Alimony 101

Alimony or  is often a central point of contention in New Jersey divorce proceedings, especially in situations where there exists significant income disparities between the spouses.

Many litigants initially confuse “equitable distribution” and “alimony.” The difference is simple. Equitable distribution “looks back” and allots the parties’ “marital” property. Alimony, however, looks forward. It attempts to make up for the differences in the parties’ economic condition and tried to put them in a position as close as reasonably possible to the marital lifestyle.

In New Jersey, there are five different types of alimony employed by the courts. Each type of alimony has a distinct purpose.

The five different types of alimony are:

Permanent Alimony: This type of alimony is generally reserved for  marriages of longer duration. When permanent alimony is awarded, it may not terminate until the dependent spouse remarries or either party dies.  However, permanent alimony can be reduced or terminated upon a change of circumstance such as, cohabitation, retirement or an involuntary reduction in income.

Rehabilitative Alimony: Rehabilitative alimony is governed by N.J.S.A. 2A:34- 23(d) and can be awarded in addition to permanent alimony. It is typically awarded “where a short-term or lump-sum award from one party in a divorce will enable [the] former spouse to complete the preparation necessary for economic self-sufficiency.

Economic “rehabilitation” of the dependent spouse (to the extent possible) is the literal goal of this type of alimony award. Courts like dependent spouses to be as independent as they can given their particular circumstances including age, education and occupational ability. Hence, for this type of alimony to be awarded, a rehabilitative “plan” is required on the record; the statute specifically says “Rehabilitative alimony shall be awarded based upon a plan in which the payee shows the scope of rehabilitation, the steps to be taken, and the time frame, including a period of employment during which rehabilitation will occur.” Therefore, rehabilitative alimony amounts vary and are always for a fixed amount of time contingent on the details of each rehabilitation plan.

Reimbursement Alimony: This type of alimony has a very specific purpose; it is usually awarded by the Court to compensate a dependent spouse for economic sacrifices made during the course of the marriage. The sacrifices triggering reimbursement alimony are those that aided the payor spouse in the process of their professional development and increasing their income earning capacity. It’s obvious enough that this type of alimony if most regularly awarded when one spouse helped the other spouse through their higher or graduate education.

Limited Duration Alimony: This type of alimony is exactly what it sounds like: spousal support granted for a fixed amount of time as opposed to a permanent support award. Again, the determination if highly-circumstantial, but a dependent spouse married for an intermediate length of time  may qualify for some kind of limited duration alimony even though he or she fell short of the higher threshold necessary for permanent alimony.

Pendente Lite Alimony: “Pendente lite” is a Latin phrase which literally means ”while the litigation is pending.” Hence, this form of alimony is temporary and  awarded on motion (or agreed upon between the parties) pending an ultimate resolution of the divorce litigation. These awards Will not typically prejudice the ultimate result but, practically speaking, often have the effect of establishing a base-line alimony amount for settlement discussions.

Need a divorce lawyer? Give us a call.

Big Potential Changes to New Jersey’s DWI Statute

New Jersey DWI law may be undergoing a big. big change that will have a huge impact on individuals convicted of driving drunk. The act, S-2427, passed by the Senate on June 27th yet still must pass through the Assembly before it can be signed by the Governor. If it does pass into law, however, it will essentially allow drivers to continue driving with restricted driving privileges, after a conviction for Driving While Intoxicated, if the driver installs an ignition interlock device.

The Act is now referred to the Assembly Judiciary committee for review. New Jersey is the only State in the region which does not allow drivers charged with DWI with some sort of conditional driver’s license.

There does seem to be a problem with the law, however. Obviously, DWI defendants have different financial resources. The Interlock device that must be installed can be so expensive that drivers with limited resources would not be able to afford renting or purchasing the ignition interlock device. These drivers licenses will remain suspended under the old law, if a device cannot be installed.

Also of note, we have not seen any action taken on the proposal to lower the per se level of intoxication from .08% to .05% BAC.

Charged with a DWI? New a lawyer? Contact us at HANNAN & BLACK LAW GROUP.  Interested in reading more DWI news? Check out our other blog.

A Word About The George Zimmerman Trial

Dear Friends,

As I sit here at my desk, stumbling upon ostensibly endless ways to distract myself from the work I have piling up next to me, I cannot help but take notice of our Nations current infatuation with the State of Florida v. George Zimmerman. The entire situation has me thinking about our Country and the Justice System in general. As of the time I write this post the jury in the case is about to begin deliberation. Before the verdict is delivered I figured I would share some of my thoughts:

Trayvon Martin is dead. He was shot and killed on February 26, 2012 in Sanford, Florida by George Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin was only 17-years-old. This is a human tragedy of immeasurable proportions. Trayvon Martin was just a child and now he is gone. These are simply facts.

Criminally charged with Trayvon Martin’s death is George Zimmerman. A 28-year-old neighborhood watch coordinator who has asserted self-defense as a justification for the killing. Regardless of the jury’s verdict, Zimmerman’s life with be forever altered by these events. These are simply facts.

For the past several months the media and public at large have viewed this case, and the impending verdict, as some sort of reaffirmation of their views regarding racial profiling, racism, gun rights, stand your ground laws, etc. These are all important issues that should be thoroughly debated. I, however, have chosen a different approach today.

Regardless of the outcome of the State of Florida v. George Zimmerman, I choose to view the jury’s verdict as a win for the people of the United States.

Beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest standard of proof that must be met in any trial. It is the standard that must be met by the prosecution’s evidence in a criminal prosecution: that no other logical explanation can be derived from the facts except that the defendant committed the crime, thereby overcoming the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

If George Zimmerman is found guilty of any of the charges levied against him, I choose to believe it is because the State has met its burden.

If George Zimmerman is found not-guilty on all charges against him, I choose to believe it is because the State has failed to meet its burden.

I choose to believe that the system works because the lawyer in me tells me so. I choose to believe that the system works because the American in me tells me so.

We have seen people assert otherwise in high profile cases before. Just recently, much of America was convinced that Casey Anthony murdered her own child in cold blood. The facts of the of the case seemed to suggest she probably did murder her own child in cold blood. I tend to believe she probably did. I also believe the jury returned the proper verdict.

Beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest standard of proof that must be met in any trial. It is the standard that must be met by the prosecution’s evidence in a criminal prosecution: that no other logical explanation can be derived from the facts except that the defendant committed the crime, thereby overcoming the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

O.J. Simpson. We all remember the O.J. trial. It played out right in our own living rooms. Much of America was convinced that O.J. murdered his ex-wife and her lover in cold blood. The facts of the case seemed to suggest he probably did. I tend to believe he probably did. I also believe that the jury returned the proper verdict.

Beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest standard of proof that must be met in any trial. It is the standard that must be met by the prosecution’s evidence in a criminal prosecution: that no other logical explanation can be derived from the facts except that the defendant committed the crime, thereby overcoming the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

Our Justice System places this burden on the State because we live in a Country that believes it is better to let twenty guilty men go free than wrongfully imprison one innocent man.

I choose to believe that if George Zimmerman is found guilty it is because the system worked. I choose to believe that if George Zimmerman is found not-guilty it is because the system worked.

Sincerely,

Rob

For the Firm

Quick Tips: Investigated for DUI

Quick Tips: Investigated for DUI

First and foremost, I cannot stress enough the importance of NOT GETTING BEHIND THE WHEEL OF A CAR AFTER CONSUMING ALCOHOL. Drinking and driving kills, ruins lives and costs a boat load of money.

Tip # 1: Don’t drink and drive. Get a cab or designate a sober driver. The risk is far too great on so many levels.

Tip # 2: What should I do if I get pulled over after having one too many drinks? When you’re first pulled over and approached by the police officer, you should cooperate and be honest! Attempting to delay, deceive, or disrespect the officer will only get you into more trouble.

Tip # 3: What should I say when the officer starts asking me questions? You should definitely tell the officer about any illnesses, injuries, conditions you’ve been suffering from, but otherwise, you should politely tell the officer that you do not wish to answer any questions about whether or not you’ve been drinking, when you last ate a meal, and where you were traveling to without consulting your attorney first. Explain to him or her that you know how the game is played and you would feel much more comfortable consulting with your attorney. Remember though, always be respectful.

Tip # 4: What if the officer asks me to get out of my car and perform a field sobriety test? You should politely tell the officer that you are not feeling well enough to perform any field sobriety tests (e.g. due to any of the illnesses, injuries, or conditions you’ve already told him or her about), and that you only wish to provide a chemical sample. You are not required by law to perform any of these field sobriety tests.

Tip # 5: Am I required to blow into a hand-held device? If you’re 21 years old or older, you MUST give a blood or breath sample if the officer suspects that you’ve been driving under the influence of alcohol, or risk losing your driving privilege. However, most officers will first ask you to blow into a preliminary alcohol screening (“PAS”) device to quickly determine in the field if you’ve been driving with a blood alcohol content (“BAC”) above .08. You are NOT required to submit to a PAS test! You should also keep in mind that if you stopped drinking well before you got on the road (i.e. 2 or more hours), you should never provide a breath sample in the field (or otherwise), but instead ask to give a blood sample. In this scenario, giving a blood sample is preferred because it takes a while for the officer to complete the DUI investigation in the field before transporting you to a medical facility (or jail) for a blood draw. By the time you provide a sample, your BAC will hopefully have fallen below .08.

Tip # 6: What if I didn’t stop drinking until just before I got on the road – Is it OK to give a breath sample then? If you believe that your blood alcohol content may be over the legal limit of .08 (i.e. you got on the road right after finishing a drink or two), you may consider giving a breath sample (both in the field using the PAS device, as well as at the station) because there are more opportunities to attack the reliability of a breath test in court, and the results of your breath test(s) may show that your blood alcohol content was still rising well after you were pulled over. In other words, your blood alcohol content at the time you were driving may have been below the legal limit.

Tip # 7: If the officer decides to arrest me, what should I do after being released from jail? Get yourself a lawyer ASAP. HANNAN & BLACK LAW GROUP’s attorneys never charge a fee for an initial consultation, and promise to provide honest feedback in a friendly and compassionate manner. There is absolutely no risk. Call us today.

Disclaimer

The materials available at this web site/blog are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.

Dog Bites, Strict Liability and You

N.J.S.A. 4:19-16 stipulates, in part, that “The owner of any dog which shall bite a person while such person is on or in a public place, or lawfully on or in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, shall be liable for such damages as may be suffered by the person bitten, regardless of the former viciousness of such dog or the owner’s knowledge of such viciousness.” Essentially, what this statute does is provide strict liability as to the owner of a dog who bites someone.

Dog bite injuries range from minor to severe. However, regardless of the nature of your injury, New Jersey’s dog bite statute makes recovery relatively easy. Now, as with all personal injury cases, the amount you are entitled to recover will depend on the severity of the injury. If a neighbor’s dog leaves a small bruise on your leg, your damages will be nominal and the case will not be worth pursuing. However, even a small scar may entitle you to a worthwhile sum.

Don’t want to cause trouble for the dog’s owner? This is completely understandable. However, most homeowners insurance will cover these types of injuries. That means the owner will not be held directly liable. Moreover, insurers know they are fighting an uphill battle and will generally be willing to settle these types of cases quickly.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of a dog bite, call us for a free consultation. If we take your case and you don’t recover, you owe us nothing. If you have suffered injury, you deserve compensation. Call HANNAN & BLACK LAW today.

Disclaimer:

The materials available at this web site/blog are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice.

Judicial Intervention: New Jersey Drug Courts And The Goal Of Sobriety

Recovery. If you or a loved one has struggled with the terrible disease of drug or alcohol dependency, you are well aware of how precious and elusive recovery can be. The courts, the police, and even the insurance companies all seem more likely than not to serve as obstacles on your road towards sobriety. Fortunately, for addicts and their families, the New Jersey Drug Court Programs are working to decrease the burden and cost of addiction on the addict and society as a whole.

The New Jersey Judiciary describes the mission of the drug court program as one aiming to “stop the abuse of alcohol and other drugs and related criminal activity.” Drug courts are a highly specialized team process that functions within the existing Superior Court structure to address nonviolent drug related cases. The programs objective is to keep non-violent drug related offenders out of prison while providing a structured system conducive to rehabilitation and recovery.

If you have been charged with a drug related offense, contact HANNAN & BLACK LAW GROUP today. We are committed to representing your overall interests with an eye towards your freedom, your health and your sobriety.

 

SUED BY A DRUNK KID – Social Gatherings, Drunken Teenagers and A Lawsuit Against Mom and Dad

We all know the deal. Mom and Dad go away for the weekend and its game on. A keg of Natty Light, a couple of Ping-Pong balls, red Solo cups and a bunch of buzzed 17-year-olds drinking themselves cool. More often than not the damage caused by such shenanigans can be remedied with a mop, some hot water and one or two heavy duty black garbage bags. No harm, no foul.

Occasionally, however, something goes awry. The drunk girl trips over her own feet and ends up with a few stiches in her chin. A tough guy gets into a petty argument over a disputed drinking game rule and settles it by breaking someone’s nose.  Even worse, maybe the kid who showed up drunk and left wasted crashes his car into a tree a few blocks away after being kicked out for causing a scene.  Mom and Dad warned something like this would happen. They even specifically forbid their son from having anyone over. The homeowners cannot be held liable, can they? Surprising to some, in New Jersey and many other States, the answer is, ‘Yes’.

Generally speaking, social hosts are protected against personal injury actions arising out of the negligence of one of their guests. N.J.S.A. 2A:15-5.6 places significant obstacles in front of an injured person who wishes to recover.

The statute provides:

A person who sustains bodily injury or injury to real or personal property as a result of the negligent provision of alcoholic beverages by a social host to a person who has attained the legal age to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages may recover damages from a social host only if:

(1) The social host willfully and knowingly provided alcoholic beverages either:

(a) To a person who was visibly intoxicated in the social host’s presence; or

(b) To a person who was visibly intoxicated under circumstances manifesting reckless disregard of the consequences as affecting the life or property of another; and

(2) The social host provided alcoholic beverages to the visibly intoxicated person under circumstances which created an unreasonable risk of foreseeable harm to the life or property of another, and the social host failed to exercise reasonable care and diligence to avoid the foreseeable risk; and

(3) The injury arose out of an accident caused by the negligent operation of a vehicle by the visibly intoxicated person who was provided alcoholic beverages by a social host.

The threshold set in this statute is extremely high. It is designed to protect homeowners and their insurers from liability. It allows a third party to recovery against a social host for the negligent provision of alcohol only in very limited circumstances.  Moreover, N.J.S.A. 39:6A-4.5(b) further serves to protect homeowners by providing that any person who is convicted of, or pleads guilty to, operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol in connection with an accident, “shall have no cause of action for the recovery of economic or non-economic loss sustained  as a result of the accident.”  Therefore, as a general rule, recovery is possible only when the injury is sustained as a result of a motor vehicle accident and only when the injured party is completely innocent.  Even then, it must be shown that both the driver of the vehicle was incredible drunk and the homeowner was incredibly reckless.

In New Jersey, these safeguards are thrown out the window when underage drinking is involved.  N.J.S.A. 2A:15-5.6 is facially limited to instances where the drunk party-goer is of legal drinking age. This means that the homeowner can still be held liable if the drunk guest was underage. This was affirmed by the court in Componile v. Maybee, 273 N.J.Super. 402 (1994), through their reading of the text of the statute which provides that “no social host shall be liable to a person who has attained legal age to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages for damages suffered as a result of the social host’s negligent provision of alcoholic beverages to the person.” Furthermore, this holding has been expanded to provide for potential liability even in cases of intentional tort, such as assault.

Moreover, it is no longer required that the adult homeowners be present when alcohol was served. Here, traditional notions of negligence law are applied. If Mom and Dad have reason to believe that their kid is likely to have a party when they are out of town, and the injury is a reasonably foreseeable consequence of said party, Mom and Dad are on the hook.

The rationale behind expanding liability to homeowners for injuries caused by drunk guests who are underage is that society has recognized that alcohol clouds judgment. Furthermore, it is widely accepted that the dangerous effects of alcohol are greater when consumed by those under the age of 21. As such, our courts place a greater responsibility on adults in such instances in an effort to ensure the safety of all.