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Nuts and Bolts of New Jersey Family Law

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Nuts and Bolts of New Jersey Family Law

This course will provide the participant with an understanding of basic theories of family law and procedure, the factors relating to the child support guidelines, and the core documents involved in family law matters.

Transcript

Good morning. Um, my name is Megan Smith, and we are presenting today on the nuts and bolts of family law in New Jersey. Um, I've been practicing family law in New Jersey all aspects for approximately 18 years. Um, I have two associates who are also going to be presenting with presenting with me today. Um, Emily Ingall. And Kayla Fattell. We work as a team and work with our clients to resolve their family law related issues. Uh, the first thing that we're going to talk about today is the divorce complaint. Um. This is the first pleading that's filed in a divorce matter. It lays out general information about the parties and the family. In fact, that includes the date of marriage, which is an important part of a divorce. How long the marriage is. The parties addresses and how long they've lived there. And part of the addresses is that it has to the complaint for divorce establishes a number of things, and there's specific language that's required because it has to establish these required things. And one of those things is venue. And venue is the county in which the divorce should proceed within the state of New Jersey. So. One. At least one of the parties has to be. In the county where the complaint is being filed. Um, likewise with jurisdiction for a complaint for divorce to proceed in New Jersey, at least one of the parties has to have been a resident for a period of one year or more. So that's something that has to be pled within the complaint for divorce and stated clearly. Um, the parties, children and dates of birth are also set forth into the divorce complaint and that provides information for the court as to whether there is jurisdiction in New Jersey for. Custody and child support as well. This is the first page we're going to move on. Um, the wherefore clause. That's at the end of the required information is what the parties are asking for. And that's where the initial request for anything that a party is hoping to get out of the divorce should be stated. If it's not here, it generally cannot be granted. And so you want to make sure that the specific requests are being put in there. Number one is always dissolving the marriage because you're asking for a divorce. But number two would be about custody. Then you can deal with child support if it's applicable, alimony, if it's applicable, as well as equitable distribution that deals with. Real property, such as like land homes, personal property, as well as debts. If there's requests for counsel fees or expert fees, they should be set forth there. And, you know, a catchall clause like is always. Most of the time, I really should say is recommended because then if something isn't here, you know, you could still ask for it potentially from the courts. And within this catchall phrase, we don't use it very often because New Jersey is a pleading state, but it does give a little bit of flexibility. And in pleading state means that it has to be set forth either in the in a motion or the complaint before a court is able to consider it. And potentially grant that relief. Uh, page four. Is a designation of trial counsel that's required. And the complaint divorce, as is the certification. That is page five. Page five. Sometimes we actually have to change because if someone perhaps, you know, filed a complaint for divorce in another jurisdiction and we are contesting that jurisdiction and our client wants to proceed in New Jersey, then we would need to say that there is another action, a motion, you know, contesting jurisdiction has been filed. And we you know, we're requesting the divorce be heard in New Jersey. We'd go there. The certification of verification and non collusion is important, it's required and it means that they're not asking for the divorce in good faith. The certification of complementary dispute resolution alternatives. Um, is required under the court rules and. The attorneys required to sign this. And is also it's actually very important. The attorney, when you meet with a client about a divorce matter, is required to discuss the options, alternative dispute resolution options with the client. Those include. The mediation, arbitration and collaborative law processes that are available in New Jersey. They say, complimentary. And they're not free. Complimentary means they are complementary to a divorce action. They support resolving the divorce without litigation. Not that they are free, but they are great alternatives to actual litigation if it's the right case. And everyone should be aware when you have a consultation for a divorce or personally with a client that you must review those options with them. And then the client also must sign that they received that information. And understand what those things are. Okay, So the certification of insurance coverage is filed with the divorce complaint and the client is certifying to any and all insurance policies that are in effect at the time that the complaint is filed. And that includes life insurance, health insurance, auto insurance and homeowners insurance, as well as any other policies that may be out there for personal property such as boats, motorcycles and things like that. And this certification also includes that other parties may be included, such as a spouse or children on those policies. When you sign the certification page, you're certifying that these policies are in effect and that they will continue to be maintained unless there's a court order or written consent of both parties pending the divorce proceeding. So a spouse cannot alter or change any of the policies set forth in this certification, even without a court order or a written agreement of the parties. Okay. And the next form which gets filed with the complaint for divorce is called a confidential litigant information sheet. The abbreviation for that is CLIs, and this is a document that gets filed with the complaint. Both parties do have to file it so it gets filed with the complaint and it will also get fired when the defendant files their answer and counterclaim. This is to ensure the accuracy of court records and so that the court is aware of everybody's contact information. This form is kept confidential by the court, and none of this is made public record. So everything is completely confidential. But the court does need to be aware of all of the parties biographical and demographic information. Okay. So once all of this is filed, the summons is the next document that the parties will receive. And it is a court document that is attached to the complaint and notifies the non-moving party that they are being sued in court. That party then has 35 days to file and serve a written answer to the complaint. Um. Okay. This is a case management order. It is one of the initial proceedings in a divorce. Managed in a divorce matter. It's called the Case Management Conference. And it's where the judge will prepare a roadmap of sorts as to how the matter will proceed. That judge will then enter this case management order, which outlines the terms set forth during the case management conference. Um, attorneys in the matter may concede on these issues and submit their own proposed case management order for the judge to enter. The case management order determines many crucial deadlines for the matter as a whole, including discovery deadlines such as propounding interrogatories and notice to produce answering interrogatories and notice to produce, completing any depositions, providing proof of one another's financial documents, completing any real estate or business appraisals and setting dates for an Msrp or a second case management conference if necessary. It also sets forth the deadline for filing a case information statement, which we will go into greater detail a little bit later. So the verified complaint is a little bit different than a divorce complaint. The divorce complaint is specific to parties that are married and are divorcing. There's a number of causes of action, but the most. Used in a divorce is irreconcilable differences. And it has to be said that irreconcilable differences have been occurring for at least six months or more prior to the filing of the complaint. There are several other options and grounds for divorce causes of action that can be pled or proven. Those include adultery, abandonment and extreme cruelty, but they require the pleading of very specific facts. Sometimes they have additional service requirements. The complaint is different from a divorce complaint. It essentially applies to every other matter in family court, with the exception of domestic violence. Where the parties are not getting divorced. So if people are still married and maybe they separated and somebody needs child support or they need spousal support, but they're not actually getting divorced, they've not filed that divorce complaint, maybe they don't even have the year to be able to file in New Jersey for divorce. They can file an FD complaint, which is the non dissolution docket in New Jersey. The divorce complaints go under the docket docket which is family matrimonial means family non dissolution. Um, so similar things have to be pled in the complaint as the divorce complaint, but it's slightly different. Um, you there's a required. State specific form, which is what we're looking at here. And this is the verified complaint. But if somebody wants to file a counterclaim, they use the same form. They're just checking the different box. Um. Plaintiff. Defendant. The attorneys. Names. Dates. Um, children. How they're related to the children and addresses all have to be set forth here. There's also a number that automatically gets assigned when an complaint is filed and means child support. Um, it's also where spousal support or alimony is paid under these accounts and these numbers, but they're automatically assigned when a complaint is filed and there are children involved, regardless of whether somebody's filing for child support. Uh, on the second page of the. Complaint is the place where if there's an attorney. The children's information, any other interested parties. Names, addresses. So that could be whether there is maybe an aunt or a grandmother or someone that has maybe has custody of the children, something like that. If there are any prior actions, those must be listed as well as there needs to be a box checked if there's a child protection agency or if someone's receiving public assistance, those boxes have to be covered. And then it really gets to the things that are most commonly requested in an application which is establishing paternity. Because establishing maternity as necessary, it's much more rare. Um, child support, spousal support. Again, spousal supports only you only file the if they're not actually getting divorced, but maybe they've separated. Maybe, you know, someone's just completely not providing within the home. And, you know, these things happen. Uh, college expenses outside of child support, custody, um, parenting time, dealing with physical custody and also deals with the parents, grandparents and siblings, and then also medical support requested. Other things can also be requested here. Um, and that is where, as an attorney, I, you know, we have to fill out this form, but generally we, we check the boxes, but then we also simultaneously file a regular motion form and a notice of motion under the docket along with this form requesting our relief. And we just say, see the notice of motion enclosed herewith because they don't leave that much space. Um. Her. You know, page ten is essentially for a certification. Again, not much space. Almost always we just. Refer the court to a certification that is prepared and filed with this explaining the relief and why the client wants it and referring to any exhibits that we may be providing. And here are the required documents. The clip which we just went over, if there's any certificates of parentage or establishing paternity that exist, a financial summary statement or a case information statement, and we'll go over those shortly after. Financial summary statements, though, really relate specifically to people that were not married and have children. And we're dealing with child support or people that are separated, but we're really only dealing with child support, not spousal support. A full case information statement, which is much more lengthy and detailed. And we'll also go over that is required when spousal support is requested under an docket. Often parties need an interpreter, and so that has to be filled out as well as if there's disability accommodations required. So as Megan just mentioned, when we're requesting child support in an FD matter, parties must file this financial statement form and also provide copies of federal tax returns and at least your three most recent pay stubs. So this form essentially outlines for you exactly what needs to be provided. The first part is just personal identifying information. The second part is where we get into your income. So Part B asks for your gross weekly income, and it includes the calculation of how you do so, which depends on if you're paid bi weekly, monthly, bi monthly. The calculation will be different in order to obtain your gross weekly income. We include in your gross income all of the following. Income sources under Part B, So gross income can include spousal support you're receiving. It can include worker's compensation, unemployment compensation, income from Social Security, Social Security, disability and things like that. On the next page, we also look at. Income from trust. Income from inheritance. And that leads to line 16, which is your total gross weekly income. Part C of this form looks at potential exemptions, mandatory union dues or retirement contributions, which you can see on your pay stubs or your W-2s, as well as the health insurance premium that you pay, including the children. So oftentimes you can get that either from your directly as well as it's included on your pay stubs. Part D refers to other dependent deductions, and this part only gets completed if the person is legally responsible for supporting other children other than those in this support complaint. So not the child that you're looking for support for in this filing, but other children, you may be supporting, other children that may be living with you. And any other children, such as children from adoption or anybody else that you're responsible for. And this is where you would fill that out if it's applicable to you. Party looks at credits for child care expenses. And this part is where if you pay for work related child care and you or you and the other parent share responsibility for those expenses and you're requesting a credit, you include here the annual cost. And here in line one, it tells you exactly how to calculate the annual cost. And you also include who the provider is. Some parties choose to provide a supporting document showing exactly what that annual tuition cost is. So you can choose to submit that with this form. And then part F is income paid to your children. So if your children are receiving any government benefits, Social Security, veteran benefits, adoption benefits, that's where you would put that in. And that is included in this calculation as it is technically considered income that your kids would be receiving. Part refers to health insurance benefits. So that includes, you know, whether or not you cover the children, you still need to include if it's just for yourself or if it's for the kids and who that carrier is that is providing the insurance here. You can also include, if you choose to supporting documentation you can get from your company, showing what the difference in cost is for coverage of just the individual or the individual and the children. And the court can also look at that when calculating support. The last part is just the certification that you are certifying that the the statements you made in this documentation as well as any supporting documentation are truthful. This next form is in order to show cause, also known as an emergent application. And these are filed on an emergent basis with the threshold that an emergency order should be issued by the court to avoid any irreparable harm to the children involved. So when you're filing one of these, you check off why you are filing an emergency and why it can't be handled through the normal court procedures. Some of these things involve whether a child threats have been made to remove the child from the state of New Jersey if there's no consent or approval to remove the child, whether the children were not returned after a parenting time period. And the thresholds, the catch all is whether the children will suffer substantial and irreparable harm unless. Um, either the. The party. Um, is restrained from taking the children. Or most of the times this other box is checked and a certification is attached to the order to show cause in which the party explains the circumstances surrounding the emergent issue. Um, you also on this form certify that there is either no other person who is a party to the matter that has physical custody of the children, or if there is such a person, you would list their name and address on this form. Um, if this is the first filing in a matter, you also would file simultaneously a complaint for support, parenting time or custody. And then you would sign and certify below. Both. The plaintiff and defendant. The judge then has the discretion to grant or deny the in order to show cause. But if denied, the matter must be scheduled to be heard in due course to allow this party to get their chance to be heard in front of a judge. Okay. Another just to add a little bit on to what Kayla has said, is that another way that an emergent application can be used is for injunctive relief, where an order to show cause is dealing with custodial issues. There can be an interim injunctive order until a hearing can occur. However. Um, the other side must be notified. And there's actually a hearing with both parties when it deals with custody. Um, ultimately and usually within a few hours or a few days. With regard to bank accounts, safe deposit boxes and various things like that, where perhaps a party is in planning for a divorce is. You know, dissolving assets, selling things off, um, or, you know, doing other things like, you know. He liquidated their 401. And has a gambling problem. You could an emergency emergent order show cause can be filed, especially where you can prove that there are insufficient assets to make someone whole. And that really is an important part of this. It has to be irreparable. So if they can be repaired monetarily and there's money within the marital estate to make them whole court often won't see that as emerging, however. This can be used in those cases where maybe someone needs to access a safe deposit box. And because if there's no risk to the other side, they're going to go clear it out or something like that. And you can request injunctive one sided relief and get an order and go, you know, carry those things out without notice to the other side. And a merchant application does not always require notice to the other side unless it involves custody. This next form is the certification in support of establishing of of establishing paternity. And this is filed with the complaint. If one of the parties is requesting paternity to be established. And so this can be filed by either the mother or the father of the child. However, the information provided varies based on who is filing this form. So in section one, the plaintiff alleges that they are either the natural mother of the child, the natural father, or the caretaker of the child. If neither the mother nor the father care for the child, this could be a grandmother, a grand father, a different relative. You know, whoever is taking care of the child, you then verify the child's full name, their date of birth and where they were born. And then, depending on who is filing this form, you go to one of the below sections. So if this is filed by the natural mother, she would certify by the approximate date of conception of the child whether or not she had a full term pregnancy and where the conception occurred. They would then certify the alleged father's name. And whether or not she did or did not have sexual intercourse with another man during this time 30 days before or 30 days after the child was conceived. This essentially certifies that the mother is saying that this man is the father of the children. And if she did have sexual intercourse with another man during these 30 days, she would certify the name and address of these other man, of these other men or man and state. Why she does not believe that those men are the father. Number three is just certifying whether or not she was married at the time of the child's birth and who, if so, who that person was and why that person is not the father of the child, including any documents such as a divorce decree, blood test results as to why he is not the natural father. If the father is filing this form. Oh, I'm sorry. This is still the this number four is still for the mother. And so these are a host of statements that she would fill out saying why the alleged father is the father of the child. So various statements include whether or not she told him he was the father, whether or not he's named as the father on on the birth certificate, if he's admitting to being the father, if he's paid for any expenses relating to the birth or the child, if he's lived with the child, if he's visited the child. So Section three is to be is the section that is completed if the natural father is filing this form. And so these are different statements, similar but different statements to. What the mother would certify to. And this is things such as whether the mother and the father lived together, whether the mother told him he was the father, if he signed a certificate of parentage, if he's named on the birth certificate, if he's provided anything financially to the child, if he's lived with or visited the child. Section four is to be completed by that other caretaker who is not the natural parent of the child. And so this person would certify that the biological mother, to their knowledge, is. Either deceased or not deceased and lives at the following address. And then they go on to certify their relationship to the child and who, to their knowledge, has been named as the father of the child and has been named on the child's birth certificate and where that person lives. If the natural mother was married but divorced. Either a year after the end of that marriage, they then certify to the name of that spouse as well. Um. Again, this caretaker would then certify to the certificate of parentage if the alleged father signed one, and whether or not they know if any genetic testing was done. And then finally, this caretaker then just states generally the reasons why they believe the named father is the natural father of the child to their own personal belief and knowledge. And then this person, just whoever is filing this, whether that be the mother, the father or the caretaker, dates and signs this to certify as to all of the statements above. And now we are on to case information statements. Um, as I mentioned earlier, case information statements are required always in a divorce matter and also in an application if there is a request for spousal support and that's a request for spousal support where there is no pending divorce matter or the parties have already been divorced, that would go under an FM. Um, so as for timing, a case information statement is required to be filed in a divorce matter 20 days after the filing of a defendant's answer and or counterclaim. To divorce. Um. So once the complaint for divorce is filed. It served on the other side with a copy of the summons that we talked about and all the other forms that we talked about. Once that service happens, the certificate of service is filed with the court or an acceptance of service. If they accept service from the date of that acceptance or certificate of service, there's 35 days for that person to file an answer. And counterclaim if they want to participate in the divorce. Once that is filed, both parties have 20 days to file a case information statement. So this is something that when people first retain us for a divorce, we start working on this form. It's lengthy, as you can see on here. There's ten pages of it. Sometimes it gets longer depending what everything you have to put in there. There's numerous supporting documents that must be submitted that will go over. And it honestly takes quite a bit to put together. But this is one of the most important documents that you will deal with in a divorce. There is an obligation for a party to amend and update their case information statement during the pendency of a divorce if there's a change in circumstances. So maybe somebody changes jobs or they buy a different house or inherit money. Those things must be declared on here and an amended statement has to be filed with the court. I always like. After the filing of our initial case information statement. In addition to any of the things I just spoke about that require an amended or updated case information statement, I, I'd like to file an updated case information statement. So you're not starting from scratch, but you're just updating it immediately before the Msrp. And that's matrimonial early settlement panel that's mentioned in the case management order. Okay. So looking at the form, this is required under the court rules, information gets filled out here as well as the docket information the parties name and what county we're in. Um, there's a certification at the end that the client is certifying that the information in here is true and accurate to the best of their ability. And the purpose of this document is disclosure, as well as establishing the marital lifestyle, which is an important piece of alimony, spousal support and child support. Um. It gives you instructions about how to determine expenses for the budgetary section of it and the required documents. They ask for additional documents and additional documents can be submitted with this and we'll talk about those. But what must absolutely be filed with a case information statement are the most recent tax returns with the W-2s, 1099 and a client's three most recent pay stubs. Um. Information regarding college or secondary school also should be provided if this is being filed. With regard to a request for college contribution where this is also required. And the reason we use this form instead of an FD summary statement, financial statement, um, in the case of college contribution is an FD summary. Financial statement really only looks at incomes. This form will not only look at lifestyle and budgets, but it also looks at assets and liabilities and. While principle cannot be required to be liquidated generally for child support in like an matter. It can be required to be liquidated and used. Not always, but it can be required in a college contribution case. Okay. So going to part A of the case information statement. This is more or less a summary of the matter, the date, the statements being filled out, the date of divorce or dissolution, if it's applicable. So if you're just filed a divorce complaint that you know, this isn't there hasn't been a divorce yet, so that just stays blank, or you can give it an A if we're filing an amended or updated statement, we put in here the prior statements that that have been filed, birthdays of the parties, date of marriage, the date they separated. And while not a huge factor in Pennsylvania I mean in New Jersey it. It can play a role as well as the date of the complaint, which is essentially where the court generally determines that a marriage is over. And that's where we're kind of valuing assets and valuing liabilities for equal distribution. The issues in dispute, those get checked off as applicable. And these are issues that would either be named in a post-judgment motion that would require a case information statement and application or a complaint for divorce. The names, addresses of the parties go here in the second part, as well as the children's full names, addresses, birth dates and who they live with. Um. And then if there are children from other relationships, they also are named here. So if someone is remarried and have children from that relationship, they would go here. Likewise, if. There are children that were born before the marriage from a different relationship. They would go here if there. Is a child who's emancipated. They still need to be named on here. And emancipated means they're. Over 18, no longer in school, and they are outside of the sphere of influence of their parents. So their name, their address and birth date should be on this form, but under a person's name. It can simply be stated that they're emancipated as we move down to miscellaneous information. This is employment information about the party filling this out. So that's the name of their employer. The address there's a line in case they have two jobs and then they ask about whether there's insurance provided through the business and those boxes need to be reviewed and checked as applicable And. There is also. A section on the next page on page three, where it asks for the parties to attach an affidavit of insurance coverage. Now, if this was already filed with the case information statement, it does not have to be refiled. But if this is a subsequent filing, it should be attached. It asks if the confidential litigant information sheet was filed with the filing should be checked. Yes. Otherwise it should be filed with this. And generally the court will reject something if it doesn't have the anyway. So it's hard not to have already filed that once you're getting to this piece of it. And then we get to kind of the part of the meat and bones of this form, which is income information and Part C and the first section of Part C deals with the prior year's income and an analysis of the tax returns and supporting documents. So line one, you may not know the other party's income or it may be hard to figure out the joint, and that's okay. The most important line here is your client's income. So the gross income earned last year on the form as you're filling this out. Online allows you to type in the year. And the gross income earned last year. You should go buy, if possible, the W-2s. So or 1099. You want the total Gross So you would look at box five of a W-2, which is, um, the it doesn't include deductions for insurance, you know, health insurance. It doesn't include the deductions for retirement savings and things like that that would other be wise be deducted on the line one of your W-2, which is really what's federally taxable, any unearned income in that same year. So that really means interest, dividends, cap gains, things like that that people will have that'll show up on their tax returns and also they'll have supporting documents for um, the total income taxes paid. And that's where the. You want to look at the tax returns as well as the end of the year pay stubs and the W-2 and you want to add up the total taxes paid under the W-2, and that includes FICA and. And if it's a if it's a joint return, you use the middle column. And then if they owed additional taxes, there's additional tax liabilities, federal or state. Those get added to the taxes paid the taxes that are due if they got a refund on federal or state income taxes that were filed, then that actually lowers the total taxes paid because they got the refund. So that has to be adjusted based on the liability or refund under the on the tax return. So you have to look at several documents to fill this out correctly. And then the bottom line is the net income. Um, the next. Portion us if there's fringe benefits of employment that are actually like set forth from an employer. They ask for that to be attached. Um. Often fringe benefits are not necessarily a separate document. They might show up on pay stub or things like that. But if there are stock or different other things that that come in, then they should be attached. The next section is where they're telling you the parts that need to be attached with this section, and those would be W-2s. 1099 Schedule C's, as well as the most recently filed tax returns. And they ask you to check what box the boxes that are applicable to what you're providing and you want to provide as much as possible here. Um. The second section is with regard to the current earned income and expenses. And this is where the similar to the financial statement that we reviewed, we're looking at your client's pay stubs. Sometimes we have the other parties, but often we don't at this juncture. So that line is less important and we are analyzing the the weekly income. And if there are commissions, bonuses or overtime that would cause these weekly amounts to fluctuate. The the court on this form is asking you to check a box whether those are included, not included or not paid to you. And then if there is information where they are separate, where they're separate bonus checks or separate commission checks, they're asking for those things to be attached with the pay stubs. They asked that the deductions, all the types of withholdings, But these are the mandatory withholdings, not necessarily voluntary withholdings, but you want to check all of those that apply and put the total withholdings there. And then that gives the net average and then they also do a year to date. Now you start with the date that the. The person was employed too, for that year to the last pay stub that you're looking at and you're filling in these amounts for the year to date based on that last pay stub. We put the dates in because often people, you know, have been employed from the year before. So really in that case you're putting in January 1st of, you know, the current year and that's what's going to be reflected on that pay stub. However, if they started a new job, you know, mid-year, it could be, oh, like March 14th of the year to June 1st. And that is, you know, that's what we're analyzing. We may only have a month or two to look at this. So it shows you what, you know, what the window is that we're analyzing. Um, the next section is a series of questions that your client needs to answer their yes and no. And they ask for additional information to either be explained or attached. The first is, which is question six. Do you receive bonuses, commissions or other compensation? Um, in the last two years? And then if yes, they're asking for the dates of the receipt and to set forth the gross and net amounts received, um, if it's easier and you have the documentation, a lot of times I simply try to provide the documentation verifying those things and say, see the attached and just put the, you know, the gross or net number and the dates. Um, are there any other distributions not listed here that would be cash or may not show up somewhere else? Um, sometimes that is yes. Or is there, you know, is are there tips, are there other, you know, cash distributions that can be received. Um, but generally that's really talking about, you know, people, clients that are in the restaurant industry or they're, you know, maybe work in a salon or some kind of personal services where, you know, tipping and gratuity occurs. Um, number eight is about overtime work and it's really just a yes or no. Like, do you receive overtime? Um, oh, and going back to number six, it's asking about your salary. So we want to put in the salary information. Um, moving on to nine, it's asking about stock options, restricted stock sometimes called RSUs or any other non-cash compensation. Have you been granted it? If it's a yes, you should be stating what the client received and you know, preferably attaching the grant statements here with the document. So it's self-explanatory. Um, likewise. Is there any other supplemental compensation? Did someone have a part time job somewhere? Um, you know, maybe you're representing a teacher who has a salary and we've all we've declared that. But then they also, you know, work part time in the summer. Did you know was a camp counselor or, you know, did something else. That's where that really would come in. Um, if a client is on unemployment, disability or Social Security, that has to be declared under number under number 11. And those Social Security statements or disability information, those should be set forth pretty clearly in here. Um. The dependence you claim on your tax returns goes under 12 if you're paying or receiving any alimony as well as if you're paying or receiving any child support from either the current. Matter relationship or from one from the, you know, prior to this. Um, is there wage execution in connection with support. Um, and they do ask if there's a safe deposit box, just simply more or less a disclosure issue and whether any of the dependent children and this really pertains to benefits and insurance coverage and calculating child support. But whether a dependent child receives income from Social Security or any other government programs. And if there's any other income or other information and. You know, it's surprising, but a lot of times people need that Section 18 and additional lines can be added there or even an additional sheet explaining nuances of someone's income or changing jobs or, you know, maybe they got a signing bonus, but they'll never get that again or something to that effect. That would suggest that averaging versus using like, you know, their exact income would be more appropriate. After that, we move on to Section D, which are the monthly expenses. We're looking at the joint marital lifestyle, the family, including whatever number of the children and then the current lifestyle, which is your clients and how many children are living with them. Sometimes people are still living together during the divorce. So really that joint lifestyle remains the same. Often I then try to use the current lifestyle. Um, column for estimating an anticipated lifestyle once they are living separately. Um, and this really is all encompassing. Some things, you know, you want your client to really go back over. You know, credit card statements, you know, their bank accounts, things like that over the past year and. Average. Their last 12 months of what they've been paying for all of these various expenses. Sometimes they're together and that's that's why these extra lines are left here right after each one where an explanation can be included. Um, and it goes from, you know, renting a homeowner, a tenant or a homeowner. And these are all like really overhead and various utilities that we're covering, as well as rent taxes, insurance, homeowners or renters insurance, parking charges. And then there's also others. So it could be an alarm system or different things, you know, varying things that, you know, different people have. Often the mobile cellular phone might be grouped with like the cable or vice versa. And you just want to make sure that you're indicating what they are. Um, set the section B of the monthly expenses is the transportation. So we've got auto payments, auto insurance, registration, license maintenance, fuel and oil, which are separate. I usually put maintenance and then I change it slightly and I put maintenance and like oil changes and then for and I just do fuel under the fuel and oil and I strike the oil. Commuting expenses don't double dip. So commuting expenses generally are if you're using, um, Septa or Peco or you have to pay a bridge toll or maybe they don't have a car, so they're taking a bus or an Uber. Those are the things that go in there. You don't want to double dip with the fuel and oil, with the commuting expenses. They they need to be separate columns. Other charges often list E-ZPass here or things like that. The schedule is personal expenses, and this is often the probably the hardest portion for clients to fill out. Um, and it's really where they're looking at all these different categories as applicable and kind of like averaging out. Um, where we're looking at medical expenses, eye care, orthodontia and medical insurance, if it's unreimbursed, that's why it would come in here. Um, and often the medical insurance, it's paid if it's withheld from the paycheck. A line should be dropped saying, like withheld by the employer so that it's not coming out twice. You're not looking at the parties, you know, the person's net income and then also taking out the medical insurance. Um, but it really does cover almost every single thing you could want. One thing to be aware of is a lot of the programs that we use to fill these out electronically. The debt service carries over automatically from page seven, so you have to go back in and correct this often because you don't want the car payment that's listed on schedule B to also appear on schedule C, So you have to just make sure there's not a double dip. And then there's analysis that will populate at the end or that you can calculate. Um. Summarizing these. Expenses. These two pages are also important to be used for cases where there's high income, high asset clients that are over the threshold for the regular child support guidelines, and that is in excess of, I believe it's $187,500 net per year, in which case the court can discretionarily decide that additional child support should be paid on top of or in lieu of the child support guidelines number. And so it's important to reprint this budget and just simply change the headers and make a budget for the children for those circumstances. Not all of these will apply, but they certainly are applicable. This can also be used in an application where maybe the parties weren't married. But again, we're dealing with high income parties where we're outside of the Jonsberg guidelines and you want to create a budget. So these are, you know, great, great point. One thing to make sure you're noticing, though, is unless there is a substantial amount of credit card that supports spending beyond their means, which, you know, people do have. The grand totals really should be less than the household's total net income per month. These are the basis and this budget is the basis for alimony and it really is the basis for determining what the marital lifestyle is. So this is really what we're looking at in the Pendant lighting application for support for spousal support and various things. So we want to be careful that we're not, you know, missing missing things. We're not you know, the client's not over inflating something accidentally or on purpose. And you really want to scrutinize this because this is going to be heavily scrutinized by the other side as well as the court. Moving on to Part E, which is the balance sheet of family assets and liabilities. The first section, these are just the assets. You're simply listing real property. Who the property is titled to the date it was purchased. If it was purchased primarily. You want to note that there's a pre-marital portion perhaps, and you want to put the value at the beginning of the case. You may not have the value getting. If you did get like a CMA from a realtor or you pulled a number off of Zillow, make sure that you're noting that. In this middle column. Right here and then you're putting the value if there's an exempt part, as if it was like inherited or pre-marital, you want to make sure that you're you're putting a check here to indicate if there's an exemption and then the date that the valuation this also um you know. Often, if the parties are going to sell the house, an appraisal is not necessary, but most often an appraisal will be necessary. So once you get that appraisal, you know, this should be updated and filed with the court. Re Filed with the court. Bank accounts and CDs. Money market accounts. So this is savings, checking CDs, money market, anything where it's really just in cash, it's not invested into stock or something like that. And so those accounts should be listed. Additional lines can be populated, whose they are. And if there's anything else that you need to put here, like often with like the main checking account, you know, we have to declare what's in there as of a certain date, but often indicate, you know, it varies per bills because, you know, that probably changes daily depending what they're doing and what bills they're paying vehicles. Likewise, you're listing to vehicles that are assets. Hoo hoo their title to which is important. You need to be able to go back and reference this document at the end when you're drafting a marital settlement agreement or you're going to try a case because it includes wrap up things that need to happen. Do titles need to be changed? Do we need to change insurances? All those things. For vehicles. Unless someone just recently bought the vehicle. Kelley Blue book is good. You want to use the private party value most and you do want to make sure you get the correct number of mileage. And the specifics of the vehicle. And the Kelley Blue Book can be here as well as the value and the date. Um, one of the important things is you can also attach the Kelley Blue Book valuation with this document to support. Support the numbers if you want. Is if a car is leased instead of owned. You can certainly put it on this line, but it should be indicated here that it's a leased vehicle. There is no value to a leased vehicle, so it should just be indicated here. And when I do name the vehicles, I like to put, um, year make and model as well as the number of miles here so that anybody can go back and reference what how we came up with the value. Tangible personal property. It's a tricky one. Sometimes people find that completely overwhelming and generally. I tell people like we're really looking for things, significant value. Is there a significant jewelry? Is there. Are there furs? Are there, um, you know, works of art. These things don't happen in every case. But if there are larger pieces, they should be listed with the values. If there's appraisals for insurance, things like that, those those figures should be attached. And you know how you know, in this in this information, in this section, you know, second column, you know, it should be like appraised, you know, for insurance and then, you know. Put the value and the date here. Going back to vehicles, motorcycles, boats, RVs, things like that should also be listed under here. And again, all of these will populate additional lines for you. It does not there's not only room for two cars, it's just what you start with stock bonds and securities. This is not retirement. This refers to investment accounts, E-Trade, Ameritrade, what have you. That's what we're talking about here. While like for one K's and things like that are investments, they're pre-tax. They're very much different than what we're talking about in Section five here. And you only want to put brokerage accounts specific, you know, share holdings, things like that should be listed here. Um. Pensions, profit sharing, retirement plans, for one, pays. Et cetera. That's where these go pensions. Often we do not have a value for them, but for profit sharing plans, IRAs, IRAs actually go down here and 401. Ks You know, you want to list the which employer where the 401. K is held, whose it is? And then, you know, if there's any other information, often there is a pre-marital component to retirement. So if there is, you want to make sure you're starring, that you want to make sure at the beginning of your case to have your client pulled that statement as of the date of marriage, it's on there their obligation to prove the premarital component and put, you know, the date of the values here, IRAs you want to state whether is it a rollover, is it a regular IRA? Is it a Roth? Because those are all important things that we need to know. Likewise, you know, is it premarital? Is it marital? Who's owning it? And any other details that we need as well as the date that you're pulling these these values for? Usually you want to use the date of the complaint unless there's another reason that you would want to use a different. It just makes it easier when you circle back. So try to use the complaint date businesses, partnerships, professional practices. Often again, we don't have values, so you might want to drop in to be appraised or pre-marital or whatever it is. But when you're first filling this out, you may not have all that information. Life insurance. So term life insurance does not need to be listed here. There's no value like a leased car. You can put a leased vehicle in here, but there's no value. You don't have to list a leased vehicle here. It's really only for assets. But if you want to so that it's clear that they each have a car, that's fine, but you need to drop a line that says lease. So likewise with life insurance term life insurance, don't even bother listing here. It's listed in your insurance certification that you'll have already filed. But if there's a cash surrender value, which goes with a whole life policy, that's where that's what they're looking for here. And that's what needs to be listed and disclosed if they're loans receivable. If the party had lent money to someone and they're being repaid, that is the asset. Not if they owe some money, somebody money, but if someone owes them money, That's where these get listed. And if there's, you know, something else that has to be listed here, that's where it would go. Page nine is the statement of liabilities, mortgages, home equity, lines of credit, things like that. Go in the first section, other long term debts that would include like student loans for the parents or the kids. It will include your auto loans. It will include an auto lease. Revolving charges are generally credit cards. And we're listing out the credit card dates, the monthly payments, the total owed. And when they ask for the monthly payment, it's not necessarily what your client per day is paying, but you're really putting in probably the minimum. And you can put more of an explanation here. Credit cards change all the time because people use them like daily to monthly and make payments. So this is going to, you know, really fluctuate. You really want to make sure you're getting the. The liability as of the date of marriage. I'm sorry, the date of the divorce complaint, because that's really what we're looking at once we get to equal distribution. Most of the time, other short term debts could be loans that somebody took. Other things, contingent liabilities. An example would be like, are they being sued? They might owe money. We don't know. And then page ten is essentially the checklist of things that they want you to include. There's also part F, and that's for any special problems. And that really could be anything else that needs to be listed really varies, but there's a portion here for them to provide any other explanation or that, you know, updates will be provided. Often, if I am representing a spouse who really didn't do the finances and a lot of her things in her budget and in the assets and liabilities section are estimates or guesses because they don't have all the information. I make sure that I put a disclosure here saying, you know, these are best of their knowledge, but they're specifically reserving the right to amend this following discovery once all the information is provided and they have that, you know, that concrete information. These are the boxes that we talked about before, that they're looking for you to make sure that you provide with the case information statement. The first three are the most important, but these cover the other things that we talked about. Um. Previously. Moving on to child support guidelines. Okay. Child support guidelines are based on. And I'm going to kind of just run through these quickly. This is a shared parenting worksheet. There's two different kinds. There's a sole and a shared. The main things that go into calculating child support are the number of overnights each parent has. There's the parent of primary residence who's the parent of alternate residents. Both parties, gross incomes. Then their net incomes are determined under the programme. And here are other things that come in. Mandatory union dues. Mandatory. Pension payments and then any other child support obligations for other dependents. And if there's another dependent deduction, which we talked about before, if there's a child born of a different relationship, so then we get the net taxable and. They make adjustments. And then based on each party's net income, we get a total. And that's where each party's share what the child support obligation total is based on. And then that that share is divided between the parties. Then there can be adjustments based on how many overnights each each party has. And then other adjustments include a child's share of health insurance premiums, unreimbursed health care expenses. This is for more like repeating health insurance payments mean not health insurance. Health care expenses. Um, and court approved extraordinary expenses and supplemental expenses. Daycare, you know, things like that. And this is a sole parenting guideline. So this is where the parent or primary residence has. Or actually really the parent of alternate residents has less than 104 overnights each year. You use a shared parenting guidelines if they have 104 overnights per year or more. And that brings us to a final judgment of divorce. Okay. So when all is said and done and we've gone through all the steps that we've just outlined here or in the interim, you reach an agreement via a marital settlement agreement. The agreement will get executed and the court will then hold an uncontested hearing. That uncontested hearing is a very brief court appearance held in front of a judge to finalize the divorce. And during that hearing, the lawyers will ask their respective clients a series of questions to establish that the court has jurisdiction to hear the case that there was a sufficient cause of action for divorce and that there was a voluntary agreement executed between the parties. Upon completion of that short questioning, the judge will set forth on the record that there is jurisdiction and that the parties agreement was memorialized into a marital settlement agreement. The judge will then grant your divorce on the record and issue a final judgment of divorce, which is the document on this slide. This this judgment incorporates the marital settlement agreement and then makes the parties dissolution of the marriage official. This is the last step in the process. And upon receiving the signed agreement from the court, you will officially be divorced. And that is all of our program today. Thank you so much and hope you found it informative.

Presenter(s)

EIJ
Emily Ingall, JD
Attorney
Offit Kurman
KFJ
Kayla Fattell, JD
Attorney
Offit Kurman
MS
Megan Smith
Principal Attorney
Offit Kurman

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