Monthly Archives: July 2018

Do You Have to Pay Child Support If You Are Separated?

Photo of child

The breakdown of a marriage is, understandably, an emotional process. Often, spouses going through this breakdown will formalize it with a divorce. But in some cases – such as when the spouses prefer to take their time deciding how to end their marriage, or there are financial or other benefits for remaining married, some spouses decide to separate. Even though still legally married, a non-custodial parent should be prepared to financially support his or her children.

Separation in New Jersey in New York

Some states have adopted statutes that explicitly adopt a status of legal separation. Neither New Jersey nor New York recognizes a legal separation in this way, though New Jersey comes close with a rarely-used procedure known as Divorce from Bed and Board.

In a typical NY or NJ marital separation, the parties agree to live apart and then formalize the terms in an agreement. They can divide property, make arrangements for spousal support, and even agree to child support, in a separation agreement. The separation agreement does not need to be filed in court, but like any other contract it will be binding on the parties and enforceable in court in the event of a breach.

Child support obligation

Parents in NJ and NY are under an obligation to support their children until they reach statutory age. In NJ, this means until the child is either 18 and out of school or is emancipated. In NY, a parent must pay child support until the child is 21 or self-supporting.

If a parent is living apart from his or her child during the time the child is entitled to support, he or she may be required to pay child support. This may happen when the parents are formally or informally separated, or even when the child is living with another family member.

If the parents have not agreed to the terms of child support in a separation agreement, the parent or guardian may file a petition to have a child support order entered by a court. When child support is ordered by the court, it will follow the state guidelines which set minimum obligations based on standard criteria.

Understand you child support obligations in NJ

It is important to understand what you are getting into when entering a separation agreement in NY or NJ. In many cases, separated couples eventually go on to divorce and when that happens, the separation agreement may be entered by the court as part of its decree. The potentially long-reaching implications of a separation agreement and its terms concerning child support means the process should be taken very seriously, with the guidance of skilled divorce attorney.

If you are considering a marital separation discuss your concerns with the NY & NJ divorce lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. We are dedicated to serving families in Bergen County, NJ and Rockland County, NY. Call today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.

Additional child support resources:

  1. New York State Unified Court System, Family Court Child and/or Spousal Support Frequently Asked Questions, https://www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/family/faqs_support.shtml
  2. New Jersey Department of Human Services, Child Support Frequently Asked Questions, http://www.njchildsupport.org/Frequent-Questions/FAQs-Folder/Eligibility/Does-my-support-order-automatically-end-when-my-ch
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Emerging Medical Tech for Diagnosing Traumatic Brain Injuries

Doctor analyzing human skull x-ray screening image in hospital office during medical exam

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) refers to the type of brain degeneration caused by multiple traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Sports fans will recognize CTE as being the central focus of the movie Concussion, which was based on the true story of a doctor’s exploration of the link between CTE and football injuries. Although the focus of CTE research, at least in the public eye, has been on TBIs caused by contact sports, CTE can also result from head traumas caused by motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall injuries, and construction site accidents.

Quest to diagnose CTE more effectively gets a boost

A new study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease detailing ongoing efforts to improve the ability of doctors to diagnose CTE in living patients. Currently, the only definitive way to diagnose CTE is after a patient’s death. An autopsy is required to carefully examine the brain tissue for signs of the abnormal changes that indicate CTE. Of course, the problem with diagnosing brain degeneration after death is that it’s harder to help people who are living with CTE.

But with the publication of this new study, researchers are one step closer to making an accurate diagnosis a possibility during the patient’s life. It was a small study, involving only seven participants. They were five veterans and two active duty military servicemembers who reported sustaining brain injuries and CTE-like symptoms.

How the diagnostic scan works

The study participants were each injected with a radioactive molecular tracer. This particular tracer is called FDDNP. FDDNP works by adhering to abnormal proteins in the brain—the same proteins that develop in patients with CTE. Once the tracer had time to circulate in the body, the study participant was given a positron emission tomography (PET) scan. The PET scan picked up the tracer’s signature, allowing the researchers to confirm the presence of the abnormal proteins in the brain tissue.

Then, the researchers compared these seven scans to the scans of two dozen people with Alzheimer’s disease and 15 retired football players who had a history of brain trauma and exhibited signs of CTE. The scans were also compared to 28 healthy control subjects. The researchers discovered that their scans were similar to those of the football players, but different from the scans of the other two groups.

More research is needed before the test can be considered clinically reliable, but this small study is encouraging for families affected by CTE-like symptoms.

Consult a personal injury specialist serving New York and New Jersey

As public awareness of CTE grows and medical technology continues to improve, it’s only to be expected that more cases of CTE will be diagnosed prior to death. But even if a loved one was only diagnosed with CTE after his or her death, the family members may still bring a civil claim against any negligent parties. You may have grounds for a lawsuit if a TBI occurred as a result of a slip and fall injury, construction site accident, or a truck, car, motorcycle, or pedestrian accident.

Talk to the traumatic brain injury lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman. Our personal injury team is proud to provide effective legal advocacy services to families in Bergen County, NJ, and throughout the NJ and NY area. Call us toll-free at 888.624.4916 today to request a case review.

Additional resources about traumatic brain injuries

  1. NPR, Scientists Hunt For A Test To Diagnose Chronic Brain Injury In Living People, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/07/17/629593428/scientists-hunt-a-test-for-chronic-injury-in-living-brains
  2. Mayo Clinic, Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy/symptoms-causes/syc-20370921
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Understaffed Nursing Homes a National Problem

Senior woman in a wheelchair alone in a roomInadequate staffing is a chronic problem in healthcare institutions that endangers patient welfare. Staff shortages in nursing homes are inextricably linked to higher reports of elder neglect and abuse.

A recent report published in the New York Times reinforces concerns that staffing levels in Medicare-assisted living facilities are alarmingly inadequate. The report analyzed payroll records of nursing home aides, nurses and employees, yielding hard evidence that Medicare’s 5-star rating system for nursing home facilities is seriously flawed and greatly exaggerated day-to-day staffing levels.

Kaiser Health News analyzed payroll figures from 14,000 nursing homes across the nation, as mandated by the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. The data revealed that nursing homes rated highly for good staff-to-resident ratios on the Nursing Home Compare website run by the government, were seriously short-staffed on occasion.  As an example, one nursing home facility – on its worst day – had just one aide for every 18 residents.

Nursing Homes Short on Staff

In response to this new information, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services stated it “is concerned and taking steps to address fluctuations in staffing levels.” The agency is responsible for routine nursing home inspections and confirmed that it would lower ratings for assisted living centers that had gone 7+ days without a registered nurse. This admirable intention may be cold comfort for families who entrusted the care of their loved ones with nursing homes that earned 5-star ratings – facilities that may be too understaffed to provide adequate care.

Nursing home workers are relied upon for a number of daily tasks, from feeding and bathing to making sure residents get appropriate medications. Understaffing puts tremendous pressure on aides, reducing the quality of patient care, and leading to high levels of employee turnover.  Research has shown that nursing homes with lower staffing numbers are more likely to be cited with health code violations — a telltale sign that something is seriously wrong.

Understaffing Negatively Impacts Patient Care

There are currently some 1.4 million seniors residing in U.S. nursing homes. Workers in understaffed facilities simply do not have the resources to pay attention to every small detail, which can lead to medication errors, preventable injuries, and sometimes death.

Patients who are bedridden or suffer from severe cognitive decline are at greatest risk for injury in understaffed homes. Essential tasks like bathroom visits or turning an immobile patient over are overlooked. This neglect leads to avoidable falls, hospitalizations, infections, bedsores and other trauma.

Overworked and overburdened staff cannot provide the standard of care necessary for nursing home residents. Staffing issues have been connected to a number of abuse reports in nursing homes across the country, including:

  • Bed sores
  • Infections requiring hospitalization
  • Abnormal weight loss
  • Malnutrition and dehydration
  • Inadequate medical care
  • Preventable falls from lack of supervision

Neglect has physical and emotional consequences on nursing home residents, who often become depressed from the lack of social interaction. When understaffing leads to neglect and patients suffer, the law affords remedies.

Nursing home neglect attorneys serving NJ and NY

If you suspect neglect or mistreatment of your loved one, contact Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman for a free consultation with nursing home abuse lawyers in Bergen County, NJ and Rockland County, NY. We will review your case to determine if you have grounds for compensation. We handle nursing home abuse cases in New York and New Jersey on a contingency basis.

Additional Resources:

  1. NY Times, It’s Almost Like a Ghost Town.’ Most Nursing Homes Overstated Staffing for Years https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/07/health/nursing-homes-staffing-medicare.html
  2. NY Times, Staffing Fluctuates at Nursing Homes Around the United States https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/07/07/health/nursing-home-map.html?action=click&module=RelatedCoverage&pgtype=Article&region=Footer
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From Cleaning Lady to Oil Tycoon: A Special Message from Paul Goldhamer, Esq.

oil wellNew York and New Jersey divorce attorney Paul Goldhamer, Esq. is a founding partner at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman. In addition to practicing family and estate law, Mr. Goldhamer teaches, lectures to professional organizations, and engages in media outreach. He was a pioneer in establishing free legal seminars to the public throughout the Tri-State area. Mr. Goldhamer received the honor of being chosen as a “Super Lawyer” by Superlawyers.com in 2014.

Good things do happen to nice people.

40 years ago we had a client who was a cleaning lady. She was struggling financially, but one thing she had was a famous last name.

She was a beneficiary in a class her great-grandfather’s Will probated many years before. The will provided her with an interest in one single dry oil well. In the 1970s engineers developed a new technique of squeezing oil out of the ground and with the increase of oil prices the method became useful.

Suddenly, the oil well started to produce distributions for this class of beneficiary. Her share… $365,000… per month. After years of living in poverty, her ship (in this case an oil well) came in.

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Someone Hit My Parked Car. What Do I Do?

Red damaged car in car crash accident with scratched paint, dented.Life is going well. Maybe you had a good commute to work that morning, or enjoyed a great day at the beach. But then, when you return to your car, you find that someone hit it.

What should you do?

Treat It as An Accident Scene

Hitting a parked car is just as much as accident as hitting a car in a roadway. By law, drivers who hit a parked car should make every effort to find out who the owner of the car is and/or leave a note giving their own contact information.

If they can’t do that, they need to contact the police to notify them that an accident has occurred.

If the person who hit your car does not do that, it is considered a hit and run accident, just as hitting a person and fleeing would be.

So your first order of business is to see if someone did leave a note — under the windshield or in some other position.

If they didn’t leave a note, take the following steps.

Steps to Take If Your Parked Car Was Hit

  • Stay at the scene. You need to notify the proper authorities and gather all the information you can before you leave the area where your car is parked.
  • Call the police. The police will come and file an accident report. An accident report ensures that your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company, if applicable, will have proper, official notification of the accident.
  • See if you can find witnesses. If there are people passing by, ask if anyone saw who hit your car. It’s possible there won’t be anyone around who saw anything, but it’s worth a try.
  • Take pictures. It’s an excellent idea to take multiple pictures of your vehicle, from all angles. It establishes the damage that can be used for insurance claims and for possible claims against the person who hit your car.
  • Record where and when you discovered your car had been hit. Exact locations and times are best.
  • Get in touch with your insurance company. If you can, call them immediately. Many adjusters will want to take pictures and get a report as soon as they can.

When You Need a Seasoned Car Accident Lawyer

It can be very aggravating to find out that your car has been damaged while in a parking area. It’s important to remember, though, that you do have recourse if your vehicle has been damaged. The other person’s insurance should pay, if they can be found. If not, yours will pay.

Have you or a loved one suffered losses — including injury — in a car accident in New York or New Jersey? Contact Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman to discuss your case. Our seasoned NY & NJ car accident lawyers have the experience and knowhow to win maximum damages allowed under the law.

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

Additional Resources:

  1. Hitting a parked car: essential next steps. Insurance.com. August 2, 2017. https://www.insurance.com/auto-insurance/parked-car-insurance.html
  2. New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. Motorist accident reports. https://dmv.ny.gov/dmv-records/motorist-accident-reports
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Who is More Likely to File for Divorce – Men or Women?

Wooden Gavel On Petition For Divorce

American marriages have evolved in many ways over the years – economic structures changed as women joined the workforce, the rate of divorce has risen, and the demographics of those getting married has changed. But one thing has remained consistent – women are much more likely than men to file for divorce.

According to studies from 2000 and 2016, women are the filers in nearly 70% of divorces. The numbers have remained consistent, showing that women were the filers in 60-80% of divorces since 1865. However in non-marriage relationships, men and women break off relationships at equal rates.

Why do women file for divorce twice as often as men?

There are a lot of societal developments that, on the surface, may seem to contribute to the statistics. However, these theories do not account for the fact that the statistics have been consistent for well over a century. Theories include:

  • As women joined the workforce, they continued to bear most of the housekeeping and childcare duties, leading to discontent.
  • As women increasingly work outside the home, they see better options that what they have in their marriage.
  • Despite shifts toward co-parenting solutions, many men are reluctant to jeopardize their relationships with their children by filing for divorce.

Does it matter who files for divorce first?

Each situation is unique, but in many cases there are advantages to being the party who initiates the divorce proceeding. It is important to discuss with a lawyer what role these factors may play in your case:

  • Ability to plan and strategize. The party to file does not have a set deadline. The spouse responding to divorce, however, needs to act quickly in order to meet court deadlines.
  • Time to come to terms with the financial cost of the process. Budgeting for a divorce is easier if you know when you are going to file.
  • Ability to choose. When more than one court has jurisdiction, the party who files gets to choose – this can impact how many issues will ultimately be resolved.
  • Setting the stage. The party who initiates the divorce also gets to make the first argument at trial.
  • Accounting. New York and New Jersey divorce courts impose an automatic order to prevent either party from taking or using marital assets for anything other than normal expenses or paying for divorce proceedings. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous spouses try to circumvent the order to hide assets; knowing about the divorce in advance can help you prepare by taking an accounting.

Experienced divorce attorneys in NY and NJ

There is a lot to think about when filing for or responding to a petition for divorce. The good news is the committed Rockland County divorce lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman have been providing seasoned legal assistance for over 40 years. With offices in Rockland County, NY, and Bergen County, NJ, we have helped clients all over New York and New Jersey. Call (888) 624-4916 today to schedule a confidential consultation.

Additional NY & NJ divorce resources:

  1. Psychology Today, Who Initiates Divorce More Often?, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-third-wave/201705/who-initiates-divorce-more-often
  2. Brinig, M., Douglas, W.A. (2000), These Boots are Made for Walking: Why Most Divorce Filers are Women, American Law and Economics Review 2(1): 126-169, http://www.unc.edu/courses/2010fall/econ/586/001/Readings/Brinig.pdf
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How Safe is Your Bicycle Helmet? New System Rates the Best

Bike rider wearing bicycle helmet in countrysideResearch on bicycle helmet use around the world found that helmets could reduce the risk of serious head trauma by up to 85 percent. A properly fitting bike helmet is one’s best defense against face and head injuries, and in the event of a serious accident, it could even save your life.

Given these statistics, it’s common sense for all cyclists to always wear a helmet, whether going for a short jaunt or an extended ride. According to the Cleveland Clinic, more than 800 bicyclists are killed each year, and hundreds of thousands more end up in the emergency room with broken bones, concussions and head injuries.

New ratings system developed to assess helmet safety

Up until recently, those in the market for a bicycle helmet had no way of knowing which model offered the best protection, other than a label issued by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). This meant the helmet had passed a safety test showing it could prevent skull fractures or severe brain injury in impact events over 300 g. The CPSC standards, however don’t take into account the factors and circumstances of real-world bike crashes, and more alarmingly, don’t test the safety of the entire helmet.

In order to solve this problem, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Virginia Tech teamed up to establish a better safety rating system for bike helmets – one that would let consumes make a more informed decision about their purchase and hopefully stay safer on the roads. The rating system was based on the collective knowledge gleaned from decades of experience assessing hockey, football and other types of head protection.

Researchers use real-world crash scenarios

The team tested the bicycle helmets for impact resistance at six locations, including two sites on the rim. Using real-world crash data, the researchers were able to better replicate the speed and angle at which a cyclist’s head will hit the road in an accident.

Risk of concussion and brain injury was estimated by measurements provided by sensors embedded in the helmet lining. Helmets that were awarded 5-star ratings (the most likely to prevent injury) all boasted a “Multi-Directional Impact Protection System” that minimized rotational forces of the head by creating a low-friction layer.

Which bike helmets performed the best? The following models earned 4 and 5-star ratings:

  • Bell Stratus MIPS
  • Bontrager Ballista MIPS
  • Specialized Chamonix MIPS
  • Garneau Raid MIPS
  • Scott ARX Plus MIPS
  • POC Octal
  • Giro Foray MIPS
  • Garneau Le Tour II
  • Bontrager Quantum MIPS
  • Smith Overtake
  • Specialized Prevail II

Interestingly, price wasn’t a reliable predictor of overall safety. A $200 helmet by Bontrager and a $75 helmet made by Specialized both garnered a 5-star rating. In the coming months, consumers can expect the team to release a safety ratings system for other helmet styles, including mountain bike versions and skate helmets.

Injured in New York or New Jersey? We can help

With more residents in New York and New Jersey taking up biking for both recreation and their daily commute, accidents between cyclists and motor vehicles are on the rise. When injured in a crash, it’s important to have a reputable Rockland County car accident lawyer review your case as you may be eligible for compensation. Whether a driver failed to yield the right of way, or you got knocked off your bike by an opening car door, Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman will bring negligent parties to justice.

Our seasoned bicycle accident attorneys represent clients throughout Rockland County, NY and Bergen County, New Jersey. Schedule a free case review by calling our toll-free number today: 888 624-4916.

Additional Resources on Bike Helmet Safety: 

  1. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, New tests show some bike helmets protect better than others http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/new-tests-show-some-bike-helmets-protect-better-than-others
  2. Cleveland Clinic, Bicycle Helmet Safety https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/4374-bicycle-helmet-safety
  3. Consumer Reports, Heads-Up on Bike Helmet Safety https://www.consumerreports.org/bike-helmets/heads-up-on-bike-helmet-safety/
  4. The Guardian, Bicycle helmets reduce risk of serious head injury by nearly 70% https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/sep/22/bicycle-helmets-reduce-risk-of-serious-head-injury-by-nearly-70-study-finds
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Bergen County Heroes of the Month: Center for Food Action

The law office of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman is proud to support Center for Food Action! The Center for Food Action (CFA), founded in 1976, is a non-profit, 501 (c)(3) organization that provides emergency services to northern New Jersey’s poorest and most vulnerable residents. CFA provides food, housing, utility, and heating assistance and offers counseling and advocacy services to low-income individuals and families.

 

 

CFA is headquartered in Englewood and has sites in Fairview, Hackensack, Mahwah, Ridgefield, Ringwood, and Saddle Brook. In 2014, at the request of Bergen Community College, CFA opened a site on BCC’s Paramus campus in order to serve low-income students and their families.

Patricia Espy, Executive Director, was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to meet us at one of their food pantries in Englewood, New Jersey. Pantries like the one we toured helped distribute 65,163 Emergency & Holiday Food Packages, provide Thanksgiving food packages to 3,302 households (10,236 people) and helped 1,076 households with other basic needs like rent, security deposits, and bills.

How Can You Help?

CFA is always looking for more volunteers to help in the pantry and warehouse. Click here to find out more about volunteer opportunities.

If you are unable to volunteer, you can also help this excellent cause by donating food, household items, or money. Click here to find out how to donate and a list of their most needed items. You can also use their virtual market to easily select the items you want to donate and they’ll do the shopping for you!

CFA also holds fundraising events throughout the year such as their Annual Oritani Golf Classic on June 7th at the Hackensack Golf Club and their #GivingTuesday event on November 27th in Closter, NJ at Cyclebar.

For additional questions, please reach out to inquiry@cfanj.org.

KGG Law Firm Proudly Supports Local Charities

KGG Law Firm has been helping Bergen County residents with legal matters since 1975. Our wide-ranging expertise includes personal injury law, family law and divorce, class action litigation, employment law, estate planning, and real estate. While there are plenty of New Jersey law firms you can choose to represent your best interests, we are one that puts our money where our mouth is. We proudly support local causes like the Habitat for Humanity, Center for Food Action, and  Ramapo-Bergen Animal Shelter to make our community a better place to live. Contact us for a free case review.

 

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