COVID-19 UPDATE: We will continue serving new and existing clients remotely - both through phone and video conferencing. Learn More.

Newark, NJ cityscape by night, viewed from Riverbank park
"If you are looking for strong representation, especially in high conflict cases, then look no further because you have found the right law group." N.A.
"Mark turned my case around from the first day I hired him. He's very strategic and he's a 'numbers' man which was exactly what my case needed!" T.D.
"If you are seeking a divorce attorney who is a compassionate human being with praiseworthy perseverance and ambition, then Mark Goldstein is the lawyer for you!" J.B.

My Spouse or Loved one has recently died. What do I need to know?  Estate-Administration-Picture-300x200

First and foremost, you should locate their Will. The Will identifies the Executor or another individual who will be responsible for making the funeral arrangements. After that, the Executor should contact an Estate Attorney to probate the Will and begin the Estate Administration process.

If there is no Will, the next-of-kin determines the funeral arrangement. This is usually the spouse or a child. If the deceased never married or had children, next-of-kin could be a parent or sibling. The closest living relative should then contact an Estate Attorney to qualify as Administrator and begin the Estate Administration process.

What Steps should I take to Assist the Estate Attorney?

At the outset of every estate, your Estate Attorney will need to see the Original Death Certificate and Original Will, including any Codicils thereto. Your Attorney will also need a list of all immediate relatives, including the deceased’s spouse, children, parents, and siblings. Finally, the Estate Attorney will need a list of all assets and debts in the deceased’s name or in which they have an interest. Assets include real property, bank accounts, life insurance, stocks, bonds, etc. Debts include funeral expenses, unpaid final medical expenses, mortgages, auto and other loans, and credit cards, etc.

Where do I gather Information about Assets and Debts?

Gathering information about the estate is a bit like detective work. Unless you were familiar with their finances, it is going to take some investigation. The first place you should look is in the deceased’s personal papers, i.e. their desk, filing cabinet, safe, etc. If you have access to their email, that can also be a valuable tool. We are looking for recent financial statements, life insurance policies, credit card statements – anything having to do with their finances. You should also go to the nearest Post Office and forward their mail to your address.  As Executor or Administrator, you may open their mail.

Once your Estate Attorney has information about the location of accounts, we will reach out to the various institutions to request additional information, including a list of all accounts, the value or balance due, forms, etc.

My Spouse or Loved one had a Car. What should I do?

Do NOT drive the car under any circumstances. If you are involved in an automobile accident, the Estate could become a Defendant in a costly lawsuit, even if you are not at fault. This is to be avoided.

If the car is financed or leased, call the lender or leasing company to return the vehicle. If the car is owned outright, the primary method of disposing a motor vehicle is by selling it to a willing Buyer at fair market value. If the car is of little value, it may be permissible to donate it to charity or simply junk it in exchange for removal.

If there is a specific provision in the Will, the car may be transferred to the named Heir by signing title over to them.

Continue reading

My former spouse took a job in another state and wants to move our child there. Can I stop this from occurring?

Typically, a New Jersey child custody order provides for regularly scheduled parenting time with each parent. Relocating a child to another state can significantly interfere with this schedule. Because of this, a custodial parent, or parent of primary residence (“PPR”), is prohibited from removing a couple’s children to another state without following the steps required by New Jersey law. A parent who fails to follow the steps enumerated in the law may be prosecuted for unlawful interference with parenting time.

Typically, a non-custodial parent, or parent of alternate residence (“PAR”), must consent to an interstate move prior to a child’s removal from New Jersey. In order to prevent future disputes, it is a good idea to ensure any such agreement is made in writing. If the PAR does not provide his or her consent, a court order must be obtained before a child may be removed from the state. In situations when a custodial parent is fleeing from an immediate risk of harm by a child’s other parent or the child’s welfare is presently at risk, a PPR must report his or her child’s emergency removal to the appropriate authorities within 24 hours.

Continue reading

How long do I have to have lived in New Jersey before I can file for divorce here?

Except in cases alleging that the spouse against whom the divorce is sought committed adultery, at least one spouse must have resided in New Jersey for one year. It can be either spouse; it does not necessarily have to be the spouse who is seeking the divorce.

Continue reading

How are child support payments calculated in New Jersey?

The State of New Jersey has established child support guidelines that are used in determining the amount of financial support that a parent should contribute to the care of his or her child. An “income-share” formula, which takes into consideration the income of both the custodial parent (now known as th4e PPR or, Parent of Primary Residence) and non-custodial parent (now known as the PAR or, Parent of Alternate Residence), is used to calculate the exact amount due. The guidelines also take certain expenses into account, including health insurance costs for the child or children,  and child care. In some cases, the parents may agree on the amount due under the guidelines. If this is not possible, the family court will make the decision.

Is it possible to deviate from the amount that the Child Support Guidelines say is owed?

Yes, but the family court must make a specific finding, in writing, for a deviation. In such a case, the court may disregard the guidelines or make an adjustment that reflects the children’s needs and the parents’ circumstances.

Continue reading

Do I have any recourse if my spouse destroys our jointly owned property in a violent fight?

When an unmarried New Jersey resident destroys property that belongs to another individual, he or she may be committing criminal mischief under the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (“PDVA”). Despite this, married spouses in the state are generally deemed to own all marital property jointly. This means a spouse who destroys marital property is also ruining his or her own property. Until recently, it was unclear whether such an act could be considered domestic violence under New Jersey law.

Continue reading

Do I have to pay income tax on my spousal support payments?

In New Jersey and elsewhere, alimony is the transfer of money to a former or soon to be former spouse for his or her support and maintenance. This transfer typically results in a reduction in the taxable income for the payer and an increase for the payee. For alimony to be deducted from a paying spouse’s gross income, eight factors must be met. First, all spousal support payments must be made pursuant to a written decree that cannot state the payments do not qualify as alimony for tax purposes. In addition, the divorcing or former spouses may not reside together at the time the payments are made or file a joint income tax return. All alimony payments must be made to, or on behalf of, a former spouse in cash or using a cash equivalent and may not be referred to or deemed child support by a court. Finally, the spousal support obligation may not survive the payee’s death.

Continue reading

How can a permanent resident who illegally brought his or her child to New Jersey in order to escape abuse gain legal custody and ensure the child is allowed to remain in the United States?

In August, the Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled that Family Part judges may not grant “special immigrant juvenile” status to immigrant children who are residing in New Jersey illegally. According to the high court, Family Part judges are permitted to make determinations regarding the best interests of such children and ascertain whether a child who applies for special immigration status would be placed at risk for neglect, abuse, or abandonment if returned to his or her home country. After that, the Supreme Court stated the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) must make the final determination regarding a child’s immigration status.

Continue reading

I learned that my former spouse kept a hidden bank account throughout our marriage after our divorce was finalized. Am I entitled to half of the money in the account?

In New Jersey, divorcing spouses are legally protected from fraudulent divorce settlements that result when one spouse endeavors to hide or otherwise fails to disclose important information regarding marital assets. From the date of a couple’s marriage, each spouse owes the other a fiduciary duty. This means each spouse is obligated to act in the best interests of the other party. In the context of a New Jersey marriage, a fiduciary duty exists until a couple’s assets are equitably distributed following dissolution. A divorcing individual who violates this duty may be required to pay his or her former spouse’s legal bills and forfeit the entire value of the hidden or otherwise undisclosed asset. The allegedly deceitful party may also be subject to additional scrutiny by the family court.

Continue reading

Will my spouse be entitled to permanent alimony if we divorce after 15 years of marriage?

Since September 2014, the term “permanent alimony” became a thing of the past.  Now, in New Jersey, it has been  replaced with the phrase “open durational alimony.”  Currently, a family court must first determine whether open durational alimony is merited before considering other types of spousal support, such as limited duration or rehabilitative alimony. Although there is no bright-line rule regarding what constitutes a long-term marriage, the September 2014 amendments to New Jersey law now state a spousal support award may not exceed the length of a couple’s marriage if the union lasted less than 20 years, except in certain exceptional cases.

Continue reading

Will evidence of my spouse’s infidelity affect our divorce?

Recently, personal information related to millions of users of an online dating site for married people became publicly available as a result of a data breach. Since then, there has been wide speculation regarding the potential fallout for exposed cheaters. Famous persons, political figures, and individuals from all walks of life apparently utilized the now-hacked website, created in an effort to facilitate affairs for married people. Although infidelity is one of the many grounds for divorce proceedings in New Jersey, it is no longer a smoking gun under the current no-fault divorce regime that exists across the bulk of the nation.

In New Jersey, adultery does not lead to any sort of punitive or other damages against the partner who was unfaithful. Typically, a couple’s assets and any debts or other liabilities that were acquired during the marriage will be divided “equitably” (not necessarily equally) upon divorce. This often includes any assets that are held in only one party’s name.   As a general rule, the manner in which the title to an asset is held which was aquired during the term of the marriage, may be disregarded.  Certain factors can, however, impact the manner in which that asset may be equitably distributed.  Despite this, an adulterer may be required to reimburse the marital estate for any funds that were spent on an extramarital affair or paramour. For example, the money a cheater paid for an online dating site profile, hotel costs, and other expenses associated with an affair may be factored into a divorcing couple’s property settlement.

Continue reading

Contact Information