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Marital Settlement Agreements

Statistics show that less than 2% of all divorces filed in New Jersey actually go to trial.  98%+ divorce cases settle prior to trial.  That means that 98%+ of divorcing couples enter into and sign a marital settlement agreement (a.k.a. property settlement agreement).  In most cases, divorcing spouses resolve the issues in dispute through mediation, the collaborative divorce process, through the traditional litigation model before trial, negotiation between attorneys, and sometimes with the assistance of the court.  Many cases settle at or after the Early Settlement Panel (ESP).  When spouses settle their disputes, they enter into a formal, written, marital settlement agreement (MSA) which they sign.  These agreements are typically drafted and reviewed by attorneys and become a part of the final judgment of divorce which are enforceable as if they were court orders.

Restraining Orders

Such an order, while not guaranteeing a person’s safety from another, does provide a remedy when another person refuses to respect boundaries. If you are a victim of physical abuse or have been verbally assaulted, you should call the police immediately. Once you are safe, please contact an experienced attorney in our offices at BorgerMatez to assist you.

Premarital and Cohabitation Agreements

Some people (often those with businesses or other assets of value, second marriages, etc.) want to enter into a premarital agreement before getting married; others do not wish to marry but want to live together and desire to enter into  an agreement that governs their rights and obligations to one another while they live together (cohabit) and in the event of a divorce. It is critically important in either premarital agreements or cohabitation agreements that the parties allow sufficient time before the wedding or cohabitation commences to properly negotiate the terms of such agreements.  All of the attorneys in the firm have experience in negotiating and drafting such agreements.  Our attorneys also have experience in litigating the enforceability of such agreements.

Legal Issues of the LGBTQ Community (Domestic Partnerships & Civil Unions)

New Jersey now recognizes marriage between same-sex couples!  As a result, same-sex couples who marry have the same rights and obligations as heterosexual couples who marry, and the laws related to separation and divorce apply to all. At one time New Jersey had a Domestic Partnership Act for LGBT couples who were unable to marry and heterosexual couples of age 62 or over who live together (cohabit) who chose not to marry. NJ then adopted a Civil Union Act bringing the status of LGBT couples closer to that of married heterosexual couples.  Although same-sex marriage (gay marriage) is now legally recognized in NJ, some Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions remain valid.  We represent members of the LGBTQ community seeking to divorce or dissolve Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions in NJ either through mediation, Collaborative Law, negotiation, or litigation.  We are prepared to draft agreements and assist individuals in Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions to protect themselves and their rights regarding their children, support, the distribution of assets, allocation of debts, insurance, and other family law issues.  For more information or a consultation, call our office.

Domestic Violence (Temporary and Final Restraining Orders)

At BorgerMatez, our attorneys represent both victims of domestic violence and defendants who have been accused of domestic violence. The most common forms of domestic violence are assault, threats, and harassment. Abuse does not have to be physical, but can be any behavior that causes the victim to fear for his or her safety. Some examples include verbal threats to strike, kick or sexually assault the victim, sending harassing e-mails or text messages, excessive phone calls without a legitimate purpose. In New Jersey, victims must be 18 years old or older to file a domestic violence complaint in court. The courts do not distinguish between victims based on physical or psychological condition or by sexual orientation. The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is not limited to protecting only married individuals but includes persons who are cohabiting and even only dating.  A Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) may be entered by a hearing officer, Judge of the Superior Court or Judge of the Municipal Court, upon the application of the alleged victim who must testify about what happened and that he/she is in fear of his/her safety and a restraining order is necessary to protect him/her.   If a TRO is granted, the court will schedule a hearing within approximately 10 days and the defendant will be served with the TRO advising him/her of the date for the final hearing. At the final hearing, the parties will have an opportunity to testify, bring witnesses and evidence, and the court will ultimately determine if the defendant committed an act of domestic violence, and, if so, if the victim requires the protection of a Final Restraining Order (FRO). In addition to entering an FRO, upon a finding of domestic violence, Judges have the discretion to also grant other relief such as custody and parenting time, spousal support, child support, sole occupancy of a home, possession and use of vehicles and other assets, monetary damages, and more.

A Restraining Order does not necessarily guarantee a person’s safety from another, but does provide that if the defendant violates the order, he/she will be arrested and charged with a fourth degree crime.  Domestic Violence Restraining Orders in New Jersey are permanent; they never expire.  Upon a finding of domestic violence and the entry of an FRO, the defendant’s name is placed on a national Domestic Violence Registry which may impact his/her ability to obtain security clearances, work with or near children, adopt a child, enter the law enforcement field, and which may have other consequences. If you are a victim of physical abuse or verbally threatened or harassed, you should call the police immediately. Once you are safe, contact an experienced attorney in our office at BorgerMatez to assist you. If you’ve been charged with committing an act of domestic violence and a TRO has been entered against you, call one of our experienced attorneys at BorgerMatez to represent you and protect your interests and your future.