New Jersey State Bar Association - The voluntary Bar Association of New Jersey, serving members since 1899.

Capitol Report

August 2, 2010

This is a status report on recently passed and pending legislation, regulations, gubernatorial nominations and/or appointments of interest to lawyers. The report may also include information about appearances of New Jersey State Bar Association representatives before legislative committees, and the involvement of the association as amicus in appellate court matters. The state bar association's government affairs department compiles the report. Following each bill number is the sponsor's name, the NJSBA position, if any, bill description and status. Full and previous versions of the Capitol Report with links to related text are available online at www.njsba.com.

SPECIAL EDITION - FAMILY LAW

This special edition of the Capitol Report focuses on Family Law legislation that is currently pending in the state Legislature.

Pending Legislation

ADOPTION

S-799/A-1406/A-1304 (Vitale/Prieto/Wolfe) (NJSBA opposes) Permits adoptees and certain others access to the adoptee's original birth certificate and other related information. On March 22, S-799 passed in the Senate; A-1406 was released from the Assembly Human Services Committee with a substitute on June 14, and is awaiting Assembly vote; A-1304 was introduce and referred to the Assembly Human Services Committee on Jan. 12.

S-517/A-1110 (Ruiz/Evans) (NJSBA supports) Permits payments in subsidized adoption until a child reaches the age of 21, under certain circumstances. On Jan. 12, both bills were introduced and referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee and the Assembly Human Services Committee respectively.

CHILD SUPPORT

S-224 (Kean) (Under review by the NJSBA) Provides for modification of child support and certain alimony payments due to changed circumstances. On Jan.12, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

S-428 (Turner) (NJSBA opposes) Clarifies factors used to determine when child support orders can be terminated. On Jan.12, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

S-1100/A-1377 (Carroll/Bucco) (NJSBA opposes) Provides for a presumption of joint physical custody in a child custody determination; addresses relocation. On Feb. 4, S-1100 was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. A-1377 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Jan. 12.

S-1531/A-2257 (Rice/Spencer) (NJSBA supports) Authorizes the court to waive the license revocation process for certain child support obligors. On Feb. 22, S-1531 was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. A-2257 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Feb 11.

S-1649 (Turner) (NJSBA takes no position) Establishes the New Jersey Task Force on Child Support Reform. On March 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A-210 (Quigley) (NJSBA supports) Provides that DNA test results may be used in establishing parentage. On Jan.12, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

A-927 (Vainieri Huttle) (Under review by the NJSBA) Imposes a mandatory interest payment on delinquent child support judgments. On Jan.12, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

A-1003 (Spencer) (NJSBA opposes) Requires a noncustodial parent to purchase health benefits coverage for a child. On Jan.12, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Human Services Committee.

A-2081 (Cryan) (NJSBA opposes) Allows a child support payor to petition the court for an accounting of a recipient's disposition of child support funds under certain circumstances. On Feb. 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Human Services Committee.

CHILDREN'S WELFARE

S-381 (Singer) (Under review by the NJSBA) Codifies relevant factors for hearings following custody determinations when one parent wants to move out-of-state with the children. On Jan.12, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

S-951/A-1957 (Vitale/Conners) (Under review by the NJSBA) Expands the means to obtain a protective order for a minor. On Feb. 8, A-1957 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee. S-951 was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 4.

S-1812/A-2292 (Whelan/Ramos) (NJSBA supports) Authorizes the Office of Public Defender to provide legal representation for a child in proceedings after parental rights have been terminated. On March 16, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. A-2292 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Feb. 18.

S-1963/A-3096 (Beach/Conners) (NJSBA supports) (NJSBA drafted bill) Concerns custody and parenting time issues for military parents. On July 1, A-3096 (an NJSBA-drafted bill) was introduced and referred to the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. S-1963 was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 20.

A-1956 (Conners) (NJSBA opposes) Prohibits a permanent change of child custody during a period of active military service; provides that absence due to active military duty, by itself, is insufficient justification to modify a child custody or visitation order. On Feb. 8, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee.

A-2283 (DeCroce) (NJSBA supports with amendments) Requires genetic testing to determine paternity in non-dissolution cases. On Feb. 18, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

A-1300 (Wolfe) (NJSBA opposes) Denies custody and visitation rights to a minor child by family members of individuals convicted of certain crimes. On Jan.12, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Human Services Committee.

A-1378 (Carroll) (NJSBA opposes) Repeals N.J.S.A.9:2-7.1, which allows a sibling or grandparent of a minor child to make an application in superior court for visitation rights. On Jan.12, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

DISSOLUTION

S-1487 (Rice) (NJSBA opposes) Authorizes a party to a final divorce judgment or judgment for the dissolution of a civil union to request a name change without notifying the opposing party. On Feb. 22, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A-925 (Vainieri Huttle) (NJSBA opposes) Provides that payment of alimony shall become a judgment by operation of law when due, and shall be enforceable as a civil judgment. On Jan.12, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

A-2343 (McHose) (Under review by the NJSBA) Precludes most distributions of increased value of a pre-marital residence at the time of divorce. On Feb. 25, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

S-272 (Stack) (NJSBA opposes) Upgrades simple assault committed against domestic violence victims to aggravated assault. On Jan.12, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

S-313/A-875 (Codey/Pou) (NJSBA opposes) Authorizes the issuance of restraining orders in situations where the domestic violence statutes do not apply. On Jan. 12, both bills were introduced and referred to the Senate and Assembly Judiciary Committees respectively.

S-361 (Weinberg) (NJSBA supports) Directs the Division on Women to conduct an audit of the coordination of community responses to domestic violence. On Jan. 12, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee.

S-558/A-1499 (Cunningham/Chiappone) (NJSBA opposes) Requires prosecution of domestic violence-related cases in superior court, and removes jurisdiction from municipal court. On Jan. 12, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

S-1331/A-1295 (Ciesla/Holzapfel) (Under review by the NJSBA) Requires the family part, under certain circumstances, to dispose of a charge of contempt of a domestic violence order on an emergency basis, without setting bail. On Feb. 8, S-1331 was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. A-1295 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Jan. 12.

S-1382/A-2790 (Weinberg/Voss) (NJSBA supports) Establishes the Domestic Violence Healthcare Response Act. On June 10, A-2790 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee. S-1382 was introduced and referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on Feb. 11.

S-1388 (Weinberg) (NJSBA supports) Clarifies the goal of a domestic violence public awareness campaign pertaining to risk factors; requires public awareness notices include the language used by substantial segments of local populations. On Feb. 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

S-1578/A-2303 (Turner/Gusciora) (NJSBA opposes) Clarifies the intent of the Legislature that the attempt or conspiracy to commit certain offenses may constitute acts of domestic violence. On March 4, S-1578 was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. A-2303 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Feb. 25.

S-1692 (Madden) (NJSBA supports with amendments) Establishes the New Jersey Task Force on Domestic Violence and Abuse. On March 11, the bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

A-272 (Russo) (NJSBA opposes) Imposes mandatory terms of imprisonment for contempt for violation of domestic violence orders. On Jan. 12, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

A-449 (Voss) (NJSBA opposes) Creates the offense of impairing communications, which would constitute domestic violence in certain circumstances. On Jan. 12, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

A-903 (Dancer) (NJSBA opposes) Provides for electronic monitoring of domestic violence offenders and notification to the victim; designated as Lisa's Law. On Jan. 12, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

A-1748 (Watson Coleman) (NJSBA supports) Expands the membership of the Domestic Violence Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board. On March 15 the bill passed in the Assembly (77-0) and was referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

A-1792 (Munoz) (Under review by the NJSBA) Expands domestic violence protection for adoptive parents. On Jan. 12, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

MALPRACTICE

A-412 (Diegnan) (Under review by the NJSBA) Limits actions against court-appointed psychologists and psychiatrists in certain family court matters. On Jan. 12, the bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

MARRIAGE

SCR-11/ACR-14 (Cardinale/McHose) (NJSBA opposes) Proposes a constitutional amendment to provide that only the union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as marriage. On Jan. 12, both bills were introduced and referred to the Senate and Assembly Judiciary Committees respectively.

PALIMONY

S-1500/A-2296 (Scutari/Stender) (NJSBA supports with amendments) As introduced, the bill waived the requirement for independent advice of counsel if both parties in a palimony agreement signed and notarized a written statement that they are knowingly, willingly and voluntarily waiving such advice. Committee amendments delete this provision. Instead, pursuant to the amended bill, there would be no requirement for the independent advice of counsel if the written promise to provide support is notarized, signed, and sworn. On Feb. 25, A-2296 passed in the Assembly (68-6) and on March 4, S-1500 was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Note: "Under review by the NJSBA" means that the bill is currently being examined by NJSBA sections, committees and/or Board of Trustees and a final position has not yet been reached on the measure.