If your case does not settle at Early Settlement Panel, you are required to attend a mediation session with a mediator, either from the approved list of mediators or any other mediator. If you choose a mediator from the approved list, the first two hours are free. The first hour is used by the mediator to read and analyze the issues in your case from your attorney’s submission, and the second hour is an in-person meeting with both parties and the mediator. Anything beyond two hours is paid for by the parties.

Continue Reading Mandatory Post-ESP Mediation

Two Department of Defense appropriations bills before the House and Senate will, if enacted, rewrite the law governing division of military pensions upon divorce by revoking the power granted to states to divide military pensions and cutting back the share which a former spouse will receive.

For example, assume that John Doe retires as a sergeant major (E-9) from the Army after thirty years of service. He and Jane Doe were divorced ten years ago. Since John and Jane were married for twenty years of service, under the current law Jane would receive 50% of 2/3 (20/30) of John’s actual retirement pay.

Continue Reading Military Pensions and Divorce – A Radical Rewrite?

Stark & Stark Shareholder Maria P. Imbalzano and Associate Corrine E. Cooke will be presenting three upcoming seminars entitled Understanding the Difference between a Collaborative Divorce & a Litigated Divorce. Each seminar will be held on a different time and day but the content will be identical.

The seminar will examine the aspects of collaborative divorce, which is a process wherein both parties agree to resolve their divorce outside of court. Instead, the parties work through all of the issues civilly, constructively, and with an open mind to any alternatives available to settling these issues.

Continue Reading Free Seminars Examine the Differences between Collaborative & Litigated Divorce

Due to the inordinate time, expense, and lack of judicial resources available for divorce cases, the New Jersey Courts have implemented settlement alternatives to court proceedings.

One of these is the Early Settlement Program (ESP) which helps parties in a divorce reach a settlement in advance of a distant court date.  Represented by attorneys, the parties appear before two Panelists who are experienced matrimonial attorneys.

ESP Process

  1. Prior to the ESP date, each party’s attorney will deliver to the panelists his/her client’s written settlement position related to financial issues, along with a Case Information Statement.
  2. On the ESP date, the attorneys will meet with the Panelists in a conference room at the Courthouse, argue the positions, and answer any questions from the Panelists.
  3. The Panelists will then discuss the case amongst themselves, arrive at a recommendation for settlement, and share that recommendation with the attorneys and the parties.

The panel result is only a recommendation and does not have to be accepted. However, because it is the opinion of two experienced matrimonial attorneys in the applicable judicial precinct, the recommendation should be carefully considered—after many more months and expense the parties could see the same result in court. Even if the parties do not accept the full recommendation of the ESP panel, they should at least view it as the basis for further negotiation on the remaining outstanding issues.

If you are considering an ESP to settle your divorce case prior to trial, you should seek out experienced legal counsel familiar with the process. You have the right to be represented by an attorney in these proceedings and it is in your best interest to do so. The issues being addressed are sensitive and complex, and they require a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of family law in order to achieve a successful outcome.

The Social Security system permits a divorced person who is eligible for social security benefits to receive the greater of (a) a calculation based on 100% of his/her earned benefit amount, or (b) provided the parties were married for at least ten years, the claimant has not remarried, and the spouse is at least 62 years old, a calculation based on 50% of his/her ex-spouse’s earned benefit amount. This award does not negatively affect the ex-spouse—he/she will still collect 100% of his/her earned benefit.

New Jersey law generally holds that the marital partnership terminates upon a filing for divorce; however, the parties do in fact remain legally married until the subsequent entry of a Judgment of Divorce. For Social Security purposes the latter rule applies—the date of the judgement will be used to calculate benefit awards and adjustments.

Continue Reading The Timing of Your Divorce Could Impact Your Social Security Benefit

New Jersey’s recently enacted alimony statute deals with modification of alimony in the event the payor loses his/her job through no fault of their own.

Even though this law allows a payor to seek modification once the payor has been without employment for 90 days, there is not an automatic termination or reduction. The Court must consider many factors which are set forth in the statute, which include but are not limited to:

  1. The reasons for the loss of income;
  2. The payor’s efforts to replace his or her employment or find alternative employment;
  3. The payor’s health and how it affects his or her ability to obtain employment; and,
  4. Any severance award received from the previous employer.

Continue Reading Loss of Employment and Alimony

Many times the marital home is one of the biggest assets in a divorce case. While there are only three options in how to deal with the marital home, each option raises questions.

Option 1: One of the parties buys out the other party’s interest in said home. Some of the questions that must be discussed are:

Continue Reading Sale of a Marital Home in Divorce – The Many Issues Involved

Many divorce cases include a determination of the value of a business for purposes of equitable distribution between the parties. Whether the business in question is a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation, establishing a sound and supportable value is essential.

The first step is to engage a skilled valuation analyst. The second and equally important step is to determine the appropriate level of service to be provided; that is, whether the analysis should be, in technical parlance, a “calculation of value” or a “full valuation.”

Continue Reading Valuation or Calculation in a Divorce Case?