Articles Posted in Divorce

When parties get divorced, usually neither party is totally satisfied. The goal in formulating an agreement is to have an end result that is fair under the law.

A lot of work can go into a Property Settlement Agreement (PSA), also known as a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA), because it is the framework by which parties will be guided post-divorce. The parties may not be thrilled with the PSA, but if a party discovers that they entered into the agreement due to fraud, there is a way to right the wrong.

In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Division stated that upon the discovery of fraud, and the ensuing motion to vacate the parties’ PSA, the moving party was entitled to discovery and a plenary hearing.

Many couples beginning the divorce process are often concerned, and rightfully so, about how they will be able to maintain their “standard of living” once the single household is divided in two and doubling many expenses. How will they maintain the standard of living? Sometimes there is enough wealth and equity that the separation and divorce with have a minimal, if any, effect on the spending habits of the parties. On the other hand, quite often, what worked when the parties were together, cannot possibly be accomplished once they are apart.

In a recent written opinion by New Jersey Superior Court Judge Lawrence R. Jones, J.S.C., the Court addressed the issue of pendente lite alimony, and whether parties should be expected to maintain the marital standard of living.

In light of the recent amendments to New Jersey’s alimony statute – N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b) – the Court held that 1) Retention of the “marital lifestyle” is not the sole criteria in pendente lite alimony analysis and 2) In many divorce cases, it is mathematically probable that following separation, neither party will be financially able to maintain the former “marital lifestyle.” Real numbers have to be used.

It’s almost back-to-school time and many area students rely on their parents to cover all of their college-related costs that remain after scholarships, grants, and loans. This can be a very stressful situation for kids and parents, particularly those in divorced families committed to contributing to their child’s college costs. There will be some parent who will decide that he/she is unhappy with that commitment and will often leave the child in a lurch while the two parents argue as to how the costs will be covered.

A recent unpublished New Jersey Appellate Division case has dealt with the parents’ obligations for the payment of college-related costs and expenses when one party has decided she doesn’t want to follow the terms of the parties’ Property Settlement Agreement (PSA). In Polcari v. Polcari, Docket No. A-3538-14, the Court not only evaluated the factors under Newburgh v. Arrigo, 88 N.J. 529 (1982), and N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23, the Court found that a plenary hearing “was not necessary in light of the specified terms of the PSA and the certified financial information the parties had submitted.”

The Trial Court had allocated, by percentages, the amount each parent was to be responsible for based strictly on their respective incomes. The Appellate panel found that, considering the circumstances, the findings were fair and just.

Divorce after retirement requires application of the same statutory factors concerning equitable distribution and support, but with emphasis on issues relevant to those who have needs that differ from working families and families with young children.

Older people who are already receiving retirement pensions at the time they divorce will have to address the division of marital assets and how to treat their pensions and Social Security.

“Full Retirement Age” means the age at which a person is eligible to receive full retirement benefits included in section 2/6 of the Federal Social Security Act (42 U.S.C.   § 416). Social Security payments are not subject to equitable distribution.

There are many different laws which are relevant to family matters. When parties move to different states and countries, there are laws and procedures in effect to obtain, maintain, and enforce family laws and issues arising from family relationships. This includes divorces, separations, support, custody, paternity, and property rights. There are several different choice of law doctrines which may apply depending upon the specific facts.

New Jersey will have jurisdiction over a divorce if one of the parties has resided in New Jersey for one year. When the divorce is filed in New Jersey, if during the marriage for example, marital funds were expended and used in another country to buy land, a determination may have to be made by the court as to whether foreign law or New Jersey law applies for the purpose of dividing that asset. When parties to a marriage purchase property or gain assets in another country or state during the marriage, an issue can arise as to what law applies to the disposition of the property. Similarly if parties move to different states and countries, choice of law issues arise about custody and support.

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)

First, when getting a divorce, it is extremely important to consult with a CPA or even a tax lawyer if necessary to understand your options and the implications of various financial matters.  In this article, I am going to address issues that you should be aware of so you can investigate further with the CPA, your lawyer, and your spouse to have the best outcome possible.

Filing Status:

Most people that are married file their taxes “married filing jointly”.  There are lots of benefits the government gives you for this status generally causing the overall payment/liability to the government to be the lowest possible for the family.  You can file “married filing jointly” if you are legally married on the last day of the tax year.  If you get legally divorced on December 31, 2015 you cannot file with this status for your 2015 taxes.  If you wait until January 1, 2016 (or January 2, 2016 as the courts are closed on New Year’s) to divorce, you can file jointly for the 2015 tax year.  There is no partial year joint/single tax treatment

A prenuptial agreement—also known as a “prenup” or “antenuptial agreement”—is a common tool to protect income and assets.  The agreement becomes enforceable upon marriage and applied in the event of a divorce.  A prenup cannot arrange for custody or dictate an amount of child support to be paid.  This must be negotiated at the time of divorce in accordance with the laws and the best interests of the children.  As parties are typically adversarial at the time of divorce, a prenup can be particularly valuable in limiting litigation and creating a more expedient divorce process.

A party intending to enter into a prenuptial agreement should understand that a court will more likely than not uphold a fully-executed agreement entered into knowingly and voluntarily.  Like any enforceable agreement, expect that you will be bound by the terms of your prenup.

Most people do not expect to get divorced when they marry.  Nonetheless, many plan for it due to the high rate of divorce.  Obviously it is impossible to predict exactly where one’s life will be in the future with regard to children, income, property, assets and liabilities.  However, what is possible is for a person to—at the prenup drafting stage—imagine what would be in their best property and financial interests if a divorce were to occur, taking into consideration the entirety of their current situation as well as that of the other party.  What do you imagine your property and financial circumstance will be in five, ten, twenty years?  If you agree in a prenup to receive $20,000 per year in alimony and you are the lower wage earner making $30,000/year while the other party earns $250,000/year, are you ok receiving $20,000 per year for 7 ½ years for example if in 15 years you file for divorce and you still earn $30,000 but the other party now earns $400,000?  Or, alternatively, if you are the paying spouse do you want to guarantee a large sum in a prenup that may in the future be beyond your means?  Do you have separate property that you want to protect from any claim of the other party in the event of a divorce?


Workplace injuries often have permanent residual effects.  An injured worker may file a Workers’ Compensation Claim Petition.  Helfand & Associates handles Workers’ Compensation Cases.  We are a fully up-to-date office and utilize what is called the OSCAR electronic system implemented by the Division of Workers’ Compensation to handle the Workers’ Compensation filings, court notices and calculations.

When you are injured on the job, a claim can be filed by your Workers’ Compensation Attorney.  This is not a lawsuit against your employer.  Filing of a claim activates a case in the Workers’ Compensation Court.  It enables you to have your attorney answer your questions and help guide you during the process to obtain appropriate medical treatment, payments for temporary disability and an award for the permanent disability that you sustain from the accident.  Medical records must be provided to your attorney by the agent or lawyer for the Insurance Company.  Approximately six months after your last date of medical treatment, you will receive permanency evaluations.  There are doctors who are experts in disability evaluations.  You will be evaluated by doctors selected by your attorney and also by the insurers’ experts.  These doctors do not treat you.  They review your medical record and perform examinations.  They then report on the causation and nature and extent of permanent disability which has affected you.


            At Helfand & Associates, we handle many amicable divorces and family matters as well as some of the most hotly contested difficult cases.  In an effort to improve our services and also because I think it is interesting, I am studying for a Masters in Psychology.  The first class I am taking is Adolescent Psychology, which is a relevant subject in many cases.  Single parents are often under a great deal of pressure and disturbing teenage behavior just adds to it.

So far I have learned a lot of great information that I wanted to share with you whether you are just a parent, a divorcing/divorced parent or know someone who has teenagers.

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