All posts by Borrus Law

New Ruling on Grandparent Visitation Rights

A new case by the NJ Supreme Court has recently ruled that grandparents who sue for visitation rights of their minor grandchildren may have more standing than previously thought. According to the decision, this would include filing the claim as a complex litigation, which carries with it clauses for discovery and case management conferences. This is a new movement in the direction of granting greater rights to grandparents, with the explicit intention of causing the best possible outcome for the child involved.

The Case: The above grandparent visitation decision came out of a state decision on Major v. Maguire, in which a couple was married for several years, and then divorced, before the former husband died of cancer four years later. The parents of the deceased husband then had a very negative relationship with their former daughter in law, and were denied contact with their grandchildren. This is a classic case of reasons why grandparents would be looking to file for visitation rights. In solving this case, the court has laid out a more clear proceeding for others of similar nature to successfully be litigated in the upcoming years.

In a statement released to the court, Justice Anne Patterson said that “the court’s focus, and that of the parties, must be on the welfare of the child…no matter how difficult the circumstances may be.” This is in line with typical divorce and child custody arrangements and carries over here with grandparent visitation.

Six Principles for Visitation: In their decision, the state has included six specific legal principles for the grandparent visitation with their grandchildren where previously denied:

  1. The case management should be guided by the legal template in R. 5:5-7, which lays out specific steps into successfully arbitrating the disagreement.
  2. The plaintiff should file a non-conforming complaint in addition to the initial form pleading under Directive 8-11. This is required to sufficiently prove their need for visitation.
  3. In the event of required discovery, both parties should be working together to make the process go as smoothly as possible.
  4. For the grandparents to meet their burden, they may require expert testimony to come forward to prove that there has been harm done in their denial of spending time with the grandchildren.
  5. After the grandparents have had their time to conduct fact finding and expert discovery and cannot do so, a court should not hesitate to dismiss their charge.
  6. Finally, the families and parties involved in the arbitration should always been encouraged to work through it individually through mediation, as it is in the best interest for the family as a whole, and in turn the child in question.

What should you do? If you have been denied grandparent visitation with your grandchildren and have sufficient proof that this is causing harm to the child, you may be eligible to file suit to regain these rights. For a legal consultation with attorneys, Esq. at Borrus, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman, and Stahl PC, give us a call today at 732-422-1000.

Last Minute NJ Laws

As nearly a two year session of legislation comes to a close in New Jersey, there are a multitude of bills that lawmakers are pressing to get signed before the end. Here are a few of the top bills to watch.

  1. Pensions: This proposed referendum would permit voters to weigh in on the state’s contribution to the pension of their government workers. On one side, opponents of the bill believe that paying for the rising cost of pensions could bankrupt the government, while supporters say it not to fund the system could ruin the pensions of more than 800,000 New Jersey workers who are either retired or currently employed by the state.
  2. Hotel Taxes: This is a bill which would permit counties to impose a one percent tax on hotels. It was introduced by Senate President Stephen Sweeney.
  3. Drones on Drones: One of the biggest hot-button issues in the recent years has been the laws surrounding drones, new technology that has many Americans fearing for their safety as well as privacy. Under this new legislation, law enforcement use of drones would have additional rules, which sponsors say will improve personal privacy.
  4. Smoking: Expected to be finally approved by the Assembly, this is a major new law that would raise the age of sale for tobacco products, namely cigarettes, to 21 rather than the current 19 years of age.
  5. North Jersey Casinos: This has been a controversial issue between the Senate President and Assembly Speaker. They have been debating on whether or not to include a question about allowing the casinos on the ballot for the November election cycle, and the odds of this one getting resolved aren’t as good as some of the other bills.
  6. Smart Guns: These are a hot-button issue for Governor Christie, as one of the main platforms in his struggling presidential campaign includes lessened gun control and an increased focus on second amendment rights. In one submitted bill, gun shop owners would need to carry a smart gun, which could only be fired by the owner. This is expected to be vetoed by Christie.
  7. Remapping Legislative Districts: In this proposed constitutional amendment, Democrats are pushing for a rezoning of NJ’s 40 districts of legislation ever ten years, which they claim will make each vote more fairly counted. However, the Republicans believe it would only give the Democrats a bigger advantage which they have already enjoyed.

The laws and proposed legislation in New Jersey are always changing, so it’s important when you have a legal conundrum to consult with an accomplished attorney who stays up to date on our many state laws. At Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman and Stahl PC, we pride ourselves on doing just that. For a  consultation about any of our services, give us a call today at 732-422-1000.

State Judges Consider Employment Rights in Firing of Divorcee

In a story straight out of a soap opera, the New Jersey Supreme Court heard a case earlier this month revolving around the rescue squad of Millville, Cumberland County.  At the center of it all is a seventeen-year veteran of the squad, Robert Smith, who claims that he was fired from his long-held position after getting divorced, for the primary reason that his superior holds discriminatory beliefs against divorce. According to the squad captain and the board of directors, Mr. Smith’s firing came about due to poor work performance, rather than negative stereotypes.

The firing in question happened back in 2006, and the initial suit filed by Mr. Smith was originally dismissed by a trial judge. It was reinstated by the Appellate Division, and the Supreme Court of NJ agreed to hear the appeal by the squad. Here is some of the background information on this employment issue case, and more details on the arguments given by both sides.

He Said– Smith: Mr. Smith and his attorney argued that the case is clearly discriminatory and in violation of the LAD, or Law Against Discrimination in New Jersey. He says that the LAD prohibits an “employer dictating social policy”, which he and Smith claim was what happened in this incident. As the squad argued additionally on the possibility of disputes could have happened between Smith and other squad members, who were relatives of his ex-wife, Iavicoli fought against their ability to stereotypically predict hostility where it had not been shown. He additionally argued that Smith had done very well in his position, saving the squad ‘millions’, and that any arguments that he was let go for performance reasons were unfounded.

They Said– Squad: According to the Millville rescue squad, and their legal representation, Mr. Smith had been underperforming at work, and the possibilities of hostility between himself and his former mother-in-law and two sisters-in-law, who both worked alongside him on the squad, were too much to risk. It was also mentioned that the reason for divorce was due to Mr. Smith cheating on his wife with another co-worker on the squad. Their attorney drew comparisons to the employment rights of an employee if their child married the CEO of a competing organization.

They Said—Judges: After the case was originally dismissed by Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Richard Geiger, it was reinstated by Appellate Division Judges Carmen Alvarez and Mitchel Ostrer, who said that the firing happened due to “stereotypes about divorcing persons… [that] they are antagonistic, uncooperative with each other, and incapable of being civil or professional in each other’s company in the workplace.” They also cited rising divorce rates in the United States, and seek to clarify that the LAD does cover divorced persons as covered under marital status in protections against discrimination.

If you feel you have been wrongly terminated from your place of employment due to discriminatory practices, you need an attorney who will fight for you. Contact Steven Fox at Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman and Stahl to learn how our half-century of legal experience can protect your career and future. Call us at 732-422-1000 today for a consultation.

Updates for NJ Alimony

After years of toiling under outdated alimony laws, advocates for change gained a win last fall when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a bill which would update the state’s alimony proceedings and structures. At Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman & Stahl we’ve compiled the top four changes to NJ’s alimony laws that you need to know.

  1. Reduced payments for the unemployed. Under the old law, payments of alimony could be reduced if you lost your position, but this was an unwritten portion and the length of unemployment was at the discretion of a judge, many of whom would require the unemployment period to be at least a year. Now, you can ask for lower payments on your alimony after being unemployed for three months, which makes it much more fair for someone without income to get back on their feet without the extra pressure of alimony payments based on their previous income.
  1. It’s mostly only relevant for new divorces. Except for the retirement age stipulation, which says that anyone who is paying lifetime alimony can stop those payments when they retire, the majority of the changes in this new alimony law only affect couples who are not yet divorced. For those new couples, there are some serious changes to lifetime alimony along as well.
  1. Alimony is not forever. Perhaps one of the biggest changes in the new alimony laws, permanent alimony has been done away with, and many other payments shortened to correspond with the length of the onetime marriage. Once a person making payments to their former spouse has reached the federal retirement age of 67, they can apply to a judge to have their monthly payments reduced or stopped entirely. For marriage lasting for less than 20 years, the new law also rules that alimony cannot be paid for longer than the length of the marriage. These new portions of the alimony law come as a way of updating the system from a time when women did no work outside of the home and were more financially dependent on their husband.
  1. Additional restrictions for new live-in relationships. As was already law, a former partner can no longer receive benefits from their ex-spouse once they begin to reside with someone new, married or not. The new law further clarifies the guidelines for this requirement, as many people would regularly work to find loopholes around this law. Some common strategies to avoid losing alimony benefits included living at a partner’s house while being registered at a small apartment or room elsewhere or listing other unaffiliated addresses. The new law will crack down on anyone trying to avoid the legal processes for this ending.

If you are currently paying alimony or working through a divorce where alimony is on the table, you need an experienced attorney on your side that is also up to date with the newest of legal definitions and proceedings. We work hard to represent your needs for each individual case. With more than 50 years of experience in central NJ, you can count on our team to serve you right. Give attorneys a call today at 732-422-1000 to learn more about how we can help you.

Family Law Overview

Family law is a large umbrella that encompasses many different aspects, such as marriage and divorce, legal separation, child support and custody, visitation, adoption, paternity, domestic violence, juvenile criminal matters, and child abuse. Matters in this area of the law usually involve a wide range of emotions, from adoptions to divorces, happy occasions, sad occasions, and everything in between. Because this realm of the law typically has a sensitive nature, it’s wise to seek attorney assistance in order to keep your feelings from affecting the legal issue at hand.

Many family law matters, such as divorce or legal separation, can lead to additional complicated issues like alimony, child support, custody and visitation, and the division of property. Property settlement or premarital agreements can enforced by the court in lieu of state laws to determine the rights of both parties. Hiring an attorney experienced in drafting these documents can make the overwhelming emotional process much easier.

In matters of domestic violence, the statute covers current or former spouses, a present or previous dating relationship, parents of a child, an elderly family member, or even a roommate. The court generally issues a restraining order for these matters, but the hearings can be difficult and revisiting physical and emotional abuse brought upon the other party can be traumatic.  This is one reason why it’s important to have a seasoned attorney to assist you so that you are prepared for experience.

Regardless of the matter, family law can be hard to maneuver. The emotional toll that comes with many of these issues can leave you with uncertainty, resulting in a less than satisfying judgment. Hiring an experienced attorney in family law provide you with allied assistance to work with you and to see you through the case. attorneys has the experience necessary to help you through your difficult family matters to make the process as easy as possible. Call today for a consultation at (732) 422-1000.

Are You an Independent Contractor or an Employee?

With the increasing amount of job opportunities to fit your lifestyle, time, and experience, it’s not very surprising to see companies like Uber and Homejoy popping up all over the country. Enterprises like these offer positions for people looking to work for themselves and make their own schedules. If you have yet to hear a radio advertisement for Uber, they are a service providing drivers with people who need rides in the area. The driver just has to open the application on their mobile device and can start making money by giving rides to those who need one. Drivers use their own vehicle and sign up with the company whenever they feel like opening their application. The fares are generally predetermined through the application, and both the driver and the rider know exactly how much it will be after the start and end locations are determined.

Although it may seem like a perfect opportunity to make extra money after a normal 9 to 5 position, there are problems that derive from this method of operation. Many of these companies classify their workers as independent contractors instead of employees. For some, using an independent contractor may be beneficial, especially if the work done is completely self-produced. For example, many freelance workers contribute their work, writings, services, photos, etc. to a company without any required training from the enterprise itself. A freelance photographer may work with a newspaper contributing photos, but they received no training from the business. In this type of situation, their work is not guaranteed every week; their pay is determined by the work they complete, usually not for the hours they work.

Some of these new start-ups try to pass off their workers as these independent contractors to avoid the responsibilities of having employees, thus saving on labor costs.  Where the problems begin is when their workers require training and accountability from the company. Instead of offering third party services, which give contractors authority over their work, these enterprises control their workers by the tools used and the expectations of their behavior while working. It’s this control that really differentiates between an independent contractor and an employee. Any type of training, use of an application, or another method to tell workers how to do their jobs is a staple in determining whether employee or independent contractor is an accurate title. Businesses with employees are subject to certain laws regarding payment, taxes, and even insurance. Employees are eligible to receive certain benefits from the company they work for. Independent contractors are rarely subject to those types of things because they are free to work for themselves or other businesses providing the same work.

Companies like Uber and Homejoy are facing lawsuits all over the country because of this problem and courts are ruling against them. If you are working for an enterprise that classifies you as an independent contractor but holds you accountable for a standard of work that actually classifies you as an employee of the company, you may have a case. Attorney Steven Fox has the experience to help you fight for your rights. To see if you may qualify for a case against an unjust company for similar reasons, call today for a consultation at (732) 422-1000.

9 Steps to Winning A Personal Injury Suit

If you’re seeking out an experienced lawyer to help you win your personal injury case, you are already taking the first great step to securing fair restitution for your medical needs. With all of us at Borrus, Goldin, Foley, Vignuolo, Hyman & Stahl P.C, you can be sure that you’ll have an experienced and accomplished team on your side to fight for your legal injury needs. However, there are several key steps that you can take as well to provide you with the best opportunities to prove your case and ensure you receive the best financial settlement for your bodily well-being.

  1. Take care of immediate medical needs. This one should be self-explanatory, but you can damage your chances at getting later compensation if you can’t prove what the immediate effects of your injury were, and what might have occurred from later unrelated circumstances. And of course, you need to take care of yourself in the short term as well!
  1. While getting treatment, make sure it’s covered by your insurance network as much as you can. This will save you headaches along the way fighting with your insurance company and prove that you’ve been trying to do everything along the rules.
  1. Always tell your doctors about your injuries each time you visit, and any ongoing issues they’ve caused for you. This will make sure that they have your evolving complaints or side effects on record, and they can be called upon to testify regarding your injuries.
  1. Go to every doctor and physical therapy appointment, and make sure you follow their instructions You’re trying to heal, and want to be able to prove this to anyone who should come questioning that reality.
  1. Keep your lawyer in the loop with your medical care or any changes to your work status. We’re your best ally in this case, and to help you win it, need to be aware of all pertinent information, even if you might not realize its importance upfront.
  1. Record all of your injuries or property damage with photographs, immediately following the incident and ongoing if there are any notable changes. Having concrete proof is important in proving your injuries. The old adage ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ is true here too!
  1. Hold on to any objects that might be related to the case, and could be used as evidence. If you were the victim of a malfunctioning product, hold on to the packaging as well as the physical item.
  1. Make social media private. If you haven’t done this already, it’s imperative to do so immediately and to remove any posts about the case. This can and will be used against you—and how many of your Facebook friends can you really trust to keep your information secure?
  1. Stay accessible to your lawyer, and let us know if you have any chances in phone number, address, or are going to be unavailable for any period of time. We’ll need to be able to get in touch with you, and encourage you to reach out to us frequently as well.

When you take case of the records and your personal steps to achieving a beneficial solution in your personal injury case, working with attorneys David Foley and Steven Fox is the ideal next step in making sure you receive the medical care and legal recognition you deserve. Contact our North Brunswick office at 732-422-1000 to speak with an attorney about how we can work with you to win your case.

Mediation: An Alternative Dispute Resolution

The cost of litigation is significantly increasing and even seemingly straightforward family law matters can go from affordable to overwhelming. Alternate ways to handle your matter can help defray the costs of court proceedings and aid in resolving the issue without the stress of a hearing.

A very convenient option is mediation. This is a great alternative to costly litigation focuses on the two disputing parties discussing the matter with the help of a mediator to work out the issues between them to come to an agreement or resolution. The mediator is an unbiased third party (an attorney), who is there to facilitate negotiations between both parties.

The process of mediation begins with the mediator’s opening statement, where introductions and explanation of the rules and the goals are addressed. It is optimal for the involved parties to agree to work cooperatively toward a resolution. After introductions, each party is able to tell their side of the story, how the issues between both sides affected them, and give any potential resolutions that they think would work. After each side has had his or her say, the mediator will talk with both parties to determine the specific issues that need resolution.

After the initial discussion, there is an opportunity for each side to meet with the mediator separately to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of his or her position and to think about different suggestions for the settlement. While the mediator speaks with both parties to discuss potential ways to settle the disputes, he or she also gets a more structured idea about what kind of negotiation will have the best result between the two sides.

Once each party has spoken with the mediator individually, everyone comes back together and negotiates based on everything the mediator has heard and discusses which each side. If an accord is reached, the mediator can put the main details of the agreement in writing while those involved ensure the arrangement is accurately documented. From there, either both parties can sign the agreement or they may take a copy to their lawyers for review. Though the mediator is an impartial, unbiased person trying to help resolve your dispute, there may be a key point or a phrase missing from the agreement that could make all the difference.  If an agreement is not reached, the mediator will explain the options going forward, including another mediation date, arbitration, or suggest going to court.

Mediation provides an alternative to litigation and avoids the overwhelming feeling of attending a court hearing in front of a judge. Though mediation works specifically to help resolve the issues between both parties, it may be helpful to seek the assistance of an attorney to help you decide if mediation or another alternate dispute resolution is right for your legal issues. Contact attorneys Esq. to help you determine whether an alternate dispute resolution is right for your matter. Call today at (732) 422-1000.

Zoning and Planning

Zoning and planning refer to the regulations of developing and construction. In New Jersey, the laws vary throughout the different municipalities. Property and home owners must abide by these statutes when making changes to their properties or constructing a new building by obtaining the proper building or zoning permit. The process requires the owner to apply to the appropriate municipal official. The permit application may be denied if the change or construction violates the current zoning or planning law.

In that event, you have the opportunity to apply to request an approval from the Municipal Planning Board, Zoning Board, or Combined Land Use Board. These panels generally conduct a meeting for every request and give the petitioner an opportunity to explain why they want the permit. The board also hears from members of the public about their concerns, objections, or support of the proposal before they make a decision considering all the facts and evidence presented.

If the board denies your application for a permit, you can appeal that decision through the Court. This process is generally done by filing an action with the Superior Court. If you decide to file an appeal, you only have a certain amount of time to do so. In New Jersey you must file within 20 days of the board’s decision.

For obtaining the proper zoning or planning permit for your project or new construction, the process can become complex, especially if the board initially denies your application. Seeking the assistance of an experienced attorney will help ensure you have the best chance in obtaining the permit. Let James E. Stahl work with you through the process. Call today for a consultation at (732) 422-1000.