Monthly Archives: November 2018

6 Examples of Car Accident Compensation

driver hurt after rear end collisionFollowing any kind of vehicle collision where you’ve suffered injury or sustained major damage to your vehicle, you are probably wondering what types of compensation are available for your losses.

Whether the wreck happened in New York or New Jersey, recovery can be painful, expensive and time-consuming. The best approach to getting an accurate assessment on the potential value of your claim is to speak with a qualified car accident lawyer who understands No-Fault laws and vehicle insurance coverage for liability, personal injury protection (PIP), property damage and uninsured or underinsured motorists.

Regardless if you were the driver, a passenger in a car wreck, or a pedestrian injured in the accident, you have a legal right to be fairly compensated for your injuries and losses.

New York car insurance requirements

In New York, all vehicle owners must have these minimum insurance requirements:

  • $25,000 per person for personal injury protection
  • $50,000 per person for wrongful death
  • $50,000 (no-fault insurance per accident)
  • $10,000 for property damage
  • $100,000 total per accident wrongful death protection
  • $25,000 per person or $50,000 per incident for uninsured and underinsured motorists

However, if the accident causes injuries like bone fractures or others that result in temporary or permanent disability, you may be eligible to file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver within three years of the incident.

A personal injury lawsuit will demand monetary reparations that are intended to make the plaintiff whole again. The monetary award will be determined by the extent of harm and loss incurred, but will take into account the following types of compensation.

  1. Medical expenses and hospital bills
  2. Present and future loss of wages
  3. Emotional distress and related therapy expenses
  4. Pain and suffering
  5. Loss of enjoyment of life – activities that you can no longer perform
  6. Loss of consortium—the companionship of a spouse
  7. Loss of future earning capacity

New Jersey car accident compensation

The minimal requirement for New Jersey vehicle insurance includes $5,000 in property damage coverage and $15,000 in personal injury protection per individual, per accident. This PIP policy covers up to $250,000 for grave injuries like spinal cord trauma. The basic policy does not include coverage for medical bills although at-fault motorists may be held liable for the amount of medical expenses not covered by his or her own PIP policy.

Any New Jersey residents with basic vehicle insurance can only sue the responsible party if the crash resulted in serious injuries, such as disfigurement, loss of a body part, permanent injury, displaced bone fractures, loss of a fetus, or significant scarring. The lawsuit can seek additional compensation not covered by the policy to cover medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.

The statute of limitations for seeking car accident compensation in New Jersey is two years, and the clock starts ticking on the date of the accident.

Fighting for the compensation you deserve

Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman has the experience to fight for the compensation you deserve after a car accident. Leave the details, paperwork and insurance negotiations to us. For more than four decades, we have been providing results-focused representation to motor vehicle accident victims in Bergen County, NJ and Rockland County, New York.

To discuss your case with a skilled Rockland County & Bergen County car accident lawyer free of charge, please call today.

Additional resources:

  1. NY Department of Financial Services, Article 51 of the New York Insurance Law aka “The No-Fault Law”, https://www.dfs.ny.gov/insurance/r68/r68_art51.htm
  2. NJ Department of Banking & Insurance, Everything You Wanted To Know About Auto Insurance, https://www.state.nj.us/dobi/division_consumers/pdf/everythingauto2006.pdf
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Child Support and the 2018 Tax Law: What Changes?

Rockland County divorce attorney Paul Goldhamer, Esq. is a co-founder of the New York & New Jersey law firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman. Mr. Goldhamer was chosen as a “Super Lawyer” in 2014 by Superlawyers.com for his work in estate law and matrimonial law. He also maintains a packed schedule of charity work, teaching and guest appearances on radio and TV.

From Paul Goldhamer, Esq.:

Child support has always been nondeductible and remains so. But, clients must look closely at the tax benefits of different assets & how they affect the deal. Couples should weigh receiving the marital home as verse taking a portion of a spouse’s retirement plan. Often, the parent who has custody of the children wants the house. But, the tax changes adversely affect New York & New Jersey divorcing couples, because the deduction for high state and local taxes has been capped. This may make the family home less valuable in the long run. Spouses who get the retirement account will not be able to draw down on it until age 59½. But, they will have created a stronger retirement future. By not taking the house, you can avoid property taxes. This must be studied on a case by case basis.

Paying for a child’s education is also important. Given the changes in the tax laws, 529 college savings plans can be used for private school. They were limited to postsecondary and college education.

But, will there be enough money to pay for college? 529 plans require special thoughts. Who gets credit for the 529 as a college contribution? Does it cause a credit against Child Support? The new tax law is complex and the negotiation on the college contribution are challenging.

At KGG, we have been helping families plan their futures for 4 ½ decades.

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Why You Should Consider Postponing Your Divorce

Bergen County divorce lawyer Paul Goldhamer, Esq. is a founding partner at the NY & NJ law firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman. Mr. Goldhamer was selected by the prestigious Superlawyers.com as a “Super Lawyer” in 2014 for his work in matrimonial law and estate law. Mr. Goldhamer also keeps busy with teaching, lecturing, charity work and as a guest on various media outlets.

From Paul Goldhamer, Esq.:

The new Tax Law, Divorce & Business Valuations:

There are reasons to delay a dissolution. Tax-driven divorce issues require caution. One is how private businesses should be valued. This has always been an important component of divorce settlements.

But the new tax law increases the cash flow of certain pass-through entities — businesses where the taxes on the earnings are paid by the owner, not the company — in a way that may raise their value. With increased cash flow and reduced taxes, a business could have a substantial increase in value. The Forensic Accountants will have to examine the result. A family owned business is almost always the most contested asset in a divorce.

It affects many issues: child support, alimony & sometimes Equitable Distribution. You must get the valuation done correctly. Higher cash flow from the change in the tax law this year will not be known until the business owner files a tax return next year. The difference can be big or small. A good accountant can run the numbers both ways.  But, not knowing that exact valuation throws more uncertainty into the negotiations. So for couples going through a divorce now, and expecting a big increase in the value of their business next year, it might be better to postpone.

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Why Prenuptial Agreements Drafted Prior to 2019 Are in Jeopardy

New York & New Jersey divorce lawyer Paul Goldhamer, Esq. is a co-founding partner at the law firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman. When not practicing matrimonial and estate law in NY & NJ, Mr. Goldhamer packs a busy schedule with charitable efforts, lecturing, TV & radio appearances and more. Paul was named a “Super Lawyer” by Superlawyers.com in 2014.

From Paul Goldhamer, Esq.:

Prenuptial Agreements & the Tax Law Change:

Prenuptial Agreements drafted prior to 2019 are in jeopardy. The deductibility of Spousal Support payments are in question.

It is common in prenuptial documents for lawyers to insert language calculating alimony (or Spousal Support) and stating the alimony payments are deductible by the Payor.

But the Tax Law has changed. Alimony or Spousal Support is no longer tax deductible after Dec. 31st, 2018.

Lawyers cannot know whether these clauses will hold up in 2019 and beyond. On one hand, you have a written contract, but can you count on its validity? Without a court ruling, or direction from the I.R.S., the deduction might not be valid if alimony is no longer deductible. A married couple might want to consider renegotiating the agreement, even if it might be a tough conversation.

Call Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman. We know how to fix this.

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Timeframe for Divorce: How Long Does It Take?

Wooden Gavel On Petition For DivorceDeciding to initiate the divorce process is a major step, regardless if you and your soon-to-be ex are on good terms or not.

While most couples facing the end of a marriage want to move on with their lives as swiftly as possible, there are several factors that will determine the length of a divorce proceeding, such as where you live, how congested the family law courts are in your area, and whether the divorce is contested or uncontested.

Primary factors that affect a divorce timeline

There is no definitive time frame for divorce in New Jersey, but couples who cooperate on financial matters, property division and issues concerning child custody tend to reach the finish line faster.

Is the divorce uncontested?

Without question, an uncontested divorce proceeding will finish much faster than a divorce where couples are fighting over spousal support, who gets the house, child custody and other matters. In an uncontested divorce, both parties have come to a complete agreement on every detail of the split. This includes everything from alimony and child visitation to tax liabilities and division of marital property. It’s important to keep in mind that both parties should enlist the services of a qualified divorce attorney, even in amicable break-ups. This ensures that legal documents are drafted correctly, and the process is moves efficiently through the court system.

Generally speaking, a no-fault fault divorce — or uncontested filing — in New Jersey can take anywhere from two to three and a half months, from start to finish.

A contested divorce filing is more complicated and time-intensive. If you do not agree on property division, child support and other legal matters – the divorce process can drag on for many more months. However, New Jersey courts have taken measures to ensure that divorce proceedings take no longer than one year (starting when the divorce complaint is filed). As always, there are some exception, typically involving high-conflict cases.

Mandatory waiting periods

Fault-based divorces in New Jersey that involve willful desertion or adultery usually require a waiting period before petitioning on those grounds. Proving the other spouses alleged misconduct can lengthen divorce proceedings considerably.

To petition for a no-fault divorce in New Jersey, the courts ask that irreconcilable differences have lasted for at least 6 months. There is no mandatory waiting period if the couple has been married for less than six months or has been living separately for a minimum of 18 months.

Tips to shorten the divorce timeline

Follow these tips to keep costs down and expedite the divorce process:

  • Retain competent legal counsel to assist with all facets of divorce planning
  • Try and settle as much as possible with your spouse ahead of time and meet him or her half-way
  • Be 100 percent honest about your financial status, assets, debts, income and liabilities
  • The more a couple can compromise and agree on specific terms, the easier the process

New Jersey divorce lawyers

The law firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman, P.C. represents clients who need expert legal advocacy in all areas of matrimonial law. Safeguard your interests by partnering with experienced Bergen County divorce lawyers. Reach out today for a private consultation.

Additional Resources:

  1. Divorce Magazine, How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce? https://www.divorcemag.com/blog/how-long-does-it-take-to-get-a-divorce/
  2. Women’s Divorce, Frequently Asked Divorce Questions https://www.womansdivorce.com/divorce-questions.html#TIME
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Bergen County Heroes of the Month: CBHCare

The law office of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman is proud to support Community Heroes of the Month, Comprehensive Behavioral Healthcare, Inc.

CBHCare’s mission is to provide behavioral health care to the Bergen community.

This much needed community service treats individuals and families in the Bergen community for such issues as:

  • Parent-child conflicts
  • Substance abuse
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Depression
  • Anxiety and phobia
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Marital conflict and divorce
  • School phobias
  • Attention-deficit disorders
  • Unresolved grief
  • Work-related conflict and stress
  • Sexual trauma and dysfunction
  • Eating disorders
  • Sexual orientation issues
  • Stress of single-parenting and step-parenting
  • Childhood behavioral and interpersonal problems

They are committed to accessible health care services that are delivered in a cost-effective manner, with respect and dignity regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, illness or age.

Comprehensive Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., is the leader in behavioral health care services for New Jersey and Bergen County. They provide compassionate and professional services to nearly 4,000 children, adults and seniors every year.

Peter Scerbo, CBHCare’s Executive Director, and his team were kind enough to take time out of their busy schedule to meet with us at their headquarters in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Founded in 1969 in response to the critical need for counseling services in the community, CBHCare is a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the highest quality behavioral healthcare services to the people of New Jersey.

How can you help?

CBHCare is always looking for great people to join their cause!

Click here to find out more about volunteer opportunities. You can also help their cause by donating here.

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 Habitat for Humanity 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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Study Finds Traffic Death Increase Related to Ridesharing Services

side impact car accidentEmerging research from Rice University and University of Chicago shows an increase in fatal car accidents after ridesharing companies Lyft and Uber began operations in cities. The research suggests that additional traffic wrought by ridesharing services is directly related to a 3.5% uptick in traffic deaths, which amounts to 987 fatalities each year. It is estimated that the costs associated with these deaths range up to $13.24 billion annually.

Ridesharing services linked to higher traffic fatalities

The study was a collaboration between Professor John M. Barrios of the University of Chicago with Hanyi Yi and Yael Hochberg of Rice University. The goal was to examine the impact that ridesharing has had on fatal motor vehicle crashes. Their findings were based on data from CrashStats and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) – both before and after Uber and Lyft launched in various metropolitan areas.

The researchers found that car crashes resulting in occupant or pedestrian deaths rose by 2-4 percent every year in places where ridesharing was introduced. Since the mid-1980s the number of fatal accidents per capita in the U.S. have decreased steadily. However, this decline stopped and then reversed soon after the introduction of ridesharing into U.S. cities, the researchers claim.

The study’s authors say this increase in fatal collisions is due to a “quantity effect” caused by increased numbers of vehicles on the road, which invariably equates to higher rates of accidents. And it’s not only the people who use Uber services that are affected—FARS data indicates that pedestrians, bystanders and cyclists are also injured and killed in ridesharing accidents.

Additional research needed on ride-hailing

The research team concedes that their findings are based on short-term data, but some critics like economist Joe Cortright say the study falls short. In the City Observer, Cortright states the report raises important and provocative questions, but that it shows more of a correlation rather than causation and doesn’t factor in the effect of lower gasoline prices and increased people on the road.

The study authors do acknowledge the convenience and benefits of ridesharing services, which provide flexible employment for people and a low-cost alternative to regular taxis. Nonetheless, the key takeaway from the research is that there are more people dying in motor vehicle accidents after ride-hailing became popular, and these deaths are mostly occurring in large cities.

Legal guidance in New York and New Jersey

Car accidents often result in personal, financial and emotional upheaval, particularly when serious injury or death occurs. If you or a loved one were injured in a ridesharing accident, it’s imperative to align yourself with a competent law firm.  Serving residents of Bergen County, NJ and Rockland County, NY, Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman has the expertise and resources to help victims secure justice and fair legal compensation.

Call our offices today at (888) 752-5018 to schedule a complimentary case review with our Uber and Lyft accident attorneys.

Additional Resources:

  1. Stigler Center, Ridesharing and Traffic Fatalities https://research.chicagobooth.edu/-/media/research/stigler/pdfs/workingpapers/27thecostofconvenience.pdf?la=en&hash=A15B1513F98D7A17B9E37F78DD2EBDC4C6338BFA
  2. Forbes,  Ubers And Lyfts May Increase Road Deaths, Study Claims https://www.forbes.com/sites/lianeyvkoff/2018/10/23/ubers-and-lyfts-cause-congestion-in-cities-they-may-also-increase-fatalities/#6d9290eb487f
  3. City Observer, Unsafe Uber? Lethal Lyft? We’re skeptical http://cityobservatory.org/unsafe-uber-lethal-lyft-were-skeptical/
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Reverting to Your Maiden Name After Divorce: 4 Common Questions and Answers

Woman divorcing and taking off wedding bandMany women would like to revert to their maiden name after a divorce, but are not sure how it is done or whether they are expected to do it or not. Others may not be sure it is necessary, or may even want to change their last name to a third option, neither their maiden name nor their married name.

It’s good to know the answers to common questions such as these.

1. What’s the procedure for changing my name back to my maiden name after the divorce?

It’s very common for divorce decrees in both New York and New Jersey to include a provision to change one’s name back to a previous name. While this is often used by women wanting to change back to their maiden name, the provision often applies to both men and women, since some men change their names upon marriage (eg, a hyphenated last name). Signing the papers, including the provision, will change your name.

If your divorce decree doesn’t include this, you can simply legally change your name back, by following the legal procedure to change your name in your area.

2. Can I just use my maiden name without legally changing it?

Nothing is stopping you from using your maiden name if you want to, without using the divorce provision or changing it legally. But bear in mind that it must be legally changed to appear on official documents, such as your driver’s license, Social Security card, or passports. Two last names can be confusing, and even cause issues or delays in using these documents.

3. Can I use a third name of my choosing (neither my maiden nor married name?)

Sometimes, people don’t want to use their married surname, but they don’t want to use their maiden name either.

Usually, divorce provisions give only the right to revert the name back to the previous one. If that’s the case, you wouldn’t be able to choose a third name. However, you could change your name to one of your choosing via a legal name change ex divorce decree.

4. Will changing my name have any impact on the financial settlement?

Name changes have no impact on the financial settlement one receives or is responsible for in a divorce case. These are decided on completely different criteria.

If You Need a New York or New Jersey Divorce Lawyer

The experienced Rockland County and Bergen County divorce attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman have been handling all matters pertaining to divorce for more than 40 years. We are committed to long-lasting, fair, and reliable solutions that benefit you. Call us today to schedule a confidential consultation.

Additional Resources:

  1. Reverting to Maiden Name. Woman’sDivorce.com. https://www.womansdivorce.com/reverting-to-maiden-name.html
  2. Inspiration for Starting Over. Woman’sDivorce.com. https://www.womansdivorce.com/inspiration.html
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What Does Sole Legal Custody Mean for the Other Parent?

Child Custody and Visitation written on a paper and a book.In decades past, sole legal custody of young children was routinely awarded to the mother under what was referred to as the tender years doctrine. Today, sole custody is rarely awarded. If you have a sole custody situation, it is important to understand what your rights and responsibilities are. If you are in the process of negotiating a parenting plan, it is imperative to understand these factors before having a judge approve it.

The difference between legal and physical custody

It is important to understand the difference between legal custody and physical custody, and the ways they can be combined in a parenting situation.

Physical custody refers to where the child resides, while legal custody refers to decision-making authority. New York and New Jersey, like most other states, now strongly favor continued contact between each parent and his or her child. Depending on the geographical location and other factors related to the situation of the parents, courts will usually award either sole physical custody with joint legal custody or join physical and legal custody so that each parent can share, as equally as possible, in child-rearing.

When is sole legal custody awarded in NY and NJ?

Though it was common in years past, it is now extremely uncommon that one parent is awarded both sole physical and legal custody. It happens most often when one parent is deemed unfit to care for the children or to make decisions for them. The non-custodial parent will then be limited to time-sharing visits unless the court finds that supervised visits or suspension of time-sharing entirely is warranted.

If you are the non-custodial parent in a sole custody situation, it is crucial to follow the court’s order and make every effort to keep interactions with your ex and children peaceful. If you have time-sharing rights, it is important to exercise them and to speak with an attorney if you believe they are being violated.

How is sole legal custody awarded?

Judges can make a custody determination in a litigated divorce or parenting case. The order would then be binding unless the parties agree to change it or go back to court to litigate a modification.

More commonly, judges enter an order approving a parenting plan agreed to by the parents. However, it can be difficult to modify a plan you regret unless there has been a substantial change in circumstances. It is therefore a good idea to have a child custody attorney review your proposed parenting plan before agreeing to its terms, especially if it could limit your right to participate in decision-making.

Protect parental rights in Bergen County and Rockland County

Parenting plans are entered into every day but that does not mean they should be taken lightly. Once approved, they are fully enforceable and difficult to modify if the other parent is not in agreement. If you do not yet have a plan in place, or need to find out your right to request a modification, speak with the NY & NJ child custody lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman today.

Additional NY and NJ custody resources:

  1. Justia, 2009 New Jersey Code Title 9 – Children – Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts 9:2-4 – Custody of child; rights of both parents considered, https://law.justia.com/codes/new-jersey/2009/title-9/9-2/9-2-4
  2. New York Senate, Section 240 Custody and child support; orders of protection, https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/DOM/240
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New Jersey Divorce Rates Among Nation’s Lowest

Wooden Gavel On Petition For DivorceDivorce is an unfortunate fact of 21st century American life. Over the past 60 years, divorce rates skyrocketed in the United States, and research indicates that nearly 50 percent of all marriages today end in permanent separation or divorce.

A recent report compiled by 24/7 Wall St shows that some states are better than others when it comes to long-lasting marriages. According to census data from 2017, New Jersey has one of the country’s lowest divorce rates, as does Hawaii, Illinois and New York.

States with lowest rate of divorce

Divorce rates in the U.S. reached an all-time high in 1979, and according to The National Center for Family & Marriage Research, levels have slowly begun to decline. Experts attribute this wane to the fact that people are waiting longer to tie the knot, and many have college educations and stable jobs before being wed.

Statistics suggest that finances play a major role in divorce rates. New Jersey and other states with low divorce rates have higher median household incomes. Unemployment is another influencing factor.  Nearly half of the states with the highest divorce rates also had unemployment rates that exceeded 4.9 percent (the national average).

Which states are the best places for getting hitched and staying hitched? Here are some of the results:

  • Massachusetts (country’s lowest divorce rate –12.3 per 1,000 married people)
  • Hawaii (second lowest divorce rate – 12.6 per 1,000 married people)
  • New Jersey (third lowest divorce rate – 12.7 per 1,000 married people). Many Garden State residents know how to make a marriage last. NJ has the lowest percentage (6.9 percent) of men aged 15 and older who are divorced.
  • New York (fourth lowest divorce rate –12.8 per 1,000 married people) The median household income of New Yorkers hovers just under $63,000 a year – roughly $5,000 more than the national average. This financial security may play a role in keeping love alive in the Empire State.

States with the highest divorce rates include Arkansas (23.4 per 1,000 married people), Idaho (21.9 per 1,000 married people) and Nevada (21.3 per 1,000 married people) — where some 2,000 quickie Vegas weddings take place every week.

Maintaining a healthy marriage is hard work. Relationships break down for many reasons: infidelity, money troubles, lack of communication or simply two people growing apart. When a marriage can’t be saved, it’s important to align yourself with a competent divorce attorney.

Legal guidance in Bergen County, NJ

The law firm of Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman was established in 1975 to help New Jersey and New York residents in all matters of matrimonial and family law. Our veteran legal team has the resources and expertise to safeguard your rights in divorce proceedings and find the best resolution for delicate issues involving child custody and spousal support.

Our NJ divorce lawyers help clients terminate their marriages as smoothly and efficiently as possible. If you’re ready to explore your legal options with KGG Law, we welcome you to schedule a private consultation today. Call us toll-free at (888) 752-5018 to arrange an appointment at our Bergen County or Rockland County law offices.

Additional Resources on Divorce Rates:

  1. National Center for Marriage and Family Research, Bowling Green State University, Divorce Rate in the U.S. https://www.bgsu.edu/ncfmr/resources/data/family-profiles/schweizer-divorce-rate-2017-fp-18-21.html
  2. New York Post, New York has one of the nation’s lowest divorce rates https://nypost.com/2017/10/20/new-york-has-one-of-the-nations-lowest-divorce-rates/
  3. 24/7 WallSt, States With the Highest Rates of Divorce https://247wallst.com/special-report/2017/10/20/states-with-the-highest-rates-of-divorce/5/
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