By Lucy Reynoso

It is officially the holiday season! Despite the confusing times brought by COVID-19, the Christmas spirit is alive with carols, decorations, gifts and family. Children all over the world are excited and gearing up for Christmas singalongs, movies, cookies and Santa’s arrival.

However, for some families, Christmas may be a little different this year. COVID-19 has not only brought uncertainty but also affected many individual’s income as some have been let go from their positions. With Christmas right around the corner, parents may be questioning how they can still keep their Christmas traditions and purchase presents for their children in order to normalize the puzzling world we currently live in.

Because of a reduction in income or unemployment, parents may not have the means to continue the Christmas practices for their children that they have done in previous years. These parents may be grappling with the idea of how to work around their finances to ensure that their child(ren) still have the best Christmas imaginable.

What do you do if your co-parent is struggling financially during this Christmas season? Here is a list of tips to manage this Christmas season amidst the pandemic:

Talk to One Another: If you are the parent that is struggling financially, speak to your co-parent and explain your current circumstances. Indicate a willingness to work with your co-parent to ensure that your child(ren) still have a great Christmas.

Listen to One Another: If you are the co-parent who is not struggling financially, be open to hearing what your co-parent has to say about his or her circumstances. Try to understand that this is not his or her fault and a result of the pandemic.

Make a Plan: Come up with a list of items that you intended to gift your child(ren). Go through each item and determine how you would like to share the cost of each. Perhaps, the parent who has the means can purchase the higher ticket items and the co-parent who may be struggling financially can contribute towards the lesser items.  Moreover, an alternative to buying a bunch of little items is purchasing gifts that you each know your child(ren) will appreciate the most. Once you have narrowed down the items, you can determine how you each will contribute.

Be Realistic: Along with adults, children have been highly affected by COVID-19. They too, just like us, are learning how to adjust. Speak with them. If your child(ren) is old enough to know the truth about Santa, let him or her know that you are both going to do everything to make Christmas as special as the previous years. However, the important thing to remember is that Christmas is about family and you are all lucky to be healthy and happy especially during these times. Stress the importance of quality over quantity.

If your child(ren) is still young and believes in Santa, speak with him or her too. Let your child(ren) know that Santa is working extra hard this year to make sure everyone receives presents. However, due to the pandemic, that may mean that everyone might not be receiving the same quantity because he is working extra hard to ensure that every child(ren) is not forgotten.

COVID-19 has made the world difficult to navigate. However, the holidays remind everyone the importance of family. Seiden Family Law, LLC wishes everyone a very happy and healthy Christmas season!

           

By: Sheryl Seiden

In our ever mobile society, relocation after a divorce is a very realistic option for a parent. The advancement in technology and efficiency of transportation have increased the ability for mobility over the years. After a divorce, a parent seeking to move on to the next chapter in his or her life often will want to relocate to be closer to family or a significant other or for career advancement. The issue of relocation presents courts with the difficult dilemma of permitting a child to relocate to be with one parent at the cost of the child not having the opportunity to maximize his or her relationship with the other parent. Relocation cases present some of the most difficult issues that matrimonial practitioners and our family law judges grapple with during our careers.

By Donald Schumacher

Every family differs in their Hanukkah traditions, whether they choose to celebrate on all eight nights, only the first night, or even just a few nights of the holiday. In our “new world”, traditions may need to be temporarily modified. To maintain health and safety protocols around social distancing, families should consider creating Zoom or Skype celebrations that may include separate households. 

By Lucy Reynoso 

In the blink of an eye, 2020 has flown by and we are suddenly in the midst of the holiday season. The holidays will be a little different this year because of COVID-19. The traditional holiday routine you may have had with your co-parent may not be as readily accessible given that many families may not be getting together this year because of the pandemic.

CRANFORD, November 6, 2020 - Sheryl J. Seiden, founder of Seiden Family Law, announced today the release of a new book, New Jersey Family Law – Volume Two: Divorce, Alimony & Property Division, which she co-authored with Frank A. Louis, a partner at Greenbaum Rowe Smith & Davis LLP, and published by Gann Law. 

Election Season can often bring about stressful situations and tense discussions in any household and within any family.  However, when a couple is no longer a couple, these disagreements can become wider and more stressful.  In our current highly-divided political climate, these disputes can quickly turn into arguments.  This begs the question; how do you deal with children during an election when two co-parents do not politically align?

By Christine Fitzgerald 

COVID-19 has flipped our worlds upside down. We know from our clients how particularly difficult this time is for separated or divorced couples as they face their very own unique set of challenges, including unemployment or a reduction in income due to the pandemic. These events can lead to a recalculation or modification of child support. 

By Christine Fitzgerald

The wreaths are up, carols are playing in stores, and decorations are coming down from the attic—the holiday season is here. Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukah are quickly approaching and winter break is right around the corner.

If you haven’t already agreed to a holiday schedule with your co-parent or are working on the details of a temporary schedule to get your family through the remainder of the year, now is the time to start or finalize them to ensure that plans are in place. By amicably addressing the holidays now, you have the opportunity to plan appropriately for your children to make the holidays fun and stress-free for them. 

By Christine Fitzgerald, Esq.

When used appropriately, social media can be extremely helpful in promoting yourself and your business and in staying updated on your community. But when you’re involved in a family law matter, social media has numerous dangers that all parties involved need to watch out for. 

Article below was published in Law360

Article By Sheryl Seiden

This article is part of a series in which attorneys reflect on the formative life experiences that helped lay the groundwork for their careers in the legal profession. In this installment, Sheryl Seiden of Seiden Family Law LLC recounts how the searing experience of her parents' contentious, drawn-out divorce taught her to be resilient — and ultimately led her to a career in family law, helping other families during their own difficult times.

By Christine Fitzgerald, Esq.

October signals time for pumpkin spice lattes, apple cider donuts, candy corn, and Halloween!

Halloween should be a stress-free and fun holiday because there are no fancy dinners, large family gatherings, or gift giving involved. However, it  can be the complete opposite.  Costume decisions, trick or treat schedules and plans, and friendly gatherings can make Halloween a scary time, especially if you are a co-parent. If you are in this position, there is often even more to worry about with parenting time schedules and custodial decisions. By following my Tricks and Treats below, you can make Halloween a little easier and a Jack-O-Fun holiday:   

By Christine Fitzgerald, Esq.

The first few months of school is a hectic time. Along with school clothes to buy, transportation to work out, healthy lunches to pack, and homework to manage, parents also have parent-teacher conferences to attend which can get tricky as a co-parent. 

By Donald Schumacher, Esq.

If you’re like most parents these days, your kids’ lives are consumed by extracurricular activities. Team sports, gymnastics, karate, music lessons, horseback riding, and school clubs are just a few and the list goes on and on.  Parents are shuffling their kids to activities every day after school and there’s often no downtime until bedtime. In the case of divorce, kids’ extracurricular activities is an area that needs to be considered and factored into the agreement from the start.   

By Sheryl J. Seiden

It’s Back to School time, and with that comes a whole host of responsibilities for parents to juggle. Divorced parents may find this time of year particularly challenging, but a good parenting plan will provide a full binder’s worth of guidance to help anticipate and plan for just this kind of co-parenting situation.

Working on your own parenting plan or simply determined to make sure this Fall goes smoothly? Here are some tips to deal with some of the financial and logistical challenges that divorced parents may face when the kids go back to school.

CRANFORD, NJ, August 19, 2019—Seiden Family Law founding partner, Sheryl J. Seiden, was included in the 26th edition of The Best Lawyers in America[1] for her work in Family Law. Best Lawyers, the only purely peer-review guide to the legal profession, announced the 2020 edition of The Best Lawyers in America on August 15, 2019.

Lawyers named to The Best Lawyers in America publication were recognized by their peers in the legal industry for their professional excellence in 146 practice areas. For the 2020 Edition, 8.3 million votes were analyzed, which resulted in the inclusion of more than 62,000 lawyers, or approximately 5% of lawyers in private practice in the United States.

By Donald Schumacher, Esq. 

Every once in awhile, parents get “curious” (but really worried and concerned) about what their children are doing on their devices. As a result, they install spyware and feel that it’s totally okay to ensure their safety.

However, installing spyware onto a spouse’s smartphone or computer without consent is not okay. In fact, doing so may be considered a predicate act of stalking. And, if the spouse proves that the spying causes them fear of harm, it could lead toward the issuance of a restraining order.

DISCOVERING DISCOVERY: THE USE OF EXPERTS
By Christine Fitzgerald, Esq.

The decision of whether to retain an expert in a family law case generally is decided either at the start of the case or in the beginning of the discovery phase. The use of an expert to assist with resolving or litigating the case may be warranted depending on the type of issues involved in your case. There are many different types of experts that can be helpful in family law cases. Some of these experts and their specific roles are as follows:

By Christine Fitzgerald

 We all love social media. It’s a great way to catch up with old friends, see what people from high school are up to, and generally keep in touch. We all love it until we don’t love it anymore. Perhaps unfairly, social media has been blamed for the fall of civilization, rising divorce rates, and laissez faire attitude of millennials. In reality, civilization has not fallen. Millennials are inventive, smart and are doing just fine. However, in the context of relationships and in family law litigation, social media does have a number of pitfalls that can have an impact.

By Donald Schumacher, Seiden Family Law

With traditions of fireworks, food and fun, the Fourth of July might just bring out a divorced parent’s fight for independence with their children. When it comes to co-parenting on holidays like this one, parents shouldn’t rely on cookie-cutter parenting time agreements. Although you may feel tempted to air your grievances with your personal King George III, it is important to consider one another’s wishes and solutions and compromise to make an agreement that leads to success in dividing the time with your children. 

By Donald Schumacher, Seiden Family Law 

Being able to keep things private during the divorce process will depend on the route you and your spouse choose to proceed. If you are mediating privately, with or without attorneys, and your spouse and you agree to limit discovery because you are both fully and comfortably aware of the financial aspects of your marriage, then it may be possible to keep details private. If, however, your matter is litigated in the New Jersey Courts, your privacy rights will frequently be outweighed by the rights of your spouse for full disclosure regarding several aspects of the marriage.

By Christine Fitzgerald

It’s almost the official start to summer and Father’s Day. As the Mother’s Day post indicated, holidays are often difficult for those parents that are co-parenting children. Holidays often raise the most questions such as:

  • Is it my holiday this year?
  • What time do I pick up the children?
  • Are there any restrictions on where I can take the children?
  • Where are the exchanges supposed to take place?

By Christine C. Fitzgerald, Esq.
Seiden Family Law, LLC

I. Introduction and History

Prior to the enactment of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”), the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (“UCCJA”) was enacted in 1961. The predecessor Uniform Act was eventually adopted by every state in the United States to discourage parental interstate kidnapping of children by establishing jurisdiction over a child custody case in one state and protecting an order of the state with jurisdiction from being modified if the state with jurisdiction retains jurisdiction. In 1981, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (“PKPA”) was created to essentially afford the UCCJA full faith and credit. Although the UCCJA and PKPA often work in tandem, there are differences between the two Acts. First, in determining jurisdiction between two states, the PKA gives priority to the “home state” of a child while the UCCJA does not. Second, although the UCCJA states that jurisdiction of one state must be adhered to by other states until the jurisdiction is no longer valid, the PKPA gives continuing and exclusive jurisdiction to the state with jurisdiction until the parties and the child leave the state. These differences create problems in some custody cases.

CRANFORD, NJ, May 16, 2019—Seiden Family Law founding partner, Sheryl J. Seiden, was sworn in as Chair of the Family Law Section (FLS) of the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA), the firm has announced. The ceremony took place today at the 2019 NJSBA Annual Meeting, held at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, and was attended by more than 3,000 legal professionals.

The flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping, and the sun is shining. This means that Mother’s Day is this weekend. For those of you that are co-parenting your children, whether incident to a divorce or separation, holidays can be particularly difficult to navigate. If you have an Agreement in place for custody and parenting time, the first step is for you to review your Agreement to determine what time you or your co-parent has for Mother’s Day or any other holiday. If your Agreement is unclear, if you do not have an Agreement, or if Mother’s Day does not fall in line with the regular parenting time, the next step is to open the lines of communication with your co-parent to resolve the details of who is going to have the children for Mother’s Day and under what parameters.    

As you have probably heard, Adele and her husband, Simon Konecki, have separated. What is interesting to note is that Adele and Simon did not enter into a prenuptial agreement prior to their marriage. This could mean that Adele’s earnings and acquisition of property during the marriage could be shared equally with Simon or could become the subject of contentious litigation. At this time, it is too late to turn back, or as Adele herself would say, it is “Water Under the Bridge”.

Creative Settlement: What Can We Learn From the Bezos?

MacKenzie and Jeff Bezos announced details of their settlement agreement last week, signaling the end of a very high conflict – and very public – divorce without the need for significant litigation. As the wealthiest couple in history, the Amazon Founder and CEO and his now-former wife faced a unique set of challenges when dissolving their union. 

How Will The Change In The Tax Laws Affect The Individual Taxpayer?

By Sheryl J. Seiden, Esq.[1]

For the first time in three decades, Congress passed the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (“TCJA”) bill which has changed the landscape of the tax laws for the future. This summary is intended to provide some insight into how these changes will affect the individual taxpayer.

STANDARD OF LIVING FOR PURPOSES OF EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION

By: Christine C. Fitzgerald, Esq.

The purpose of equitable distribution is for a fair and equitable division of marital property.  Pressler, Current N.J. Court Rules, comment 4.1 on R. 5:7-4 (2017); Steneken v. Steneken, 183 N.J. 290, 299 (2005).   In order to accomplish an equitable division of marital property, a three-part analysis must be completed.  First, all assets must be determined and identified. Second, the value of the assets must be established.  Finally, the factors, including the standard of living established during the marriage or civil union, of N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1 are weighed and considered to allocate the assets equitably.  65 N.J. 219 (1974).  This final step is where the factors that are enumerated in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1 are central to the analysis.  These factors are:

Top Ten Tips When Considering A Divorce

By Sheryl J. Seiden, Esq.[1]

So you think you are ready to consider getting a divorce.  You have lived years in an unhappy marriage or perhaps you and your spouse have just grown apart or maybe one spouse has not been faithful … it is time to explore the world of divorce. Now what?

Living in a Social Media World:  Potentials and Pitfalls for Family Law Cases and Attorneys

by Jeffrey Fiorello and Christine C. Fitzgerald        

     While social media was once looked upon as something purely social (a way to stay connected with friends), it has increasingly become an integral part of daily life. The information that is put out online can have implications far beyond staying connected with friends. This article will attempt to explore the use of social media for professional marketing purposes, and for tactical advantages in advocating for clients. There are implications, both positive and negative, that social media can have on the daily practice of family law. The goal of this article is to provoke a further exploration of social media in marketing for family lawyers and in representing family law clients.

By: Sheryl J. Seiden

Until August 8, 2017, for sixteen years, the law in New Jersey on relocation created a presumption favoring relocation. This presumption was created by the Supreme Court of New Jersey in Baures v. Lewis, 167N.J. 91 (2001), and was overturned in the recent case of Bisbing v. Bisbing, 230 N.J. 309. The Court in Baures relied on social science research that had not been challenged, and on underlying statutes and case law of other jurisdictions which the Court believed evidences a trend toward relocation. The law relied upon by the Supreme Court of New Jersey in Bauers was later overruled by subsequent case law or statute but the Bauers holding was not reexamined by the Supreme Court of New Jersey for sixteen years. The New Jersey judiciary and practitioners were therefore relying on outdated law. The sixteen years that it took to change the landscape of relocation in our state supports our need as practitioners to dissect the case law that is relied upon by our Courts to ensure that our law remains consistent with changing times.

By Sheryl J. Seiden, Esq.[1] and Sage Hazan Blinderman[2]

So you think you are ready to consider getting a divorce.  You have lived years in an unhappy marriage or perhaps you and your spouse have just grown apart or maybe one spouse has not been faithful … it is time to explore the world of divorce. Now what? 

By Sheryl J. Seiden, Esq.

Just as each child has his/her own unique qualities which define the child, so too does the Child Support to be calculated in each case.  Child Support is not a one-stop shop.  The first question to consider in any Child Support case is whether the Child Support Guidelines are applicable.  The premise of the Child Support Guidelines is that support is the obligation of both parents. Children are entitled to benefit from the incomes of both parties and children of divorce or born out of wedlock should not be economic victims of their parents’ segregation. N.J. Court Rules, Appendix IX-A(1).  The theory of the Guidelines is that in an intact family, income is pooled to support the children and this same concept should be applied in families that are not intact. These Guidelines are intended to ensure that children not live in poverty.

By Sheryl J. Seiden, Esq.

So you think you are ready to consider getting a divorce. You have lived years in an unhappy marriage or perhaps you and your spouse have just grown apart or maybe one spouse has not been faithful... it is time to explore the world of divorce. Now what?

By: Sheryl J. Seiden, Esq.[1]

The Case Information Statement ("CIS") is one of the most important documents prepared in a matrimonial matter. A CIS is needed whether your client intends to mediate, arbitrate, litigate or simply resolve a case with his/her spouse directly. Before attempting to resolve any matrimonial case, it is imperative that the parties, counsel, any mediator or arbitrator fully understand the parties' incomes, expenses, assets and debts. The CIS is designed to provide all of this information in one legal document. I often refer to the CIS as a client's bible. It also is a necessary document to maintain as past CISes are needed in most post-judgment proceedings. A well-prepared CIS will save your client significant legal fees throughout the matrimonial proceeding.

By: Sheryl J. Seiden, Esq.[1]

As matrimonial practitioners, we have the responsibility of assisting parties in a divorce in equitably distributing their marital assets. Clients often assume that their marital assets should be equally divided. That is not always the case. The exercise of equitable distribution dictates that the parties' marital assets be equitably, not equally divided.

By: Sheryl J. Seiden, Esq.[1]

In determining how to equitably distribute executive compensation, first, the type of executive compensation must be identified. Then, it must be determined whether the executive compensation was awarded for the party's past efforts or in anticipation of the party's future efforts. Executive compensation awarded prior to the termination of the marriage will be subject to equitable distribution whereas executive compensation awarded after the termination of the marriage will not be subject to equitable distribution. As executive compensation is often awarded for both past efforts and in anticipation of future services, a portion, but not all, of executive compensation is often part of the marital estate for purposes of equitable distribution.

By Sheryl J. Seiden, Esq.[1]

It is not uncommon for a spouse to question the other spouse's spending of marital assets when they are proceeding with a divorce. Spending which was acceptable during the marriage is often suspect when parties are divorcing. Bad business decisions during the marriage often become allegations of intentional mishandling of marital assets. Money that was previously used to support a spouses extended family may now be seen as a channel for diminishing the marital estate. Through the course of discovery, one spouse often discovers that marital assets were spent to foster another spouse's extramarital affair. All of these allegations may give rise to a claim of dissipation of marital assets.

By Sheryl J. Seiden[1]

Parental alienation is a serious problem that plagues families when parents are involved in divorce proceedings where one parent successfully manipulates the child against the other parent. It is also a term that has become overused and misused in our family law practice. Unfortunately, there is no reported case in New Jersey which truly defines the concept of parental alienation. Practitioners and parents are quick to mention parental alienation, but few are able to define it. And even when a practitioner can identify parental alienation as a problem, they often do not know how to "fix" the problem. How then do we, as family law practitioners, know when it is appropriate to use the term parental alienation to define the toxic environment that torments a custody case? In order to identify parental alienation, family law practitioner, mental health experts and our judiciary must be familiar with the scientific data that identifies what parental alienation is and what it is not before we begin to try to address these custodial issues.

By: Sheryl J. Seiden[1]

In our ever mobile society, relocation after a divorce is a very realistic option for a parent. The advancement in technology and efficiency of transportation have increased the ability for mobility over the years. After a divorce, a parent seeking to move on to the next chapter in his or her life often will want to relocate to be closer to family or a significant other or for career advancement. The issue of relocation presents courts with the difficult dilemma of permitting a child to relocate to be with one parent at the cost of the child not having the opportunity to maximize his or her relationship with the other parent. Relocation cases present some of the most difficult issues that matrimonial practitioners and our family law judges grapple with during our careers.

By: Sheryl J. Seiden[1]

In our ever mobile society, relocation after a divorce is a very realistic option for a parent. The advancement in technology and efficiency of transportation have increased the ability for mobility over the years. After a divorce, a parent seeking to move on to the next chapter in his or her life often will want to relocate to be closer to family or a significant other or for career advancement.

By Sheryl J. Seiden[1]

Alimony is one of the most difficult financial issues to resolve in our matrimonial cases. N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(b) sets forth thirteen statutory factors to be considered when determining an alimony claim, including a catchall factor of any other factors which the court deems relevant. In the recent Supreme Court of New Jersey case of Gnall v. Gnall, 222 N.J. 414 (2015) the Court emphasized that no one factor is determinative and that all factors should be given weight in adjudicating alimony. Despite popular belief, there is no official alimony formula to be used to determine the alimony amount.

By Sheryl J. Seiden

On November 12, 2014, the New Jersey Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers ("AAML-NJ") had the privilege of appearing as amicus curiae before the Supreme Court of New Jersey in the case of Gnall v. Gnall, A 52-13. In Gnall v. Gnall, in September 2010, Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division,. Family Part, Bergen County, (the "Trial Court") awarded a wife in a nearly 15 years marriage with three children, ages 8, 11 and 12, limited duration alimony for eleven years. In August 2013, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division (the "Appellate Division") reversed and remanded the alimony award with a directive that the trial court should consider whether permanent alimony was appropriate. In January 2014, the Supreme Court of New Jersey granted Certification to determine the following question: "Was it appropriate for the Appellate Division to reverse the Trial Court's award of limited duration alimony and to remand for consideration of permanent alimony under the circumstances of this case, which included a marriage of fifteen years.?"

By Sheryl J. Seiden, Esq.[1]

As matrimonial practitioners, we are responsible for applying current law to our cases. I have always viewed the Family Law Symposium as a forum to learn about new case law affecting our practice and new arguments that we should be making in our cases. The Symposium provides us with many interesting arguments that we find ourselves using later in the year and thereafter to best represent our clients' interests. The Family Law Symposium has been the breeding ground for new law that develops through our judiciary as a result of the presentations from our distinguished speakers.

By Sheryl J. Seiden [1]

The Case Management Order ("CMO") is generally the first order entered by the Court in a matrimonial action. In many counties, parties and counsel are not required to appear in Court for the first Case Management Conference if they can consent to the terms of the CMO. In other counties, an appearance is necessary. Generally, when a CMO is permitted to be submitted without the need for an appearance, counsel and the parties opt not to incur the counsel fees to appear in Court. The purposes of the CMO is intended to encourage parties to define the issues in dispute and determine what discovery is needed in order to ultimately resolve these issues. It is very important that particular attention is paid to the CMO as it sets the deadlines and outlines the scope of discovery for the duration of the matrimonial matter.