Planning the long-term future of a child with special needs can be the source of enormous stress for parents. Among the challenges of raising a child with special needs is figuring out how to provide for that child once you’re gone. If the child will never be able to earn a living, how can you determine.. read more →

On June 5, 2020, the Administrative Office of the Courts issued Directive #18-20, allowing trial courts in New Jersey to enter a judgment granting a divorce in default and uncontested cases on the papers without requiring the parties to appear personally before the court. Judges have discretion to schedule hearings in such matters if necessary.. read more →

(On December 1, 2016, I moderated the first Advanced Special Needs Trust Symposium, an all-day event held at the New Jersey Law Center. In addition to moderating the panel of speakers, I also presented on the topic of the “Uses of Special Needs Trusts in Cases Involving Divorce.” Due to the length of my paper,.. read more →

(On December 1, 2016, I moderated the first Advanced Special Needs Trust Symposium, an all-day event held at the New Jersey Law Center. In addition to moderating the panel of speakers, I also presented on the topic of the “Uses of Special Needs Trusts in Divorce.” Due to the length of my paper, I divided.. read more →

“Use of Special Needs Trusts in Cases Involving Divorce”  to be presented by leading NJ Elder Law and Estate Planning Attorney, Donald D. Vanarelli, Esq., who will also act as Moderator of the Symposium Donald D. Vanarelli, Esq. ( will moderate and present at the Advanced Special Needs Trust Symposium given by the New Jersey Institute.. read more →

Eddie and Aidaliz Jones married in 1998. They had a child in 2003, and were later divorced in 2009. When Eddie died, he was survived by his minor child as well as an emancipated adult child from a prior relationship. Before the marriage, Eddie Jones enrolled under a group life insurance policy through the Police.. read more →

On December 3rd, I presented at the 72nd Semi-Annual Tax and Estate Planning Forum sponsored by the NJ Institute for Continuing Legal Education. My presentation focused on recent developments in planning for disabled beneficiaries, including my recent victory in the New Jersey Supreme Court in the Thomas Saccone v. Board of Trustees of the Police and.. read more →

An issue concerning the payment of college tuition arose in a recent case that may be of interest to readers of this blog. In this case, the mother, who is my client, adopted two children later in life. Both children are now attending college. In the past few years, the mother has been paying college.. read more →

(Recently, I was the featured speaker at a meeting of the New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators. The subject was special needs planning for disabled spouses and/or disabled children in the context of divorce. The brief introduction to the subject given by the moderator follows, which is followed by a portion of the paper I.. read more →

In an opinion that breaks sharply with established practice, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that an application by a divorced spouse to pay child support for a disabled child into a special needs trust should be granted where the proponent shows that it is in child’s best interest to do so.  This is a.. read more →

Thomas v. Thomas, Docket No. A-2388-11T2 (N.J. Super. App. Div. June 4, 2013), involved competing claims against a $1 million life insurance policy maintained by the decedent. Mr. Thomas was survived by a wife, as well as an ex-wife, with whom he had 2 children. Pursuant to the Property Settlement Agreement (“PSA”) between Mr. Thomas.. read more →

On Saturday, April 27, 2013, I presented a session on the impact of elder law issues on divorce mediation at the 2013 Annual Divorce Mediation Seminar by the New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators. The topics covered in my session included Social Security, including retirement, disability and survivors benefits, Supplemental Security Income benefits, Medicare, Medicaid,.. read more →

In a November 5, 2010 blog post, I discussed the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division decision in Matter of Sand, Docket No. A-1856-08T1 (App. Div., November 1, 2010). In that case, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s ruling that the decedent’s daughter’s attempt to set aside her mother’s will, claiming undue influence.. read more →

The parties in this case had a brief relationship which resulted in the birth of a daughter. Several months prior to the child’s birth, defendant/father, Marcos Cozze, Jr., was in a devastating motor vehicle accident which resulted in permanent brain damage. A lawsuit was filed on defendant’s behalf. More than three (3) years later, a.. read more →

Bill No. 1388 was recently introduced in the New Jersey Senate with an identical, companion bill, Bill No. 685, also introduced in the Assembly. This bill amends New Jersey Statute 2A:34-23, concerning child support and alimony, to provide that an obligor’s child support or alimony payments may be modified when an obligor’s income is diminished.. read more →

In Bond v. Bond, the Appellate Division considered whether a non-custodial parent’s creation of a special needs trust (“SNT”) can justify the elimination of that parent’s obligation to pay child support. Although it concluded that the non-custodial parent “may utilize a special needs trust to take advantage of government programs to lessen the burden on.. read more →

Divorce is never easy, but if a child or spouse with special needs is involved, there are special considerations. At the same time, family law attorneys aren’t always familiar with how to best protect a spouse or child with special needs during a divorce. Elder law attorneys can provide information to family law attorneys who.. read more →

  General Divide all property according to divorce decree. Re-title ownership of assets, including your home and all motor vehicles, and inform  mortgage company, if any, of changes in ownership of real estate. Change the name of responsible party on utility bills, and notify auto insurer. Update your mailing address with credit card companies, banks,.. read more →

In January 2011, the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education (NJICLE) hosted the annual Family Law Symposium. This year an overflow crowd of over 700 family lawyers were in attendance, the largest audience to attend any program ever held by NJICLE. One presentation in the Family Law Symposium identified the “top 10 family law.. read more →

The following list contains some of the most frequently encountered issues faced by parents of a child with special needs who wish to arrange a secure future for their disabled child through estate planning. Don’t disinherit the child with special needs. Carefully consider the division of assets among all of the children. Understand the differences.. read more →

In Lerman v. Lerman, Docket No. A-1953-07T3 (App. Div., August 4, 2009), the trustees of a trust established and funded by defendant David Lerman’s deceased mother, Pearl Lerman, appealed from an order of a Family Court Judge in New Jersey directing that Bank of America turn over $50,000 of the trust’s assets to the Bergen.. read more →

A new Programs Operations Manual System (POMS), used by Social Security Administration employees to administer the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs, has recently been issued by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for trusts under the heading “SI 01120.200 Trusts – General, Including Trusts Established Prior to 1/1/00, Trusts Established.. read more →

A directive from the Administrative Office of the Courts lays out a new framework for use of incarceration in cases of parents brought into court for child support enforcement. The directive, entitled directive-15-08, comes in the wake of the state Supreme Court’s holding, in pasqua-v-council-186-nj-127-2006, that indigent parents charged with violating child support orders, who are.. read more →