on new matters as well as how it would apply to matters resolved prior to its effective date. Continue reading

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file00030973702My colleagues and I have previously written on the topic of Domestic Violence, Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO), and Final Rrestraining Orders (FRO).  Specifically, I have previously written on the subject matter of contempt proceedings where the Defendant in a domestic violence action can be held in contempt for violation of either a TRO or FRO.  Continue reading

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CalculatorOn December 18, 2013 the New Jersey Appellate Division published an opinion in the matter of Harte v. Hand. In the opinion, the Appellate Division addressed the issue of how to properly calculate child support on behalf of children of multiple families. Continue reading