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SUPREME COURT NJ TO IMPLEMENT NEW FILING FEES NOVEMBER 17

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court fees njOn October 31 the Supreme Court NJ adopted a new order to increase and create new filing fees. The order will go into effect on November 17. Documents that are received in person, electronically, or by mail after 4:30 p.m. on Friday, November 14 will be given a filing date of November 17 and be charged the new fees. The fees are expected to raise at least $42.1 million.  Twenty-two million will be used to implement and administer the pretrial services program, while $10.1 million will go toward creating the judiciary’s electronic filing system, and $10 million will be forwarded to Legal Services. The new rule 1:43 (“Filing and other Fees Established Pursuant to N.J.S.A 2B:1-7 and filing procedures”) provides a list of over 80 fees that have been either increased or newly created. In the area of family, one new fee was implemented, while four others were raised. Filing a divorce complaint will now cost $300 as opposed to $250, and the new post-disposition fee/motion in non-dissolution matters will be $25. Motions in dissolution matters and order to show cause were both increased from $30 to $50, while filing a first responsive pleading in a dissolution matter will be $175 instead of $135. The changes were proposed in September under the terms set by a new law enacted in August authorizing increases to fund a new system for assessing defendants for bail, a digital upgrade for the judiciary, and funding for Legal Services of New Jersey.Court fees were last revised in 2002.

UNDERSTANDING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN MIDDLESEX COUNTY: PREVENTION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT AND FINAL RESTRAINING ORDER

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What is domestic violence?

Abuse can take many forms, whether it is physical, emotional, verbal, or financial. It can be difficult to understand what exactly constitutes domestic violence under NJ law, but it is important to know if you believe you are facing a harmful situation.

Under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA) of 1991, there are 14 criminal offenses: homicide, assault, terroristic threats, kidnapping, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, lewdness, criminal mischief, burglary, criminal trespass, harassment, or stalking.

final restraining order

These are considered to be domestic violence acts when they occur between two or more adults who are currently in or have been in some type of intimate or familial relationship. This includes dating relationships, marriages, household members, or two people who have a child in common.

This act protects individuals regardless of their gender, immigration status, marital status, or any other factor.

What is a restraining order?

Typically, when an act of domestic violence occurs in Middlesex County, a temporary restraining order (TRO) is issued by either the police who respond to the incident or the family court, if the police have not been involved. This usually lasts for a minimum period of about one week, giving both parties time to consult an attorney should they choose. When the TRO is issued, a court date will be provided for a final hearing. The most recent act of domestic violence is examined first, but past history demonstrating the escalation of abuse also plays a role in the court’s decision.

If domestic violence is found to be present, a final restraining order (FRO) is granted. This provides the victim with protection by making it a criminal offense for the abuser to violate. Any contact, even in the form of a phone call, can result in arrest, giving the victim a greater sense of comfort and safety. In New Jersey, a final restraining order is a permanent order that does not have to be renewed after a certain period of time like in many other states; it will also be honored if the victim moves to another state.

Although violating a final restraining order is a criminal offense, simply having one in place does not eliminate the option to negotiate parenting time, and does not effect a person’s employment eligibility or criminal record. Many victims choose not to follow through with a final restraining order fearing these consequences for their partner, spouse, or family member, but unless it is violated, it will serve only as protection and not as a means to “ruin” another’s life.

Taking action

While this process can be undertaken alone, it is commonly a very emotional and confusing time for the victim or plaintiff, making the presence of an attorney very beneficial.

It is important to remember that even though one of the 14 acts of domestic violence may not be occurring directly, abuse can still be present and should be addressed. Domestic violence includes subtle factors that cannot always be seen by those who are not directly involved in the relationship. Many abusers exercise power and control in various ways to isolate, intimidate, and coerce their victims, making it more difficult for them to seek help. When children are involved, battling domestic violence with a knowledgeable attorney becomes even more crucial, as remaining in an unhealthy situation can have a severely negative impact.

At Armour Law Firm we have the experience and sensitivity to deal with domestic violence and understand how it can affect other legal matters such as divorce, mediation, child custody, and child support.

MAKING THE MOST OF MEDIATION

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Commitment to Mediate

Once you have decided to begin mediation to resolve all the issues regarding your divorce, it is important to make a serious commitment to mediation. Remember, if you go into the mediation process believing that it will not work; it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Therefore, an earnest commitment to mediation begins with both parties being fully committed to open and regular weekly sessions with emphasis on communication, negotiation, and settlement.

Regular weekly sessions are preferable because they build on the momentum created by continuity. Extended lapses of time between sessions are often more costly because each session will require recapping and reassuring that the parties have not changed their mind.

make mediation work

Attention to the Issue While Mediating

It is important to keep in mind throughout each session that their exist an outline and order to the process of which each of the issues shall be addressed. A general rule for an outline of issues and the order that they are addressed is as follows:

  1. Child(ren)
    1. Child Custody
    2. Parenting Time
      1. Holiday/Special Day Schedule
      2. Vacation
  2. Support and Maintenance of the Child(ren)
    1. Health Care Expenses
    2. Extracurricular Expenses
    3. College Expenses
    4. Life Insurance
    5. Health Insurance
    6. Emancipation
  3. Equitable Distribution/Division of Property
    1. Marital Residence
    2. Automobiles
    3. Personal Property and Household Furnishings
    4. Retirement Accounts
    5. Bank Accounts
    6. Business Ownership, Partnerships, Shares
    7. Marital Debt
  4. Spousal Support
    1. Comparing Joint Expenses vs. Individual Expenses
    2. Statutory Factors
  5. Miscellaneous Provisions

In the event an issue does not apply to a case, then the process will simply move forward to the next issue. It is easy to deviate, but patience is key to making mediation work for you.

prepare for mediation

Active Listening In Mediation

In mediation you are part of a problem solving team. In order to work as a team, you need to really hear your spouse. Focus on your spouse’s needs and communicate to your spouse that you heard and understand his or her perspective. Many times a spouse just wants to be heard. Only use respectful language. In areas where understandings can’t be reached, agreeing to disagree may be the only alternative. Your disagreement can be addressed in the next session after each spouse has had a chance to ponder their options.

Be Prepared During Mediation

After each session, the divorce mediator NJ will provide a list of documents or information that will be required to move your case forward. To ensure that mediation is cost effective, it is important to complete the task before each session. In between sessions, you may discuss with your spouse issues that you easily agree to and provide the information to the divorce mediator NJ at the next session. Also, in between sessions, limit contact with your divorce mediator NJ to scheduling changes or document exchange.

DIVORCE MEDIATION NJ

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DIVORCE MEDIATION ON THE RISE
THE MEDIATION PROCESS

Divorce mediation is an informal and flexible process.  Mediation may begin before or after a spouse has filed for divorce; the parties control when to start mediation. The mediator’s role is to guide the parties toward their own resolution after full disclosure.

Mediation often begins with joint sessions used to set the ground rules and an agenda.  The mediator helps both sides define the issues clearly.  During the process, the mediator may caucus with each spouse individually to help the parties move closer to a resolution.

Once all the issues have been addressed, the divorce mediator will draft a memorandum of understanding (MOU) covering all the issues and resolutions. The MOU is given to the attorneys representing each of the parties for their review, and one of the attorneys will then draft the settlement agreement.

If the complaint has been filed, the attorneys will request a divorce hearing.  On the date of the hearing, your divorce will be finalized.

nj divorce mediation

TOPICS COVERED BY DIVORCE MEDIATOR

Your mediator will help you work out a parenting plan, child support and in some cases spousal support.  The mediator will show you how the Child Support Guidelines apply to your situation.  The divorce mediator will help you better understand the cost of living apart based on your own current income.

This will greatly assist in determining both the amount and duration of financial support the children, and/or perhaps one of parties may need and/or be entitled. A mediator will also help you make a plan for all your future parenting decisions including; but not limited to extra-curricular activities, holiday schedule, birthdays, funding college education, emancipation, and tax deductions.

The mediator will help divide your marital assets such as the equity in the marital home, bank accounts, family business, retirement accounts including pensions and 401ks, cars, furniture, and jewlery.  The mediator will also assist in dividing up the marital debt. Some assets may require an expert evaluation.

For example, an expert should be obtained to determine the precise market value of a business or home.  Mediation is conducted so that both of  the parties can contribute equally to decisions, after full disclosure, and there should not be any winners or losers. There is no topic out of reach in mediation.  Mediation covers all the same issues attorneys negotiate in divorce litigation.

RISE OF DIVORCE MEDIATION

The rise in divorce mediation is attributable to two major factors.  First, mediation is much more cost effective than litigation.  Litigation is expensive, and the outcome in almost all cases is the same, which is settlement.   Fees are moderate and on an hourly basis.  No retainer is used in mediation as it is instead a ‘pay as you go’ system.

For example, Joe and Mary file for divorce and both have attorneys negotiating their agreement at $300.00 per hour.  After 15 hours of negotiations they have both paid each of their attorneys $4,500.00; the marital pot has been reduced by $9,000.00.

In the next scenerio, Joe and Mary file for divorce and both have attorneys, but rather than have their attorneys negotiate their agreement they instead use a mediator to reach a settlement. The mediator charges $300.00 per hour and after 15 hours of negotiating their agreement they each pay $2,250.00.

It is also highly likely that it takes less time to negotiate an agreement because both parties have made a conscious decision in a cost effective approach to reduce their overall fees and protect their naturally vested interest concerning their finances.

Additionally, significant amounts can be saved by using a mediator based on direct communications. The parties using the mediation process will actually be sitting before a mediator discussing issues and concerns.

In the alternative, the parties using their attorneys for such negotiations will have virtually all of their basic communications take place through their attorneys.  This process will likely entail each of the parties first having phone and/or other electronic communications with their respective counselors; and those concerns than being reduced to written letters that ultimately results in a costly deluge of such back and forth communications.

Nevertheless, it is recommended that both parties always retain their own divorce attorneys so that each divorce attorney can advise their client concerning the law and what is in their best interest.

A good divorce mediator will discuss the law but will not weigh in on the individuals best interest. Second, mediation gives the parties control over the outcome of their divorce.  A mutual agreement is reached in mediation by both agreeing to solutions.  Direct communication through mediation helps to limit hostility enabling and encouraging the parties to more openly discuss things productively.

Where children are involved, all mediation discussions are tempered by the fact that both parties are the parents of their children and you will have a continuing relationship as parents long after you have ended the husband and wife relationship.

Although most forms of separation negotiations are intended to take notice of the best interests of the children, these often get lost.  In mediation these remain the central and key issue. It is no wonder divorce mediation has been on the rise.  It offers a less expensive, less hostile, more open and ultimately productive means of divorce.