Photo of Maria P. Imbalzano

Maria P. Imbalzano is a member of Stark & Stark’s Family Law & Divorce Group. She concentrates her practice in divorce, custody, adoption and family law mediation.

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

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

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

There are many rules in our court system pertaining to the filing of pleadings. In order to start a divorce case in court, a Complaint for Divorce must be filed. The date the complaint is marked “filed” is generally the date we use for valuing assets and debts subject to equitable distribution. In order to obtain court-ordered relief during the pendency of a divorce case with regard to temporary child support, alimony, or other issues, a motion must be filed requesting such relief. Generally, relief is granted as of the date that the motion was filed.

In some cases we choose not to file a complaint right away, with the hope of settling the case prior to getting involved in litigation in the court system. In other cases, we may file a Complaint for Divorce in order to establish the cut-off date for equitable distribution, but our goal may be to stay out of court and try to settle the case without court intervention.

Continue Reading When Does Child Support Begin?

For those unaware, after a Lower Court makes a final decision in a family court case, either party has a right to appeal that decision to the Appellate Court. A Notice of Appeal must be filed, along with any other relevant documents, within 45 days of the date of the entry of the Judgment.

The Appeal is based on the record and no new information is to be transmitted to the Appellate Division, and no testimony will be heard. The Appellate judges will review the underlying Order or Judgment, the transcript of the proceeding in the Lower Court (a typewritten volume which includes everything that was said in the courtroom by the attorneys, parties, other witnesses, and the judge), and the briefs submitted by the attorneys in the case arguing their client’s positions.

Continue Reading Appeals of Family Court Judgments

Many issues arise after a Final Judgment of Divorce has been entered. One particularly prevalent issue in many cases has to do with the marital home. One party may wish to buy out the other party’s interest in said home, or trade it off against another asset. However, it is not always that easy.


It has long been held that in order to equitably distribute a State pension (or other defined benefit pension), you apply a percentage of the coverture fraction to determine what the non-employed spouse shall receive upon the employed spouse’s retirement. The coverture fraction is determined with the numerator being the number of years and months the spouse was employed during the marriage, and the denominator is the number of years and months that the spouse is employed in total. Then, the equitable distribution percentage is applied to that fraction.

For example, if the Husband worked for the State of New Jersey during the marriage for 11 years, but works an additional 25 years after the marriage, the numerator would be 11 and the denominator would be 36 (11+ 25). If the ex-Wife is entitled to 50% of this fraction, she would be entitled to 15% (11/36 x 50%) of the Husband’s ultimate monthly pension benefit upon retirement.

A question has arisen in the case of Krupinski v. Krupinski as to whether the ex-Husband still has to pay alimony once he retires and his ex-Wife starts receiving her portion of his pension. Under the facts of this case, the Husband was earning $46,000 at the date of the divorce and was obligated to pay the Wife $100 per week in alimony. Twenty years later, when the Husband retired, he was earning over $132,000 based on his further education and experience over those post-marital years. His monthly pension benefit is based on his highest three years of salary which came well after the divorce. As a result of applying the coverture fraction, the ex-Wife was entitled to $1,871 per month from the ex-Husband’s pension. The Husband applied to the court to terminate his alimony obligation, and the lower court denied his application, stating that he had to continue to pay the alimony.

Continue Reading Does Equitable Distribution of a Pension Allow for Termination of Alimony Upon Retirement?

Palimony agreements are entered into between two parties who are not married, wherein one party promises to financially support the other party during his/her lifetime. Most palimony agreements are oral. On January 18, 2010, there was an amendment enacted to the Statute of Frauds which required palimony agreements to be in writing. The question that