Areas of Practice are:
WHAT THE HOFMANN LAW FIRM BRINGS:
PROBLEM SOLVING – As an astute problem solver, careful listener, and compassionate attorney, Mr. Hofmann comprehends the necessity of translating stressful and complex legal issues into everyday language to create understanding and confidence for clients, who are swirling in an emotional whirlwind.
Expertise in the following areas:
All areas of family law, including adoptions, civil unions, divorce, prenuptial agreements, child custody, alimony, and post judgement matters. The firm also handles employment matters as well as municipal matters.
Adoptions can be complex but joyous matters that require competent guidance and knowledge to pass over the many hurdles you will face. Good adoption attorneys must also have a passion for adoption and Mr. Hofmann has handled numerous adoptions, including his own. His personal experience with adoption motivates Mr. Hofmann to pursue the same happiness for any families seeking to adopt.
As any client, you want your adoption to be done as efficiently and painlessly as possible so that you can begin to enjoy the wonderful addition to your family. International adoptions are varied and greatly determined by the laws of the foreign country. Domestic adoptions follow a different set of guidelines and procedures to completion. It is critical to have an experienced adoption attorney at your side as you proceed forward.
Grounds for Divorce
New Jersey has modernized into a “no fault” divorce state, which means that if either party in a marriage decides they no longer want to be married, they have grounds to pursue divorce proceedings. “No Fault” divorce arose from the Divorce Reform Act of 1971. This reform permitted parties to avoid using “at fault” grounds such as adultery or battery.
Although New Jersey has added “no fault” divorce options to couples in dead marriages, there still exist “fault grounds” available, such as (1) desertion, (2) abuse, (3) extreme cruelty, (4) drug addiction, (5) habitual drunkenness, (6) mental illness, (7) imprisonment, and (8) deviant sexual conduct.
Alimony or spousal support is a very important component to many divorce matters. Spouses in households with one or two breadwinners must now determine what is needed to maintain their lifestyle following the divorce. New Jersey has recently undergone changes to its alimony law in 2014, and these must be discussed thoroughly with an experienced family law attorney to ensure you are properly educated as to your rights and/or obligations. Whether you are the spouse who needs support or are the spouse whose job provided the support for your family, The Hofmann Law Firm will be able to advocate your position from years of experience and advocacy.
Nothing can be more stressful than a parent worrying about the welfare and custody of a child in a divorce matter. It is crucial that you have a compassionate attorney who listens to his client to determine the proper course to reduce the emotional trauma to all parties – the parents and the children. Proper negotiation and argument, if necessary, must be made to ensure that you have a fulfilling and rewarding life with your child following a divorce. These matters all fall under child custody, which can be the most contentious part to a divorce.
There are many possible issues that may arise in child custody matters. These include, but are not limited to: (1) joint or sole residential custody, (2) joint or sole legal custody, (3) parenting time, (4) grandparent visitation, (5) post-judgment issues, (6) and out of state removal of a child by one parent.
Financial support in New Jersey is based upon the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. To determine how much child support is required, a predetermined equation is used (based upon various factors), which include the number and age of the children, the parenting time, and gross income of each party. Helpful apps in the Apple App Store that can be used to give you an idea as to what you would pay per week in child support.
New Jersey law gives every child the right to be supported and educated by his natural father or mother, including children born out of wedlock. The Uniform Parentage Act was passed in 1983 (amended further in 1994) and set forth principles that all parents and their children, regardless of marital status, have equal rights with respect to one another and to establish a method to determine parentage when disputed. Blood tests and genetic testing have come into prominence in recent years. Before an assumed father is made to submit DNA to determine paternity, a court must first determine if there is an articulable reason for suspecting that the defendant is the father.
Once the test results are returned, the Family Part Intake Service will make a recommendation. If a party does not accept the recommendation, the paternity matter will be scheduled for trial.
Property Settlement Agreements (PSAs)
A contentious divorce can be one of the most stressful events someone will experience in their lifetime. Combative court motions that eventually lead to trial and possibly appeal can be quite draining emotionally and financially. Each party has a legal right to have their matter heard in court before a family judge and a determination made. However, the judge’s ultimate decision(s) on serious matters such as child custody and alimony can leave both parties feeling hollow and angry.
In today’s family practice, there is a popular movement by divorcing parties to work towards a negotiated, collaborative or mediated settlement to reduce the venom and hurt. These options return more of the control and decision-making to the parties, who will have to live with the decisions that are made long after the divorce. Property Settlement Agreements (PSAs) are one method to address the list of items that often exist between the parties, such as alimony, custody, property division, and child support. Working together allows the parties to craft unique and original solutions to their disputes that would not be available in a judge’s decision following a trial. Once the parties have agreed upon a PSA, completion of the filed divorce matter becomes a formality.
Mediation and Arbitration
In mediation, a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), a neutral third party (the mediator) facilitates the parties’ negotiation to help reach a settlement, avoiding litigation in court. However, the mediator cannot give the parties legal advice, advocate on either party’s behalf, or draft the final settlement documents. New Jersey provides Complementary Dispute Resolution, which constitutes an important component of resolving divorce matters to avoid a costly trial. Once a matter is referred to mediation, the parties and/or their attorneys may select a mediator from a list of qualified mediators in their area. The mediator will set a date and time of the mediation sessions to take place. Counsel are typically involved in at least the first mediation session, if not all sessions along with their client. Mediation can take anywhere from 2 to 5 sessions before the parties are able to finalize their issues.
Arbitration is another form of ADR where an arbitrator is chosen by the parties to hear the facts and issues in dispute and make a binding determination, like a judge. The scope of arbitration and the issues addressed is entirely up to the agreement of the parties before the arbitration begins. Arbitration is defined as a consensual, voluntary contract agreed upon by the parties with the goal to resolve a dispute for the purposes of securing a final disposition outside of the courthouse. Arbitration is an exclusive remedy wherein the parties voluntarily waive their rights to litigate before a judge.
Hofmann Law Firm represents workers in various employment law matters, including hostile work environments, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) issues and disputes, discrimination of protected classes (sex, race, gender, marital status, religion, national origin, pregnancy, sexual orientation and transgender) under New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD), EEO violations under federal law, unemployment compensation appeals, and wage and hour law violations.
Equitable Distribution of Property
An accurate property settlement agreement (PSA) should include all joint assets acquired by the parties during the marriage. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, as brought about by the Divorce Reform Act of 1971 (Act). This Act was enacted with minimal language or legislative history, therefore, the meaning of property and whether it goes into the marital pot for distribution has been determined by case law over the years. In New Jersey, property acquired during the marriage (date of marriage to date of divorce complaint filing) is the property of both parties and subject to equitable distribution, minus inheritance, pre-marital property, and gifts.
Division of property and assets can be a complex and malicious issue among two parties given the high stakes involved- each party’s largest assets, homes and retirement accounts. Under the New Jersey statute, “personal property” is defined as goods and chattels, credits, money, cash, and evidences of debt. “Real property” is defined as land, tenements, and items of inheritance. Whether a certain asset is subject to equitable distribution largely depends on the specific asset, as many assets are treated differently. When high net worth parties are undergoing a divorce, a financial expert or accountant will be brought on board assisting with proper identification and value of the asset. An experienced family law attorney is indispensable in ensuring the client receives their appropriate proportion of the marital assets, which they have worked hard to obtain their entire adult lives.
Civil Unions/Domestic Partnerships
The New Jersey Domestic Partnership Act (DPA) was enacted on January 8, 2004, making New Jersey only the fifth state in the United States to recognize same sex domestic partnerships. The DPA conferred to same-sex couples all the same rights and obligations accorded to married couples. The two distinctions are: (1) property acquired by one partner during the domestic partnership is treated as property of that individual, unlike in a marriage where joint ownership may arise by law; and (2) the status of a partnership does not create or reduce individual partners’ rights and responsibilities toward children.
Following the landmark case of Lewis v. Harris, 188 N.J. 415 (2006), the New Jersey Legislature established civil unions by amending the marriage statute to include same sex couples. Therefore, all rights and obligations created by the “Domestic Partnership Act” were expanded by the recognition of civil unions between same sex couples. Parties to a civil union receive the same benefits and protections as married couples. The dissolution of civil unions between same sex couples follows an identical track to the dissolution of marriage between a man and a woman, including the grounds to initiate dissolution proceedings.
Highly Contested Divorce Matters
Some parties, despite efforts to mediate and reach an amicable settlement, are unable to find agreeable terms. In New Jersey, 98 out of 100 divorce matters are settled without having to proceed to trial. For those remaining 2 of 100, their matters must be argued and decided by a family court judge. Keith Hofmann is an experienced family lawyer and trial attorney who has been practicing law in central New Jersey since 2004. The Hofmann Law Firm will ensure that your matters are ably represented and receive zealous advocacy in whichever matters must be brought before the court.
Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders of Protection
Domestic violence (DV) is an all too common problem that exists in domestic relationships. The Hofmann Law Firm has both fought for victims of abuse and defended actions alleged against an abusive party. DV matters begin when an application is filed by the complaining party requesting a Temporary Restraining Order, also known as a TRO. This TRO is set in place to temporarily provide protection to the alleged victim until a Final Restraining Order hearing is scheduled and heard in the very near future, whereby both parties appear before a judge. Many times depending on the severity of the harm, the issuance of the TRO accompanies a filing of a related criminal charge in criminal court, creating both a criminal matter and civil matter. To be found guilty of domestic abuse for purposes of the restraining order, the victim must qualify as a “Victim of Domestic Violence” and the Defendant must be found guilty of at least one (1) of the (14) potential acts of violence, as set forth in the New Jersey Domestic Violence Statute.
Once a defendant is found guilty, the court will enter a Final Restraining Order, also called an FRO. Entry of an FRO may provide the following punishments and/or protections to the victim under N.J.S.A. 2C:25-29(b):
• Registration of defendant’s name in the New Jersey Central Registry for Domestic Violence – N.J.S.A. 2C:25-34
• Seizure of weapons – N.J.S.A. 2C:25-29(b)
• Potential future criminal charges for a violation per N.J.S.A. 2C:25-30
• In the event children are involved, a mandatory presumption that the best interests of the child are served by an award of custody to the non-abusive parent – N.J.S.A. 2C:25-29(b)(11)