Saddle River Divorce Attorneys

Matt Levitsky, an associate in our Montgomery County, Pennsylvania office wrote a guest blog for our fir’s Pennsylvania Family Law Blog entitled "Who Gets to Claim the child if there is 50/50 Custody?"

Matt’s post talks about the four prong test and the fact that at the end of the day, all other things being equal, the exemption would normally go to the parent with the higher adjusted gross income (AGI).  The piece also has an interesting discussion on whether a step-parent’s income is included in the AGI test.  I note that Sandra Fava has previously addressed the issue of the allocation of the dependency exemptions, in general, on this blog.

While this is an interesting technical discussion, often it does not come into play in post-divorce scenarios in New Jersey because, either the parties agree upon the allocation of exemptions (most often, blindly alternating it if there is an odd number of children or splitting them if there is an even number of children – whether this makes sense or not will be the subject of another blog post in the future) or a judge will simply allocate the exemptions in a similar fashion, regardless of what the IRS code would provide. 

In any event, Matt’s post was interesting reading and provides some guidance about what the proper result is when there is no agreement of the parties or decision by a court.


Eric Solotoff is the editor of the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and the Co-Chair of the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Lawyer and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, Eric practices in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or

On Friday, I blogged on the judicial estoppel aspect of the Romano case decided last week by the Appellate Division. While that was the major issue in that case, there was another part of the case that jumped out at me, when I read this line related to the court’s valuation of the husband’s business and calculation:

John also maintains that Judge Becker should not have accepted Dana’s expert testimony with regard to the value of his business and the income it generates. John did not provide sufficient reliable information to allow Dana’s expert to use valuation techniques based on tax reporting, so the expert was forced to consider the family expenses as a means to gauge the income generated by the business.

This scenario is not uncommon in divorce matters where a sole proprietor provides neither complete business records nor reliable Internal Revenue Service filings. We defer to Judge Becker’s fact-findings concerning the value of the business and its revenue.  (Emphasis added).

Unfortunately, when dealing in cases with small (and some times not so small) businesses, this is a common occurrence.  Often, it becomes a game of "tell me how much you can find and I tell you how much I have."   In this case, the non-owner has the laboring oar to try to reconstruct the exact income.

Continue Reading Court Says Incomplete Records and Inaccurate Tax Filings from the Self Employed Common in Divorce

Keeping with our theme of custody and parenting related blog posts this weekend, I recommend that you read  Aaron Weems‘, an associate in our Bucks County office and editor of our Pennsylvania Family Law Blog recently post on that blog entitled "Handling the Holidays."

Family lawyers, judges, parent coordinators often don’t look forward to holiday seasons because with them come often needless and petty disputes over holiday time.  Aaron’s blog provides an interesting perspective on this.  Parents should want their children to remember holidays for the good times, not because their parents put them in the middle of such disputes.  More importantly, the children should not look towards upcoming holidays with dread, wondering if their parents are going to fight about them again.


Eric Solotoff is the editor of the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and the Co-Chair of the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Lawyer and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, Eric practices in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland, New Jersey office though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or


Last year, I blogged on this topic after I was at a mediation where the mediator, when telling us his assessment of my client’s case, said that he was creating "settlement anxiety." At the time, I had never heard of this term but what I believed was meant was that the mediator wanted the client to have "anxiety" about his/her position in order to be more likely to make compromises and settle. If the goal is getting a settlement at all costs, I guess it makes sense – but is it fair, especially where one party is acting reasonably, and the other is not.  As this has come up in two recent mediations, I thought it made sense to reprise this post.

In most cases, there is a "realm of reasonableness" or a range in which any settlement would be essentially fair. Perhaps, a fair alimony figure could be between $100,000 per year and $125,000 per year. A fair resolution could be either of those numbers and anything in the middle. In most cases, people, with all relevant facts and acting reasonably, negotiate within the realm of reasonableness, but at either end depending on which side of the case they are on. In that case, a mediator trying to create "settlement anxiety" will try to express the flaws in either case to get the parties to meet somewhere in the middle to achieve a result that is fair.

But what about cases where one party is negotiating within the realm of reasonableness and the other is not? Put another way, what about cases where one party has the law and the facts pretty much on their side as to most issues and the other side is taking a position that is absurd? In this case, should the mediator be trying to create similar "settlement anxiety" in both parties? Add another level – what if the mediator knows that the unreasonable party will never settle the matter in a reasonable fashion? Should the mediator pressure/create the same amount of "anxiety" in the more reasonable party just to achieve a settlement even though everyone knows it is unfair? Should the result be settlement at all costs? Does this type of pressure on the righteous party just to get a deal done artificially undermine a party’s relationship with her counsel and experts, if just for settlement purposes, they are told that their case is weak when it is not?

In my humble opinion, pointing out the legitimate limitations in someones case in order to help create a settlement is fair and appropriate. On the other hand, creating artificial anxiety just to get a settlement all all costs because one party is acting unreasonably or negotiating in bad faith is not. The system should be fair and equitable and the parties are entitled to justice. It is neither fair nor justice to lessen a party’s confidence in their case, artificially, just because the other side will never settle in a fair and reasonable manner.

That does not mean a party cannot give more ore receive less just to get a case done and move on with their life. That is their choice. In fact, in recent cases, the mediators have used the anticipated costs of litigation as the pressure point on the party with the more reasonable position. Perhaps the better tactic would be to tell the unreasonable person of their exposure to pay the reasonable party’s legal fees.

That said, the reasonable litigant should not be manipulated just because the other side refuses to be reasonable. And as I have blogged before, sometimes you just have to try a case.

While there are many similarities between the states when it comes to family law, there are also many differences.  That fact was recently highlighted in the context of business valuation, specifically, what things should be considered to arrive at a value for equitable distribution, in a post recently seen on our firm’s Pennsylvania Family Law Blog.  Specifically,Aaron Weems is an attorney in our Warrington (Bucks County), Pennsylvania office and editor of the Pennsylvania Family Law Blog wrote an interesting post entitled "Superior Court Changes How Businesses are Valued."

In the Balicki case that Aaron discussed, at issue was the valuation of an insurance agency.  It was understood that the business would not be sold, therefore, in deciding the value of the business, the Master excluded expenses of sale, transfer, or liquidation which could include broker commissions, finders fees, attorney fees and accountant fees. The appellate court reversed finding that this was improper.  Moreover, the appellate court found error in the fact that the Master failed to take into consideration any taxes that may be associated with the sale or liquidation of a business.


Aaron noted that the appellate court held that Pennsylvania statutes 23 PACSA § 3502(a)(10.1) and (10.2) required that for the purposes of equitable distribution of marital property, the Court must consider the Federal, state and local tax ramifications even if they are not “immediate and certain”, and similarly, the sale, transfer, or liquidation of an asset need also not be “immediate and certain,” either.


The practical effect of this reducing these hypothetical expenses is that it reduces the marital estate, and therefore, the other spouses overall equitable distribution award. Would the same result be reached in New Jersey?

Continue Reading In Business Valuation, Are Hypothetical Costs of Sale Considered to Reduce Value? Court in NJ vs. PA Disagree

In today’s New York Post, there is an article by Kieran Crowley and Lorena Mongelli about a Long Island, New York law suit filed by a man to obtain the return of the engagement ring that he gave to his fiance’, who had been his high school sweetheart.  Apparently, she refused to return the engagement ring and broke off the engagement after learning that he allegedly cheated on her.  She counterclaimed that she suffered from emotional distress as a result of his actions.

The judge ruled that state law allows a person to get back property that was given "in contemplation of marriage" if the marriage doesn’t occur. The judge wrote that "Consequently,fault in the breakup of an engagement is irrelevant."

As noted by Apple Sulit-Peralejo in a blog post on this blog last October, the law in New Jersey regarding this issue is essentially the same.

Aaron Weems, an associate in our Bucks County office and editor Fox Rothschild’s Pennsylvania Family Law Blog wrote an interesting entry entitled "Parental Alienation:  Programs Seek Solutions to Parent/Child Discord." 

The post discusses two programs that deal with parental alienation.  One is Overcoming Barriers Family Camp in Natick, Massachusetts,  The other is the Rachel Foundation for Family Reintegration located in Kerrville, Texas.

There is also a psychologist in New Jersey, Dr. Amy Baker, who has written and lectured extensively regarding this issue. 

We have blogged about this topic several times in the past, both on whether Parental Alienation will be added to the DSM, to Appellate cases addressing this issue, to the possibility of a cause of action in tort being considered, as well as several abduction cases.  We will continue to address this important topic whenever we can provide relevant information about it.

In New Jersey, in a family court matter, if a party’s position is unreasonable or taken in bad faith, the other party can seek reimbursement of attorney’s fees. This was the case in the recent unpublished decision of Ramirez v. Ramirez, New Jersey App. Div., Docket No. A-2035-08T32035-08T3, November 24, 2009

 In Ramirez, the parties were divorced by a Dual Final Judgment of Divorce entered on January 29, 2007, which incorporated a settlement agreement. Following the divorce, in three separate motions, plaintiff persisted in seeking a re-calculation of defendant’s income based upon allegations and documentation relating to circumstances that existed for several years prior to their 2007 divorce. In his December 21, 2007, decision the judge put plaintiff on notice that she had failed to establish a change in circumstances. Nonetheless, plaintiff filed a cross-motion in August 2008 and a motion for reconsideration on October 6, 2008, both of which continued to seek the same relief based upon the same allegations. As a result, defendant was compelled to incur "unnecessary costs" for which he is entitled to be reimbursed. Under these circumstances, the judge awarded and the Appellate Division affirmed the counsel fees awarded to defendant.


Connecticut seems to be the hotbed of celebrity divorces these days. 

Yesterday’s news reported that model Stephanie Seymour will have to make due on $270,000 per month in temporary support while her case is pending.  The news accounts report that her husband nets $1.5 million per month making this appear to be a veritable drop in the bucket.

Today’s new reports that sportscaster Jim Nantz has to pay his wife $72,000 per month in permanent alimony plus $1,000 per week in child support.  This is a substantial amount if his income is $3.2 million as noted in one place but not so much if his income is $7 million as reported in other places. 

Aside from a look into the lives of the rich and famous, this shows another thing – that is, divorce can be a very public airing of very private matters.  While perhaps it may be more noteworthy for celebrities, even much of regular people’s divorce can become part of the public record.  While it is not possible to completely avoid this, treating each other in a dignified and fair manner and settling issues is a way to help keep things out of the public record.