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This special report analyzes three important decisions in the field of family law: Lerner v. Lauer, which defines a lawyer’s duty of zealous advocacy; Miller v. Miller, which calculates the rate of return on equitable distribution; and Schulze v. Morris, which examines the intrastate relocation of children in custody cases.
Divorcing Parties May Seek To Limit Their Lawyers’ Scope of Representation In Lerner v. Laufer, the Appellate Division has established for the first time in New Jersey’s legal history the proper balance between clients’ rights to and interests in self-determination and informed consent. It has also determined that a lawyer’s duty of zealous advocacy must yield to a client’s voluntary decision to settle a case based on little or no information gathering, analysis or exchange. ‘Miller’ Revisited: What Is a Realistic Rate of Return? In Miller, the Supreme Court held that a reasonable rate of return can be imputed to a payor’s investment assets and that this return should be calculated by taking a five-year average of the long-term corporate bond rate based on Moody’s Composite Index on A-rated Corporate Bonds. Is this return still realistic in light of the current economic climate? Parents Cannot Move Children Intrastate With Impunity In Schulze v. Morris, the Appellate Division visited for the first time the question of intrastate removal, and whether or not a custodial parent should be allowed to relocate within the state without court permission or consent of the noncustodial parent. Spouses No Longer, Parents Forever For those who consistently encounter the disintegration of once loving relationships and who witness the bitter battle over children � family lawyers � defining the client is not as simple as one may think. Who Ate the Cookies, Mom or the Children? For years, lawyers have relied on the court-sanctioned Case Information Statement to present their client’s financial picture to the court. However, over 12 years ago, Justice Virginia Long recognized that the CIS fails to accurately present the information a court needs in certain post-judgment situations. Online Divorce Services Spark Debate You might think a couple wanting a quick divorce would first stop at a lawyer’s office � or maybe two lawyers’ offices, one for each. Not necessarily. Their first stop may be the computer. Welcome to the new world of dot-com divorce.

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