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 NJSBA’s FLS is made up of more than 1,300 attorneys. Its Executive Committee (FLEC) is not only a leading voice for family lawyers throughout New Jersey, but also organizes and leads educational programs on cutting-edge family law issues. The mission of the FLS is to serve as the statewide leader in the field of Family Law and to promote and protect the concept of “families” in all of its various forms (with special emphasis on the impact of divorce on children).

In her new role as Chair, Seiden will oversee the actions of the FLS as she strives to continue the strength and growth of the Section--both through monitoring current legislative and administrative proposals, rules and statutory changes affecting the FLS, as well as seeking to improve bench/bar relations, and educating the public’s understanding of family law issues.

During her tenure as Chair of the FLS, Seiden plans to focus on several key initiatives, including supporting young lawyers by expanding the mentoring program, examining and establishing consistency in intrastate relocation cases throughout New Jersey, finding new solutions to help children of divorce, advocating to address the conflict between the elective share and equitable distribution statutes, and assisting the Courts in addressing the backlog of family law cases.

“The Family Law Section is so vitally important to the successful practice of family law in the state of New Jersey, and I’m honored to have been given this opportunity to lead the organization in this capacity,” says Seiden. “I’m excited to continue all of the important work that the Section is currently involved in and look forward to making my mark over the course of the next year.”

“Sheryl has been a driving force within the Family Law Section for many years; having already benefitted substantially from her knowledge and leadership, we are truly thrilled to see her take the helm as Chair today,” says Jeralyn Lawrence, Esq., the current Second Vice President of NJSBA and former Chair of the FLS, who graciously spoke for Seiden at her installation. “We look forward to the enthusiasm, expertise, and wealth of new ideas she will bring to the role, and are excited for all of the ways that she will advance the mission of our section.”

Seiden is a seasoned matrimonial lawyer, having practiced family law exclusively since 2000. She has been recognized as a “Best Lawyer in America” and was selected by her peers as a “Super Lawyer” and “Rising Star.” Previously, she has been an Officer on FLEC, where she dedicated her time to ensure that the needs and concerns of FLEC and FLS were addressed. She also previously served as co-chair of the FLEC’s Young Lawyer Family Law Subcommittee. She is also a Fellow of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Seiden is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and an author of scholarly articles. She is presently in the process of co-authoring a book titled, Divorce, Alimony & Property Division, to be published by Gann Publishing Company.

A key part of Seiden’s new FLS Chair role will be organizing monthly meetings, meet and greets, and family law seminars, including the Family Law Symposium which draws over 700 lawyers, judges and professionals to learn about cutting-edge family law issues. As Chair of the FLS, she is planning the Annual Family Law Retreat, which will take place in Nashville March 25-29, 2020.

About Seiden Family Law

Seiden Family Law, a New Jersey law firm, provides exceptional legal services for family law matters in a strategic, solution-oriented, and supportive manner. Founding partner Sheryl J. Seiden is a distinguished and trusted lawyer, whose demonstrated record of success has propelled her to the highest ranks of the New Jersey matrimonial bar. Mindful of the stress of divorce and its attendant issues, including disputes over custody and parenting time, Seiden Family Law provides a reassuring atmosphere to support clients with their family law needs. The firm uses a team approach whereby the firm’s large network of other experts and professionals are tapped when needed. Seiden Family law is proud to be ranked as a Best Law Firm in 2018 and 2019 by US News Best Lawyers.

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.    

Unfortunately, because Mother’s Day falls during May every year, it also occasionally coincides with prom weekends, First Holy Communions, weddings, and other spring time events. This may mean that Mom does not always get to spend Mother’s Day with the children on her own.

If you are co-parenting your children, here are three options for dealing with Mother’s Day:

PLAN A:  If Mom is able to spend Mother’s Day with the children, she should have the day with the children. Mom should choose activities that she and the children enjoy. Some ideas for activities are going for a hike, a picnic in the park, seeing a movie, or going to brunch! The co-parent that is not celebrating Mother’s Day also plays an important role for the holiday. The other parent can assist the children in making cards for Mom, picking out and purchasing a gift for Mother’s Day, or helping the children plan breakfast in bed or some other special celebration for their mom. 

PLAN B:  In the event that Mom is not able to spend Mother’s Day with the children or there is an event that takes precedent, the parents should work together to find an alternative day for Mom and the children to spend time together on their own. If an event interferes with the holiday parenting time and Mom is able to attend, Mom should attend the event or at least participate in some way.  If Mom is unable to attend for any reason, if the children have time in the morning or after the event, the parents should work together to make the time for Mom and the children to spend at least part of the day together. If that is still not possible, the other parent should ensure that the children call Mom to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day and perhaps, have flowers delivered so that Mom feels special on her day. Finally, Mom should pick another day and make extra special plans for her to share with the children.

PLAN C:  In cases where children are lucky enough to have two moms in their life, both moms need to find a way to share or split the day so that the children can experience Mother’s Day with both of them. Perhaps the children have breakfast or lunch with one mom and dinner with the other mom, or they do a morning activity with one and spend the afternoon with the other.

Regardless of how you are spending Mother’s Day, remember that your children are the most important part of your life and your most important job as a parent is to make sure that they don’t feel any of the bumps along the road in scheduling holidays or other events! 

From all of us at Seiden Family Law, LLC, we wish all the mothers, grandmothers, aunts, moms-to-be, and other maternal figures, a Happy Mother’s Day!  

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”.

Despite the fact that Adele and Simon did not enter into a prenuptial agreement, “Rumour Has It” that Adele has already gifted property totaling more than $600,000 to Simon. This does indicate that Adele and Simon are going to try to amicably resolve the issues.  

Although you may think that the couple’s decision to marry without having a prenuptial agreement in place is peculiar given Adele’s significant wealth at the time of their marriage as well as her a future significant earnings, according to this Forbes article, only around 5% of couples enter into a prenuptial agreement before getting married.  However, the decision of whether to have a prenuptial agreement is an important one that should be discussed with an attorney specializing in prenuptial agreements and family law.  At Seiden Family Law, LLC, we review each case with our client to determine whether a prenuptial agreement is right for their situation.  If a prenuptial agreement is right, we aim to prepare it and resolve any issues efficiently so that you and your significant other can move on to more important things – planning and enjoying your wedding! 

The Intersection of Real Estate and Family Law

By Shari Lee Genser, Esq. and Christine C. Fitzgerald, Esq.

            In a family law matter, every asset must be addressed in the settlement agreement regardless of whether the asset is being divided or whether the asset is determined to be exempt from equitable distribution.  Since real property is often the largest asset in dispute in many middle-income family law cases, real estate law and family law frequently cross paths in a variety of ways.  The division of a marital residence, second homes, investment properties, and real estate owned by a business must be resolved in a Marital Settlement Agreement.  However, the division of the parties’ real estate interests can be affected by a number of other issues that appear at first glance to be unrelated, such as child support, custody, parenting time, the children’s needs, tax implications, and the division of other assets or liabilities. Since each of these issues can affect the way the parties’ real estate interests are resolved, it is important for both real estate and family law practitioners to have a working knowledge of the intersection between these fields.

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. 

The Bezos settlement is notable for many reasons not the least being that the assets being divided represented significant wealth acquired during the course of the marriage, rather than resources brought to the union by either party. But what is the most striking to us here at Seiden Family Law is actually the creativity of the settlement and the fact that they worked so well together to reach an agreement.

Under terms of their settlement, MacKenzie will retain her Amazon shares (and thus the ability to ride the wave of the stock price) and Jeff maintains the voting rights that were essential to his continued role within the company. This out-of-the-box solution is one that reflects a mutual desire for both the good of the family and the good of the company founded during their marriage. It respects and reflects the best interests of all parties, and emphasizes compromise over conflict.

There’s an important life lesson in this very public divorce, and it isn’t about the drama leading up to the separation or even the details of the eventual settlement. It’s the way the Bezos worked together to find an inventive solution to their situation. As a firm, we pride ourselves on our ability to think creatively in a wide range of settlement circumstances, and we see the Bezos situation as an inspiring case of creativity and vision.

How can we help you to think creatively about your situation?

 

Dissecting the Debts and Liabilities of the Parties To Determine Equitable Distribution

By Shari Lee Genser, Esq.[1]

            Equitable distribution of the marital estate in New Jersey is governed by the statutory factors set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1.  One of the factors the Court must consider in making equitable distribution awards is “the debts and liabilities of the parties”.  When discussing the marital estate, it is therefore imperative to itemize not only the assets of the parties, but their debts and liabilities as well, in order to reach the proper starting point for equitable distribution.  The first step of the equitable distribution analysis is to identify the assets and liabilities which make up the marital estate, the second step is to determine their respective values, and the final step is to distribute the marital estate.

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.[1]

Advances in technology have been shaping the practice of law for several years. Computers have increased productivity and the internet has drastically altered both the legal research and writing process and the mechanism by which many lawyers communicate with the courts, opposing counsel, and clients. The prevalence of social media in today’s society raises several important issues relative to the practice of law generally, and in the area of family law where the clients are all individuals, most of whom are frequent social media users, having a clear understanding of those issues is of particular importance. This article will present a summary of some of the issues raised by the use of social media in family law cases.

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.