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It IS Possible to Heal After An Affair

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A blog from our friends Debby Deroian, LAC and Meredith Keller, LPC of Couples Therapy Center of New Jersey

Have you ever heard someone declare “If my partner ever had an affair, our relationship would be over. I would be done!”? Although that’s easy to say, in reality, if you are the one in that situation, it is a lot more complicated, especially if there are children involved. At Couples Therapy Center of NJ, we help couples to figure out if repair and healing is even possible.

When there’s been infidelity, it’s our job to get them through the initial intensity of the revelation and to evaluate whether this relationship is salvageable. We use a three step approach that focuses first on the present, second on the past, and third on the future:

  1. We help the couple deal with intense emotions that they are feeling in the present. An affair brings on many difficult emotions in the relationship, including rage, grief, confusion, guilt and shame. Navigating these intense emotions is an important step in stabilizing the relationship. Stabilization is critical in order for the couple to move to the next step.
  2. We guide couples in looking at the history of the relationship. The purpose is to examine, and learn from, what may have led up to the affair. In this stage, couples make amends and begin healing this huge rupture. If both partners are willing to acknowledge their contributions to the relationship, they can actually grow from this painful experience. It’s not our job to point fingers and lay blame. Instead, we help the couple take ownership of their past behaviors which, in turn, shines a light on what needs to be different going forward.
  3. We focus couples on the future. With our tools and techniques, they co-create a better and stronger relationship. Both partners work on what they need to do differently to rebuild trust and closeness. Often couples who come to our office will say “We just want to go back to the way things were.” Our response is that we would like to help them go forward and not backwards because something about your past lead to the infidelity. We seek to change the dysfunctional pieces together so trust is rebuilt and this never happens again.

It is possible to heal after an affair, and we have helped many couples through this process and onto a better, stronger relationship. Plus, these couples have been able to spare their kids from a painful divorce. If you’d like our help, call us Couples Therapy Center of NJ at 908-246-3074 or email getsupport@couplestherapycenterofnj.com to set an appointment with one of our relationship experts.

Cyber Harassment Can Now Be Considered an Act of Domestic Violence

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New Jersey Divorce Lawyers: Cyber Harassment Can Now Be Considered an Act of Domestic Violence

The New Jersey Legislature recently added Cyber Harassment to the list of crimes that can be considered an act of domestic violence under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. Cyber Harassment is committed where a person makes a communication in an online capacity through any electronic device or through social media with the purpose of harassing another person if the communication: (a) threatens to inflict injury or physical harm to any person or the property of any person; (b) knowingly sends posts, comments, requests, suggests, or proposes any lewd, indecent, or obscene material to or about a person with the intent to emotionally harm a reasonable person or place a reasonable person in fear of physical or emotional harm to his person; or (c) threatens to commit any crime against the person or the person’s property. NJSA 2C:33-4.1(a).

Based on Cyber Harassment’s inclusion as an offense under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, if your spouse, former spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend threatens you or posts something about you online or on social media, that is offensive, that person could be found to have committed an act of domestic violence. Furthermore, if a spouse, former spouse, or girlfriend or boyfriend posts nude or compromising pictures of you online or on social media, that person could also be found to have committed an act of domestic violence. The New Jersey Legislature’s action on this issue should be commended. However, the question remains as to whether this amendment will hold people accountable and ensure that people who commit such acts face the appropriate consequences and are prohibited from committing further acts of domestic violence in the future. In fact, many websites allow people to post offensive comments, pictures and obscene material about others on line anonymously, which makes it very difficult to prove that the person who you believe posted the material actually posted it. However, by utilizing an expert, there are ways to obtain proof to establish that the person suspected of posting the material in fact posted it, albeit, at an expense. As such issues are very serious and could be quite harmful to a person’s personal and professional reputation, it may be worth the cost.

If you or someone you know has a question regarding cyber harassment or domestic violence, then please call the skilled family and divorce lawyers in New Jersey at the Law Office of Lyons & Associates. At the law office of Lyons & Associates, we represent men and women throughout New Jersey who have unresolved family law matters. We place a premium on personalized service and attention. For a private consultation, contact us by e-mail, submit an online inquiry, or call our offices at 908-575-9777.

WRITTEN BY: MARK T. GABRIEL, ESQ.

Legislation Regarding Marriage by Minors

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Mendham Family Law Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Provide Experienced Counsel in All Matters of Family LawMarriage by minors has been in the news recently as some states introduced legislation aimed at prohibiting child marriage. Until now in New York, minors as young as 14 were permitted to marry. New changes abolish marriage for 14-16- year-olds and allows 17-year-olds to marry if they have both judicial and parental consent.

The New York state Republican led Senate passed the bill, as did the State Assembly, which is controlled by the Democrats. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo supports ending child marriage and is expected to sign the bill into law.

Across the bridge in New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie conditionally vetoed a bill introduced by Republican Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz that would have banned marriages by minors in New Jersey. Munoz was moved by stories told at a committee hearing last year of minors being forced to marry for religious reasons. Unchained at Last is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of the still widespread practice of child marriage in the United States. According to their executive director, Fraidy Reiss, almost 3,500 marriages with a partner under 18 took place in New Jersey from 1995 to 2012. Most of the minors in the marriages are girls married to adult men.

Christie proposed changes to the current law that would ban all marriages for minors under 16 and require judicial consent for any 16 and 17-year-olds seeking to marry. He pointed out that New Jersey law permits 16-year-olds to consent to sex and obtain an abortion without parental consent, and that no state bans marriages for minors completely.

Amy Paulin, the New York Assemblywoman who sponsored the bill, called child marriage “coerced marriage,” saying, “it condemns young women to a life they did not choose.” Experts on family law also agree that girls forced to marry as teenagers endure social, educational, and financial burden as a result. Some girls are forced to marry cousins from abroad to get a green card and permanent residency in the United States for the husband. Previously in New York, a girl could marry at 14, but could not legally divorce until 18, and most domestic violence shelters cannot accept victims under 18. Now the changes to New York state law mandate that a 17-year-old that marries can also divorce.

In New Jersey, some pro-life supporters and politicians sided with Gov. Christie saying that a pregnant teen should be able to marry so that the baby is not born out of wedlock. Christie said that although he agrees that minors need to be protected, the bill was too severe because “it does not comport with the sensibilities and, in some cases the religious customs, of the people of this State.”

New Jersey Assemblywoman Munoz was disappointed by Christie’s conditional veto and had anticipated being first in the country to enact a law banning marriage for minors. Instead, the President of the National Organization for Women of New York, Sonia Ossorio, said in her praise of Gov. Cuomo, “New York is poised to lead the nation in recognizing child marriage as a violation of human rights.”

Mendham Family Law Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Provide Experienced Counsel in All Matters of Family Law

At Lyons & Associates, P.C., we give personal attention to every client and are committed to successfully resolving your case. Call 908-575-9777 to schedule a free and confidential consultation about your case with an experienced Mendham family law lawyer, or contact us online.

New Jersey Child Support Law Effect on Special Needs Kids

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Mendham Child Support Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Provide Experienced Counsel for Clients with Special Needs ChildrenOn February 1, 2017, the New Jersey child support statute “Termination of Obligation to Pay Child Support” went into effect. Governor Chris Christie signed the statute into law on January 19, 2016 and the new statute will affect all orders issued before and after the February 1 effective date.

A child’s 18th birthday is considered the legal age of emancipation from their parents and therefore the end of child support. Whereas previously, parties seeking termination of child support had to obtain a formal court order to end their obligation, the new statute terminates child support automatically by operation of law when a child reaches the age of 19. Termination also applies if the child enters the military, gets married, or passes away.

Under the new law, certain conditions justify the continuation of child support after the child turns 19, but support is capped at age 23. A court order may specify another age for termination or before the child’s 19th birthday, a parent may submit a written request to the court to seek continuation of child support. Another exception to the age cap are children in out-of-home placement through the Division of Child Protection and Permanency in the Department of Children and Families.

If a custodial parent wishes to submit a written request for continued child support, the statute specifies the circumstances under which a child over the age of 19 will be eligible. These include:

  • The existence of exceptional circumstances approved by the court
  • The child is still in high school or another secondary educational program
  • The child is enrolled in a post-secondary education program full-time during some part of each of any five calendar months of the year
  • A federal or state agency has determined that the child has a physical or mental disability. This disability had to exist before the child’s 19th birthday and require the continuance of child support.

For disabled children and others with exceptional circumstances, the statute provides for support beyond the cap of age 23. A parent may apply for a court order that converts the obligation of child support to another form of financial maintenance.

Parents of a disabled child that want to maximize the child’s access to governmental benefits should investigate the use of a special needs trust for depositing any child support or financial maintenance payments. There is a means test for the federal disability program of Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The special needs trust prevents disqualification for SSI because child support belongs to the child and will in most cases disqualify the child for government benefits in the state of New Jersey.

Another trust option that ensures the child remains eligible for government benefits is the pooled trust, which is set up and managed by a third-party non-profit organization instead of the parents, grandparents, or guardian. Anyone eligible for SSI is also automatically qualified for Medicaid and possibly for other programs. Parents of children with special needs must be meticulous in planning for child support payments and continued maintenance payments beyond the child’s 23rd birthday.

Mendham Child Support Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Provide Experienced Counsel for Clients with Special Needs Children

At Lyons & Associates, P.C., we put the needs of you and your family first. Our approach is client centered, making sure that together we achieve all your legal goals. An initial consultation with one of our child support lawyers in Mendham is free and confidential. Call us today at 908-575-9777 to schedule an appointment or contact us online.

 

Can My Weapons Be Taken if a Restraining Order is Filed Against Me?

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New Jersey Divorce Lawyers discuss weapon ownership and restraining ordersIf a Restraining Order is filed against you, the police may confiscate any type of weapon or weapons that may cause harm or bodily injury to the alleged victim, including but not limited to firearms or your Firearms Purchaser Identification Card and Carry Permit. In fact, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act requires the police to seize all weapons and permits if there is probable cause of domestic violence.

In addition to the initial confiscation, the State can move, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:58-1, et. seq. and N.J.S.A. 2 C:27:17 et. seq, that the weapons not be returned and the card and permit revoked. However, as Defendant you are entitled to a Weapons Forfeiture Hearing. During this hearing, the court will determine whether or not your weapons will be returned.

In New Jersey there are different types of Restraining Orders, including Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO) and Final Restraining Orders (FRO). Whether or not the TRO is converted into a FRO will have an effect on whether or not your weapons are returned to you, but it is not the final determining factor. If the court issues a FRO against you, it is more likely than not that you will not be getting your weapons back; however, you are still entitled to a hearing. Conversely, if the TRO is dismissed and a FRO is not issued, the court may still hold a hearing to determine whether or not your weapons will be returned to you and whether or not the forfeiture is found to still be warranted pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C58-3c.

“The burden is on the State to prove, ‘by a preponderance of the evidence, that forfeiture is legally warranted.’” In re Forfeiture of Personal Weapons and Firearms Identification Card belonging to F.M., 225 N.J. 487, 508 (2016)(emphasis in original)(quoting State v. Cordoma, 372, N.J.Super. 524, 533 (App. Div. 2004)). At the forfeiture hearing the court will look at, amongst other things, whether or not a FRO was issued, whether the weapon or weapons were actually used in an act of domestic violence, and whether you have a criminal history.

If the facts of your matter demonstrate that pursuant to the statutory law you are unfit to possess firearms and weapons, and such possession poses a threat to the public in general and to the alleged victim of domestic violence in particular, the State will request that an Order be entered directing that your weapons not be returned and that any Firearms Purchaser Identification Card and Carry Permit that you possess be revoked. As such, it is important that you hire a qualified and experienced attorney to navigate through this process.

If you or someone you know has any questions about a Weapons Forfeiture Hearing and what that entails, contact one of the skilled divorce lawyers in New Jersey at Lyons & Associates at 908-575-9777. You can also fill out our online intake form.

Written by: William P. Lemega, Esq.

The Dog Ate My Homework

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When a Non-Custodial Parent Fails to Help Their Child With Homework During Mid-Week Parenting Time

New Jersey Child Custody Lawyers discuss homework and parenting time
The old saying, “My dog ate my homework” may work for a child, but in the Court’s eyes, it may not suffice when it comes to a parent’s responsibility to assist his or her child with homework during the school week.

In the recent unpublished trial court opinion M.C. v. P.C., 2016 N.J.Super, Unpub. LEXIS 2594, Judge Jones stressed the importance of the non-custodial parent’s obligations during mid-week overnight parenting time which includes, but is not limited to, helping their children with completing their homework.

Judge Jones determined, as a matter of law, that while mid-week parenting time is not per se contrary to a child’s best interests, the non-custodial parent implicitly bear duties during his or her mid-week parenting time to oversee the child’s homework is completed and he or she is ready for the next day of school.

Judge Jones also suggested the follow protocol that requires cooperation of both parents to act in their child’s best interests and in line with the New Jersey Custody statute:

1) First, the parties will jointly request in writing that the children’s teachers advise them jointly in writing, via email if there is any significant observations or concern regarding a child being fully prepared for class on any day, including homework completion, test preparation and performance, and in-class alertness;

2) Regarding homework, it is defendant’s affirmative obligation during his overnight parenting time to make certain that all of the children’s homework, including assignments and readiness for any scheduled tests the next day, are complete. In the event that there are any incomplete assignments, defendant has an affirmative obligation to notify plaintiff by email by the children’s bedtime on that evening as to what assignments have not been completed by the children and the reasons they were unable to complete same. This way, in exceptional circumstances requiring plaintiff to intervene the following morning before school to help the children complete any incomplete or missing assignments, plaintiff will at least have some reasonable advance notice of the situation;

3) If plaintiff alleges that homework has not been completed and that she has [*23] to prepare children on the morning of school due to defendant’s alleged failure to oversee the children’s scholastic responsibilities, then to the extent possible she shall document any and all missing or incomplete assignments as well as any work which she had to do with the children on such days, and she will forward copies of this information to defendant within 5 days thereafter with scanned attachments as applicable, so that an ongoing record of any such problems is in the possession of both parties, and so evidence of such documentation may be supplied to the court as necessary upon further application.

4) If missing or incomplete homework or inadequate test preparation by the children remains an ongoing issue of concern, then the parties may schedule a joint meeting with any of the children’s applicable teachers to discuss same. Any such discussions, however, shall take place in a manner where both parties treat each other with dignity in a mutually respectful, mature, and courteous manner, with an understanding that such civility between parents is overwhelmingly in their children’s best interests. Further, either party may file further applications as necessary to address any [*24] ongoing disputes of significance regarding the children’s educational progress and development.

M.C. v. P.C., 2016 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2594, *22-24 (Ch.Div. Nov. 28, 2016).

So, does a non-custodial parent’s failure to help their children with homework result in a change in the parenting time arrangement? Not necessarily; it is fact-sensitive as with many family law matters and turns on the actual evidence.

As you can see, mid-week parenting time arrangements can have the potential to greatly affect a child’s best interests. For more information regarding parenting time arrangements contact the Law Office of Lyons & Associates. At the law office of Lyons & Associates, we represent men and women throughout New Jersey who have unresolved family law matters. We place a premium on personalized service and attention. For a private consultation, contact us online, view our website at www.lyonspc.com, or call our office at 908-575-9777.

By: Marissa DelMauro

Mendham Child Custody Lawyers: You Tubers Lose Custody

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Mendham Child Custody Lawyers: You Tubers Lose CustodyMike and Heather Martin, a Maryland couple famous for their YouTube channel full of prank videos, recently lost custody of two of their children after a controversial video the couple posted went viral. Public backlash and concern for the children prompted their biological mother to seek emergency custody, which was granted. In the video, the father and stepmother scream profanities at one the children for spilling ink in the carpet. The ink was in fact invisible, and part of a planned “prank.”

The Martin’s YouTube Channel, dubbed Daddyofive, featured numerous videos of the parents pulling pranks on all the children, but seemed particularly targeted at their 9-year-old son. The pranks escalate to pushing, screaming, shouting, and explicit language. In some videos, the children are driven to tears, anger, and complete frustration.

Social Media Outrage

As the “Invisible Ink” video began to circulate on social media, viewers were outraged. An online petition was created requesting Child Protective Services (CPS) to investigate the family for signs of emotional and physical abuse. Countless YouTube videos popped up shaming the couple and making heartfelt pleas on behalf of the children. Several of these videos referenced numerous episodes of harsh behavior on the part of the Martins that could possibly constitute abuse. Many YouTubers point out that most of the pranks seem to be directed at one child in particular, the boy featured in the “Invisible Ink” prank.

As public outrage swelled against the YouTubers, the couple took to morning television to answer the allegations of abuse. Mrs. Martin claimed the videos featured on their You Tube channel were not a reflection of their family, but were more like characters the family played. She called the video in question a “show.” The couple publicly apologized and called the prank “harmless.” They claim the children enjoy being in the videos.

The child featured in the Invisible Ink video and his older sister have returned to the custody of their biological mother. She says that seeing her kids abused has been “heartbreaking.” She says the children are doing well. The couple has since deleted all of their public videos.

Social Media and Legal Ramifications

With video services such as YouTube, Facebook Live, and Snapchat, we now have access to the intimate details of family life we might not have otherwise seen. As in the Martin’s case, that access can have serious consequences when it comes to child custody. In many states, social media posts and images are admissible in court. A reported 81 percent of U.S. divorce lawyers say they have seen an increase in the use of social media evidence in court.

Mendham Child Custody Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Advocate for the Rights of Children

Mendham child custody lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. understand how to use social media evidence in your child custody case. If you are concerned about the welfare of your child, we can help. Contact the skilled family law team at Lyons & Associates, P.C. at our Somerville, New Jersey offices at 908-575-9777 or contact us online.

Josh Murray of Tupler Financial Discusses Dividing Retirement Assets at Divorce

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Dividing Retirement Assets at Divorce

Presented by Josh Murray

Josh Murray of Tupler Financial Discusses Dividing Retirement Assets at DivorceFor many couples, retirement assets represent a significant portion of net worth. During a divorce, most couples divide the benefits available in their employer retirement plans and the money they invested in their individual retirement accounts.

Court-ordered division of assets

The rules for splitting accounts are unique to each type of retirement account, but one rule is uniform: To avoid current taxation, the division of the retirement accounts must be done as a result of a court-ordered property division, divorce, or separation agreement.

  • Qualified domestic relations order (QDRO): Before a traditional pension, 401(k), 403(b), or 457(b) plan can be divided, a document called a QDRO is needed. A QDRO is a court order that tells the retirement plan administrator how to divide the retirement assets.
  • Transfer of account incident to a divorce: IRAs, including traditional, Roth, SIMPLE, and SEP accounts, can also be divided by a court order. Note that without the specific direction of a court-approved settlement, a transfer of part of an IRA to a spouse or former spouse will trigger taxes.

Tax issues

QDROs. Which party is responsible for taxes? It depends on whether a separate account has been set up for the former spouse or whether monies are paid out of the participant spouse’s benefits. With separate accounts, each party is responsible for his or her own taxes. With shared benefits, all taxes are paid by the participant spouse.

One of the advantages of a QDRO is that the 10-percent penalty does not apply for early withdrawals from a 401(k), 403(b), or 457(b) plan made to a former spouse who is younger than 59½; however, the mandatory 20-percent withholding tax does. To avoid the tax on monies intended for IRA rollover, elect a direct transfer to the new IRA custodian.

Divided IRAs. Remember that an informal agreement between spouses to divide individual IRA assets is not recognized by the IRS and will result in taxes. Also, unlike with QDROs, a divorce does not qualify as an exception to the 10-percent early withdrawal penalty for IRA distributions prior to age 59½.

Social security is available to former spouses who were married for more than 10 years. The rules for receiving benefits as a former spouse are the same as for current spouses. For example, if a former spouse reaches full retirement age, he or she will receive the higher of his or her own work-related benefit or 50 percent of the worker’s full retirement benefit.

Consult a professional

Because valuing and dividing a couple’s assets is complex, consider bringing in a third-party professional experienced with valuing retirement plans and employee benefits as an advisor to your attorney or you and your former spouse to help in pursuing an equitable settlement. If you have any questions regarding the article, please contact Josh Murray of Tupler Financial at (908) 203-8811.

 

This material has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute either tax or legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a tax preparer, professional tax advisor, or lawyer.

Joshua Murray is a financial advisor located at Tupler Financial, Inc, 674 Route 202/206, Building 4, Suite 8, Bridgewater, NJ 08807. He offers securities and advisory services as an Investment Adviser Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. He can be reached at (908) 203-8811 or at josh@tupler.com.

New Jersey Child Support Lawyers: Out of State Child Support Order

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My Ex is a Deadbeat, Moved out of State & Owes Me Thousands in Child Support. What Can I Do?!!

New Jersey Child Support Lawyers discuss Out of State Child Support OrderIn New Jersey if an order for child support payable through the New Jersey probation department, but is not being enforced because your ex lives out of state, you could seek to have child support enforced by the New Jersey probation department through the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act or (UIFSA).

Enforcing a New Jersey child support order when your former spouse has moved out of New Jersey to another state can be difficult, especially where your former spouse is self employed. If your former spouse has moved out of New Jersey and has refused to pay child support pursuant to the New Jersey Order, asking the Court to issue a warrant for your former spouse’s arrest would be ineffectual, especially if your former spouse does not come to New Jersey or is even refusing to exercise parenting time because a warrant has been issued for his or her arrest in New Jersey. However, certain steps can be taken to establish that the New Jersey child support order be enforced in the state where your former spouse now resides.

For example, if your former spouse ceases paying child support after he or she moves to another state, a payee spouse can file a motion in New Jersey asking the court to compel the New Jersey probation department to send a UIFSA request to have the New Jersey child support order administratively enforced in the state. However, there are simpler steps you can take first. If you know where you ex-spouse works, he is not self employed, and works “on the books,” you could provide the New Jersey Probation Department with his employment information. The New Jersey probation department could then collect child support via income withholding, directly from your former spouse’s paycheck. If your former spouse does not work “on the books” or is self employed, income withholding is not an option and it would be necessary to proceed with other enforcement remedies that would be available only through registration of the New Jersey Order with your former spouses’ state. By registering the child support order in the state where your former spouse resides, that state could then use enforcement remedies, such as incarceration or license suspension, to compel your former spouse to comply with his or her child support obligation.

However, UIFSA is complicated and can be confusing for litigants who are not familiar with its provisions. Therefore, such litigants would be best served by seeking the advice of an attorney who specializes in family law and is well-versed with out of state child support enforcement. If you or someone you know is having difficulty with enforcing a child support obligation for a parent who resides outside of New Jersey, then call the skilled lawyers at Lyons & Associates, at (908) 575-9777. The attorneys at Lyons & Associates, P.C., are experienced with out of state child support enforcement and will be able to guide litigant’s through the complicated statutory framework of UIFSA, and achieve the ultimate goal of securing support for your child.

For more information, call our child support lawyers in New Jersey at Lyons & Associates at 908-575-9777 or contact us online.

Written By: Mark T. Gabriel, Esq.