Divorce 101: Part 4 “ESP” The Mandatory Early Settlement Panel Program.

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Divorce 101: Part 4 “ESP” by Madden Family Law Wall Township NJ

In this video, Mr. Madden explains The Mandatory Early Settlement Panel Program.

If you have questions contact Thomas Madden at:

Madden Law LLC
1704 Maxwell Drive, Suite 108
Wall, New Jersey 07719
T: (732) 556-0522 F: (732) 556-0755

Divorce 101: Part 3 Domestic Violence by Madden Family Law Wall Township NJ

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Divorce 101: Part 3 Domestic Violence by Madden Family Law Wall Township NJ
In this video Mr. Madden talks about domestic violence. This is a very serious subject and if you or someone you love is in danger do not delay and get help immediately.
If you have questions contact Thomas Madden at:
Madden Family Law LLC
1704 Maxwell Drive, Suite 108
Wall, New Jersey 07719
T: (732) 556-0522   F: (732) 556-0755

What to do when you decide to get divorced

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Thomas W. Madden, Esq. is a Matrimonial Attorney Wall, NJ. In this short video, Mr. Madden explains what you need to do once you’ve decided to get a divorce and the first steps you should take. Step One: Compile a complete set of documents of all of your assets.

If you have questions contact Thomas Madden at:

Madden Family Law LLC
1704 Maxwell Drive, Suite 108
Wall, New Jersey 07719
T: (732) 556-0522 F: (732) 556-0755

Divorce Mediation by Madden Family Law Wall Township NJ

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Thomas W. Madden, Esq. is a Matrimonial Attorney Wall, NJ. In this video Mr. Madden explains Divorce Mediation and the steps your should take before entering into Divorce Mediation.

If you have questions contact Thomas Madden at:

Madden Family Law LLC
1704 Maxwell Drive, Suite 108
Wall, New Jersey 07719
T: (732) 556-0522 F: (732) 556-0755

It’s All About Property: Business and Distribution in Divorce

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Business and Distribution in Divorce

You and your spouse own and operate a thriving business. Managing daily operations seems almost effortless and financial results exceed all expectations. Life is good, except for one problem. Your marriage is not what it should be and you are contemplating a divorce. You are worried about how a divorce will affect the business. Could it destroy a lifetime of hard work?

Business Valuation

The first step in answering this question is assessing the value of the business. A valuation expert, a forensic accountant, will provide this essential information. A business valuation is a complex computation considering such things as the value of both tangible and intangible assets, current and projected cash flow and outstanding debt. The valuation expert will provide an estimated value of the business as well as a cash flow analysis (based on an average of the past 3 to 5 years) to help determine the available income to determine support.

Based on the valuation the divorcing couple must then decide how to deal with the business. The options include continued joint ownership and management, buyout of one spouse’s interest by the other, a total sale of the business or its complete liquidation. If the business was owned by one spouse prior to the marriage the increase in value during the marriage is potentially subject to equitable distribution of the marital estate. The income generated and the other spouses’ role in the business, if any, will be considered by the Court in determining support, if applicable, and the distribution of the business. Even if one spouse had nothing to do with operating the business, the fact the parties were married creates an equitable interest in the business by both spouses.

Equitable Distribution

Once established, the fair value of the business becomes part of the marital estate and is subject to equitable distribution. It is important to understand equitable distribution means a fair distribution of the entire marital estate and not necessarily an equal division of each asset.

Typically, both income stream and the value of the business help determine the price of the buy-out of the other spouses’ interest in the business and ongoing support. The court will consider when the business was established, the length of the marriage and income generated by the business when determining how to divide the business and establish a support figure.

It’s All About Property: Real Estate and Housing

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In a divorce the largest financial asset is usually the marital home. Who gets to stay in the house and who has to leave is not always an easy decision to make. Emotional attachment to the home can cloud your judgment making it difficult to make the right choice. What things should you consider when making this choice?

The purchase date the house is an important consideration. The law in New Jersey is not specific as to how to distribute a spouse’s interest in the marital home if the home was purchased or inherited prior to the marriage. The length of the marriage, subsequent contributions and the increase or decrease in value of the home as well as debt will all be considered by the court.

In many cases the spouse with parental custody may remain in the house if a buy-out can be arranged between the two parties in a reasonable timeframe. If this cannot be accomplished the home may have to be sold. Remaining in the home has the obvious advantage of providing children with a sense of security and stability. Children maintain familiar friendships and continue their education in the same school. This arrangement depends on the custodial spouse’s ability to continue to afford living in the house.

A variety of options exist for distributive sharing of the marital home. In one scenario a “buy-out” between spouses occurs. Another option allows one spouse to remain in the house for a finite period of time before selling the house. If the divorcing couple cannot arrive at a mutual agreement a judge may order the couple sell the home and divide the proceeds. It is always best if the couple can agree on a distributive sharing plan themselves. The couple understands their situation better than anyone else.

Deferred distribution allows the spouse with child custody to live in the home until the youngest child is 18. At that time the home must be sold and the proceeds divided between the couple. Deferred distribution is also permissible when real estate markets are weak allowing the sale to take place in the future when a reasonable price can be obtained.

Advantages and disadvantages exist for keeping the house and selling it.

  • Staying in the house could prevent a major financial loss if there is a lot of equity in the house.
  • The tax write offs for mortgage interest and taxes could be more valuable after the divorce than during the divorce proceedings.
  • The comforts of home and familiar surroundings are not cheap. Sometimes it is wiser to move to a smaller home to lessen your monthly expenses.

It’s All About Property: Solving Property Disputes

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Reaching a compromise regarding the division of marital property is usually your most cost-efficient option. It saves time, money and aggravation for both parties. Unfortunately, emotions can run high during divorce proceedings, often causing irrational behavior and stalled progress. What happens when things cannot be settled peaceably? There are other options to solve disputes before asking the court to intervene?


Mediation is a non-adversarial process conducted by an objective third party designed to solve disputes. The spouses identify key issues and find reasonable solutions with help from the mediator. Property and liability disputes are typically addressed during mediation. Questions such as who gets the house and how bills get paid are discussed and usually resolved. If this option is not successful the couple maintains the right to litigate their divorce in court.

Collaborative Divorce

Relatively new, collaborative divorce allows amicable couples to negotiate the terms of their divorce without going to litigation. Spouses are not seeking a pound of flesh but a peaceful dissolution of their marriage and equitable distribution of property. To start the process each spouse hires a collaborative attorney. Both parties sign an agreement to settle matters in a non-adversarial way. The two spouses and their lawyer conduct a four way meeting where everyone participates equally. Mental health professionals are available to help the couple regain perspective if emotions spiral out of control.


Arbitration uses a third party to resolve disputes and issues when an impasse has been reached. Both spouses identify open issues for the arbitrator. The Arbitrator must issue his final decision within an agreed upon time frame. Usually the arbitrator’s award is binding and can only be appealed under certain circumstances. The arbitration hearing is scheduled and heard in a private setting at a time convenient for all parties. The divorcing couple chooses the Arbitrator that best fits their needs and circumstances.

Divorce can be a contentious process where each spouse feels the need to protect his or her own best interest. Many times this mindset creates an adversarial atmosphere and poses challenges in solving property disputes. Mediation, collaborative divorce and arbitration are three ways to solve property disputes.

Types of Divorce

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Types of Divorce

There are several types of divorce in New Jersey. The most common is a divorce sought because the couples’ relationship is at an impasse that cannot be fixed. They have reached the point of “Irreconcilable Differences.” However, there are several grounds on which to seek a divorce. A divorce is most commonly an absolute divorce that separates the spouses, their households and their goods as well as custody of their children. These are usually either “fault” or “no fault” divorces.   In a “fault” divorce one partner has done something which caused the marriage to fail. In a “no-fault” divorce the marriage has ended even though neither partner specifically caused it to end.


Fault Divorce

“Fault” divorces are far less common than they used to be since Irreconcilable Differences came about. A spouse may seek a “fault” divorce many reasons, two of the more common fault grounds are separation and extreme cruelty.

If one spouse leaves and lives separately from the other for 12 months or more then divorce can be granted on the grounds of desertion. When one partner has been violent or abusive toward the other for at least three months then divorce may be granted on grounds of extreme cruelty.


No Fault Divorce

New Jersey law recognizes two categories for “no fault” divorce. If the couple has lived apart for 18 months or more before filing, then divorce may be granted on the basis of separation.

If the couple finds that they’re unable get along and reconciliation is unlikely for 6 months or more, they can be granted a divorce based on “irreconcilable differences”.


Divorce from Bed and Board

New Jersey doesn’t have a legal separation process, instead some couples engage in a process called “Divorce from bed and board” also known as a limited divorce. Couples who go through this process are still technically married, so if they reconcile they can have the judgement revoked. If the partners, choose to end the marriage for good they still have to obtain an absolute divorce. In the interim, one spouse may remain eligible to receive health benefits on the other spouse’s policy, and they may continue to file taxes jointly or as “married, filing separately.” During a divorce from bed and board, neither spouse can be legally re-married, or resume their former name.



An annulment isn’t a divorce, it’s a reversal of the marriage. Annulment undoes the fact of the marriage as if it never happened. Annulments are extremely rare and can have lasting implications for children or other family members. Annulments greatly affect the way property is distributed.



Before You File for Divorce

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Before You File for Divorce


Before You File for Divorce: Gather Your Records

If you are filing for a divorce, your attorney will need documents that show your current financial situation. You may not have all of these documents handy, but it’s important that you gather as much information as you can before you start the process. Use this list and keep these documents, or copies in the safest place you can. That may mean keeping them outside your home, in a safe deposit box or storing them with a trusted friend.


Personal Information

  • Your identifying information, birth certificate, Social Security number, immigration/citizenship information (if applicable), and Passport.
  • Children’s birth certificates and Social Security numbers


Financial Records

  • 3 years of Tax returns (for you and your spouse if you have not filed jointly)
  • 3 to 6 weeks of recent pay stubs for you and your spouse
  • Proof of other income such as pension, SSI, SSD, annuity payments, etc.
  • 1 year of bank statements – all accounts.
  • List of all bank accounts (yours and spouse)
  • List of financial assets, Stocks, bonds, real estate, collectibles, art or other possessions with significant value.
  • Recent credit card statements
  • Loan statements
  • Leases or deeds for all properties
  • Mortgage documents
  • Business ownership documents
  • Car titles and loans
  • Insurance policies health, dental, life, automobile, homeowners, or renters
  • Pension plans and retirement accounts
  • Foreclosure orders
  • Bankruptcy orders
  • Will for you and your spouse
  • Information regarding any Trust that names you, your spouse or your children as a beneficiary.
  • Receipts, claims or bills for personal injury or property damage caused by your spouse


Expense Information

  • List of monthly expenses, (food, clothing, shelter, education, travel, etc.)
  • Copies of your monthly bills
  • Documentation if you or your children are receiving any form of public assistance, adoption stipends or outside support.

Documents Related to Your Marriage.

  • Marriage certificate
  • Pre-nuptual agreements
  • Domestic violence restraining orders / police or hospital reports
  • Name change orders
  • Adoption of Children

It may seem troublesome but don’t give up; you’re gathering the tools needed to make your divorce successful and equitable. If you feel that gathering this information might endanger you or your family get advice from your attorney on how to gather your information safely.


When you start the divorce process with this information, your attorney will have a clear picture of the marital finances. More importantly, you’ll save time and legal fees. With this information in hand you can reach an agreement to settle your case fairly. And if you need to fight, you’ll be armed with evidence.