Considerations When Retaining the Marital Home in Divorce

Posted in News & Events

Maria Imbalzano, Esq.,  Shareholder and Co-Chair of Stark & Stark’s Divorce Group, authored the article “Considerations When Retaining the Marital Home in Divorce,” which was published on September 10, 2014 in U.S.1. 

The article discusses the considerations parents should take when deciding the living arrangements for children after a divorce.  Ms. Imbalzano explains, "In order for one party to stay in the marital home, that party would not only have to buy out the other party’s net equity in the home, but would also have to re-finance the mortgage and any home equity loan."

To read the full article, click here

New Jersey Updates Alimony Laws

Posted in News & Events

John Eory, Esq., Shareholder and Co-Chair of Stark & Stark’s Divorce Group, was featured in the article “New Jersey Updates Alimony Laws,” which was published on September 11, 2014 in The Washington Times.

Mr. Eory was interviewed by the author to discuss the updated Alimony Law, which was just signed Wednesday, September 10, 2014 by Governor Chris Christie.  The legislation clarifies that alimony should be limited to the number of years of wedlock for couples who have been married for less than twenty years. Mr. Eory was quoted saying, “It’s pretty fair, pretty balanced.  The law is a compromise between those who said the law had to be “radically reformed” and those who thought the law was “perfectly fine”.   

To read the full article, please click here

Governor Signs New Alimony Law

Posted in Divorce

After a protracted test of wills between alimony reformers and traditionalists, a new alimony statute was signed into law by Governor Christie on September 10, 2014. The new law, which is immediately effective, will serve to meet the competing needs of divorcing couples by balancing increased uniformity with judicial discretion in terms of alimony awards.

The new law deals with four major areas, each of which will be explored in detail by our family law attorneys in forthcoming blogs on this site. Although the more radical reformers sought explicit provisions with respect to the amount and duration of alimony, the law does not impose such templates but leaves the amount and to a lesser extent the length of alimony subject to legal principles which have guided our courts for decades. The new law also clarifies such vexing issues as the impact of unemployment or retirement and the consequences of an alimony recipient’s cohabitation other than by remarriage. Stay tuned to this site for further information concerning this significant legal development which will impact divorcing and divorced persons throughout New Jersey.

SEC’s Cybersecurity Initiative: Technology and Policies Must Line Up

Posted in News & Events

Stark & Stark was featured in the PR Newswire article, “SEC’s Cybersecurity Initiative: Technology and Policies Must Line Up- Stark & Stark and Right Size Solutions Collaborate to Help RIAs Demonstrate Risk Preparedness,” which was published on September 11, 2014. The article discusses how Stark & Stark collaborated with Right Size Solutions to create a customized Cybersecurity Policy for their RIA clients’ specific requirements.

On April 15, 2014, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”), released a Risk Alert notifying all Registered Investment Advisers that cybersecurity preparedness will be a major focus of upcoming examinations.is still an excellent place for established firms, like Stark & Stark, to maintain an office, with business on the rise post-recession.  

Read the full article by clicking here.

Burger King and Tim Hortons Boarder Crossing Merger

Posted in Franchise, Podcast

In this podcast, Adam Siegelheim, Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Franchise Group, is joined by Richard Coyne of WithumSmith+Brown to discuss the recent merger between Burger King and Tim Hortons. Adam and Rick discuss the tax implications of the merge as well as tax inversion deals.

You can listen to the full podcast online below.

Free Seminar to Ensure a Successful Estate Plan: “Prepare for Tomorrow by Acting Today”

Posted in News & Events

Stark & Stark Shareholder Robert F. Morris, member of the firm’s Trusts & Estates Group, will be hosting the seminar “Prepare for Tomorrow By Acting Today: Tips for Ensuring a Successful Estate Plan.” This free seminar offers two convenient sessions for attendees to choose between. 

The first session will be held from 7:00 – 8:00 PM on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at the Princeton Elks Lodge #2129, 354 Route 518, Blawenburg, New Jersey 08504.

The second session will be held from 7:00 – 8:00 PM on Thursday, September 18, 2014 at Stark & Stark, 993 Lenox Drive, Lawrenceville, New Jersey 08648. 

The seminar will outline how individuals can make sure their estate plan is adequate to protect their family’s financial security. Mr. Morris will discuss topics including estate planning strategies, gift and death taxes, credit shelters, estate planning under a will or revocable trust, as well as inter vivos trusts.

Limited space is available for each session and pre-registration is mandatory. Attendees can RSVP to TJ Mohin by calling 609.945.7610 or emailing tmohin@stark-stark.com.

Safety-Sensitive Positions and Random Drug Testing by Private Employers in New Jersey

Posted in Employment

As a general rule in New Jersey, private employers may not conduct random drug testing of current employees except employees in “safety-sensitive” positions. Notwithstanding scant authority on what constitutes a “safety-sensitive” position, it is clear that to qualify, there must be a direct and immediate nexus between the employee’s job duties and a fairly significant safety risk. Absent such a connection, an employer cannot require its employees to submit to random drug testing, though pre-employment testing and testing in light of a particularized suspicion are permissible.

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Marshall T. Kizner, Esq. Wins $816K Verdict for Commercial Landlord

Posted in News & Events

After three and a half years of litigation and a two day trial, attorney Marshall T. Kizner, member of the Commercial, Retail and Industrial Real Estate Group, obtained an $816,627 verdict on behalf of a commercial landlord who brought suit against a personal guarantor.

Mr. Kizner represented Florham Villiage, LLC (Landlord), who brought suit against Michael Moylen, a former owner of Planet Gym, LLC (Tenant). Tenant signed a lease and both Moylen and his business partner, Paul Danna, signed personal guarantees whereby they agreed to be responsible for the corporate obligations of Planet Gym, LLC, including the obligation to pay rent and other fees due under the lease. The initial lease was for a period of 10 years – 1999 to 2009. The lease was then extended from 2009 to 2014 pursuant to a written amendment; however Tenant was evicted in February 2011 for failure to pay rent.

The wrinkle in this case was that Michael Moylen sold his ownership interest to Paul Danna in 2007 – two years before the original lease was extended in 2009. Moylen did not sign the amendment to the lease because he was no longer affiliated with Planet Gym, LLC. However, the guarantee he signed back in 1999 specified that it applied to any amendments modifications, renewals or extensions to the lease.

Accordingly, the judge ruled that it did not matter that Moylen did not sign the lease amendment because Tenant properly executed the amendment and Moylen’s obligations did not terminate due to the fact that he left the business. Mr. Kizner said, “An important thing to take away from this case is that the Court will refrain from writing a better or different contract than the parties agreed to.”

Future Care for Your Special Needs Child

Posted in Trusts & Estates

Like many of you who may be reading this blog, I have experienced the trauma of having a child diagnosed within the Autism Spectrum. This blog is not limited to those who have children within the Autism Spectrum, as the advice I am providing is also applicable to other types of diagnoses which might render your child a special needs child. Eventually your child will grow older and will most likely outlive you. The purpose of this blog is to discuss things that you should do to help provide the care for and maintenance of your child during your lifetime, and thereafter. Although you are technically the guardian of your child, eventually your child will reach eighteen years of age, which would legally render them an adult. Once this age has been attained, it makes sense for you to seek a guardianship arrangement or similar arrangement established by the Court. This arrangement would allow you to make legal decisions on behalf of your child without the possibility of being contested by any other person or entity. It will also enable you to undertake numerous other actions on behalf of your child and makes it vastly simpler to accomplish these actions once you are appointed legal guardian by the Court. The process is not complex and has many benefits once a Court sanctioned guardianship status is obtained. What this process entails will be explored in a later blog. For the purpose of this blog, however, it is strongly suggested that this is the first step that a parent take in providing for the future care of their special needs child.

Another important consideration is to prepare a detailed plan for the care of your child after you pass away. This is accomplished by obtaining detailed estate planning and succession planning when you are no longer there to take care of your child. Part of this process may entail appointing a successor Guardian, establishing a Trust to provide for the maintenance and care for your child, arranging for future living arrangements for your child and providing for any other specific type of care which your child may require. It is extremely important that these issues be addressed and memorialized in a clear plan that all parties can understand. In the absence of these formal documents, disputes may arise as to the maintenance and care of your child after you are gone. A well executed plan by a competent attorney will ensure that your child thrives even though you may no longer be there to provide the excellent maintenance and care your child was accustomed to. Once again, this issue will be explored in greater detail in the future. At this juncture, however, it is suggested that should you wish to commence the process that you consult with a capable attorney such as an attorney from Stark & Stark.

Franchisee’s Fraud Claim Rejected Under New Jersey Law

Posted in Franchise

The recent decision of Yogo Factory Franchising, Inc. v. Edmond Ying, et al., (US District Court D. New Jersey 2014), has been the subject of prior blog postings. We have discussed the court’s enforcement of the arbitration provision contained in the franchise agreement and the court’s re-affirmation that the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act does not apply to the sale of franchises. Another noteworthy aspect of the court’s decision is the discussion of the heightened standard under New Jersey law to successfully assert a fraud claim.

In this case, the franchisee alleged that the franchisor made various misrepresentations during the sales process, including misrepresenting potential earnings, profits, the amount of start-up costs, and the type of support that the franchisor would provide.

Franchisee did not plead fraud claims with particularity

The court noted that when asserting fraud under New Jersey law, it must be pleaded with particularity. This is a heightened standard that requires the claimant to be very specific when alleging fraud, and does not permit general and broad claims. For example, when asserting fraud, a franchisee would not only need to assert the substance of the alleged misrepresentation, but also the date, time and place of the misrepresentation.

In this case, the court held that the franchisee’s fraud claims did not meet this standard. The franchisee did not specify which member of the franchisor made the misrepresentation and when. The court also noted that the franchisee claimed that the franchisor made material financial performance representations but did not specify exactly when and where they occurred. The court generally viewed the franchisee’s fraud claim as just asserting legal conclusions, leaving the franchisor to guess as to the ‘who, what, when, where and how of the events at issue”.

Franchisee’s allegations did not rise to level of fraud

Even if the franchisee had properly asserted its claim with particularity, the court concluded that it still failed to make a proper fraud claim. The court noted that the crux of the franchisee’s fraud claim was that the franchisor misrepresented the amount of money it would generate and the amount of support it would provide.

In rejecting the fraud claim, the court pointed out the following:

  • Two of the three franchise agreements contained an integration clause stating that the agreement constitutes the entire, full and complete agreement between the parties and the agreement supersedes all prior agreements;
  • The agreements contained a provision stating that no other representations induced the franchisee to execute the franchise agreement;
  • The franchise agreements clearly state that the investment and any success is speculative; and
  • The franchisee executed a disclosure questionnaire stating that the franchisor did not make any promise concerning revenue, profit or operating costs of the franchised locations, except as set forth in Item 19 of the Franchise Disclosure Document.

Based on these factors, the court did not see any basis for fraud. The court also concluded that under established New Jersey law, a party cannot maintain a fraud claim based on the other party’s failure to perform under a contract. The remedy is to bring a breach of contract claim – not a fraud claim.

This case underscores that if franchisors engage in some fairly common best practices (integration clauses, disclaimers to Item 19 financial performance representations, utilizing a disclosure questionnaire, etc.), they can reduce the likelihood of a franchisee maintaining a viable fraud claim under New Jersey law.