Monthly Archives: June 2018

Statute of Limitations for Paying Back Child Support

The parent holds the hand of a small childUnder state laws, parents must financially support their child until they reach the “age of maturity,” which is 19 in New Jersey and 21 in New York. Once a child support order has been established in a court of law, or through a written agreement, the non-custodial parent is under legal obligation to pay a certain amount until the child is emancipated. When these payments are missed, this is known as child support arrears or back child support.

All states have policies and legislation that define statutes of limitations regarding the collection of back child support. Some states like California do not have a prescribed deadline, meaning that child support arrears remain payable indefinitely. The laws on statute of limitations for collecting unpaid child support vary greatly from state to state. Each has its own set of requirements and procedures when it comes to implementing back child support – a process that is enforced by the state’s Child Support Department.

Statute of Limitations for collecting back child support

For residents of New Jersey, the statute of limitations on collecting back child support is 5 years after the child reaches the legal age of emancipation. For years, this was set at 18, but recent changes in child support laws have amended this to 19. Child support obligations in the state are stopped completely once the child turns 23, with exceptions made in only extreme circumstances.

In the state of New York, the statute of limitations allows parents to collect unpaid child support for 20 years from the date of default.

Consequences for unpaid support payments

Numerous states, including New Jersey, have strict policies when it comes to child support arrears. The state may employ various tactics for collecting past due amounts, such as:

  • Income withholding
  • Credit bureau reporting
  • Tax refund offsets
  • Lottery prize intercepts
  • Seizure of assets
  • Intercept of monies awarded in lawsuit settlements
  • Revocation of driver’s license
  • Denial of passport application or renewal
  • Possible warrants and incarceration

Whether it is worth the time, effort and money to sue for back child support payments is largely determined by the financial status of the debtor and best discussed with an experienced family law attorney. If the debtor does not have wages to garnish, or assets of value, the likelihood of recovering what is owed not very high.

KGG family lawyers in New York and New Jersey

If you live in Northern New Jersey or New York and need expert legal assistance with matters relating to divorce proceedings, child custody or child support payments, contact the law firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman. Our team of skilled family lawyers in Bergen County and Rockland County has been helping clients navigate the complex legal terrain of divorce since 1975. Schedule a private consultation by calling (888) 624-4916.

Additional Resources on Statute of Limitations for Child Support Arrears:

  1. National Legal Research Group, NJ Statutes of Limitation https://www.nlrg.com/hs-fs/hub/79400/file-15662842-pdf/docs/nj_statutes_of_limitations.pdf/documents_attorney_writing_samples/nj_statutes_of_limitations.pdf
  2. Sapling, What Is the Statute of Limitations on Back Child Support? https://www.sapling.com/8404471/statute-limitations-back-child-support
  3. NY Courts.gov, Child Support http://www.nycourts.gov/Courthelp/family/childSupport.shtml
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Lost Loads: Unsecured Truck Cargo Leads to Tens of Thousands of Crashes

White truck on the asphalt rural road in the polar night

On American roadways, passenger cars far outnumber commercial trucks but commercial trucks pose a greater risk of serious crashes. However, both commercial trucks and passenger vehicles can cause serious accidents due to unsecured loads.

According to a 2016 AAA study, debris on the roads led to more than 200,000 crashes between 2011 and 2014. Included in those crashes were more than 500 deaths. The most common causes of these accidents were detached parts like wheels and tires that fall onto the roadway, hitched tow trailers that hit another vehicle, and unsecured cargo that falls onto the road. The important takeaway is that these often-tragic accidents are preventable.

Laws designed to prevent lost cargo accidents

The dangers posed by lost loads are recognized and regulated in the trucking industry; federal regulations prohibit commercial drivers from operating motor vehicle unless its cargo is secured. For example, federal motor carrier regulations require drivers to ensure that their cargo will remain where it was placed even when the vehicle undergoes different types of forces.

Even for non-commercial drivers, failing to prevent lost cargo can lead to fines and even jail. According to AAA, every state has passed laws making it illegal for items to fall off a vehicle on the road, with fines ranging from $10 to $5,000. In addition, 16 states include jail time as a potential punishment.

Who is responsible for a lost load accident?

Potentially liable parties are typically those who are tasked with a duty or those who are legally responsible for those with a duty. Federal laws require a driver to secure a load and failing to do so can expose the driver or the company that employs him or her to liability.

Trucking business often involves a complex web of relationships between companies and individuals. This mean there are more parties who may potentially be liable, such as a shipping company, the owner of a trailer, and even the manufacturer of a defective restraint device. Additionally, each of these parties will likely carry insurance and this can increase the number of parties involved in a claim.

When a non-commercial truck loses a load, the driver may be liable. The laws that criminalize a lost load can also create a presumption of liability if someone was injured after such a statute was violated.

Recovery for a lost load accident in NJ

Whether it is caused by a lost load or some other factor, a truck accident can be a harrowing experience. The Bergen County truck accident lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman have been down this road before. We understand the industry and we know what you are going through. Call today to schedule a free consultation at our offices in either Bergen County, NJ or Rockland County, NY.

Additional lost load accident resources:

  1. Legal Information Institute, 49 CFR 392.9 – Inspection of cargo, cargo securement devices and systems, https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/49/392.9
  2. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Large Truck Crash Causation Study, https://ai.fmcsa.dot.gov/ltccs/default.asp
  3. AAA Newsroom, American Drivers Aren’t Securing Their Loads on the Road, https://newsroom.aaa.com/2016/08/american-drivers-arent-securing-loads-road/
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Thousands Die Each Year Because They Don’t Buckle Up

seat belt buckle upThe U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently rolled out a campaign, called “Click It or Ticket,” to remind drivers and passengers throughout the nation to wear seat belts. Seat belts save lives. NHTSA officials note that 10,428 people not wearing seat belts lost their lives in car accidents during 2016.

Enforcement of safety belt laws will be heightened during the campaign.

Successful Campaigns Promoting Seat Belt Use Increase Occupant Safety

“Click It or Ticket” is an annual campaign, and has proven highly successful in raising awareness of how important seat belts are. The use of seat belts in vehicles has risen steadily, and hit a peak of 88.5% in 2014.

The NHTSA estimates that the use of seat belts saved 15,000 lives in 2016 (the last year for which data are available). However, it also believes that full use of seat belts, including for children more than 5 years old, could have saved an additional 2,456 people that year.

In standard size vehicles, 42% of occupants involved in a crash who were not using seat belts were killed during 2016.

In pickup trucks, the figures were even higher. Sixty-one percent of unbuckled occupants were killed.

The NHTSA also urges people to remember to wear seat belts if they are riding in the back seat. Nothing about that position protects anyone from deaths or injuries if the vehicle is involved in a crash. While 47% of people who were passengers in a front seat were killed if they weren’t wearing seat belts, 57% of people riding in the back seat who were not wearing restraints were killed.

If You Need an Experienced Auto Accident Lawyer

While the number of people wearing seat belts has risen encouraging through the years, an unacceptably high fatality risk still exists for unbuckled occupants of vehicles involved in crashes. We at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman urge you to wear seat belts at all times when in a vehicle, and to make sure that your children wear appropriate restraints as well.

But if the worst happens, and you or a loved one are injured or killed in a vehicle accident, please contact our law firm to discuss your case. KGG car accident attorneys in NY & NJ have decades of experience in automobile and other vehicle accidents.

Call us at (800) 711-5258 or fill out the form on our website. We maintain offices both in Rockland County, NY or Bergen County, NJ. All initial consultations are complimentary.

Additional Resources:

  1. U.S. Department of Transportation. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic Safety Facts. 2016 Data. Occupant Protection in Passenger Vehicles. February 2018. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812494
  2. U.S. Department of Transportation. National Highway Traffic Safety Admnistration. Buckle Up. It Could Save Your Life. May 21, 2018. https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/buckle-it-could-save-your-life
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Child Drownings Tragically on the Increase

As summer approaches, so does swimming season. Seventy percent of drowning incidents take place between May and August, so that also means the risk of water accidents is at a peak. The child safety advocacy group Safe Kids Worldwide recently released its 2018 water safety study, drawing attention to the risks of water to children and what can be done to reduce the likelihood of a tragedy.

Child drowning statistics

Tragically, there were 1,000 children who drowned nationwide in 2016. But that is not the end of the story; there were an additional 7,000 children who went to the ER in near-drowning incidents. This means that 150 families each week were impacted by drowning, not counting the near-drownings that are never taken to hospitals. The number of drownings has dropped by 28% since 2000 but has taken a recent turn with a 14% increase in 2015 and 2016.

Drowning is a leading cause of death by unintentional injury among children. It is the number one cause for children ages 1-4, the second leading cause for children 5-14, and the third leading cause for children 15-19. Additionally, the numbers show that there are certain demographics at greatest risk:

  • Boys were involved in 80% of drownings
  • White children were far less likely to be involved in a drowning, while African American children were almost twice as likely and American Indian and Alaskan Native children about 2.5 times as likely

So where do fatal drowning accident occur?

  • 43% in open water
  • 38% in pools
  • 9% in bathtubs
  • 10% in unspecified locations

Drowning accidents in New York and New Jersey

It should be no surprise that the waterways and other aquatic attractions of the East Coast are associated with drowning risks. In New York State, there are an average of 7 fatal drownings per year in public pools and beaches alone. Like the national statistics indicate, the risks are greater in the summer months, when there is also greater exposure to risks.

In New Jersey, drowning death have been on the rise in recent years. In a typical summer, the state sees approximately 8-10 drowning deaths but in 2017, there were more than 27. State law does not require hotels and motels to provide lifeguards, presenting a risk for guests.

Preventing child drowning deaths

The American Red Cross urges pool owners to put safety first by following precautions including:

  • Enclosing the pool with a 4-foot-high fence with a self-closing, self-latching gate
  • Covering pool or hot tub between uses and removing means of access like ladders or steps
  • Actively supervise children and never let anyone swim alone
  • Requiring young or less experienced swimmers to wear a life jacket meeting U.S. Coast Guard standards
  • Keeping water clean and clear
  • Enforcing safety rules
  • Ensuring those on site are trained in first aid and CPR and know how to respond to an aquatic emergency

Speak with a lawyer

Words cannot capture what families go through when a child or another loved one is killed or permanently disabled due to a drowning – especially when it was caused by someone else’s negligence. The New York and New Jersey personal injury lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman are committed to providing high-quality representation when you need it most. We understand the impact these accidents can have and are willing to fight for maximum compensation. Call today to speak with an attorney in Bergen County, NJ.

Additional child drowning resources

  1. SafeKids.org, Hidden Hazards: An Exploration of Open Water Drowning and Risks for Children May 2018, https://www.safekids.org/sites/default/files/water_safety_study_2018.pdf
  2. New York State Department of Health, Drowning Statistics: Historical Drowning Data, https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/outdoors/swimming/docs/drowning_statistics.pdf
  3. Patch, 34 Die In New Jersey Water Deaths Since May As Trend Continues, https://patch.com/new-jersey/pointpleasant/18-die-new-jersey-water-deaths-two-months-trend-continues
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Do You Have to Pay Child Support for a Child in College?

No doubt about it, raising children brings immense financial responsibility. Often, the responsibility does not end when the child legally becomes an adult. If you are wondering whether you need to continue to pay child support while your child is in college, the answer is: it depends.

Like a related question we hear often – “Can I stop paying child support when the child turns 18?” – the answer depends on state laws, the age at which your child is attending college, and some related factors. New York and New Jersey have differing rules so it is important to follow up-to-date guidelines for your state.

Termination of child support in New York

In New York, a parent must support a child until the age of 21. If the child is under 21, a parent is not obligated to provide support if the child is:

  • Married;
  • Self-supporting; or
  • In the military

In any of these situations, the child is considered to be “emancipated” so the parents are not obligated to continue paying support.

The child may also be considered emancipated if he or she:

  • Is between 17 and 21 years old;
  • Leaves the parents’ home; and
  • Refuses to obey reasonable commands from the parents

Therefore a New York parent will often be obligated to pay support for a child in college if the child is under 21 and not providing for his or herself. However, it is evident that there are other factors that can affect the responsibility.

New Jersey child support termination

In general, in New Jersey, the obligation to support a child lasts until a child turns 19 – but the full answer is, unsurprisingly, more complicated than that.

Until January 2017, a parent’s support obligation ended when a child turned 18, but on February 1, 2017, the age of termination was changed to 19. This means an obligation to support may automatically terminate when the child turns 19. However, the custodial parent can request continuation of support if the child is:

  • Still in high school;
  • Enrolled full-time in post-secondary education; or
  • Physically or mentally disabled.

In some cases, the obligation for support can end when a child turns 18 if the child financially independent. In this situation, a parent must file papers requesting that the court declare the child “emancipated.”

If your college student is under 19 or enrolled full-time, you may still be required to pay support to the custodial parent.

Understanding child support in NY and NJ

At the law firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, we help New York and New Jersey residents understand their rights and obligations when it comes to child support, even as life circumstances change. Our divorce lawyers serve individuals and families from our offices in Rockland County and Bergen County. Call us toll-free at 888-624-4916 to schedule a private consultation.

Additional child support resources:

  1. New York State Legislature, Domestic Relations 240 – Custody and child support; orders of protection, http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us
  2. Justia, 2015 New Jersey Revised Statutes Section 2A:17-56.67 – Termination of obligation to pay child support, https://law.justia.com/codes/new-jersey/2015/title-2a/section-2a-17-56.67
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Coping with Divorce: 5 Strategies That Work

Photo of couple in divorceDivorce is a significant life event that has the potential to turn your world upside down. Daily routines are upset and stress levels can skyrocket during this unsettling time. Some partners may find it challenging to stay focused or productive as they struggle with the emotional aspects of this adjustment.

The end of a marriage can trigger all kinds of uncomfortable feelings, from guilt and frustration to anger, grief and loneliness. Fortunately, there are some effective strategies for managing negative emotions and moving on with your life.

Here are five strategies for coping with divorce that really work.

#1: Give yourself a break

Divorce is not easy. One of the most important things you can do is give yourself permission to take a break for a while. Take time for self-care and realize that it’s perfectly normal to feel depressed and unsettled. You don’t have to be superwoman or superman, and you may not be as productive at work or at home while you re-group.

#2: Find support and encouragement

You don’t have to heed the advice of friends and family, but be open to their support, love and encouragement. Sharing your feelings with loved ones is a step in the right direction. This is not a time to isolate or hole up in the bedroom. You may want to seek the outside help of a therapist to work through your issues and focus on your own personal development. There are also divorce support groups and self-help meetings.

#3: Take care of your physical & emotional health

It’s easy to lose sight of your own well-being during a divorce. Good eating habits and self-care often get lost in the shuffle. If there was ever a time to maintain healthy lifestyle routines – this is it. When you exercise regularly, eat well and get plenty of sleep, this reduces cortisol levels, eases stress and calms the mind. You’ll feel both physically and mentally stronger.

#4: Avoid dangerous and destructive behaviors

When you’re feeling down and wounded, it’s tempting to look for ways to alleviate pain. Judgment can be clouded, making some short-term solutions a dangerous coping mechanism. In the months leading up to and after the divorce, try and steer clear of destructive patterns:

  • Avoid alcohol, drugs or gambling as a coping strategy
  • Avoid negative outbursts, power struggles or taking revenge on your ex-spouse
  • Avoid making major decisions until your head is clear

#5: Explore dormant interests or cultivate new ones

Think of divorce as an opportunity to reconnect with your inner self: a fresh chance to pursue the hobbies and activities your ex-partner didn’t like. Maybe you’ve always wanted to take guitar lessons or painting classes. Or perhaps join your local bowling league. Exploring new – or old—interests can bring great joy, and help you make new friends.

Questions about divorce in Bergen County or Rockland County?

The law firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman provide skilled, compassionate support to residents in New Jersey and New York. To schedule a private consultation with divorce lawyers Bergen County residents have come to know and trust, call us toll-free at 888 624-4916.

Additional Resources on Divorce Coping Strategies:

  1. Psychology Today, Notes from My Divorce: 5 Coping Strategies that Worked https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/tech-support/201506/notes-my-divorce-5-coping-strategies-worked
  2. HuffPost, 7 Steps For Dealing With Divorce https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/sarah-kelsey/coping-with-divorce_b_943658.html
  3. Mental Health America, Coping With Separation And Divorce http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/separation-and-divorce
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Fatal Falls Among Elderly Up 30%

elderly person using walker in nursing homeAmong the elderly, falls can be a major factor that determines quality of life. Federal statistics show that among those over age 65, about one in every four experiences a fall each year – and those who experience a fall are more likely to fall again in the future. These falls led to more than 30,000 deaths in 2016, and reports recently released by the Centers for Disease Control indicate that this may be a drastic rise over the past few years.

Age groups at greatest risk of falls

According to the CDC, unintentional injuries are the seventh leading cause of death among the elderly and falls make up the largest category of unintentional injuries. What may be most shocking in the CDC’s recently-released May report is that the number of elderly fall-related deaths appears to have increased by a little over 30% from 2007 to 2016.

In most cases, falls occur in places familiar to the individual. The CDC does not track where people fall but the National Health Interview Survey has attempted to track this in 1998. At the time, it found that more than half (55%) occur inside while 23% occurred outside but near the home and 22% occurred away from the home.

So how did the rate of death rise so far? The study shows a gradual but steady increase of 3% each year. Falls increased among every age sub-section among those 65 and older but the increase was greatest among those aged 85 and older, which is also the largest-growing demographic.

Preventing falls in older adults

Falls are preventable. Conventional wisdom says that the way to avoid falls is to install handrails and supports. While these are important to have, there are much more effective ways to help older individuals stay say.

According to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, regular exercise, including strength and resistance training, is the best way to prevent falls. Physical therapy and group sessions like tai chi can also be beneficial. This conclusion was based on a review of about 20 studies showing that participants who exercised three times a week for about a year showed a 10 to 20 percent reduction in the likelihood of a fall.

The New Jersey Falls Prevention Workshop also recommends regular exercise to increase strength and flexibility. It also recommends:

  • Checking eyesight at least once a year
  • Wearing safe, well-fitting footwear
  • Removing trip hazards
  • Asking a doctor or pharmacist to review medications for medicines or combinations of medicines that can cause dizziness or weakness

Proceeding after a fall in New Jersey

If you or an elderly loved one has suffered a fall, you may have questions about your right to recover medical expenses and other compensation. Put your mind at ease by speaking with a Bergen County, NJ slip and fall lawyer from Kantrowitz, Goldhamer, & Graifman P.C. We understand the toll it takes and are prepared to help you recover maximum compensation. We also have a convenient location in Rockland County, NY.

Additional elderly slip and fall resources:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Deaths from Falls Among Persons Aged ≥65 Years – United States, 2007-2016, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6718a1.htm?s_cid=mm6718a1
  2. State of New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services, Falls Prevention Awareness Week, September 11-23, 2017, http://www.nj.gov/humanservices/doas/services/fallprev/
  3. NPR, To Prevent Falls In Older Age, Try Regular Exercise, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/04/17/603186213/to-prevent-falls-in-older-age-try-regular-exercise
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