Palimony – The Final Word?

The New Jersey Supreme Court has weighed in on the issue of Palimony, holding on September 25, 2014, that agreements for Palimony entered into before the law was amended to require Palimony agreements to be in writing does not apply to agreements entered into before the law was amended in 2010.   The rational for the decision was that the legislature did not intend to retroactively void oral palimony contracts that predated the amendment to the law.   The case, Maeker v. Ross is approved for publication and is available for a short time on New Jersey Courts Online, and should be available soon in the Rutgers Law Library.

Alimony – Changed forever


On Wednesday, September 10, 2014, with a stroke of his pen, Gov. Christie made major modifications to our Alimony statute.  The new law abolishes permanent alimony, establishes durational limits and enumerates certain factors concerning modification and termination of alimony.

Highlights of the law are:

  • Elimination of permanent alimony
  • Limiting the term of alimony to no more than the length of the marriage in marriages less than 20 years
  • Codifying when alimony can be terminated or modified by reason of the recipient’s co-habitation
  • Making reimbursement alimony non modifiable
  • Alimony presumptively terminates when the payer spouse reaches full retirement age

The complete text of the law (NJS 2A:34-23) may be found here:

Rachel Canning – child abuse for not following house rules?

Oh Thank You NJ Courts – there is some reason and logic still left in our court system. Rachel as most of you know, at age 18, sued her parents after claiming they “abused her” by throwing her out of their home last year. Her parents claimed that Rachel left home because she didn’t want to follow house rules.

On March 4, 2014, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Peter Bogaard denied the teen’s request for emergency financial assistance.  The court proceeding was the first time that Rachel and her parents had seen each other since October – interestingly, neither side had anything to say to the other.

Rachel, who claimed to be an athlete, cheerleader and honor roll student, alleged she was verbally and physically abused by her parents before they kicked her out. Her parents deny their daughter’s claims of abuse and claim that Rachel became upset after they laid down the law following a suspension from school, incidents of drinking and after dating someone they didn’t like.

Rachel now lives with the family of a close friend. Her lawsuit seeks payment for current living expenses and tuition for the private high school she attends now and for school costs once she attends college this fall.

I’d say this one goes to the good guys and should serve as gindance to all those teens who think they are entitled to have their parents support them regardless of their actions.

Kids – you may not have asked to be born – but its a decision you have to live with.  Once you decide to take your life in your own hands – no one owes you anything.  Find out early that your actions and words have consequences!

Gay Marriage – Why Not?

Ok – unless you are living under the proverbial rock, you must know by now that Gay Marriage is now legal in New Jersey.  New Jersey in fact is the 14th state where same sex marriage is now legal.  The approval came by way of an odd route and the details are here:  Gay folks at least in NJ and the 13 other states who recognize marriage between them will now not only enjoy all the rights and benefits of straight folk who are married, but will also join the many married men and women looking for a way out of that sacred trust – divorce!  Not that the laws were all that different prior to this month – but now all the judicial and statutory law that governs divorces between straight couples will (should?) apply to those gay men and women who once married decide that their partner is no longer “the one.”  The theory behind legalizing gay marriage, according to the US Supreme Court in US V. Windsor – decided in June, 2013, was many federal benefits were unavailable to those who were not labeled “married,” or who could be described as spouse, husband, wife, and married.  Therefore civil unions and other statutory created marriage like partnerships created to permit gays to live in married like situations did not provide equal rights to these conferred on those who were “married” and to rights, benefits and privileges which flowed from that status.

I have followed this issue for a long time.  My thoughts have always been that marriage defined in a religious sense should not be what determines rights that flow from government.  We do live in a society and are governed by a constitution that is quite clear that church and state should remain separate.  Not that I am unmindful of the history of marriage – but in the case of marriage there is an intertwining of church and state functions which I do not believe should be.

Those wishing to marry are required by the government to obtain a license from and pay a fee to the government.  Those who wish to marry in a church, synagogue, or mosque of their choosing then consult with a representative of that entity, and if that entity has additional requirements, the couple chooses whether or not to comply and the couple is subsequently married in their church, or  in a civil ceremony.  The minister, priest, rabbi, imam or other officiant signs their marriage license, which is eventually returned back to the state and an official state document is later produced, which serves as evidence of their legal marriage.  When the couple has utilized their place of worship to marry the officiant has acted as an agent of the state to preside over the ceremony and affix his or her signature onto the marriage license.

Various individuals have objected to gay marriage as an intrusion into religious freedom by requiring religious officials to marry individuals who may not be qualified to marry under the rules of their particular faith.   This objection has been framed in many ways, but in nearly all cases the bottom line is that god didn’t intend for those of the same sex to “marry.”

The government should not, at least in my humble opinion have anything to do with whether or not two people should be permitted to marry in the religious sense.  Religions uniformly have their own concept of what marriage should be, how married couples should live their lives and how children should be raised.   In my view marriage should stay in the church, mosque or synagogue, and have nothing whatsoever to do with whether one receives or is entitled to any government right, benefit or privilege.  Let the religious brethren decide for their congregants what the requirements are to marry and bear children with the blessing of their god.  Let them also determine what the requirements are for dissolution of that union.

Let the state decide who can enter into a civil union and thereby enter into a legally binding economic agreement that confers governmental benefits.  This way we have no intrusion of religion into government and no government interference with religion.

Here Is One I Don’t Agree With . . .

Call me old fashioned – when I consider someone as an employee, I like to know if they are qualified (duh!), but also something about their character.  Now, we are already prohibited from finding out if they are married or have kids – but now, our legislators, in their infinite wisdom are proposing legislation which would make it unlawful for employers to ask prospective job candidates if they have been convicted of a crime!  Come on now . . .  I want to know if Johnny job seeker is a convicted child molester, murder, or robber.  I think I have the RIGHT to know before spending any of MY time interviewing with Johnny,  which would take away time from candidates that are ah, emm well more honest!  Please guys, give us a break.  I’ve already hired a receptionist with a severe hearing disability to answer the phones (DON’T ask!) and don’t think it makes much sense to have to go on to a second round of interviews with prospective employees who may be disqualified because of a criminal record.  This is PENDING legislation – S-2586 is sponsored by Senators Sandra Cunnigham of Hudson County, Raymond Lesniak of Union Couty and Teresa Ruiz of Essex County.   A few emails should do the trick – don’t you think?

On The Fence

I am really on the fence about this one – DYFS v. AL a case decided only last week by our Supreme Court, held that abuse and neglect of a child does not include the mother’s ingestion of cocaine and use of marijuana during pregnancy absent evidence that the unborn child was not harmed.  What-the????   In a culture where newly pregrenant moms-to-be routinely stop drinking all alchol, and are ostracized for smoking cigarettes, our Supreme Court has given the go-ahead to those who would use coke and smoke grass during their pregnancy!  You can call me shocked!  You can access the case at the Rutgers online Law Library under DDS No. 20-1-8937, or for a limited time on the Supreme Curt of New Jersey website.

If you have family law issues, alimony disputes, or any post judgement modification, requiring services of a top New Jersey Divorce attorney, in Bergen or Passaic County, contact me today at (201) 343-0287, or email me at  My office accepts credit cards, and offers personalized, attentive and compassionate service.  Please see my website for comprehensive information at

And More On Those Lights

I recently purchased a Toyota Tacoma – they call them TACOS for short – The bugger dosen’t have a light in the glove compartment (What’s up with that Toyota?). I came across a small, battery operated light that sticks on to one surface, and is operated by a magnet that you stick to the other surface. Magnet turns off the light when the door is closed. Guess what folks . . . . (drum roll)  When the door is closed – I CAN’T SEE IF THE LIGHT IS ON OR OFF!    I  guess some things aren’t meant to be!

A Bit Off Topic – But I can’t Resist

Headline fromthis week’s Law Journal “LG Electronics Settles Class Action over Off-and-On Refrigerator Lights”

Reading on, it seems that LG recently settled a class action suit by consumers who had brought suit because the interior lights on their LG Refrigerators had stayed on when the door was closed.  Folks . . .  HOW DO THEY KNOW?!? 

Isn’t this an old George Carlin joke?  I don’t know about you – but I’ve never bothered to check to see if my fridge light goes out after I close the door.  I mean, err  how could I check?  I know if the light is off when I open the door – that the bulb is probably burned out . . . but when the door is closed???

I suppose it might pay to look, since the plaintiff class settled by having their fridges repaired (seriously?  Was the light keeping the butter awake?) but their attorneys got a cool million in fees.  Not bad!  Hmm, come to think about it, the light in my freezer works sometimes, sometimes not . . . ‘scuse me while I go check the number of that class action law firm . . . . .

One FRO Found Overly Broad

Should a Final Restraining Order ban a former husband from being at the same high school soccer game as his former wife? Our Appellate Division recently said NO, where the husband/father had gone to his kids soccer game, without any knowledge that his former wife would be there, had no contact with her, and the Final Restraining Order which barred him from “any other place where plaintiff is located” was overly broad and virtually impossible for defendant to obey at all times. In essence, the father could have been arrested if he had engaged in completely innocent conduct, such as watching his children play soccer, going to their school, or shopping at a grocery store. Unfortunately the case, State v. SK will not be published, and will only have limited precedental value. But stands for the proposition that final restraints must have some reasonable limitations to be enforced.

If you have family law issues, alimony disputes, or any post judgement modification, requiring services of a top New Jersey Divorce attorney, in Bergen or Passaic County, contact me today at (201) 343-0287, or email me at  My office accepts credit cards, and offers personalized, attentive and compassionate service.  Please see my website for comprehensive information at

What Is Joint Legal Custody You Ask?

I am often asked what the differences are between joint legal custody and sole custody.  In New Jersey it seems we have lots and lots of different kinds of custody, and the kinds of arrangements are as varied as I suppose they need to be.  The best definition of joint legal custody I’ve found to date, appeared in the case of Emma v. Evans, an Appellate Division case that stands for the proposition that a custodial parent cannot without the OK from the non-custodial parent (or the parent of alternate residence, as we call it now) change the last name of the children.  You can read about Emma v. Evans on my website here:

But I digress. . .

The case quoted Supreme Court and other Appellate Division cases in explaining joint legal custody as “A stipulation to joint legal custody constitutes the parties’ agreement to share “authority and responsibility for making ‘major’ decisions” regarding the welfare of the children, calling upon “both parents to remain decision-makers in the lives of their children.   . . . legal custody [is a] shared obligation, calling upon the parents to first attempt to “agree, communicate and cooperate . . . notwithstanding animosity of acrimony they may harbor towards each other.”  [I have left out the citations for the sake of brevity.]

Simple words, but words to live by for the best interest of your most important asset!

If you have family law issues, alimony disputes, or any post judgement modification, in Bergen or Passaic County, contact me today at (201) 343-0287, or email me at  My office accepts credit cards, and offers personalized, attentive and compassionate service.  Please see my website for comprehensive information at

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