Last Posts

  • The Divorce Process: The Case Management Conference

    After the Complaint for Divorce has been filed by the Plaintiff, and a response has been filed by the Defendant (either by way of Answer and Counterclaim or Answer), the Court will schedule a court date known as the Case Management Conference. If your case is in Ocean County, the Notice of Case Management Conference is usually mailed out immediately after the Answer has been filed.

    At the Case Management Conference, the parties discuss issues pertaining to discovery and the discovery schedule. Discovery is the process whereby each party exchanges information. The purpose of discovery is to allow the parties to fully disclose all information regarding the marital enterprise. It helps parties identify and value the parties’ assets, debts, and income; information necessary to determine equitable distribution and support. At the Case Management Conference, the litigants will set forth a discovery schedule in a Case Management Order. The Case Management Order will provide which experts are necessary for the divorce, who will pay for those experts, and when reports, evaluations, valuations, appraisals, and documentation are to be obtained and/or exchanged.

    Many judges in the Ocean County Superior Court require that the litigants attend the Case Management Conference and meaningfully partake in the preparation of the Case Management Order. Additionally, it is at this time that the parties are typically ordered to attend parenting mediation and/or participate in Ocean County’s Custody Neutral Assessment. Parenting Mediation and the Custody Neutral Assessment are programs established to help parties resolve their differences concerning their children.

    Overall, the Case Management Conference is a helpful court date because it allows parties to identify what issues, if any, remain unresolved in the divorce. It also places the parties on a path to concluding their divorce.

    The intent of this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as providing legal advice. Each individual case is different and the outcome of your case depends upon its circumstances. Contact the author, Rachel S. Cotrino, Esquire, at 732-987-9966 for a free initial consultation to discuss your divorce matter.

    continue reading
  • Orders to Show Cause

    Sometimes a home can be a bad place for a child, in fact, even a dangerous place. Unsafe conditions can be caused by a variety of factors. The most common reason why children are at risk is usually from a parent who is a severe alcoholic, heavy drug abuser, and/or physical abuser. Even if a child has not been physically hurt, there is still potential harm to children in these kinds of environments. The harm can be severe emotional harm by seeing their mother or father out of control. It could be long-term psychological scarring. It may even affect the child’s ability to concentrate in school and perform well in sports.

    In any situation where there is harm or potential harm to the child, by-standers and/or the non-aggressive/abusive parent will either call the police or the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services. Some may even seek a restraining order if the behavior includes domestic violence. Another remedy that people seek in New Jersey is to make a request to the Court under an Order to Show Cause. Orders to show cause are considered an emergent application. This means that if one is submitted to the Court, a judge will typically review the application the day it is submitted (either in open court or in chambers) and make a decision to grant or deny the request. An applicant must demonstrate that there is some kind of irreparable harm to themselves or the children. If the Court is satisfied that the party has met the legal criteria, it may grant temporary restraints so that the parent who is out of control cannot have any contact with the children. The Court even may grant temporary custody to the person applying for the Order to Show Cause.

    However, an Order to Show Cause is not a permanent fix. If granted, the Court will typically require the applicant to serve a copy of the Order to Show Cause on the parent within two (2) days (especially if the aggressive parent was not provided notice of the application). The Court will also schedule a second court hearing within a week or two of your initial appearance. Both parties are typically obligated to appear. This second hearing provides both parties with the opportunity to present their case to the Judge.

    In Ocean County, the Family Part is located in the Justice Complex at 120 Hooper Avenue, Toms River, New Jersey. There is a help desk that is located on the first floor. The Sheriffs at the entrance of the building direct people to the help desk if asked. The family division support staff are incredibly helpful and can provide the forms necessary to apply for an Order to Show Cause.

    The intent of this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as providing legal advice. Each individual case is different and the outcome of your case depends upon its circumstances. Contact the author, Rachel S. Cotrino, Esquire, at 732-987-9966 for a free initial consultation to discuss your divorce matter.

    continue reading
  • The Divorce Process and The Complaint

    Introduction to a Complaint

    Once you decide to proceed with a divorce, a Complaint must be filed. A Complaint institutes a Civil Action in the New Jersey Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part. The divorce complaint is the first “pleading” (court document) filed with the Court. The Complaint typically recites where you and your spouse live, the basic facts concerning your marriage, whether there are children of the marriage, whether real or personal property were acquired during the course of the marriage, the reasons why the Court has appropriate jurisdiction to hear your case, the grounds for divorce, and your requested relief.

    Grounds for Divorce

    Grounds for divorce refers to the reasons why you are requesting the divorce. There are many reasons one could ask a Court to dissolve their marriage. The most common reason people request a divorce is because they do not get along anymore. Frequently, individuals find that the “spark” has gone out of their relationship and that they are constantly arguing with their spouse. Other times, people feel that they can no longer communicate with their spouse and spend days, months, or even years with hardly any communication. In divorce law, the technical term for not getting along is called “irreconcilable differences.” In order to request a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, the person must specify in their complaint that their differences with their spouse have caused the breakdown of the marriage, and that the breakdown has existed for a period of six months or more, and which make it appear that the marriage between the parties should be dissolved.


    The intent of this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as providing legal advice. Each individual case is different and the outcome of your case depends upon its circumstances. Contact the author, Rachel S. Cotrino, Esquire, at 732-858-1363 for a free initial consultation to discuss your divorce matter.

     

    continue reading
  • Factors That Affect An Alimony Award

    In determining an alimony award, courts in New Jersey are guided by the legislature.  New Jersey Statute 2A:34-23(b) entitled “Alimony, maintenance” states the following:

    In all actions brought for divorce, dissolution of a civil union, divorce from bed and board, legal separation from a partner in a civil union couple or nullity the court may award one or more of the following types of alimony: permanent alimony; rehabilitative alimony; limited duration alimony or reimbursement alimony to either party. In so doing the court shall consider, but not be limited to, the following factors:

    (1) The actual need and ability of the parties to pay;

    (2) The duration of the marriage or civil union;

    (3) The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;

    (4) The standard of living established in the marriage or civil union and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living;

    (5) The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties;

    (6) The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance;

    (7) The parental responsibilities for the children;

    (8) The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the availability of the training and employment, and the opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;

    (9) The history of the financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage or civil union by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities;

    (10) The equitable distribution of property ordered and any payouts on equitable distribution, directly or indirectly, out of current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable, just and fair;

    (11) The income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party;

    (12) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a non-taxable payment; and

    (13) Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.

    When a share of a retirement benefit is treated as an asset for purposes of equitable distribution, the court shall not consider income generated thereafter by that share for purposes of determining alimony.


    The intent of this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as providing legal advice. Each individual case is different and the outcome of your case depends upon its circumstances. Contact the author, Rachel S. Cotrino, Esquire, at 732-858-1363 for a free initial consultation to discuss your spousal support matter.

     

     

    continue reading
  • Three Reasons the Court Might Reduce Your Child Support Obligation

    Introduction

    While most people love their children, many don’t feel the same way about their ex-spouse/partner. People have many different reasons to reduce their child support. Oftentimes, life circumstances and events occur that warrant a reduction in child support. The good news is that Courts typically recognize reasons that warrant such a reduction. The purpose of this article is to address some reasons why Courts might reduce child support.


    1. You Have Another Child. If you have a child from a different relationship, and that child was born after the entry of the subject child support order, you may be successful in reducing your child support obligation. The law recognizes your new child as an additional financial burden and will consider your new child as an “other dependent deduction.”

    2. You Begin to Receive Social Security Disability or Retirement Benefits. If you begin to receive Social Security Disability or Retirement Benefits and your child begins to receive benefits as a result of being your dependent, you may be successful in reducing your child support obligation. The reason is because the child is receiving part (or all) of its support from Social Security Disability/Retirement as a result of your receipt of benefits.

    3. Change of Residential Custody. Frequently, parties enter into residential custodial arrangements when their children are very young. As time elapses, parties change their residential custodial arrangement because of the minor child’s preferences. If you assume residential custody of one or all of your children, you may be entitled to a reduction in your child support obligation.


    The intent of this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as providing legal advice. Each individual case is different and the outcome of your case depends upon its circumstances. Contact the author, Rachel S. Cotrino, Esquire, at 732-858-1363 for a free initial consultation to discuss your child support matter.

    continue reading
  • Easysoft Releases New iPhone App to Help Calculate Child Support

    EasySoft , a purveyor of legal programs, such as Case Information Statement 2.0 and Divorce Financials, has consistently been a leader in providing software solutions to New Jersey’s divorce lawyers. EasySoft recently released a new app for the iPhone that enables its users to quickly calculate a party’s child support obligation.  The app is based off of the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines and can be downloaded for free on the iPhone.

     

    continue reading