Lieberman Presents on Financial Changes to Divorce at NJICLE

(Iselin, N.J.) – Ronald G. Lieberman Esq., a partner at Cooper Levenson and chair of the Family Law Practice Group, will present “The Financial Aspects of Divorce in 2019 and Beyond: Strategies for a Whole New Ballgame.” The session is part of the day-long New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education (NJICLE) program held at the Marriott Delta Hotel, 515 U.S. Highway 1 S. Iselin, N.J. on Monday, Nov. 25, 2019 from 1:15 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“Last year’s Tax Cut and Jobs Act, coupled with the 2014 alimony reform, has forced family law attorneys to revisit their approaches to achieve satisfactory financial settlements for their clients,” noted Lieberman. “It requires a nuanced understanding of how these changes interact to impact the financial outcomes in family law cases.”

Lieberman understands the intricacies of matrimonial and family law, and appears regularly before the Family Court in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem Counties. He also practices before the Superior Court – Appellate Division. He has litigated on virtually all aspects of family law including property settlement agreements, equitable distribution, alimony, child support, custody, college expenses, and counsel fees.

In addition, Lieberman is involved in positions of leadership in the Camden County and New Jersey State Bar Associations. He serves as the Executive Editor of the New Jersey Family Lawyer and as a Member of the New Jersey Supreme Court Family Practice Committee. He serves regularly as a Matrimonial Early Settlement Panelist in Burlington and Camden Counties. He is certified in matrimonial law as set forth by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

At the NJICLE program, Lieberman will serve as moderator for a panel discussion featuring the Hon. Lawrence R. Jones, JSC (ret.), Cheryl E. Connors, Esq., Robert A. Epstein, Esq. and Thomas J. Hoberman, CPA/ABV/CFF.

Cost for the program is $265. CLE credit is available. To register, call (732) 214-8500 or visit https://tcms.njsba.com/personifyebusiness/njicle/CLEPrograms/NJICLEEventsCalendar/MeetingDetails.aspx?productId=47805326&utm_source=direct&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NJSBA.

Ronald Lieberman and Alexandra Rigden to speak on “Hot Tips in Family Law” Seminar on Nov. 11

Ronald G. Lieberman and Alexandra K. Rigden, attorneys in Cooper Levenson’s Family Law Practice group, will speak at a New Jersey Institute Continuing Legal Education (NJICLE) program presented in cooperation with the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) Family Law Section. The program is a webinar entitled Hot Tips in Family Law” and will air on Nov. 11  from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

NJICLE’s Hot Tips in Family Law is described as “fast-paced advice from some of New Jersey’s leading matrimonial lawyers and retired judges.  Featuring 45 highly-respected matrimonial experts who are ready to share their top tips with you, this year’s program will explore complex ethical issues that are seemingly ever-present in a family law practice, including the topics you asked for like conflicts and referrals, confidentiality and privilege, candor towards the tribunal, and zealous advocacy in the matrimonial law setting. Our distinguished panel will also share their collective knowledge/experience, strategies, and proven “best practices” to avoid or overcome complicated ethical dilemmas in specific family law situations, providing you with practical, thoughtful tactics that you can use in your practice immediately.

Attorneys will earn the four ethics credits needed for the CLE cycle. The program agenda can be found at https://tcms.njsba.com/personifyebusiness/njicle/CLEPrograms/NJICLEEventsCalendar/MeetingDetails.aspx?productId=40235805

Ronald Lieberman to speak at Family Law Certification Exam Prep Course on Oct. 14 in New Brunswick, N.J.

Ronald G. Lieberman, a partner with Cooper Levenson, will speak at a Family Law Certification Exam Prep Course on Oct. 14 at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick, N.J.

This course is designed for attorneys who need a comprehensive understanding of New Jersey Family Law OR individual preparation for the Certification Exam. It is described as “providing a broad overview of matrimonial law for attorneys who are prepping for the Matrimonial Certification Exam or who want a comprehensive course review of family law. Presented in cooperation with AAML-NJ and several of their Fellows, the program will review subjects most likely to arise in family practice as set forth by the Board of Attorney Certification (“the practice of law dealing with all aspects of antenuptial and domestic relationships, divorce, annulments, alimony, child support, separate maintenance, child custody matters, equitable distribution, domestic violence, paternity and post-judgment matters”).

Lieberman will speak on Domestic Violence and Rules of Evidence and Trial Strategy. The speakers are attorneys are all certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as Matrimonial Law Attorneys. The full program agenda and speaker list can be found at: https://tcms.njsba.com/PersonifyEbusiness/Default.aspx?TabID=1699&productId=44594590

 

Read our attorney Ron Lieberman’s answer as seen on NJMoneyHelp: If dad is on the mortgage, can he stop the sale of this home in divorce?

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Q. A couple bought a house and the husband’s father is on the mortgage because husband has bad credit. Fast forward a few years and the couple is divorcing. They want to sell the house and split the proceeds. Does the father on the mortgage have any say?

— Looking for help

A. You didn’t mention if your father-in-law is on the deed of the home.

 If your father-in-law is not on the deed, he is not an owner of the home, said Ronald Lieberman, an attorney and chair of the family law practice group at Cooper Levenson in Cherry Hill and Atlantic City.

“He has no rights to force or to prevent a sale,” Lieberman said. “In other words, he has all of the detriments of home ownership by being on the mortgage with none of the benefits of home ownership.”

Lieberman said upon the sale of the home, the mortgage would be paid off.

“A home cannot be sold unless any mortgages are satisfied by the sellers,” he said. “It should not matter to the father whether the proceeds from the sale pay off the mortgage or whether the sellers have to bring funds to the closing to pay off the mortgage because either way, the mortgage must be paid off and the father is cleared.”

As a result, Lieberman said, you can either sell or not sell the home, and your father-in-law has little if no ability to stop you.

Email your questions to Ask@NJMoneyHelp.com.

Can a Family Court Compel You to Vaccinate Your Child?

Largely eradicated illnesses have been making a comeback, like the recent measles outbreak in four New Jersey counties and in other States. Many blame the resurgence of these illnesses on so-called “anti-vaxxers” who choose not to vaccinate their children. Generally, New Jersey law provides protection for parents who, based on religious or medical reasons, choose not to vaccinate because parents have a fundamental Constitutional right to parent their children.

However, on June 10, 2019, the New Jersey Appellate Division in New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency v. J.B. and C.R. (“J.B. and C.R.”), made clear that a parent’s choice not to vaccinate is not absolute. Of course, as with many judicial decisions, this case begs as many questions as it answers.

In J.B. and C.R., the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency (“DCPP”—formerly DFYS) had care and custody of two children who had been removed from their parents. The Mother had objected to DCPP having the children vaccinated on grounds of “the Bible and the First Amendment” and “DNA and foreign protein in vaccines which are not healthy.”

After a hearing, including expert testimony from the children’s Board certified pediatrician, the trial court decided that DCPP could have the children vaccinated over the Mother’s objection. The New Jersey Appellate Division affirmed, noting that since a court can order necessary and appropriate medical care for an ill or injured child, that logic would extend to medical care to prevent illnesses. In its final paragraph, the Appellate Division stated: “[a] court of competent jurisdiction has the authority…to order necessary and appropriate medical care for an ill or injured child over the objection of the child’s parents…[w]e perceive no meaningful distinction between the power to order prophylactic medical care in the form of vaccinations…and medical treatment for diseases already contracted. Indeed, the child’s best interests are better served by preventing rather than treating disease.”

Despite the Court’s ruling, New Jersey Courts do not have carte blanche to order unvaccinated children vaccinated. For example, religious and medical exemptions still exist for parents who do not want to vaccinate their children but nonetheless send them to public school.

The circumstances surrounding J.B. and C.R. case involved DCPP, which had care and custody of the children, and that fact was a significant consideration in the Court’s decision. The real question now is how will family courts apply this decision in “normal cases” with typical custody disputes. The case will no doubt have far reaching consequences or benefits—depending on your view—beyond the DCPP sphere. Take for example two divorcing parents, one who wants a child vaccinated and the other who does not. If the matter is brought before a court and a Judge is called to rule, after a hearing with expert testimony from a physician, I see no reason a court could not rely on the decision in J.B. and C.R. to rule in favor of the pro-vaccine parent.

Make It Stop!-Can a Family Court Prevent a Party From Filing Applications?

“Make it stop!” is a familiar plea I hear from family law clients when an ex-spouse or partner files yet another application in Family Court. It can be extremely frustrating to be on the receiving end of the second, third, fourth….tenth….application. Post-judgment family actions can continue for years after the parties are divorced or initially resolved their issues (or so they thought). Especially if there are children in common, litigants will have many years of contact ahead of them.

Unfortunately for those on the receiving end of court filing after court filing, there is no bright line rule about how many times a party can file an application in Family Court. A court generally will not intervene to limit a party’s access to the court absent exceptional circumstances because it is a constitutional right under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. In the New Jersey Appellate Division case of Parish v. Parish, 412 N.J. Super. 39, 48 (App. Div. 2010), the Appellate Court held that a complete and blanket denial of a party’s access to the courts without regard for an application’s merits would be a denial of due process. However, all hope is not lost for litigants who feel they have been abused by frivolous or excessive court filings.

A court can, in some instances, limit a litigant’s access to it. But, before any prior restraint on access can be considered, the use of the litigation to harass must be first “objectively determinable.” D’Amore v. D’Amore, 186 N.J. Super. 525, 530 (App. Div. 1982). So, it has to be apparent to a reasonable observer that a claim is being made by one party to harass the other.

Many family law litigants feel they are being attacked or harassed merely because they are back in court, yet again. Still, that does not mean a court filing will rise to the level of harassment. For example, what if a party files an application seeking a change in parenting time, then three months later files an application to take advantage of the child tax credit, and then two months later files an application to compel the other party to contribute to the cost of extracurricular activities? The party on the receiving end of multiple court filings may feel such actions are taken to “get” that person, make him/her incur unnecessary fees or even, to harass. But without more, a reasonable observer likely could not determine that on their face, those filings were harassing in nature. Thus, the court would not limit a litigant’s access to it in those circumstances. And, before taking legally drastic measures to limit a party’s access to the court, a court could try to deter future filings by awarding counsel fees to the responding party or sanctioning the filing party.

Where a pattern of frivolous litigation can be demonstrated, a court can prevent an application from being filed when other available sanctions, such as monetary penalties, proved unsuccessful as a deterrent. Rosenblum v. Borough of Closter, 333 N.J. Super. 385 (App. Div. 2010).  In the event a restraint is imposed on a party, the restraint must apply to the “specifically identified claims which have been determined to fall within one of the recognized categories of objective harassment.” D’Amore, 186 N.J. Super. at 530. A court will not simply issue a blanket denial of a litigant’s access to it.

 

Stock Awards in a Divorce: Yours? Mine? It Depends…..

Oftentimes, you or your spouse receive stock awards from the employer. Those shares will vest over a period of years as opposed to all at once. The question then becomes, what happens to the stock awards which vest after a divorce complaint has been filed if the vesting depends upon you or your spouse’s efforts on the job after the filing? We know have an answer for you. The answer is…it depends.

A recent case from the Appellate Division now tells lawyers that they can argue that if the award was made during the marriage that their clients can keep them free and clear of the spouse’s claim if that stock was issued in whole or in part for future performance. In other words, the stock award must be made for services performed after the complaint for divorce was filed, for future services, and not a deferred compensation for prior efforts.

If you have stock awards, or you believe your spouse has them, you should find out if the stock was intended to vest due to future services and not prior services by looking at the stock plan and find out if the stock grants were designed to maintain a long term interest by the employee in the overall success of the company. Or, you need to determine whether the stock was intended to vest through mere continued employment without consideration of you or your spouse’s level of proficiency.

The Season of Giving (But Not Too Much)

by Alexandra Rigden, Esq., Family Law Practice Group

It’s that time of year again when everyone is focused on giving (and getting) presents. These words of advice may leave you feeling a bit chilly, but here are some caveats to remember about gift giving at the holidays:

If an engagement ends without a resulting marriage—regardless of who called the whole thing off—the giver of the ring is entitled to have it back in New Jersey, and in a majority of other States, because the ring was a “conditional gift” given on the condition a marriage would result. Keep in mind that after you get down on one knee to propose, you may end up on both knees begging for the ring back if you propose on Christmas or Hanukkah, for example. If the receiver wants to keep the ring, he or she could allege that the engagement ring was intended as an unconditional gift—no “I do” required. So, if you give an engagement ring on a traditional gift-giving holiday, it might be harder to refute that it was actually a conditional gift.

What happens to gifts given during the marriage in the event of a divorce? The important thing to remember in this instance is: what’s yours is ours. Marital gifts between spouses are subject to equitable distribution, regardless of who bought the gift and regardless of what was done with the gift. So, it matters not that the soon to be ex-spouse never drove the sports car she bought for her husband; it is still an asset subject to equitable distribution in the event of a divorce.

The moral of this holiday story is—gift wisely.