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Exploring Alternative Dispute Resolution for Families during Coronavirus

Cohn.jpgThere can be no doubt that the history books will write about COVID-19 and that some parts of life as we know may have permanently changed. Under stay-at-home orders, it might seem like your life and divorce have come to a screeching halt indefinitely. That can be very disconcerting and frustrating for co-parents and spouses, particularly where parenting time issues exist. And though courts are still hearing emergent applications, it can be hard to know if your situation will qualify as an "emergency" such that it warrants filing an application that may or may not be heard over the next few months. So what are your options?

There is no "one size fits all" approach during this pivotal time. If you and your co-parent have a court order in place or some other custody agreement, try to be compliant as much as possible. However, this is also not the time to try to fit a square peg into a round hole. It is important to recognize that some parents will inevitably need to work additional hours to deal with the crisis, while others may have lost income and be traversing the world of homeschool. Now is the time to be flexible, creative, and reasonable to maintain the best interests of your children.

Is Mediation Right for You?

By Mary Ann Stokes 

During my 20 years of mediating more than 3000 family law cases I believe that the most important function that I serve as mediator is to make sure that the parties, jointly and individually, have all the information that they need to make decisions about how they want to share time with their children, divide their assets and liabilities and share their income stream(s). It is also my obligation as mediator to provide a safe environment for the parties to speak their individual truths and to help each hear what the other is saying. Think about this: When did you stop listening to what your partner was saying? Did you even make it through the honeymoon or is the communication breakdown more recent? How are you going to decide how to handle your divorce if you can't communicate?

Based upon where you are now, is mediation right for you, right now?

New Federal Laws Impact Employers and Employees

Over the last week a number of important new laws have been signed into law at the Federal level. The attorneys of Cohn Lifland can assist both employers and employees in understanding their rights and responsibilities under these new statutes.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

The FFCRA was signed March 18, 2020, and goes into effect April 2, 2020. The FFCRA contains two separate laws; the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) which expands the previously existing Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) called.

What authority does an executor have in probate disputes?

The main priority of the executor is to handle the final affairs of an estate and make sure they carry out a decedent’s last wishes.

While the executor has authority granted by the New Jersey Surrogate Court to act on behalf of the deceased person, that does not mean they have the final say on all probate decisions.

Why does bankruptcy happen?

Bankruptcy is something that can happen to anyone. Even those who do careful financial planning can find themselves facing unexpected events that they never could have anticipated. It's always a lingering threat in a society that is so driven by money.

To help paint a picture of how it happens, here are a few of the top reasons.

Does the Coronavirus impact my Spring Break Parenting Time?

Spring Break has been written in bold letters across your 2020 calendar for months. You've been looking forward to taking your children on the cultural excursion of a lifetime this Spring Break to Italy and you've been counting down the days one at a time. Your dreams have been filled with boat rides on Lake Como, a trip to the Coliseum in Rome, and a pasta cooking class in Bologna. But then it happened . . . COVID-19 spread from Hubei Province to Italy and your ex-spouse's name pops up on your Caller ID. You let it go to voicemail but listen to the dreaded voicemail, "Look, I know it is your Spring Break this year and I approved, but circumstances have changed so I am no longer on board with you taking the kids to Italy with this coronavirus outbreak. You need to cancel." So what can you do?

The Importance of Estate Planning

A will is, in many ways, a person's final words. It lays out their wishes for the future, including how they would like to see their assets and property distributed. It represents the individual's voice for surviving loved ones.

How unchangeable are wills? When can a will be contested? Here's a brief overview.

A Rising Trend of Tracking “Problem Officers”

Police officers play a vital role in the apprehension, including the initial investigation and arrest, of suspected criminals.  However, law enforcement is often further called upon to provide their insight via courtroom testimony.

Attorneys in the business of defending their clients charged with crimes have had to overcome obstacles with officers who, at best, lack credibility, and, at worst, engage in deceptive, corrupt, and outright abusive behavior.

A Supreme Slap on the Wrist for Careless Creditors

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued in the summer of 2019, Taggart v. Lorenzen, 587 U.S. __ (2019), will hold creditors' feet closer to the fire. In its unanimous decision, authored by Justice Breyer, the Supreme Court decided that creditors are not immune to civil contempt charges for pursuing debts already discharged in bankruptcy. Its ruling overturned a Ninth Circuit Court decision that effectively gave creditors, who were already engaged in collection actions, a pass for presuming that formal bankruptcy discharge orders do not apply to them.

The facts of this case involved a dispute between partners in a real estate venture. After two partners filed suit against the remaining members, Petitioner Taggart filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and thereafter received a discharge. After the conclusion of the bankruptcy, the respondents continued the state court action, and included the Petitioner in the continued proceedings. The state court found in favor of the respondents, and allowed any party to petition for attorneys fees. After the respondents filed an application for fees against Petitioner Taggart, Petitioner Taggart requested that the bankruptcy court hold the Respondents in contempt for their violation of the discharge order. The bankruptcy court held the company in contempt only to see their sanction vacated by the Bankruptcy Panel, finding that the respondents had a good faith belief that the discharge order did not apply to the claim for attorneys' fees. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the ruling.

What are the most common reasons for construction disputes?

When you decide to get involved in construction projects of any size, you should consider your potential liability. As part of that process, you should strongly consider purchasing appropriate insurance and making sure you understand the laws that apply to the project. In most cases, these steps are only the beginning of the analysis.

Managing your liability can also mean being a good team player. Construction projects often involve many players, including owners, architects, project managers, contractors and subcontractors. All of these people need people need to work together.  In order to do so, they need to start the project with clear, well-written contracts. When they don’t, things get messy—as shown by a recent report on the top causes of construction disputes.

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