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As some readers may know, our Social Security system permits a divorced person (once eligible for benefits in the normal course of events) to receive the greater of (a) the amount he/she would be entitled to in their own name or (b) 50% of their ex-spouse’ benefit provided that the parties had been married for at least ten years and the person has not remarried.

Although New Jersey law generally holds that the marital partnership terminates upon a filing for divorce, the parties remain legally married until the subsequent entry of a Judgment of Divorce.


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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.


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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.


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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.”


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Recently, the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts provided statistics which seem to confirm that the upcoming spring season will bring with it a significant uptick in the number of divorce filings. Such data supports what divorce lawyers have long known; namely, that increased filings are the result of many couple’s New Year resolutions

As far as families are concerned, there is a long-standing legal principle which generally permits parents to raise their children as they see fit without governmental interference. While that typically remains true, our courts are also granted inherent “parens patrie” authority, by which they are charged to protect the welfare and best interests of minor children within their jurisdiction.

In Family Law, these principles do not always comfortably coexist, and will sometimes collide. For purposes of this discussion, I will focus on the interplay between both principles, in terms of a person other than a natural parent who is seeking custody. Such a person is often referred to as a “psychological parent.”

When natural parents compete for custody, our courts are instructed to apply a “best interests of the child” standard. In such cases, the parents initially stand in equipoise; however, when a person other than a natural parent seeks custody the court must initially determine whether “extraordinary circumstances” exist, in which case the court will then apply the “best interests” standard.


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Divorce arbitration is being used much more frequently by divorcing persons in lieu of protracted and fragmented court proceedings. As a certified family law arbitrator, I can vouch for the advantages to those who decide to arbitrate instead of litigate their cases. Recently, I posted an article concerning the “nuts and bolts” of divorce arbitration.