• New Jersey’s Program for Economic Mediation Appoints Weinberger Law Group Attorney

    (PRWEB) January 30, 2013

    The New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts has named Weinberger Law Group attorney Carmela Novi, Esq. to the roster of Mediators for Economic Aspects of Family Law Cases, a list of credentialed professionals available to mediate financial issues related to a couple’s divorce, including alimony, child support, and division of marital property, as part of the state’s court-mandated economic mediation program. Ms. Novi is now approved to serve as a court appointed mediator in Morris, Essex, Sussex and Bergen vicinages of New Jersey.

    New Jersey’s Program for Mediation of Economic Aspects of Family Law Cases serves couples unable to reach an agreement concerning financial matters during the time of their Matrimonial Early Settlement Panel (MESP). Generally, cases are referred for mediation only after the couple’s MESP date fails to produce a binding result. However, state rules allow that any couple slated for MESP can go directly to mediation, if preferred. Prior to entering mediation, parties are required to provide accurate and complete information to the mediator and to each other, including tax returns, Case Information Statements, and appraisal reports.

    When parties meet, the mediator serves as a neutral third party, there to guide the discussion, but not make any decisions. Benefits of the mediation process include the ability of parties to take an active role in resolving their own disputes and reaching mutually satisfying settlement decisions. In most cases, mediation is also a way for divorcing couples to save both time and money. Like private mediation, court-mandated mediation sessions are confidential.

    “If there is an agreement between the parties, the mediator will send an outline of the terms and provisions of the agreement to the attorneys in a document called the Memorandum of Understanding,” explains family law attorney Bari Weinberger, managing partner of Weinberger Law Group. “Once the details are confirmed and formalized by both parties, their attorneys, and the judge, this agreement may ultimately become the Marital Settlement Agreement or Property Settlement Agreement.” Economic mediation does not address parenting time or child custody matters.

    To qualify as a Mediator for Economic Aspects of Family Law Cases, potential mediators must meet certain professional requirements and complete 40 hours of mediation training. Mediators approved for vicinage rosters include attorney-mediators who focus substantially on family law and other experienced professionals in the financial or mental health fields.

    Ms. Novi brings more than 16 years of experience as a matrimonial and family law attorney to her work as a mediator. A graduate of New York Law School and Montclair State University, Ms. Novi has been twice recognized as a "New Jersey Super Lawyers – Rising Star," and continues to successfully handle a wide variety of cases as a practicing family law attorney with Weinberger Law Group. She is experienced with all facets of family law litigation, including contested issues of child support, alimony, college contribution, equitable distribution of assets, domestic violence matters, and prenuptial agreements. Ms. Novi is also experienced in private, pre-litigation mediation, in which she has successfully mediated couples to settlement prior to the filing of a Complaint for Divorce, helping them streamline the process and avoid costly litigation.

    Ms. Novi also holds a number of volunteer and elected positions in her community. She was elected to the Montville Township Board of Education in 2010; is a former board member (and current general member) of the Kiwanis Club of Montville; and is a former member and Chair of the Montville Township Residents with Disabilities Advisory Committee, among her many accomplishments.

    Additionally, Ms. Novi serves as an Matrimonial Early Settlement Panelist in Morris County.

    The Administrative Office of the Courts officially approved Ms. Novi’s admission to the roster of Mediators for Economic Aspects of Family Law Cases on January 7, 2013.


  • What You Should Know About Separation Agreements

    A Separation Agreement, also known as a property settlement agreement, is a contract between married persons in which rights, duties and responsibilities arising out of the marital relationship are settled and compromised between the parties. Matters addressed in such agreements may include property division, debt division, spousal support, health insurance and expenses, litigation costs, divorce costs, attorney’s fees, child custody, visitation and support and payment of educational expenses.

    Formerly these types of agreements were not favored; in fact, many times such agreements which were found to be in facilitation of divorce were deemed to be unenforceable as against public policy. More recently there has been a paradigm shift and such agreements are now favored, provided there is no overreaching or undue influence. State laws vary as to what may be included in these agreements, as well as the requirements of such agreements. You should research the law of your state regarding the requirements for these types of agreements or consult an experienced divorce lawyer. Virginia law generally requires that such agreements be in writing signed by the parties. It is not necessary for the agreement to be reduced to writing if the agreement is contained in a court order endorsed by counsel or the parties. Nor is it necessary for the agreement to be reduced to a signed writing if the agreement be recorded and transcribed by a court reporter and affirmed by the parties on the record personally. Under Virginia law, a reconciliation of the parties after the signing of a separation or property settlement agreement abrogates the agreement, unless the agreement expressly says otherwise.

    Why consider a separation agreement? These contracts allow the parties to negotiate a compromise on the issues that they can live with. Absent agreement of the parties, disputes must be litigated. This makes the divorce proceedings more complex, more lengthy and more expensive. Litigation also takes an emotional toll on the parties. This is especially true, if there are children. Finally, parties have more flexibility in designing agreements to suit themselves than the courts have in fashioning a remedy for the couple.

    Does a separation agreement make it easier to get a divorce? Yes. Generally such agreements leave nothing to be decided by a court, except the matter of the divorce itself. In Virginia, if there are no minor children, having a written agreement shortens the separation period from one year to six months. If you do not want a divorce, you should think long and hard before you sign a separation agreement because it is usually the first step down the road to divorce. Even if you do not want a divorce, there may be cogent reasons to sign an agreement.

    What if you reconcile? If you decide to stay together after you sign a separation agreement, you may want legal advice as to how to rescind the separation agreement. Some separation agreements survive reconciliation and some do not. It may also be prudent to consider counseling to deal with the problems that caused the separation, because unless the problems are resolved, they will surface again. Finally, it may also be wise to consider a written “reconciliation agreement.” It is prudent to talk to your lawyer before resuming cohabitation, if you have gone to the trouble and expense of separating and having a separation agreement drawn up.

    How do you go about getting an agreement? First you need to determine the issues. You should seek legal advice early; your attorney can assist you in determining the issues to be included in the agreement. Once the issues are determined, set a meeting with your spouse. Try to reach an agreement with your spouse on the issues, as you agree, write down the terms of your agreement. If possible, sign it and have your spouse sign it. Your signed notes may be taken to an experienced divorce attorney who can draft a formal separation agreement for you and your spouse to sign and notarize. Although Virginia law does not require that these agreements be notarized, it is a good idea to have them notarized to avoid an allegation of forgery.

    Do you have to have an attorney draw up the separation agreement? No. You can draw up your own contract, provided you know what to say and how to say it. In fact, it is possible that your signed notes may be sufficient under Virginia law to constitute a binding contract, even if the parties had contemplated having them formalized by an attorney. Remember under Virginia law all that is required is a writing signed by the parties. Of course you can perform surgery on yourself, too, but wisdom lies in knowing the difference between removing a splinter from your finger and removing cataracts from your eyes. The safest thing to do is to at least talk to a lawyer before you do something that will bind you for the rest of your life.

    The important thing to remember is that you should consult an experienced divorce attorney early to find out what your rights and obligations are and to receive guidance as to the issues to be resolved with your spouse. It is also important to remember that you should carefully review and think about any document before you sign it. It is also prudent to have a lawyer review the document and opine as to what it means before you sign it. It may not mean what you think it means. Never sign documents when you are emotional. You need a clear head together with sound legal advice before you sign anything.

    Virginia Perry, JD is a licensed Virginia attorney and has been actively engaged in the general practice of law with an emphasis on family law and trials for over 30 years.

    For more information about Virginia Perry, JD or for additional publications and articles on family law, see the website at http://www.valawtalk.com.

  • Marriage Separation and Consequences

    A couple can seek legal separation (separate maintenance) by a court or informal separation, which eliminates costly expenses, including attorney and court costs. During time of separation, a couple can either reconcile any differences or may proceed onto the next step seeking a legal divorce. Most states require a couple legally separated by residing in different location at all times, which does not include separate bedrooms in the same house. A couple living apart does not constitute a legal separation. Some countries or states require a prerequisite of a legal separation for period of time, before filing for a legal divorce. Some couples can resolve their difference mutually during a separation by written agreement, which is drafted by a lawyer. However, desertion is different from a separation, which is recognized by courts, when one of the parties leaves without the intention of returning. Contrary, “Constructive desertion” occurs when one of the parties, forces the other person to leave. In such a situation, a court does not penalize a defendant for leaving, for their own protection or that of a child.

    A couple may seek a trial separation, which is easily reversible then a legal separation, and hopefully through counseling will resolve problems. Resolving problems during an informal separation, does not involve the costly expense for hiring attorneys. Hopefully, mutual equitable solutions can be ascertained, regarding working arrangements, possession of car, bank accounts, credit cards, child custody or any other personal items or matters. However, property division would require legal advise from an attorney. During this time, a couple can live together, but not necessarily sleep in the same room or bed. A formal separation despite being a costly expense, incurring time and pain, maybe be necessary, when a couple cannot resolve their differences. The process and procedures for obtaining a legal separation is the same for “Dissolution of Marriage,” except the couple is still married. A court will govern what will happen during a legal separation, regarding issues of property division, child custody, alimony or spousal support, (If their incomes are substantially different). Typically, a court will have the power to resolve as part of a legal separation, any and all issues, that would be normally be resolved in a divorce. A marital settlement agreement is signed by both parties, and becomes a valid legal contract that is enforceable, if any terms are violated. A marital settlement is recognized in all states. A martial settlement agreement is not a divorce and cannot legally end a marriage. The terms of a separation agreement may be changed through a separate written agreement. Any part of a settlement agreement, regarding parenting and support of children, must be reviewed by a court, which ensures rights of the children adhere to their best interests.

    A couple that is legally separated, may either live together or live in separate residences, for any number of reasons, including can’t tolerate living together, continue receiving medical insurance by the other’s spouse’s company, and some religious beliefs prohibit divorce, but allow a legal separation, couple can live apart. Sometimes spouses may wish to remain legally separated, long enough to qualify in order to receive Social Security or military pension benefits, prior to a divorce. Any time during the process for obtaining a legal separation, either party may request the court to convert the proceedings, into dissolution of marriage or divorce. Most jurisdictions require a waiting or “cooling off” period, before a court will issue a divorce judgment. Beware, after a person obtains a final Decree of Legal Separation, they must go back to the court and file Petition For Dissolution of Marriage, if the legal separation wants to be changed to a final divorce.

    When a couple seeks a separation, the person moving out, should consider the following: If the couple is living in a rental community, the person moving out, should remove their name off the lease and utility bills (gas, electric, phone, cable, trash, paper, etc.), because you maybe held liable for any unpaid past due payments. Forward your mail to a post office box, close friend, relative or new permanent home address. Make copies of all tax records for the past six years. Beware any past taxes due are still your responsibility. Make a note of all address, phone numbers, account information, pension accounts, bank and credit accounts, insurance policies, and any other financial paperwork, that maybe divided during the separation or legal divorce. Place a freeze on all joint credit accounts, which prevents you from incurring debts, if your spouse fails to make any future payments. List all items in a safety deposit (preferable take pictures), which maybe divided later and take any personal items. Pack up all personal belongs, including: Clothing, medicine, family heirlooms, mementos, and any items you personal purchased yourself or received as a personal gift.

    Certain states have their own laws regarding legal separation or do not recognize that status. According to Colorado law, parties who have been granted a decree of legal separation do not lose their inheritance rights. The state of Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Texas do not accept or can’t file for a legal separation. However, in the state of Florida, child support and alimony must be paid during a separation. In the state of New York, one year after filing of the Court’s judgment of separation, either spouse may sue for “no-fault” divorce, based upon one year of living apart.

    Couples should review their insurance coverage, regarding when coverage may be terminated, in the event of a legal separation.

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  • How To Do Your Own Separation Agreement (Property Settlement)

    Separating from a long-term partner whether you are married or de facto can be an emotionally draining and a financially devastating time. Often coming at the end of a long and difficult process, the decision to leave is not usually an easy one, especially if children are involved.

    Married couples who no longer wish to live together as husband and wife but who are not divorced are classed as being separated.

    The Family Law Act 1975 Sect 49 defines separation as
    (1) The parties to a marriage may be held to have separated notwithstanding that the cohabitation was brought to an end by the action or conduct of one only of the parties.

    (2) The parties to a marriage may be held to have separated and to have lived separately and apart notwithstanding that they have continued to reside in the same residence or that either party has rendered some household services to the other.”

    Usually the couple who has separated will live in separate dwellings although as the Act states it is not always necessary to live separately to be classed as separated. The parties may be separated although living under the one roof.

    Marriage is a contract under law, binding the couple to various rights and obligations pertaining to property, children and maintenance of the partners. When a marriage breaks down and the partners separate (or divorce) then provisions for these marital obligations must be put in place.

    Recent amendments to the Family Law Act which came into effect on 1st March 2009 now give de facto couples (inc same sex couples) the same access to the law as married couples have had since 1975.

    Separation Property settlements may be resolved by entering into a financial agreement or an agreement with ‘consent orders’ being made by a family law court. A property settlement can be finalised at any time after separation and before either spouse applies for divorce. However, a court application for property settlement or spousal maintenance must be filed within 12 months of the divorce, or you will need the court’s permission to apply out of time.

    A consent order is a written agreement that is approved by a court. A consent order can cover parenting arrangements for children (a ‘parenting order’) as well as financial arrangements such as property and spousal maintenance, no matter whether the couple are married or de facto.

    The difference between a Financial Agreement and Consent Orders dealing with division of property or parenting arrangements is that the Financial Agreement does not need to be lodged with the Court for approval, and is not subject to review by the Court. Whilst parties have to wait 12 months from the time that they separate until they can apply for their divorce, they can resolve property matters between themselves by making a financial agreement under section 90C or 90UD of the Family Law Act.

    The parties may elect to enter into a property settlement agreement (more accurately known as a Financial Agreement) in preference to Consent Orders where they require certainty of outcome, rather than having the court impose its view of how assets are to be divided. A financial separation agreement made under section 90C or 90UD allows the partners to decide for themselves how to manage these obligations without the need for entering court proceedings, reducing stress and the risk of extended litigation.

    Reaching an amicable property settlement agreement quickly about debts, assets and property offers many advantages;

    • you get to make your own choices
    • you significantly reduce the financial and emotional costs of taking the matter to court
    • you can ensure more open communication with your former partner increasing the likelihood of improved conflict resolution in the future
    • your ongoing relationship as parents, if you have children, is likely be more harmonious and
    • you are able to move forward with your life without the strain of ongoing court proceedings.

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  • Property settlement payment not deductible alimony.

    When they were married in July 1997, P and G purchased a residence as tenants by the entireties. P and G were divorced in March, 2000. On Feb. 22, 2000, they entered into a Marital Settlement Agreement (settlement agreement) that provided, in part, as follows:

    10. waive To intentionally or voluntarily relinquish a known right or engage in conduct warranting an inference that a right has been surrendered.

    For example, an individual is said to waive the right to bring a tort action when he or she renounces the remedy provided by law for such  alimony and does hereby totally, hereto here·to  


    To this document, matter, or proposition.



    Formal or law to this place, matter, or document

    Adv. 1.  and, in the event of the death of either of the parties of this Settlement Agreement while said Settlement Agreement is in force and effect, the estate of said Contemporaneous con·tem·po·ra·ne·ous  


    Originating, existing, or happening during the same period of time: the contemporaneous reigns of two monarchs. See Synonyms at contemporary.  with the transfer of these funds, the wife shall execute a quit-claim dissolution of marriage dissolution of marriage n. modern, gentler sounding, term for divorce, officially used in California since 1970 and symbolic of the no-fault, non-confrontational approach to dissolving a marriage. (See: divorce). . On March 7, 2000, P issued a check payable to G for $37,000. P wrote “Settlement” on the memo section of the check.

    On his 2000 return, P claimed a deduction of $37,000 for “alimony paid” to G. The enumerated This term is often used in law as equivalent to mentioned specifically, designated, or expressly named or granted; as in speaking of enumerated governmental powers, items of property, or articles in a tariff schedule.  criteria, it is not alimony and is not deductible. Here, the dispute is whether the payment met Sec. 71(b)(1)(D):

    (D) there is no liability to make any such payment for any period after the death of the SUMM SUMM Semantic Unification Meta-Model . OP. 2003-66

    REFLECTIONS: In Charles W. Smith, TC Summ. Op. 2003-167, a lump-sum payment was not alimony because, under state law, the taxpayer’s obligation to make the payment would haw, continued if his former spouse died prior to payment. The fact that the payment was described in the agreements as “alimony” was not controlling. The separation agreement and the divorce decree did not provide that the payment obligation would cease on the spouse’s prior death and there were no reservations that would have allowed the parties to incorporate such a condition thereafter.

    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Property settlement payment not deductible alimony.-a0113186402