Photo of Louis M. Ragone

Louis M. Ragone is a member of Stark & Stark’s Family Law & Divorce Group where he concentrates his practice on all aspects of divorce litigation, including but not limited to child custody, alimony, child support, and equitable distribution issues. Mr. Ragone handles post-judgment litigation, including cases involving the emancipation of a child, custody or support modification, child support enforcement, college contribution, and relocation applications.

Several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the daily lives of most people have changed in many ways. With many people still desiring to find companionship, dating websites and mobile applications have provided somewhat of a substitute for traditional in-person dates, which are no longer feasible during the pandemic.

What happens if the relationship you’ve developed in these virtual settings goes awry, and the continued virtual contact becomes unwanted, threatening, malicious, and/or harassing? Can you obtain a restraining order to prevent further contact?

Continue Reading Domestic Violence: What is a Dating Relationship?

While restraining orders pursuant to the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act exist to protect real victims from abusers, there have been occasions where restraining orders have been obtained with embellished or fabricated allegations. A purported victim may attempt to obtain a restraining order in order to gain an advantage in a custody litigation or to force the alleged abuser from the home. An alleged abuser would then have to defend themselves in court. The initial restraining order is deemed “temporary” and is subject to a subsequent hearing where a judge in the Superior Court of New Jersey will determine if a “final” restraining order should be issued.

Continue Reading Family Law and COVID-19: What Happens If a Restraining Order Is Issued Against You?

New Jersey, like most of the United States, has been given “stay-at-home” orders designed to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the general public. However, to a victim of domestic violence who is trapped in perpetual proximity to their abuser, these “stay-at-home” orders actually equate to the notion of a lose-lose decision: Stay at home and be abused, or leave home and expose themselves to a deadly virus and a world that has largely closed its doors.

Continue Reading Family Law and COVID-19: Protections from Domestic Violence

What do you do if the novel coronavirus has shut down your employer, caused a furlough or your termination, or has otherwise suddenly left you without income to pay child support and/or alimony? What do you do if you are the recipient of alimony or child support and now have to figure out how to pay bills and make ends meet without support from your child’s parent or ex-spouse?

A pandemic like this has far reaching economic consequences in these family law issues and can significantly strain both the payor and the payee.

Continue Reading Family Law and COVID-19: Alimony and Child Support

Legal custody is the hallmark of co-parenting. Both parents should confer and attempt to agree on issues pertaining their child’s health, safety, education, and welfare, all in the name of their child’s best interests. The decisions you and the other parent make about your child during this coronavirus pandemic may or may not place them at a higher risk of contracting the virus, which certainly makes these decisions more critical and imparts upon the duty to discuss these decisions with your child’s other parent. Surely, if a child or parent contracts the disease, legal custody would mandate that joint legal custodians discuss and agree upon how to handle any parenting time and health related issues, but it also remains prudent to discuss and attempt to agree upon a plan of action ahead of time.

Continue Reading Family Law and COVID-19: Legal Custody and Parenting Time

The world is increasingly becoming a smaller and more accessible place. Globalization and international employment opportunities have made it common for people to move or be transferred to foreign countries. The increased possibility of living abroad combined with marriage and/or children may result in complex issues. Which country’s laws apply if one parent takes a child out of the United States? What if an international custody dispute materializes?

Continue Reading International Child Abduction and the Hague Convention

Domestic violence exists and is real, and unfortunately, is common. This blog is not meant for the traditional domestic violence victim. The rights of true victims are rightly met with protections from the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, which allow for the implementation of a Final Restraining Order that prohibits contact and the presence of the perpetrator away from the victim.

Instead, this blog is to recognize that not all domestic violence complaints (referred to as Temporary Restraining Orders) are based on legitimate allegations warranting permanent relief with a Final Restraining Order and, moreover, have been used “as a sword as opposed to a shield” by purported “victims” at times notwithstanding the incredible burden Final Restraining Orders carry.

Final Restraining Orders in New Jersey, unlike in other states, are permanent. Many people understand the main purpose of a Final Restraining Order from its name’s literal interpretation, namely, that it keeps one person from being in the presence of or contacting the other person.

Continue Reading Protect and Defend Yourself from Domestic Violence Complaints: They Mean More Than You May Think

Earlier this month, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife Mackenzie announced their plans to divorce, setting off speculation as to what would occur with their estimated $138 billion in net worth.

From a first glance, you may assume that the Bezos divorce would be much more acrimonious and hard fought than a case involving the typical John and Jane Doe case as the thought may be that there is more to fight for financially.

However, wealth in these incredibly high net worth cases actually removes many of the most challenging issues in divorce like payment of legal and expert fees or trying to continue the lifestyle for both parties with insufficient income from both parties to same to occur. The world’s richest couple will not have these challenges.

Instead, high net worth divorces have a whole different set of challenges that middle-class families typically do not need to consider.

Continue Reading Amazon 2-Day Free Shipping to Serve Divorce Papers: The Bezos Divorce through the Lens of New Jersey Law

Many parents are confused in the midst of their divorce when the topic of “college contribution” comes into the conversation.

“My parents didn’t pay for my college expenses and I didn’t think I would have to pay for his (or hers)!”

In all likelihood, most people did not previously think of the possibility of being divorced, so it is not surprising that most people do not know how the courts deal with whether parents should contribute to their children’s college education costs and how they will be able to do so. New Jersey courts generally view college education as a necessity, and the trend in New Jersey is to require parents to pay the college costs for their children in line with their ability to do so.

This is surprising to many parents, especially if they paid their own way through college or other higher education themselves. I hear from many parents that they want their children to pay their way through for character building, or simply because the parent does not believe they can contribute and maintain their lifestyle. However, most divorced parents in New Jersey will be required to contribute to the costs of their children’s higher education regardless of their personal views.

Continue Reading College Contribution after Divorce