Covid-19 Update:

The Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq. is taking a safe but proactive approach to the Coronavirus situation in our law practice. We are working every day to represent our clients. We are offering frontline healthcare workers at CentraState free Simple Wills. To read more please Click Here

The days ahead may be a challenge. But we will continue to work to take care of our client’s cases and to take on new matters and clients. We will simply manage your case in less traditional, more technology-driven ways, that are safer for your health and ours.

Please stay healthy and contact us if you have any questions or concerns regarding your case or a new matter for us to consider.

Andrew Bestafka, Monmouth County Divorce Lawyer

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Divorce, Custody & Family Law

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What Determines Child Custody In New Jersey?

Divorce is unpleasant enough for all parties, but it can be twice as hard when there are children involved. Child custody discussions are never enjoyable, but there are ways to make the process flow as smoothly as possible.

Custody and Support

In New Jersey, child custody is handled separately from child support. Support is based upon many factors, including the earning ability of the parents, the number of children, and the standard of living.

When custody, or visitation, is determined under New Jersey law, and there are fourteen enumerated factors a judge must consider. These factors include:

  • Each parent’s ability and willingness to communicate with the other and to encourage a healthy relationship between the child and the other parent
  • Each parent’s ability to provide a safe, stable home environment
  • The child’s relationship to each parent and to their siblings
  • Each parent’s geographic location relative to the other and to the child’s school and friends
  • The child’s own preference
  • Any history of domestic abuse

In New Jersey, as in all states, the judge must consider the best interests of the child first and foremost. The old “maternal preference” no longer applies in custody cases, except in instances of infants.

Other Considerations

The parent who has primary physical custody of the child is the “custodial parent.” This refers to the parent with whom the child spends the most time, even if only by one day. The other parent is the “non-custodial parent.” These terms principally have to do with the child’s address.

When a parent is granted “legal custody,” that means they are responsible for making decisions involving the child’s medical, educational, religious, and other activities. Unless there is a compelling reason not to do so, courts award parents joint legal custody. This means that both parents have an equal right to make decisions about their child and should consult one another before making important decisions.

In all but the most extreme cases, courts award physical custody to both parents equally. The court will try to grant custody with the minimum possible disruption to the child’s routine. Typically, parents find it expedient to trade weeks, which lets the child maintain their school and social schedule without too much alteration.

In unusual situations, such as when a parent lives a long way from the other, then the parents and child can make alternative arrangements. For instance, the child may spend the school year with one parent and summers and holidays with the other.

When Parents Agree

Ideally, parents understand that the custody arrangement must be whatever is best for the child. It may not be the best option to have two separate bedrooms and two separate homes every other week. If both parents are agreeable to different arrangements, they may create any setup they like.

The court has to step in only when parents cannot or will not agree.

When the Child Disagrees

A child’s opinion is considered by the court under certain conditions. The judge must consider the child’s mental age and emotional status. A child under eight is presumed to be too young to state a preference, although family court judges will often agree to speak to the child privately to ensure they understand what is happening.

Between the ages of 9 and 17, a child may make a preference known. Although the judge is not bound to follow it, there should be consideration given. A child who says they want to stay at their mom’s during the week because the downstairs neighbors at their dad’s place are so loud that studying is impossible is making a good point.

When a child suddenly refuses to abide by a custody agreement, it could be a sign that something is wrong. There may be problems with one of the parents, such as abuse or neglect, or one parent may be attempting to alienate the child’s affections for the other parent. Or it could have nothing to do with either parent. Parents and judges should avoid jumping to conclusions in these situations.

Final Determinations

Parents can amend their custody agreements as their lives change. As children get older, their needs for parental support change, their interests and friends change, so the time they spend with their parents will be different.

When this happens, parents should consult their attorneys about having an amendment added to the original agreement. This protects everyone’s interests and prevents anyone from claiming later that they never agreed to alterations of visitation, vacation plans, or other major changes.

If you’re contemplating divorce, or if you’ve already divorced but are having difficulties with the custody arrangements previously made, call Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq. at (732) 898-2378 today. We are experienced in all things related to child custody, and we will advise you about your legal options. Don’t suffer through these difficult times alone. Our child custody attorneys stand ready to take on your issues and help you do what’s best for your kids.



How is Property Division Determined in a New Jersey Divorce?

Are you currently going through or thinking about filing for divorce in New Jersey? Are you wondering how marital property is divided by the court? New Jersey is an “equitable division” state, which means that the court will try to divide the marital property in a fair or equitable way, depending on the circumstances of the couple.  This is an important aspect of a divorce and can be quite complex. The Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq. has been dealing with property division issues in divorces for more than a decade.  For help, call (732) 898-2378. You’ll talk with a knowledgeable attorney who can make the difference between a good property settlement and a bad one.

Why You Need an Attorney to Help with Property Division in a Divorce

It is crucial to have an attorney who knows New Jersey divorce law and understands the nuances of how marital property is divided by the court. Whether negotiating a favorable agreement out of court or arguing before the court in a contested hearing, an experienced attorney knows what needs to be done to get the best outcome for you and how to do it.

An experienced attorney also knows the factors the court will be looking at to make its decision and which arguments will best cover each of them.  Another important element in dividing marital property is establishing an accurate value for the property. Knowing how to present favorable evidence to the court regarding value is complicated. If you don’t have a skillful attorney to represent you, you’ll be at a huge disadvantage and are unlikely to get the property division you want in court.

Why Choose Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq.?

Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq. has practiced exclusively in the area of family law since 2008. Mr. Bestafka grew up in Monmouth County, New Jersey, so he knows the area and the people well.  Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq. has been named one of the ten best Family Law Attorneys in New Jersey by the American Institute of Family Law Lawyers. This award is prestigious and takes into account not only client satisfaction but also the respect of his peers in the legal profession. He also has served on the Family Law Committee for both the New Jersey State Bar Association and the Monmouth Bar Association. Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq. and his associates take great pride in helping families through one of life’s most difficult challenges.

Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq. fights to get the best outcome possible for each and every client. Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq. is caring, compassionate, and attentive to the needs and wishes of their clients. Mr. Bestafka and his associates are experienced in family law and will help you get the best outcome possible under the law. Your financial future after your divorce will be significantly impacted by how the court divides marital property, so it is important to choose outstanding legal representation, such as Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq..

Factors in New Jersey Marital Property Division

New Jersey law directs the court to divide property “equitably.”  This means your marital property may not be divided 50-50.  The court’s decision depends on several factors. Two of the most important factors are the income and earning capacity of each party and who has primary custody of the children, if children are part of the divorce. The court also looks at how and when assets were acquired and the contribution of each spouse. This contribution can be financial, but it can also be household chores such as cleaning and cooking.  New Jersey Courts also consider whether one spouse helped the other to get through school and earn a degree and if they may have delayed their own education in doing so.  There are many other factors the court can consider that your attorney can discuss with you.  The exact factors depend on your circumstances.

New Jersey honors pre-nuptial agreements, if one was executed prior to the filing of the divorce.  A pre-nuptial agreement is a contract or agreement between the spouses that divides property ahead of time should the parties divorce at some point. If you have questions about pre-nuptial agreements, it is a good issue to bring up during your initial consultation with your attorney from Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq..

Marital property may include obvious things like cars and real estate, depending on when and how they were purchased.  But it also includes such things as retirement accounts, investments, pets, and even frequent flyer miles and cryptocurrency.  Your situation is unique, which is why there is flexibility built into the “equitable division” decision the judge makes.

If You Are Going Through a Divorce, Call Us

Division of marital property in a divorce is complicated, and it is very important to your financial future. Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq. is an experienced, respected firm that will aggressively pursue the best financial outcome that New Jersey law allows in your case.  Call (732) 898-2378 today to schedule an initial consultation and discuss your circumstances with us.



How Bitcoin Affects Divorce Settlements

The divorce process is challenging enough for couples who are splitting up without the added difficulty of dividing sophisticated assets like cryptocurrency. Bitcoin has been breaking headlines in the news since the end of 2017 when each “coin” rose above the $20,000 mark for the first time. It has since dropped considerably in value, but the digital currency is still currently worth several thousands of dollars. The rapid expansion of Bitcoin’s value and popularity has proven how volatile the cryptocurrency market really is, and it has made the process of dividing assets during the divorce proceedings more complicated.

New Securities

The central premise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is all about privacy. Bitcoin was one of the first cryptocurrencies to be implemented in 2009, and the courts are struggling to determine the best way to react to its impact. Although the SEC has recently announced plans to force online conversion platforms to register as security exchanges, more time is needed before the legal system can decide the best way to address the effects of this new technology. New Jersey is not a community property state, which means that marital property is divided by the judge in a manner that is considered to be fair, but not necessarily equal. Bitcoin investments may be considered marital property if the digital currency was purchased during the lifetime of the marriage. Currently, there is no existing case law to guide the court’s rulings in regards to cryptocurrencies, and new solutions will need to be applied to ensure justice for all.

Cryptographic Aspects of the Currency

The sad truth is that people often attempt to conceal their assets during a divorce. It’s no secret that people have illegally created fake accounts to hide money, transferred assets to family or friends, and even used safety deposit boxes to escape their financial obligations. These methods are well-known in the court system, and they usually backfire. However, Bitcoin represents a new challenge. The traditional method for ensuring that assets are divided fairly after a divorce ruling is to issue an injunction. An injunction compels the paying spouse to forfeit the property in question or pay the consequences. Although the courts can still require the spouse to reappear in court, defend their actions, and be held in contempt of court, there are other aspects of Bitcoin that legal professionals are concerned about. For instance, there is no central administrator to enforce the court’s injunction.

How Bitcoin Works

Bitcoin, along with other cryptocurrencies, operates in a system that is decentralized. Instead of transferring digital value through a trusted third-party, the wealth is exchanged directly between users. Transactions are not regulated by a state or federal government, and the information that is recorded does not contain personal identifiers. Without a centralized authority, users are largely anonymous (although not completely). Users are assigned a unique series of characters that are associated with their account, and every transaction is documented within the blockchain. It may not be as easy as following a traditional paper trail, but specialized forensic experts can uncover the truth and expose hidden assets.

Locating Bitcoins

Once Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies have been downloaded onto a computer, they can be stored offline on an encrypted USB, also known as a cryptocurrency wallet. This digital wallet can then be stored in a secret location, making it very difficult to trace. However, if there is a considerable amount of money invested in cryptocurrencies, then it is likely that both parties know the wallet exists. Drawing attention to the fact that your spouse is withholding assets that should be on the playing table will not look good for them.

Penalties

The penalty for submitting false information to the court is severe, but some individuals still attempt to underreport or hide assets. Misrepresenting assets like as jewelry, cash, or Bitcoins may provoke a sharp response from the judge. The delinquent party may be given a smaller portion of the marital assets and face criminal charges, such as perjury. Another severe consequence for lying under oath is a loss of credibility, which can be haunting. With a lack of credibility, the judge may find it difficult to believe that child support or alimony payments are too high for a discredited spouse to afford. The judge may also find certain evidence questionable during child custody hearings, and they may be hesitant to trust anything you say after you have been caught trying to conceal assets. That is why it is crucial for both parties to work closely with their legal counsel and examine all the assets that are involved in the divorce settlement. It is not worth trying to hide or lie about Bitcoin or any other asset during the divorce.

Obtain Informed Legal Insight

Bitcoins are treated like any other asset during the divorce process, and that’s why you need someone on your side who can grasp the reality of virtual investments. The lack of familiarity with Bitcoin may intimidate some legal professionals, but we understand that cryptocurrency is just another phenomenon that the legal profession needs to adapt to. Not only do we represent clients who are dealing with cryptocurrency assets during a divorce, we also accept several cryptocurrencies as forms of payment. You do not want to trust a law firm that has little or no experience with handling these complex assets. You need to hire an attorney who has experience with cryptocurrency and who understands how to represent your best interest. Contact the Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq. today by calling (732) 898-2378 or visiting our website.



Tarek El Moussa and wife headed for divorce

Flip or Flop star Tarek El Moussa is reportedly seeking a divorce from his wife, Christina El Moussa.

In their exclusive interview with PEOPLE last December, the couple revealed that they were ending their seven-year marriage after a heated fight in May 2016. Although the altercation did not involve physical violence, the Orange County police responded to the scene. A friend told the police that Mr. El Moussa grabbed a handgun during the fight. There were no charges filed.

Mr. El Moussa filed for a divorce in January, citing irreconcilable differences. He requested spousal support and joint custody of their children, one year-old son Brayden and a six year-old daughter Taylor.

If you or someone you know is having difficulty filing for a divorce, our lawyers can help. We at Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq. are well-versed and skilled in divorce litigation and can properly represent you in court. Get in touch with us at (732) 898-2378 for more information.



Billionaire Bill Ackman and his wife headed for divorce

Bill Ackman, a billionaire activist investor known for his big bets on Herbalife, and his landscape architect wife, Karen Ann Herskovitz, are headed down the path of divorce, Page Six says.

According to the report, the couple had been together for more than 20 years after they got married in 1994 at the St. Regis. Although it is yet to be determined if the two have filed a petition for the dissolution of their marriage, it was confirmed that they hired lawyers to help them come up with the best settlement that would minimize the impact on their three daughters.

The couple’s reported divorce could reach into the hundreds of million of dollars. They are negotiating numerous properties such as their $90 million One57 penthouse, $35 million Beresford apartment, $22 million Bridgehampton waterfront estate, and another $23.5 million mansion.

If you or someone you know is considering filing for a divorce, we can help you. Our divorce attorneys at Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq. specialize in family law and can provide you a reliable representation in court. Get in touch with our staff at (732) 898-2378 to learn more about your options.



Divorce in China Increasing from Previous Decades

In China, marital strife seems to be on the rise as the annual divorce rate has doubled from last decade to 3.8 million couples. According to researchers at Peking University, 20% of men and women are unfaithful in their marriages—a number that has elevated in the last 30 years. Some economists attribute the change to an increased willingness from wealthy businessmen to put their own desires above familial obligation, a value that has decreased in significance since improved living standards have given way to financial freedom.

It is not uncommon for rich Chinese husbands— some that hold positions as prestigious as government officials and ministers—to keep a “second wife,” or a mistress that is financially provided for by their lover. Some portions of apartment complexes are even discretely reserved for these mistresses, whom are often provided a living allowance in exchange for sex and companionship.

Migration and social media has also allowed increased opportunities for couples to meet members of the opposite sex after marriage. Some couples do not even live in the same household, making it easier to engage in affairs. Surveys indicate that infidelity is the number one cause of marriages ending, making it no surprise that divorce rates have rocketed.

At Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq., our Monmouth County divorce attorneys are well-versed in navigating the complex landscape of divorce, adoption, child support, and other cases of family law. If you are in need of legal services pertaining to these matters, don’t hesitate to contact our offices at (732) 898-2378 for more information.



Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom officially divorced

Three years after TV reality star Khloe Kardashian first filed for divorce, a Los Angeles judge has approved the dissolution of her marriage with former NBA player Lamar Odom.

Although the decision was released last Friday, the court document states the couple’s marriage will be legally dissolved December 17, along with their joint company, Khlomar. Both Kardashian and Odom waived spousal support as part of their agreement.

Kardashian initially filed for divorce last December 2013, but she called it off when Odom was found unconscious in a Las Vegas brothel due to a drug and drinking binge. After the couple’s reconciliation, she filed another petition seeking to end their marriage. She cited “irreconcilable differences.” The two did not have any children but were married for more than four years.

If you or someone you know is going through a stressful divorce, get in touch with a reliable lawyer from the Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq.. We have the skills and knowledge to properly represent you in court and protect your rights throughout the legal process. Contact us at (732) 898-2378 to learn more about our practice.



Differences in Divorce Between Seniors

Many people have heard the statistic that in the United States, one in every two married couples will eventually get divorced. Contrary to the popular belief that millennials have the highest divorce rates, the root of the increase in divorce rates comes from the baby boomer generation as they reach retiring age.

“Silver divorces”—or divorces between individuals from around the retirement age—have a unique set of advantages and challenges that differ from divorces between younger couples. While child custody and support are likely not a concern for silver divorces, as children are usually grown and financially independent by this time, there are still financial and emotional concerns caused by asset division between splitting senior couples.

By the time couples reach retirement age, they have generally acquired a substantial amount of wealth and assets; often the most prominent of these is the home that they share. During a divorce, state law usually attempts to divvy assets in a way that is fair, equitable, and a close to an even split between two former spouses. However, this becomes slightly complicated during the division of a 401(k) or IRA for senior couples. This is because while each individual retiree’s income will likely stay the same after a divorce, each spouse will see higher retirement costs. Couples in the midst of a silver divorce are generally retired, or about to retire, and therefore have limited means of obtaining income. Researchers say in cases where dividing a home and 401(k) is not the best solution, a good way to combat this is entering into a reverse mortgage. In a reverse mortgage—reserved for those aged 62 and older—one spouse could receive the home and start a system where they pay income as long as they live in the home, while the other spouse can take the 401(k) account or IRA. Reverse mortgages do not require monthly payments and payments are only due when the last homeowner leaves the house.

The intricacies of divorce law can be a complex landscape. At Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq., the adept divorce attorney can help guide you through this process and seek the best possible outcome for your impending divorce. Contact us at (732) 898-2378 to learn more.



Default Divorce: Another Option in New Jersey

In the state of New Jersey, it may not be required that a person seeking a divorce get the approval or even a response from their spouse. The resulting divorce proceedings are called a “divorce by default.”

For the divorce by default to continue, the plaintiff, otherwise understood as the person who filed for divorce, is required to give the correct papers to the defendant, their spouse. If there is no response within a 35-day period, then the plaintiff will have 60 days to submit a request to the court for a default judgment.

2 types of Default Divorce:

Default Divorce by Agreement: A default divorce is often a good option for people who have settled their differences and consulted separate lawyers already to avoid paying both the filing and answering paperwork fees.

Default Divorce without a Court Hearing: There are several places in New Jersey that do not require a court appearance as long as both spouses have made it clear that all required questions have been answered and a settlement has been reached.

If you’re seeking a divorce, it is often the best idea to contact an attorney to discuss your options and desires moving forward. Contact one of our divorce attorneys with Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq. by calling (732) 898-2378 and we can potentially help you in your case.



Divorce forms used in New Jersey

There are four major forms that are used in the beginning steps of a divorce that determine the type and reason for the dissolution.

  • Court form 1A refers to a “no-fault” divorce in which the couple has not lived together for a minimum of 18 months before filing.
  • Court form 1D refers to another type of “no-fault” divorce in which the couple has simply cited irreconcilable differences that have been causing problems for at least six months.
  • Court form 1B is the first kind of “fault” divorce in which one party, the defendant, has deserted their spouse. This means that they left with no warning and have remained gone for a full year.
  • Court form 1C is the second kind of “fault” divorce that is filed in cases of cruelty in which the plaintiff has been abused by the defendant within the past three months.

If you need assistance when attempting to distinguish the grounds for your unique situation, consult with one of our experienced divorce lawyers. Contact the Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq. at (732) 898-2378 to begin your legal journey.