Category Archives: Family Law

Grandparents rights bill Divorce Lawyers Bergen County Joseph Noto

Joseph Noto, a Bergen County divorce lawyer, wants grandparents to know that that there is a bill regarding their visitation rights before the legislature that would erect High Hurdles to grandarents seeking visitation. The New Jersey Law Journal on December 2, 2013 reports that: “the Legislation that would toughen New Jersey’s statutory standards for granting visitation rights to grandparents, and siblings, over parental objections is drawing closer to final passage. The legislation—approved Monday by the Assembly Judiciary Committee—would codify a decade-old state Supreme Court holding that applicants may be granted visitation only if they prove denial would harm the child.” Joseph Noto will keep his blog viewers posted on the ultimate status of this Bill.

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Joseph Noto Bergen County Divorce Lawyer Update on Alimony Reform Bill

Joseph Noto, a Bergen County Divorce Lawyer, wants to give his blog viewers and update on the NJ Alimony Reform Bill.  In the New Jersey Law Journal an article was written on the Alimony Reform bill which may be of great interest to them. It states: “N.J. Alimony Reform Measure Is Panned by Family Lawyers” written by Mary Pat Gallagher

New Jersey Law Journal

2013-11-26

Lawyers came out in force at a legislative hearing Monday to oppose a bill that would abolish permanent alimony and make other drastic changes to New Jersey law on spousal support.

The measure, A-3909, would set guidelines providing that alimony should generally not exceed the “need” of the recipient or 30 percent to 35 percent of the difference in the parties’ income. Judges could attribute income to a party deemed to be voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, and they could “deviate” from the limit because of advanced age, chronic illness, tax considerations and other “relevant and material” factors set forth in written findings.

It would also make it easier to terminate or modify awards. Judges could reduce or stop alimony based on three months’ cohabitation, rehabilitative alimony would be limited to five years and alimony would end when the person paying it reaches the eligibility age for full Social Security benefits, which is 67 for those born after 1959, and no more than two years sooner for everyone else.

Existing alimony awards could be modified retroactively so long as a motion is filed within two years of the law’s effective date and the parties had not agreed that the alimony should be unmodifiable.

Lawyers and bar association representatives who appeared before the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Monday almost uniformly opposed A-3909 and urged support for an alternative that would replace references to “permanent alimony” with the phrase “alimony of indefinite term.”

That measure, A-4525, provides that modifying or extinguishing an alimony obligation based on actual or prospective retirement would require a showing that the retirement was reasonable and being done in good faith based on factors like the parties’ age and health, their retirement expectations during the marriage and the generally accepted age of retirement in the paying party’s field of employment.

People who lose their jobs would be allowed to seek modification on that ground after 90 days out of work. Any relief ordered could be made retroactive to the loss of the job or income drop.

Cohabitation, even if not full time, could provide a justification for terminating or suspending alimony but there is no specified time frame and how long the couple have been living together would be a factor.

A-4525 is the joint work product of the Matrimonial Lawyers Alliance of New Jersey, the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Family Law Section and the New Jersey chapter of the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers. Several county bar associations, including Essex, Bergen and Morris, have passed resolutions in support.

Assemblyman Charles Mainor, D-Hudson, the sponsor of A-3909, which has bipartisan support, testified that it was based on a law enacted in Massachusetts in 2011 and reflects a trend toward similar reforms elsewhere, including Connecticut and Colorado. Mainor also said it is consistent with the current reality in which both spouses are likely to be working and equal job opportunities exist for women and men.

The existing law is ripe for abuse and manipulation, Mainor said, adding that he had been told by matrimonial attorneys that the amount of alimony depended on the quality of the lawyer.

Assemblyman Thomas Giblin, D-Passaic, sponsor of A-4525, acknowledged the need to alter the law and said his bill is an attempt to do so responsibly by respecting the ability of judges to take into account the nature of the case and the parties’ circumstances.

He echoed many of the lawyers who expressed concern that A-3909’s guidelines would interfere with judicial discretion, stating “judges must not be handcuffed.”

The bill bases duration of alimony on how long the marriage or civil union lasted. At the low end, five years or less, it provides for support for a period of no longer than half the time the marriage lasted, rising to 80 percent for marriages of 15 to 20 years. For marriages or civil unions lengthier than that, judges would have discretion to award alimony for an indefinite period.

 Jeralyn Lawrence, of Norris, McLaughlin & Marcus in Somerville and chairwoman-elect of the State Bar’s Family Law Section, said A-3909’s “cookie cutter” formula has no place in Family Court, “a place of fairness and equity,” where “circumstances and facts matter.” For instance, A-3909 would treat two marriages of the same length identically even if in one but not the other, twins were born or one spouse sacrifices a career for family reasons. “Commitment matters,” she added.

Lawrence said she and her colleagues represent both those who pay and those who receive alimony and thus have “no ax to grind.” She took issue with Mainor’s assertion of gender equality in the workplace, citing statistics on women’s lower earnings.

Family Law Section chairman Brian Schwartz of Summit told the committee that A-3909 does not address postjudgment litigation over alimony and expressed doubt that women no longer face job bias.

In a subsequent interview, he countered suggestions that lawyers oppose A-3909 out of self-interest, saying its retroactivity would generate lots of work as people sought modifications.

Schwartz and John Trombadore of Somerville, who also testified, said the retroactive aspect is unconstitutional under the ex post facto and contract clauses. A similar bill passed in Florida this year was vetoed on that ground.

Somerset County Bar President Amy Wechsler, of Shimalla Wechsler Lepp & D’Onofrio in Warren, testified that even though A-3909 says judges can deviate on the amount, they are not likely to do so based on how they have adhered to child support guidelines. “Once you have set up guidelines, that’s what people follow,” she said.

David Perry Davis, a Pennington solo and family law practitioner who helped draft A-3909, called it “nonsense” to suggest the bill takes a one-size fits all approach, given the multiple grounds for deviating from the standard award. He suggested that a concern for billable hours underlies the opposition from the bar, contrasting its stance with the strong public support for getting rid of permanent alimony found in a recent Eagleton Institute poll.

In an interview, he said that child support guidelines have worked well and the “bar association won’t admit that the system is broken,” adding there are lawyers who agree with him but don’t want to stand up to the group.

Another lawyer who spoke in support of A-3909 was Karl Piirimae, who does real estate development law at Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf in New Brunswick. He became involved in the effort based on his own divorce experience, saying it took seven years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to end his eight-year marriage.

Citing statistics that judges decide alimony in fewer than 1 percent of cases, he questioned why guidelines should not be available to help those in the other 99 percent agree on a sum.

Piirimae said a revised and soon-to-be-filed version of A-3909 incorporates parts of A-4525; eliminates maintaining the marital standard of living as a factor in alimony; and exempts incomes of $370,000 and above from the guidelines, conceding they don’t work well when applied to “ultra-high-wage earners.”

Several who spoke, including Christine Bator of the New Jersey Women Lawyers Association and Francisco Rodriguez, president of the New Jersey Association for Justice, supported forming a commission to study the issue first.

Such a commission would have been created by AJR-32/36, which passed the Assembly in June 2012 but stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee. ?  Bergen County divorce lawyer, Joseph Noto, said he will keep his viewers updated on this Alimony Reform Bill.

 

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Joseph C. Noto Bergen County Family Law Attorney and NJ Same Sex Marriage

Joseph C. Noto, a family law attorney in Bergen county NJ,  wants everyone to know that the New Jersey Supreme Court on Friday refused to issue a stay while the state attorney general appeals a judge’s ruling that allows same-sex marriage. The court said the state had not shown a reasonable probability it would succeed on the appeal, nor that it would suffer irreparable harm without a stay. It also found, in balancing relative hardships, that the plaintiffs would suffer more if a stay were granted. The order means state and local officials must accept applications by same-sex couples for marriage licenses beginning today. Joseph Noto says this is a long time coming for the many gay people in New Jersey.

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Joseph Noto Bergen County Divorce Lawyer caregiver case

Joseph C. Noto, a Bergen County divorce lawyer, thought you would be interested in the recent case regarding who can and can not be be a caregiver of a child in NJ.   In “New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v. J.S., App. Div. (Sabatino, J.A.D.) (32 pp.) Defendant, a biological father, appeals from the Family Part’s judgment terminating his parental rights as to his minor child following a multiday trial. Among other things, defendant argues that the trial court erred in upholding a decision of the Division of Youth and Family Services to “rule out” two cousins who had expressed interest in serving as alternative caregivers for the child. Affirming the final judgment, we reject defendant’s argument that the division lacks the authority to rule out relatives under N.J.S.A. 30:4C-12.1 based on considerations of a child’s best interests. Instead, we hold that the applicable statutory provisions and a related regulation, N.J.A.C. 10:120A-3.1, allow the division to rule out a relative on such best-interests grounds, regardless of the relative’s willingness or ability to care for a child. However, the division’s rule-out authority is always subject to the Family Part’s ultimate assessment of that child’s best interests. We also uphold the validity of the language in N.J.A.C. 10:120A-3.1(b) prohibiting a relative who the division rules out on best-interests grounds from pursuing an administrative appeal of that agency determination. However, we urge the division to act with reasonable diligence in notifying a potential caretaker that he or she has been ruled out, once the investigation of that person has been completed.”  Joseph Noto says people should bear this case in mind: that the best interest of the child applies when determening a caregiver.

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Bergen County Divorce Lawyer Joseph Noto NJ Family Collaborative Law Act

Collaborative divorce attorney Joseph C. Noto with an office in Bergen County, is on the NJ Council of Collaborative Practice Groups, as well as on the Council’s Legislative Committee to help get a bill passed regarding the NJ Family Collaborative Law Act.  Mr. Noto is very pleased with the current developments regarding the Bill since Mr. Noto says when the Bill becomes an Act it will have great significance to the public because it is a much better way to get divorced. The Counsil’s Legislative Committee has worked very hard in getting the Bill passed and has met with many NJ house and senate representatives to get co-sponsors for the bill.  Many of them have expressed real support of the Bill and have said they would co-sponsor it when the time comes for a vote.  Joseph Noto says he will keep his viewers apprised of further developments as they occur.

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Divorce Attorney Bergen County Joseph C. Noto special Needs trust

Joseph C. Noto, a divorce lawyer in Bergen County wants those parents that have a special need trust to see the latest case on this matter.  In J.B. v. W.B., Sup. Ct. (Cuff, P.J.A.D.) (16 pp.) A parent seeking to modify … Continue reading

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Joseph C. Noto Bergen County divorce lawyer alimony duration case

Joseph C. Noto, a Bergen County divorce lawyer, wants to let you know that if you are going through a divorce and alimony is an issue, that duration of the alimony will arise.  When is it a permanent alimony case? … Continue reading

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Joseph C. Noto Bergen County Divorce Lawyers What is a Family Law Case Information Statement?

Joseph C. Noto, a Bergen County divorce lawyer, wants you to know the most important document to be prepared when filing for divorce or filing an Answer to  the Complaint for Divorce is the filing of the required Case Information Statement, … Continue reading

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Joseph C. Noto Bergen County Divorce Lawyer Alimony and Cohabitation

Joseph C. Noto, a Bergen county Divorce Lawyer, wants the payor of alimony to know of the recent case regarding a change in circumstance as it relates to cohabiation and alimony.  A Divorcee, whose Live-in Boy friend perked up lifestyle, loses alimony.  A divorcee’s plush lifestyle provided by her paramour can be considered when her ex seeks alimony reduction, a state appeals court held on Tuesday in a precedential ruling. The Appellate Division, in Reese v. Weis, A-5557-10, turned aside arguments that the gifts and luxuries lavished by the woman’s live-in lover were outside the equation. “We reject this view and hold that the provision of emoluments, which enhance a dependent spouse’s lifestyle, also equate to a tangible economic benefit from the new living arrangement,” the panel held.  At issue in this matter is whether defendant received a substantial economic benefit as a result of her cohabitation, such that alimony should be terminated. They concluded that the inquiry regarding whether an economic benefit arises in the context of cohabitation must consider not only the actual financial assistance resulting from the new relationship, but also may weigh other enhancements to the dependent spouse’s standard of living that directly result from cohabitation. The court  also finds that a trial judge’s exercise of discretion when determining whether to modify or terminate alimony may properly evaluate the duration of the new relationship and assess its similarities to the fidelity associated with marriage.  Bergen county divorce attorney, Joseph Noto, says that payors should see a divorce attorney if they are in a similar circumstance and seek a temination of alimony if that is the case.

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Joseph C. Noto Collaborative divorce lawyers Bergen County NJ Alimony Bill A3909

Joseph C. Noto, a Bergen County collaborative divorce lawyer, attended his rotary meeting on 4/17/13, and Tom Leustek, president of the NJ alimony Reform organization, and Sheila Taylor, president of the NJ Women for Alimony Reform, talked about Assembly Bill No. 3909 and its purposes.  Both Tom and Sheila explained the goal is to eliminate permanent alimony and to create guidelines for the duration of Alimony. Tom’s website is http;//njalimonyreform.org and Sheila’s website is: www.njwar.rg.   The bill if passed will be effective October 1, 2013. Joseph C. Noto says that as a divorce lawyer he has felt that this is was long overdue.  He feels that it will save the clients time and money if these proposed guidelines are established. Joseph Noto says: read Bill A3909 and see if you agree with him.

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