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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

How Did I Become a Lawyer?

As many of you know I am a divorce and family law attorney in East Brunswick, New Jersey.  My law firm was born (I still call it my “baby”) on April 1, 1996 and turns 19 years old today.  So when did I decide to become a lawyer?  Please allow me to share.

It all started around 1975.  My family was playing Monopoly and my dad (who taught me so much that I quote him on a daily basis) decided to teach me a lesson about business.  Long story short, I traded Boardwalk for a railroad and quickly went bankrupt.  Once I realized that I had been railroaded (pun intended) I ran out of the room and locked myself in the bathroom for about two hours. After my mom was finished going off on my poor dad, “He is a little boy, you made him cry!  Now look at what we have and on a Sunday!” Mom (the greatest mom in the world ) spent the second hour was on the other side of the bathroom door, pleading with me to come out.  Then my mom said the magic words: “We will get you a pizza if you open the door.”  Well, that did the trick.  (did I mention she’s the greatest Mom in the world?)

As I opened the door, my mother’s demeanor changed immediately; she pointed towards me and pronounced, “When you grow up you are going to be a lawyer because you are a sore loser.”  Right there and then my fate was set.

I also recall in 1995 when my parents were selling the home that they raised my sister and I in on Wellington Road.  We were going through old boxes (my parents verged on “Hoarders,” but in a good way; they saved everything).   As my mom was going through my “Baby Book” she exclaimed, “Oh my God!” 

There was a section in the book that was intended to be used once the child is old enough to read and write.  On one particular page it stated, “When I grow up I want to be ______.”  My mom then pointed to my response; written in crayon this 1970s kid wrote, “lawyer.”  The rest is history. 

I graduated East Brunswick High School in 1987.  I attended college at Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey.  I then moved home to East Brunswick and have been here ever since. 

My first job out of college was at a large midtown Manhattan law firm where I earned $18,200 annual salary.  I spent more money on my commute than I earned but I needed something more on my resume than, “Delivery Boy” and “Class Clown.”

In August 1992 I received the most important phone call of my life.  My mom called me at work and said, “You got into law school … you did it!”  I immediately ran downtown to New York Law School to accept their offer in person.  I think I ran all the way before they changed their minds!  I graduated in 1995 and passed the bar exam that summer.   I then hit the streets looking for a job.

As many of my colleagues would attest to, it is tough out there for a young lawyer unless you graduated towards the top of your class.  While I would love to report what an amazing student I was, that would not be a truthful statement.  Having said that, I always battled and fought my way through every exam and met every challenge.  I did not care if I was the last to get over the “mountain top,” as long as I made it.   I also understood that ultimately, how I could help folks would matter much more than where I went to school, my class rank and so forth. 

Once the dust settled, I was unemployed and in debt.  I owed several hundreds of dollars in student loans.  From 1991-1996 I could not afford a car.  Now who lives in New Jersey without a car (Hoboken not included)?  I had a law degree, yet I was destitute.  I was living on credit cards (including paying my rent).  Fortunately, thanks to my parents, I never lost the faith and kept my chin up.  After unsuccessfully struggling to find a law firm to hire me, I reached a crossroad. 

In March 1996, while driving to my parents’ house for Sunday dinner, I decided that I must make a big move.  I narrowed it down to two choices:  A.  Move to Hollywood and be discovered.  I knew I was funny, I can sing and dance and acting would come second nature; or B. Hang my own shingle and go for it.

I knew better than to tell my parents about the Hollywood, as my mother would have flipped her lid.  Instead, I opened with asking what they thought about my starting my own law practice.  My mom immediately loved the idea.  I remember my dad saying, “If you get a traffic ticket here and you handle a will for another client, before you know it you’ll be in business.  My parents were correct once again.

My parents lent me $5,000 which paid for my desk, phone, fax and malpractice insurance.  I used my only credit card for the biggest expense, which arrived in a box that looked like a cow.  It was my new Gateway computer.

I recall March 1996 pushing a shopping cart through Office Max with my list and wondering to myself, “I wonder if I’ll ever be back?”  I was prepared to give the post-its, pens and legal pads to my girlfriend just in case.

I opened my law practice April fool’s 1996.  I had no clients, no money and no clue.  What I did have, however, was guts and the work ethic that my parents instilled in me.  I researched and read every book and article I could get my hands on, ranging from the law to how to start and build your own law practice.

A watershed moment occurred in 2003 when I bought my office building with a partner.  A mere 7 years earlier I had no idea if I would even make it, and now I own an office building on Route 18 in the very town that I grew up.  It took 7 mortgages to make it happen … but I was on a mission!  Once the sign with my name on it went up on Route 18, my career elevated immediately.  Suddenly, I was a “somebody” in the legal community. 

I must also mention that one of the greatest decision I ever made was when I asked my sister, Carole, to be my Office Manager, bookkeeper and property manager, just to name a few.  My sister joining me in business was a game changer.  While things were going pretty well beforehand, my sister elevated my law firm to levels that I had only ever dreamed of.  I often comment how many siblings cannot make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich together without wanting to beat up one another.  However, Carole and I make an amazing team and mere words cannot express how proud I am of her and how incredibly loyal she is to her new career and me.

19 years later I am happy to report that my calculated risk paid off and I made my parents, family and friends proud.  To this very day I still like to say to people, “I opened up on April 1, 1996 … and I fooled them all!”

I am very proud of how many people I have helped over the years.  Moreover, I love that my career has allowed me to protect many children and keep them out of harm’s way.  The motto at my law firm is, “Kids Come First.”

I would like to thank all of my fantastic associates, paralegals and support staff.  This is the greatest team that my law firm has ever had.  My team is full of all amazing and dedicated people whom I am happy to work with.

Finally I must thank everyone in my life that believed in me and supported me through the good times as well as the tough times over the past 19 years.  A special thank you to my family.  I could never have done any of this without you. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Are There Dating Sites For The Divorced?

As a New Jersey Divorce Lawyer for nearly 20 years, I am aware that getting back in the dating scene after going through a divorce can be extremely difficult. How do you know if you are ready to date again? What if you say the wrong thing? How do you even date these days? After being married and then having to start all over, these are the most common questions divorcees will ask themselves. Unfortunately, dating after a divorce might seem overwhelming to some. The largest issue is trying to meet other divorcees like yourself so that you have more in common and something to relate to.

However, with the rise in usage of online dating sites, dating again after a divorce is no longer a stressful activity. While sites like Match and EHarmony are excellent online tools to help you reconnect with the dating scene, the members can be all over the board. Since this poses an issue to some who would prefer to date someone divorced as well, these sites are not frequented as much by divorcees. On the contrary, sites such as Divorce Dating and Divorced People Meet have become the talk of the online dating community in recent months for divorcees.

DivorceDating.com is the number one online dating service for divorced men and women in the nation.  DivorceDating.com’s motto is “a second chance at love.” It specifically caters toward aiding divorced men and women to start over and find a new loving relationship. Members of Divorce Dating especially love the site because of the great benefits they receive. Free member benefits include being able to create your own profile and upload pictures, view profiles and pictures from other divorced singles, and send and receive alerts from other interested members. The greatest perk of becoming a member is that no credit card is needed to sign up.

The founder of DivorceDating.com is celebrity divorce lawyer Vikki Ziegler. Ziegler is best known for being the leader of a one of a kind, realistic approach to divorce management. At a young age, Ziegler’s parents divorced. The divorce was extremely difficult for her to deal with and motivated her in her future career to de-stigmatize divorce by allowing its empowering aspects to shine. She thus created DivorceDating.com to enable divorced men and women through the nation to have a second chance at love without feeling like their divorce was holding them back.

The second most popular dating website for divorcees is DivorcedPeopleMeet.com.  Like Divorce Dating, Divorced People Meet is a free online dating site specifically designed for divorced and separated people to take advantage of. A distinguishing feature that DivorcedPeopleMeet.com offers if the ability to engage in live video, audio or text chat with another divorcee. This feature provides for more interaction between two divorcees before they decide to meet in person, a feature that not all dating sites offer. Another great feature that the website provides is advice on how to create a great dating profile. The article gives tips on how to best design your profile so that you can start dating quickly without the hassle of having to ponder what to include or omit in your profile.

At the Law Offices of Edward R. Weinstein, we greatly encourage turning to social media and sites like these to help you start a new, stress-free life after your divorce. Call us today for a free consultation at 732-246-0909 or Edward@weinsteinlawoffice.com

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Find My IPhone? How About, “Find My Cheating Wife!”

Earlier in my career as a New Jersey Divorce Lawyer, I was accustomed to folks coming to me who suspected and/or confirmed infidelity on the part of their spouse.  The red flags in the “old days” included a sudden obsession with their looks, working late nights and suddenly being in a  “good mood” all of the time for no apparent reason.

As technology has exploded in recent years, there are now countless was to find out if your spouse is being faithful.  Thus, I have learned a great amount about "cheating apps."  Earlier this week, a nice fellow came to see me regarding his wife and how he caught her cheating with the help of today’s technology.

His wife had hired a personal trainer a number of months back.  Once she got in great shape training 5 times per week, she asked the gym if should could teach her own class.  Ultimately, the gym agreed that every Wednesday night she would teach a “pole dancing class.”  At this point, my new client had become suspicious.  While he hoped and prayed that he was wrong, a plan was formulated and then executed.

First, he downloaded the “Find my IPhone” app.  Then, while his wife was home taking a shower BEFORE her Wednesday night class (another red flag), he put his phone on silent and hid it in her car under the passenger side car seat.  Then, he waited.  Hours later, he pulled the app up on his IPad to check the location of his phone.  He took a deep breath as he hoped that her gym would pop up.  Instead his suspicions were confirmed, as the location of his phone was a Red Roof Inn. 

With today’s technology, my client’s can now confirm cheating without spending thousands of dollars on private investigators.  Now, infidelity is rarely legally relevant in a New Jersey divorce action.  However, as I recently blogged, when cheating is the genesis of the demise of the marriage, emotions often run so high that bringing the parties to an ultimate settlement becomes extremely difficult.  For those of you out there who have been a victim of betrayal, keep your chin up and do not ever blame yourself.  With time, this too shall pass. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Does Adultery Make my New Jersey Divorce More Complicated?

In a word, yes.  As a New Jersey Divorce Lawyer for nearly 20 years I have found that cases involving adultery are often the most challenging. This reality came to mind as the past Sunday as I read about Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his deceased wife, Mary Richardson Kennedy.  

It recently came to light that Mary found Robert’s personal journal from 2001, which revealed that he had at least 37 different affairs in that year alone.  In his journal, Robert did not even bother to try to hide or “code” his indiscretions, naming the women and using a number based system that addressed how often and how far he had been sexually with each.  Even beyond this journal, Robert would essentially flaunt his affairs in Mary’s face, not even attempting to spare her the pain she was clearly enduring throughout their marriage.   Mary struggled throughout with bouts of severe depression caused by her philandering husband.  The broken trust and embarrassment that he forced her to live with was simply too much for her to withstand.  The cheating and pressures it placed on the family ultimately became too much for this high profile marriage, leading to Robert filing for divorce in 2010.  Their divorce became lengthy as a messy custody battle ensued along with an ugly fight over finances.  Tragically, Mary committed suicide in 2012 by hanging herself on the couple estate.  The bitterness was so intense that there were actually two separate funerals for Mary, one by each family.  Robert’s betrayal of his wife caused intense strife in the family

The pain of infidelity and betrayal can cause serious psychological and emotional damage ranging from feelings of rage to depression.   Research demonstrates that the victim of infidelity faces an extremely difficult initial state, known as the “roller coaster.”  This is a time of wild fluctuations of emotions ranging from anger and rage to guilt and self-loathing.  Often the victim blames him or herself and may even try a half-hearted attempt to reconcile.  Ultimately, the reality of the painful truth of the inevitable demise of the relationship transpires as the pain and broken trust simply do not just go away. 

As many of my NJ Divorce cases begin during this hyper-emotional stage, the litigation is often difficult to navigate.  This is because the intense feelings of rage, emotional and guilt radically effect the litigant’s decision making.  It is common that New Jersey divorce cases can be the most difficult to navigate to a global settlement.   Moreover, these cases usually take longer to resolve, again due to the intensified emotions stemming from betrayal.  As a victim of betrayal myself years ago, I find that I have an elevated ability to assist my client’s as they understand that I “get it.”  While it is an awful thing to go through, I assure my client’s that they can recover from this and that they will survive this and move on stronger than ever.  As I say to them, “and then you will be happy like me,” I love the big assuring smile I receive back.  No matter how bleak, please do not ever give up

Monday, August 19, 2013

How Would New Jersey Alimony Reform Affect Permanent Alimony?

At the Law Offices of Edward R. Weinstein, L.L.C., we continue to monitor perhaps the greatest overhaul of New Jersey Divorce law in the history of the state; New Jersey Alimony Reform

As a New Jersey Divorce Attorney, I have learned that one of many goals of New Jersey Alimony Reform is the end the concept of permanent alimony in NJ.  This potential new law would limit the length of alimony that a spouse would have to pay strictly contingent upon the length of the marriage.  Simply put, alimony payments would automatically end upon their reaching reasonable retirement age (i.e., 65 to 67 years of age).  Moreover, the only time that a judge could even considering ordering someone to pay permanent alimony would be a marriage of at least 20 years and even then that would not be a guarantee.  This is not the present state of the laws of New Jersey Alimony, which forces some people to continue to pay alimony well into their 70s.  This seemingly endless obligation is the genesis of the Reformists cause (along with the great discretion that Courts now have when deciding how much alimony one must pay).  

A recent case provides a great example.  In Gnall v. Gnall, the New Jersey Appellate Division proclaimed that a marriage of 15 years qualified for permanent alimony.  This was ordered even though the parties married when they were very young and were only 41 years of age at the time that their divorce began.  The Court’s decision goes into great detail as to why, under the present state of New Jersey Alimony laws, that this is equitable.  Needless to say, supporters of New Jersey Alimony Reform are using this brand new case as a cause celebre to further their cause.  A review of their Facebook page demonstrates this notion loud and clear.   Something tells me that the legislatures who are presently studying NJ Alimony Reform have already been made aware of this recent turn of events.

Stay posted!