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Bergen County, New Jersey, Law Blog

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.

New study reveals a leading cause of medical malpractice claims

News headlines about medical malpractice often make people think about some of the more macabre circumstances. Surgical equipment left inside a patient, a procedure on the wrong body part, fast-spreading hospital infections.

Unfortunately, these scenarios do occasionally happen. But there’s a common cause of medical malpractice claims that is not talked about as much: misdiagnosis.

What you should know about New Jersey's construction lien law

Disputes are not uncommon during construction projects. Oftentimes a contractor and property owner sort out these issues as they arise, with neither party the worse for wear. Occasionally, however, these disagreements extend beyond the conclusion of the project. The dissatisfied property owner refuses to pay their bill in full, accusing the builder of subpar work, warranty violations and delays.

In these cases, a New Jersey law gives contractors a tool to receive what they are owed for the work or services they performed. However, there are also protections for property owners and some harsh sanctions for contractors who abuse this option.

Payback & Alimony - getting reimbursed for your investment in your spouse's education and earning capacity.

Usually, marriage is a shared enterprise and a joint undertaking, but what happens when this enterprise goes awry? If one spouse put the other through higher education, what does she or he get in return for those contributions, when the parties divorce? While not the ideal remedy in every case, reimbursement alimony may be an available means to reimburse a supporting spouse.

In New Jersey, when couples divorce, we divide all of the property that is acquired during the marriage. While the New Jersey Supreme Court has interpreted the word "property" broadly in the context of equitable distribution, we do not include professional degrees or educational expenses under the category of property. However, that does not mean that a supporting spouse is left without a remedy in the event of a divorce. We strive to avoid the inequity that would result if we ignored allow the financial contributions of a sacrificing spouse. That inequity would arise if the "supported spouse" were to retain the degree and/or training, and the subsequent fruits derived therefrom, while the "supporting spouse" was left empty handed. 

What is my child's name supposed to be? If I change my name after my divorce, does my child's name change too?

When parents divorce, they can resume use of their prior surname, if they changed that name when they originally married. Nowadays, fathers and mothers might be facing the question of whether to resume a prior name, especially if they used the same name as their child during the marriage. Parents have the right to change their names; whether a child's name will change depends upon the parents and the Court. Even if parents are not married to each other, there are legal rights to decide the child's surname.

Traditionally, children bear their father's surname. However, in the late 1990s, the New Jersey Supreme Court rejected continued adherence to paternalistic preferences; favoring instead a "gender-neutral approach." The Court established that in child-naming disputes, a child's surname must be determined by applying the best interest of the child standard. This standard is not a new concept. In fact, today it is used to resolve most disputes involving children. It is a totality of the circumstances approach that "applies regardless of the label attached to the parents' relationship at the time of the child's birth. Whether the parents are married, in a civil union, unmarried, or in a short-term or long-term relationship, the relevant starting point is whether the parents agreed on a surname at birth."

Question for 2020: Will I File Joint Income Tax Returns with My Spouse If I Am Getting a Divorce in 2019?


If you are currently going through or are considering a divorce, you may be wondering if you are required to file your tax return jointly with your spouse. Generally, the Internal Revenue Code provides married couples with a choice to file either jointly or separately. In many situations, filing a joint return can be beneficial and reduce a couple's overall tax debt. However, filing jointly also comes with burdens. A joint return can expose a spouse to liability for fraudulent or misrepresentations made on the return even if that spouse did not sign the return. Unsurprisingly, this combination of benefits and burdens can and has led to tension and disagreement between divorcing couples. So, what happens when one spouse wants to file a return jointly, but the other spouse disagrees? Under New Jersey law, a court may compel the unwilling spouse to file jointly. 

A walk on the beach turns dangerous

When on vacation with your family to the beach, a reasonable person might expect to come back with a sunburn. This August, a family vacationing in Wildwood, New Jersey faced a very different sort of harm. 

As they walked on the beach on their last day of vacation before the start of the school year, the 11-year old boy and his family came upon the dog and its owner. After getting permission to pet it from the owner, the boy approached the dog.  At that point, the dog bit the boy on the nose. When the family called an ambulance, the dog owner ran away, though he later turned himself in.

America’s Best Driver’s Report Uncovers the Worst

This summer, as vacationers traveled to their favorite destinations, Allstate released their fifteenth annual America’s Best Drivers Report. The annual study looks at 200 metropolitan areas and ranks them based on the number of property damage claims between January 2016 and December 2017.

Dangerous Drivers. Dangerous Roads.

Breakfast Is the Most Important, Yet Perhaps the Most Dangerous, Meal of the Day

“Part of a healthy breakfast” has been a well-known tagline that ended cereal commercials for decades.  Yet, in today’s modern world, when it comes to growing the grains that promote these good eating habits, the use of products such as Monsanto's Roundup undermines any nutritional value to a toxic level.

Instead of killing just plants, the well-known herbicide is creating potentially deadly health problems for consumers.

How Reliable Are Eyewitnesses?

The reliability of eyewitnesses in identifying a criminal suspect remains a constant source of debate.  Yet, continuing research over this complex topic is revealing surprising, albeit subjective, results. 

Eyewitness identifications are actually broken up into three separate procedures.  First, a "show-up" is where an individual is presented to the witness, and the eyewitness is asked to confirm whether the individual is the perpetrator of the alleged crime.  Second, a "live lineup" is where the suspect (and individuals standing in as "fillers" because they are of a similar height, build, and complexion as the suspect) physically stand before a witness, and the witness is asked to identify the perpetrator.  Third, a "photo array" is where the witness is asked to identify the perpetrator from a variety of photographs, one of which is the suspect, and the rest of which are fillers.  These processes are heavily dramatized in movies and television shows.  However, none of them are as theatrical, nor as straightforward, as they may seem.  In fact, eyewitness identifications are just one piece of the intricate puzzle involved in narrowing down the suspect field, which involves more scientifically reliable procedures, such as fingerprinting and DNA evidence.

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