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  • 1 Feb 2023 12:08 PM | Deleted user

    By Leap US, AAML NJ Silver Sponsor

    Compliant and efficient trust accounting practices are essential for New Jersey matrimonial attorneys to ensure success and provide their clients with high-quality legal services. Whether a partner or a bookkeeper manages trust accounting processes, outdated practices can leave family law firms vulnerable to inefficiencies, malpractice, and disbarment risks. While this is a daunting prospect, the good news is that legal trust accounting software can eliminate these challenges and provide automated processes that are simple, scalable, and efficient.

    Let’s take a closer look at everything New Jersey matrimonial attorneys need to know about trust accounting.

    What 3 Common Law Firm Challenges Impact Trust Accounting Practices?

    Often, family law firms have limited resources to dedicate to managing all the trusts they’re overseeing. This becomes especially true when there are no digital software solutions to eliminate challenges that prevent law firms from implementing streamlined and compliant trust accounting processes. The three most common challenges are:

    1. Time

    The biggest challenge New Jersey family law firms face is having the time to dedicate to maintaining healthy trust accounting habits. Between court appearances, meeting with clients, preparing documents, and managing payroll, lawyers and their support staff have a minimal amount of time left in a day to put effort into manual trust accounting processes.

    2. Poor Record Keeping

    Receipt management and time recording often occur “after the fact,” which leads to inaccurate records of how much time was spent on client matters or expenses being missed for reimbursement when preparing client invoices. When attorneys have to go back and guess how much work they’ve done or the amount of money spent on a client, it limits how much time can be spent on other tasks.

    3. Data Entry Errors

    Data entry errors are bound to happen if law firms work across spreadsheets and multiple siloed software systems. Without a centralized database, attorneys and bookkeepers can accidentally type in the wrong information or post updates to the wrong trust because they are trying to consolidate information from multiple sources. As a result, these mistakes can lead to overdrawing a trust and malpractice.

    While these challenges can seem overwhelming to solve, legal trust accounting software can eliminate these challenges for more streamlined operations.
    What is Legal Trust Accounting Software?

    Legal trust accounting software systems are a digital solution that enables attorneys and bookkeepers to manage, reconcile, and audit trust accounts automatically for their clients to meet bar and jurisdiction requirements. In addition, reporting should be available within the software to quickly review up-to-date reports on dormant matters with trust account balances, potential trust to receivables transfer, and retained trust accounts for an overview of all trust funds and to ensure that all money is handled compliantly.

    It is important to keep in mind that legal trust accounting software is different from general accounting systems. For example, general accounting programs do not offer the tools and features needed to complete trust accounting-specific functions or label funds appropriately when reconciliations occur at the end of the month.

    Legal Trust Accounting Software Benefits

    There are several benefits that New Jersey family law firms experience when they implement legal trust accounting software.

    • Save Time on Manual Work - Eliminate manual tasks that require attorneys, support staff, and bookkeepers to update spreadsheets, paper files, and siloed systems. When the right legal trust accounting technology is in place, there is no need for double data entry, so staff members can focus on completing more work in the same amount of time. Additionally, the right trust accounting software provides intuitive reporting for attorneys and bookkeepers to get an overview of current trust balances, outstanding next steps, and more.

    • Improve Record Keeping - Trust accounting technology provides a digital trail of all changes in real time in a single database. Financial transactions are saved to the matter for approval on disbursements, invoices, and client transactions. This ensures that reconciliation becomes faster with fewer discrepancies and that all actions are compliant.

    • Ensure Compliance - Software can provide peace of mind for attorneys that all transactions are IOLTA and state bar rule compliant. Trust accounting software can process large transactions at high volume while preventing trusts from being accidentally overdrawn, misused, or mingled with firm funds to prevent malpractice lawsuits.

    The need for compliant and efficient trust accounting practices will only continue to increase as trust accounting regulations evolve. Manual processes waste valuable time and resources for New Jersey family law firms and leave them at risk for malpractice lawsuits and potential disbarment.

    Firms that embrace legal trust accounting software for automation and reporting can eliminate redundant work, improve their records for smoother auditing and client updates, and mitigate compliance risks for their practice. The LEAP legal practice productivity solution provides New Jersey family law firms with everything they need to modernize their entire practice and centralize all data to automate and simplify trust accounting. To learn more about how LEAP could help your firm improve trust accounting practices, visit

  • 25 Jan 2023 11:30 AM | AAML NJ Administrator
    By Carolyn Daly, Esq. | Daly & Associates | AAML NJ 2022 - 2023 President
    Learn More about this Alternative to Traditional Divorce

    Legally dissolving a marriage can prove a trying and stressful time for all parties involved. Collaborative divorce is another way to help you get “divorced without the drama” as it is intended to be a non-adversarial experience. In a collaborative divorce, both parties work together to reach a settlement. Instead of trying to “win,” each party shares the goal of being transparent and flexible in negotiations to reach a resolution they are both satisfied with and that is best for them and their children. It is outcome-directed, solution-oriented, and focused on the client’s goals and family.

    What does a Collaborative Divorce Attorney Do?

    The collaborative divorce attorney will provide guidance, counsel, and representation to the client to ensure that any outstanding issues between the separating spouses are resolved. They must be specifically trained in collaborative divorce, settlement- minded and creative. In order to help the parties, they may bring in other professionals to help assist in the resolution. Some professionals include:

    1. Financial Planners: This will be one neutral professional working with both parties. The financial planner can help the parties determine how cash, stocks, deferred compensation, retirement accounts and other high-value assets, debts and obligations are divided. A financial planner can help with post-divorce budgets and show the parties how various settlement options will enable them both to reach their long term financial goals.
    2. Accountants: Similar to a financial planner but with a slightly different role, a neutral accountant can be brought in to work with both parties to determine their net income, taxes and the best way to file taxes to minimize overall tax burden.
    3. Child therapists or custody experts: No parent wants to lose custody of their children. And children generally need both parents involved in their lives. How that is accomplished is often stressful and can be the most adversarial part of a typical divorce. Having a child therapist or custody expert work with parents can help focus each parent on the needs and well-being of their children so that they reach a time-sharing schedule that works best for them and, most importantly, their children.
    4. Mental health professionals: Sometimes emotions get out of control and put the process at risk. Your lawyer can bring in a mental health professional as a coach that can work with either or both of the parties to help them manage their emotions during the process.
    The Collaborative Divorce Process

    You and your spouse should first discuss if Collaborative Divorce is right for you. If you decide that it is, then you each hire an attorney trained in Collaborative Divorce. The attorneys will speak to each other and prepare a collaborative divorce agreement, which is an agreement to remain out of court. They will then discuss the issues, information needed from the other party and set an initial meeting with an agenda. That meeting is a 4-way meeting where you and your spouse and each attorney meets to discuss the issues. If you have decided that you will need a coach, child therapist, or financial planner, that professional may also attend the initial meeting. More likely you will determine in that first meeting what other professionals you will need and select them. After that meeting, each party will have things they need to do or information they need to gather before there is another meeting. There will then be another, or many other 4-way meetings discussing resolutions, reviewing information from the other party or professionals until a settlement is reached. Once a settlement has reached an agreement is drafted and signed and then the parties can proceed with the process of getting legally divorced.

    Are Court Dates Required?

    Successful collaborative divorces can be made final in New Jersey through one court appearance or the filing of paperwork. As long as all terms and conditions are set forth in an agreement signed by both parties, there should not be any additional court appearances required.

    What if We Can’t Agree?

    While collaborative divorce is a good alternative to a litigated divorce, it does not always result in a settlement. Either party can cease collaborative proceedings at any time. If the negotiations end without a resolution, each client is encouraged to seek new representation to begin litigation. The lawyers who provided representation during the collaborative process cannot continue to offer their services in litigation.

    The Benefits of Collaborative Divorce versus Typical Litigation
    Lower Expenses

    Out-of-court negotiations often result in fewer expenses for the client. They can avoid paying steep legal fees and often need to retain their attorneys for less time. If alimony or child support factors into the discussions, each party can agree to a fair amount independently of judicial decisions.
    Less Stress

    The non-adversarial nature of collaborative divorces creates a less stressful environment for each party. Instead of intense arguments and speaking through third parties, couples can communicate directly with their legal counsel present in a calmer setting. A divorce coach is also very helpful in managing stress and other emotions.

    Greater Ability to Get What You Want

    Divorcing parties can exercise more decision-making power over factors that are most important to them, such as child custody or retaining possession of specific assets. This places more power in the client’s hands and ensures that their true desires are more fulfilled.

    Shorter Process

    In New Jersey, divorce litigation proceedings can now take well over two years to reach trial or resolution. In a collaborative environment, this time is usually one-third to one-half of that timeframe. This allows everyone to transition to their new lives more quickly.

    Increased Professional Support

    As standard practice for a collaborative divorce, your attorney will aid you in hiring a divorce coach. This mental health professional will help resolve any outstanding personal or emotional conflicts so that the proceedings can begin with each partner in a mentally healthier state.

    Long Term Sustained Relationships

    When two parties dissolve their marriage collaboratively, they are generally able to maintain a friendly or cooperative relationship following the divorce. This helps maintain the ability to co-parent children or to resolve any issue that might arise after the divorce is final.

    Interested to learn more about collaborative divorce? Visit our Fellow Directory to find a qualified Matrimonial lawyer.  

  • 17 Jan 2023 11:45 AM | Anonymous

    By Elle Barr | Our Family Wizard, AAML NJ Bronze Sponsor

    A co-parenting schedule can help you raise a family across different homes. Check out this comprehensive guide on the popular 2-2-5-5 custody schedule. Download a free parenting schedule template, learn from expert tips, and see if this rotation will fit your family.

    What Is a 2-2-5-5 Custody Schedule 

    A 2-2-5-5 custody schedule is a shared parenting rotation that splits parenting time 50/50.  Parents split time into two-day and five-day blocks. Many experts like this schedule because parents keep the same days every week, making it easier to remember. 

    You’ll often see the 2-5-5-2 schedule rotation referred to as a custody schedule” or a “parenting schedule.” 

    Joint physical custody is a parenting arrangement where both parents have physical custody over their children. The children rotate their time living with each parent often on a set schedule. When deciding on a schedule, co-parents consider various aspects like work schedules, children’s schedules, children’s ages, and distance between housing to select a parenting plan that works for your unique situation. For those who want shared custody, a 50/50 split can be an attractive option. 

    50/50 custody schedules split parenting time equally. This schedule has grown in popularity, with many co-parenting feeling it is fair and gives kids adequate time with both parents. But a 50/50 custody schedule might not be right for all families. For one, splitting time down the middle introduces complexities that not all co-parents may be equipped to handle.  Instead of one house being the dominant residence, parents with 50/50 custody must balance the logistical challenges of frequent exchanges with the emotional burden of long times apart.  

    Terri Breer, a family law attorney and mediator from California, says co-parents have a lot to think about even when they have agreed to share parenting time equally. “While they may want a schedule that allows for equal parenting time with each parent, co-parents need to consider additional schedules. For example, there might be a better way to break up the weekly parenting schedule, particularly if their work schedules or children’s needs suggest a different arrangement.” 

    The 2-2-5-5 parenting plan offers many benefits for parents who decide that a shared schedule will work best for their children. This rotation keeps the days of the week consistent between co-parents and minimizes time apart.

    Key Takeaways: 

    • The 2-2-5-5 is a 50/50 parenting rotation that gives each co-parent equal time with kids over a two-week period.  
    • As with most 50/50 schedules, 2-2-5-5 works best for co-parents who live near one another and don’t have a high-conflict relationship.  
    • This schedule is best for younger kids, who will go only four full days without seeing a parent. 
    • The 2-2-5-5 schedule gives both co-parents a long weekend with the kids. 
    • A shared co-parenting calendar helps co-parents manage the 2-2-5-5 schedule. 

    Read the full blog post HERE.

  • 10 Jan 2023 11:44 AM | Deleted user

    By Leap US, AAML NJ Silver Sponsor

    As New Jersey matrimonial attorneys start to review different software solutions for their law firms, they will come up with a list of features that they want the solution to include. While it is essential to ensure that the software contains all the features your firm needs to run and operate efficiently, it is equally essential to ensure that the software offers seamless integrations with other common office and legal solutions. These integrations may include tools your firm already uses or new solutions that can provide additional automation and value to your firm.

    In this blog, we will cover the four reasons that New Jersey family law firms should add integrations to their legal software wish list.

     Keep Your Current Systems

    Most law firms are already using common office systems like Microsoft Outlook for email management, Microsoft Word for document assembly and management, and Microsoft Teams or Zoom for internal and external collaboration. If a firm’s staff members are happy using these systems, it is essential that any new system easily integrates with those tools to reduce resistance to change and create a single source of truth. For example, Office 365 integrates with LEAP across multiple workflows. Emails sent and received in Outlook automatically save to the correct matter for all staff members to see the latest correspondence with a client. Additionally, LEAP for Word enables matrimonial attorneys to automate document assembly, instantly track time spent on a document, and have it all saved back to the electronic matter. The Microsoft integration does not require your staff members to shift away from the systems they’re comfortable with and saves them countless hours in administrative work with enhanced features.

     Reduce Manual Work

    The main goal of any software implementation is to create less work across the business to improve productivity and reduce redundant work across the law firm. Where a software solution does not have a native feature to address a challenge matrimonial attorneys face, it should offer an integration that will provide a solution. Let’s take legal calendaring as an example. LawToolBox exclusively integrates with LEAP so that New Jersey matrimonial attorneys can have peace of mind when managing their cases. In a matter of clicks, they can manage critical dates and deadlines related to their cases as reminders populate into their Outlook calendar. This automation eliminates the need for attorneys to manually create reminders, check for updates, and manage timelines. Additionally, it helps to reduce errors caused by missing deadlines which helps to retain the practice’s and attorney’s reputation and maintain client trust and satisfaction throughout the process.

     Simplify Client Communication and Collaboration

    In today’s world, clients expect to be able to access documents and updates at all times and through the convenience of their phone or personal computer. Therefore, family law firms need to identify software solutions that have integrations with a secure and simple collaboration tool that their clients can access. A prime example of this is LawConnect’s exclusive integration with LEAP. LawConnect provides one place to share legal documents between lawyers and clients securely. Matrimonial attorneys can send their clients documents to collaborate using the comment, reply, and sign features online from multiple devices. Not only does this allow clients to quickly and easily provide feedback, but it also creates a secure, single version of truth for attorneys to access the most up-to-date file and have an entire history of any changes.

     Improve Cash Flow and Get Paid Faster

    Ultimately, New Jersey family law firms will struggle to stay in business if they do not have a healthy cash flow. Therefore, the legal software firms choose should offer integrations that simplify billing, invoicing, and payment so that firms can bill more regularly and accurately while getting paid faster. For example, RapidPay, powered by LawPay, integrates with LEAP to provide a secure online portal for clients to submit online payments via credit card. In addition, RapidPay generates payment footers on invoices, automatically produces receipts, and sends payment reminders to clients. These features help firms get paid faster and make it easier for clients to make payments with a user experience they’re comfortable and familiar with. From there, QuickBooks Online and Xero integrate with LEAP to complete law firm accounting without having to key in the same information multiple times into several systems.


    Whether a law firm has no legal software or is looking to change its current tech stack, they must choose a software solution that offers the integrations they need to have access to everything they need to run their firm efficiently. The LEAP legal practice productivity solution provides comprehensive features and several integrations that enable New Jersey family law firms to create a single version of the truth while running a productive and profitable practice. Learn more at

  • 3 Jan 2023 8:18 PM | Deleted user

    By LEAP US, AAML NJ Silver Sponsor

    As technology continues to improve how we complete everyday tasks and increase clients' expectations of the law firms they choose to work with, New Jersey matrimonial attorneys need to identify software solutions that can help automate their firms' business functions. In fact, 47% of law firms plan to increase technology adoption and usage to help support automation and efficiency across their practices.

    As your firm looks at automation tools to stay competitive and improve its overall success, LEAP has put together a checklist of the six legal software automations every New Jersey family law firm needs.

    Document Creation & Management

    Document creation and management are among the most common tasks that cost law firms several hours a week. Matrimonial attorneys can spend many hours, if not days, drafting and organizing complicated legal documents for all of their cases. These processes can lead to lawyers working more than 40 hours a week to compensate for the lost billable time or missing out on the opportunity to take on new cases because they do not have the resources. While legal forms are not one size fits all, an effective legal software will offer document automation features that auto-populate documents in seconds. These features should cover common documents like letters, retainer agreements, and court forms that would typically require hours of copying and pasting data. As less time is spent on repetitive, manual document completion, attorneys and their staff members reduce time spent on fixing accidental data errors, increase their focus on billable tasks, and potentially increase the number of clients they can take on.

    2) Time-keeping Practices

    Regular and accurate time-keeping practices are essential to maintaining a successful and profitable business. However, it is often neglected due to the inconvenience of traditional time tracking tools. When attorneys are on a call, in court, or on the go, they do not have the time to manually start and stop a timer to log the time into a paper-based timesheet. This means that lawyers must go back and estimate how much time they spent on a call, preparing a document, sending an email or letter, and in court. Unfortunately, these estimates are often inaccurate, so your firm loses out on thousands of dollars due to delayed and incorrect invoices. As New Jersey family law firms consider automation tools, they should ensure that automated time tracking is a key feature of the software. When attorneys have a tool that automatically logs their time and the data can be auto-populated in an invoice, it immediately has a positive impact on a firm's bottom line and gives the firm a better growth trajectory.

    New Business Development

    Building a solid connection with a new client starts before your firm even takes on a new case. Clients expect the firms they partner with to be modern and efficient while providing high-quality legal services, starting with the intake process. Automated client intake shows potential clients that you are committed to modern processes and making the process as seamless as possible from the beginning. For example, clients should be able to upload all their documents, schedule a call, and book an in-person meeting without having to go back and forth with you or your staff to find a convenient time or provide their information and documents multiple times. Additionally, once your firm takes on the case, the software should allow attorneys to instantly create a matter that can be updated with new documents, tasks, and all communication records.

    Internal & External Collaboration

    Document sharing and collaboration are key to the client-attorney relationship once you take on a new client. As family law cases deal with highly sensitive and confidential information, it is essential that clients can rest assured that their data is being stored, shared, and sent securely. If your firm uses tools like email or third-party tools (i.e., Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.), your firm cannot ensure data security. An automated document collaboration and sharing tool should offer the highest level of security while allowing attorneys, firm staff, and clients to leave comments, reply, and provide e-signatures directly from their phones or desktop computer. In addition, the collaboration tool should be fully integrated with where all case information is stored to reduce time spent uploading files, potential errors, and the risk of security breaches and noncompliance.

    Billing & Invoicing

    Did you know that nearly half of legal clients are more likely to choose a firm that accepts electronic payments? That means your firm could double your profits simply by having the option for your clients to pay by credit card, wire transfer, or even a common payment app like PayPal. A user-friendly payment system that offers clients a similar experience to common e-commerce interfaces accessed from any device makes it easier for clients to pay their invoices or replenish their retainer. Additionally, more payment options and reminders give you a competitive edge over other New Jersey family law firms that do not offer multiple, modern payment options.

    Legal Deadline Management & Calendaring

    There’s never a good way to tell a client you’ve missed a deadline. It gives your client a negative impression and significantly decreases the chances they’ll be a repeat customer or will recommend your firm to other people. Additionally, missed legal deadlines can lead to malpractice and jeopardize your ability to practice, and cost you thousands of dollars in malpractice lawsuits. An automated calendar or docket system mitigates these risks by importing critical court and legal deadlines into your calendar to ensure that deadlines are hit. An automated solution to manage legal deadlines reduces the risk of missed critical dates (and the subsequent consequences). It also enables better time management for New Jersey attorneys and their support staff.

    Embracing an Integrated Solution

    We recognize that investing in software to address all these business functions individually will be costly and burden your staff members by needing to access multiple solutions for a single case. That is why LEAP offers an all-in-one solution for New Jersey family law firms to automate and streamline every business function. The LEAP legal practice productivity solution offers features for practice management, document management and assembly, legal publishing, and legal accounting so your firm can improve productivity and profitability. When firms partner with LEAP and embrace cloud-based automation, they establish a digital backbone that helps them outpace their competition and address the ever-changing needs of their clients and employees.

    As the legal industry continues to embrace the power of technology, automation is essential for law firms to establish business practices that support longevity and profitability. Inefficiency is no longer rewarded through more billable time as clients expect the law firms they work with to provide fast, high-quality, and modern services. LEAP Legal software provides New Jersey family law firms with the features they need across key business functions to help them automate previously manual and redundant tasks and improve productivity and profitability by 30%.

    Interested in learning more about how LEAP can help your law firm automate your processes? Learn more at

  • 20 Dec 2022 11:53 AM | AAML NJ Administrator

    Written by Ronald Lieberman, Esq. | Adinolfi, Lieberman, Burick, Roberto & Molotsky, P.A., AAML New Jersey Fellow

    A prenuptial agreement is a binding, written document (contract) signed by two people before their wedding to control their rights and obligations in ways which may be different than what the law would compel on those topics. This contract protects assets and sets forth spousal support or maintenance obligations in case of a divorce. There are some things to know before signing a prenuptial agreement.


    Regardless of the desires of the parties, a prenuptial agreement cannot dictate anything having to do with children (such as child support or child custody), whether born before or after the wedding. But, you can dictate financial considerations for children from previous relationships.


    You can enter into a prenuptial agreement without an attorney but going down that path can lead to complications. Your attorney understands the details of the law and will ensure you have fair representation in your prenuptial agreement. The attorney will work to make sure the prenuptial agreement is as “ironclad” as possible by detailing everything out in a way that protects your rights and your assets.


    The purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to keep assets and debts separate and to dictate spousal support/maintenance in case a marriage fails. So, without a full and complete disclosure of all sources of income (earned and unearned), assets, and debts, the prenuptial agreement will likewise fail and assets and debts could end up being divided.

    By disclosing income, assets, and debts, you are protecting them. Such full financial information is important for a healthy relationship and essential for the agreement's validity.


    In New Jersey, a prenuptial agreement must be fair at the time of its entry, which may be different than how the agreement will be interpreted at the time of a dissolution.

    Fair does not always mean there must be a proportionate division of assets and debts, or spousal support/maintenance in line with New Jersey law. But fair will mean a full disclosure of income, assets, and debts, and a relatively equal bargaining power between the parties. The timing of the signing of the prenuptial agreement compared to the date of marriage will also be important in determining fairness.


    One of the worst ideas is to enter into a prenuptial agreement close to the date of marriage. But you will need to hire an attorney, and to discuss the issues with him or her. You will need to compile the information about income, assets, and debts. Your attorney may not be able to provide “laser focus” on your matter because of their obligations and commitments to other clients. So, you should be entering into a prenuptial agreement sooner rather than later compared to the wedding date is the best policy.


    You can control the division of assets and debts, and whether and how spousal support/maintenance will be paid. You cannot dictate the behavior during the marriage of your soon-to-be spouse or limit him or her in any way as to how they live their lives during the marriage. You cannot mandate children be born or adopted, or similarly preclude that option. Any such action will lead a judge to invalidate your prenuptial agreement.

    Are you looking for more guidance on prenups? Contact one of our Fellows

  • 6 Dec 2022 4:34 PM | AAML NJ Administrator

    By Christine Fitzgerald | Seiden Family Law, AAML NJ Fellow

    Children are the most important consideration in any family law matter, in which the parties have children in common, and sometimes, even when they do not have children in common.  When potential clients come in for a consultation, they often have an idea of what they want for parenting time or the custodial arrangement.  But they often are missing key issues or have a misunderstanding of the law or of custody and parenting time in general.  These are seven of the numerous things to know about custody arrangement in New Jersey:

    1. One Size Does Not Fit All: Every family is unique 

    Every custody arrangement is unique.  You and your coparent can craft a custodial arrangement and parenting time schedule that works for YOUR family.  

    2. Legal And Physical Custody Are Different 

    Clients often come in and say I want full custody.  In New Jersey, we have legal custody and physical custody.  Legal custody is who will make the major decisions for the children, such as educational decisions, medical decisions, and religious decisions.  Physical custody is who will be deemed the Parent of Primary Residence of the children and what is the parenting time schedule. 

    3. Preference For Joint Legal Custody

    In New Jersey, there is a strong preference for joint legal custody whereby the parties have to consult, confer and cooperate with each other to make major decisions affecting the best interest of the children together.  

    4. Designation of Parent of Primary Residence

    There does not have to be a designation of Parent of Primary Residence in every case, even when one party has more parenting time with the children than the other parent.  The designation is, however, in cases of 50/50 parenting time when the parties live in different school districts to determine where the children are going to attend school.

    5. You Do Not Need To See The Future

    Custody and parenting time are always modifiable if there is a substantial change in circumstances.  When your children are little, you do not need to anticipate every decision or every possible change that could occur.  You have the option of reviewing and modifying custody and parenting time so long as there is a substantial change in circumstances warranting a modification of the custody and/or parenting time. 

    6. Best Interest of the Child Rules

    The standard that a Court will be considering your custodial arrangement, parenting time, and/or modification of either is what is in the best interest of the child.  You should consider what you are proposing or requesting in those terms. 

    7. Holiday Parenting Time

    Coparents often make the mistake of not thinking about how the holidays will play out in real life.  If both coparents have families that live far away and far from each other and both coparents want to spend holidays with their respective families, then splitting the actual holiday (such as Thanksgiving Day or Easter Day) is not practical. Instead, consider alternating holidays so that one party gets Thanksgiving with the children in even years and the other in odd years.  Think about your traditions and what makes most sense for you, your coparent and, most importantly, the children. 

    As number 1 above makes clear, there is no right way to craft your custodial arrangement. You have to determine what works for your children and your coparent.  Your children are the most important part of your matter so creating a practical arrangement in their best interest is never wrong. 

  • 1 Dec 2022 10:11 AM | AAML NJ Administrator

    By Alex Krasnomowitz, CPA, CVA, MBA | Smolin | AAML NJ Gold Sponsor

    Divorce can be a stressful and time-consuming process. Following the end of divorce proceedings, family law attorneys may find that estate planning is the last thing on their clients’ minds. Still, it’s vitally important that clients update their estate plans to reflect their new situation.

    As an attorney, you may not be the one working on those estate plans, but part of the divorce process is looking to secure long-term security for your client—and that includes solutions for financial success in the future. 

    It is crucial that estate plans are considered when going through a divorce—but it can be a challenge to find the right person to help your client through the basics of estate planning. To set clients up for success in all areas of their divorce, you may have to refer your client to an estate planning attorney, either in your firm or outside your practice. 

    By thinking proactively about solutions for your client, you’ll be helping to protect and control their assets while building valuable referral relationships. Below, we discuss a few key considerations for long-term financial planning that might be indicators your client could benefit from speaking with an estate planning attorney.

    Using trusts to control assets

    Since divorce usually extinguishes an ex-spouse’s rights under a will or other trusts, it is unlikely that a client's property will be directly inherited by an ex-spouse. However, it is still possible that an ex-spouse could have more control over their wealth than they would prefer, especially if they have minor children.

    When a minor inherits property, that property is generally held by a custodian until the child reaches the age of majority—either 18 or 21, depending on the state. A surviving parent (including an ex-spouse) may act as the custodian in some cases, which could allow them to make decisions about how assets in trust are spent or invested until the child comes of age. 

    Creating a trust (or several trusts) for the benefit of your client’s children is a good way to avoid this situation. Trusts allow the grantor to appoint a trustee with the authority to manage the trust’s assets and make distributions. Since the grantor is able to choose this trustee, your client will be able to ensure that assets within the trust will not be controlled by their ex-spouse.

    Different types of trusts to consider

    All of the following trusts may play a valuable role in the estate planning process for individuals who have recently divorced: 

    Revocable living trusts

    Revocable living trusts allow grantors to arrange for the transfer of specific assets to designated beneficiaries. These trusts are commonly used to complement a will, as they allow the assets they contain to avoid the probate process. 

    Irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILIT)

    Irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILIT) allow the grantor to remove the proceeds of their life insurance policies from their taxable estate by transferring ownership of the policies to the trust. An ILIT also allows the grantor's family to pay estate costs using the life insurance proceeds from the trust.

    Credit shelter trusts

    Credit shelter trusts can allow the grantor to maximize the benefits of the estate tax exemption and are particularly useful in cases where the grantor has children from a previous marriage but also wants to ensure a new spouse’s financial security. 

    Qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) trusts

    Qualified terminable interest property (QTIP) trusts may be helpful for clients that have divorced and then remarried. The surviving spouse will receive income from the QTIP trust until their death—after which the beneficiaries are entitled to the remainder.

    Making the right estate plan revisions

    All of the above strategies may allow your clients to exercise greater control over their estates following a divorce. If you have further questions about any of these strategies and how they may be able to help your clients, contact our experienced accountants at Smolin Lupin at any time. 

    And remember—involving an estate planning attorney during the divorce process can be crucial to the long-term success of the divorce agreement. Divorce requires holistic solutions, and the right partner can help you achieve them with the best interest of you and your clients in mind.

  • 8 Nov 2022 10:36 AM | AAML NJ Administrator

    Panel discussion facilitated by Sharon L. KleinExecutive Vice President and Head of National Divorce Advisory Practice | Wilmington Trust | AAML NJ Bronze Sponsor

    In a three-part video series hosted by Family Lawyer Magazine, Sharon Klein moderated a discussion among Cary MogermanMaria Cognetti and Peter WalzerThis powerful team provides insights on notable changes in the family law arena and offers their predictions on how the future of the practice may unfold. 

    Watch the videos to learn what family law firms need to do to evolve, adapt and prosper in the future.

    Link to the videos here

    For more information, reach out to Sharon L. Klein at 212-415-0531 or

  • 1 Nov 2022 10:13 AM | AAML NJ Administrator

    By Carolyn Daly, Esq. | Daly & Associates | AAML NJ 2022 - 2023 President

    You have made the decision to seek a divorce, or to at least get advice about getting a divorce. You have the names for potential lawyers, but what do you ask them?

    There are certainly more than six questions that you will want to ask, but these are a good start to help you in making a decision.

    1. Do you specialize in divorce cases and what credentials do you hold?

    When getting divorced, you want someone who has a lot of experience and hopefully specializes in divorce, particularly if you have complex custody or financial issues. You don’t want someone who is practicing in several different areas of law as they likely lack the depth of knowledge needed to handle your issues.

    You also want someone who understands divorce is emotional so that they will work with you on emotional issues. They can also probably understand the emotions occurring on the other side of the case to navigate how issues are approached with them.

    2. How will my case be handled in the office?

    In some offices, one lawyer will be the only one working on your case. However, in most offices multiple attorneys and other legal staff (e.g. paralegals) will also work on the case. You want to be comfortable with your legal team and know who is working for you. Will the lawyer you consult with be at all court appearances? Is someone else going to handle scheduling or day-to-day questions so that you aren’t billed at the highest rate? Who will be drafting and reviewing documents? You will want to understand how the office works and, if you want the lawyer you are consulting with to be the only one appearing in court, you need to say that in the consult.

    3. How do I communicate with the office and receive information on my case?

    If you retain a smaller law firm, it may be that the lawyer or one secretary is handling all communications. In other firms, there may be specific communication guidelines – you may not be able to simply “walk in” to meet your attorney, but will need to schedule an appointment, or you may need to work with a paralegal or associate to try to resolve minor issues in your case. You will want to know who you can and should e-mail, text (unlikely), have a phone call with or come in person for a meeting. You also need to remember your attorney is handling other cases, so you should know the protocol for how quickly communications are answered. Having good communication with your lawyer will keep you de-stressed and will also help you clarify and define your goals with your lawyer.

    4. How long does it take to get divorced and are there alternatives that might save time and money?

    Most people ask this question multiple times during their case, but it is very hard to answer, especially post-COVID with the very significant shortage of judges that we currently have.

    While the court’s “goal” is to have your divorce complete (including any trial, if necessary) within a year, that is definitely not the norm at present. In most counties, trials take well over two years, and some trials are paused completely. Knowing that, you will want to ask about what alternatives there are that might assist in getting the case, or certain issues, resolved sooner, such as mediation, collaborative divorce and arbitration to name a few. Find out all your options.

    5. What is your retainer amount, the hourly rates for people working on my file, billing cycle and what happens when my retainer is exhausted?

    Divorce can be very expensive so you want to understand what you need to pay to get started. And the “cheapest” lawyer may not be the best choice. You also need to know what each person working on your file charges per hour so that you can try to decide who you may need to speak to, or work with, at different stages of the case. You also want to know how often you will get bills so that you can keep track of your retainer and charges. Finally, you want to know what you will have to pay when the retainer runs out so that you can plan ahead. 

    6. Now that we have talked a little about my case, how would you approach it?

    This person is going to be representing you and working with you to get you what you hope to achieve in the case. So, you want to know that the way they would approach your case, or certain issues aligns with your goals and approach. You may want a very aggressive lawyer, or one who takes the high road, or one who can be either, when necessary. You may be willing to compromise on certain issues to achieve favorable results in others and you will want to know if the lawyer would agree to approach it the way you do, or, if not, why not? You want to gain some insight into the lawyer and what it will be like working with them so that you can decide if that is a person you want to work with for the next year or more.

    There is no right answer to any of these questions, but hopefully the answers help you make a decision on the lawyer you want to represent you as you navigate the difficult, often emotional issues in divorce. And it is why you should always consult with a lawyer before retaining them.


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