The New Route To Teaching Career

VoIP: Cheaper Internet Calls

Business Approach To Volunteer Militia

Making the Most Of the Volunteer Board

Start Totting Up Your Tax Deductions

New Benefits for Domestic Partners

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Bart Jackson and Kathleen McGinn Spring were prepared for the January 21, 2004 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.


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The New Route To Teaching Career

‘Teaching isn’t for everyone," says Darlene Yoseloff, director of the office of school relations at Middlesex County College. Still, a great many downsized telecom and pharma executives and scientists, HR specialists, bank officers, and assorted middle managers put a return to the classroom at the head of their career change lists.

Some want what looks like a refreshing break from corporate politics. Some want to put service above compensation of the sort that finances second homes and sports cars. And, let’s be honest, some want the fabulous vacation time.

There are fantasies about teaching, and there is the reality, and now there is a new way to gain a clear-eyed view of the profession – as well as teaching certification, and even graduated credits. Yoseloff and her staff lay out the possibilities on Thursday, January 22, at 6 p.m. during "Open House on New Pathways to Teaching in New Jersey" at the College Center, cafeteria C, of Middlesex County College’s Edison campus. The information meeting is free. Call 732-906-2512 for more information.

Yoseloff herself started out to be a teacher. A native of New Rochelle, she took teaching as a minor at Hunter College in Manhattan, and earned her certification. But rather than heading for the classroom, she went into publishing. And then into adult ed. "You never know what you’re going to be when you grow up," she says. In the case of the lively, enthusiastic Yoseloff, a career path turned into a career circle. She came to Middlesex in 1986 on a six-month grant.

The short-term assignment led to a position in which she worked on changing attitudes toward older workers. Her program helped downsized employees, most of them over 50, to find jobs. A big part of her job was to persuade corporations that these mature workers would be great contributors.

In 1992, when her college established an office to act as a liaison with local school districts, she was asked to head it up, and with her acceptance, she had returned to her first, quickly abandoned career choice. The office has developed programs for teachers, including a new team teaching initiative, as well as for students.

In June, she was informed that her office was to put together a new teaching certification program, New Pathways to Teaching in New Jersey, and that it was to begin in July. Gearing up was quite a scramble, but Yoseloff met the deadline for the two-stage program, which is geared toward working adults. Demand was so great that she formed two sections for the Stage 1 class. The first Stage 2 classes are now in session.

In addition to career changers, the program is appealing to recent college graduates who find they do not like their first jobs, and want to try something else. Here is how it works:

Admissions. Candidates must have earned a 2.75 grade point average. No exceptions. What about the person who goofed off in college, but went on to do amazing things in corporate America? "No, it doesn’t matter," replies Yoseloff. The only way a late bloomer can get in is to show a graduate transcript with a grade point average of at least 2.75. Success in a post-graduate program can erase a poor college transcript. But that is the only exception.

Prospective students must also pass the teaching aptitude test PRAXIS, and must apply to the New Jersey Department of Education.

Applicants to Stage 1 do not have to have teaching jobs.

When, where, and how much. Every community college in the state is offering the Pathways program. The curriculum was designed by New Jersey City University (formerly Jersey City State). Classes are held in the evenings to fit the schedules of working adults. Each stage of the program lasts seven to eight weeks.

The course can be used as a head start toward a masters degree in education. Students who use it to earn 15 graduate credits, as well as teaching certification, pay $5,400 for the entire program. Students who choose only to earn the certification pay $2,400.

The price often seems steep, especially to downsized workers, says Yoseloff, but she points out that tuition in many other graduate programs is now approaching $1,000 a credit.

Stage 1. The first stage of the program teachers prospective teachers just what teaching, circa 2004, is like. It is possible to know everything there is to know about electronics, math, or ancient history, and still fail badly in the classroom. "If you’ve never taught, there are things you need to know about what a modern classroom is like," says Yoseloff.

People who last sat in classroom chair 20 or 30 years ago – or even 10 or 15 years ago – will find a very different environment. "Twenty-five years ago you didn’t have to deal with cell phones," she gives as an example. Students didn’t tote laptops, either, and security guards didn’t roam the halls.

Delivery of lessons has changed drastically, too. Homework assignments may go out over E-mail and team-taught, multimedia presentations are often the norm.

"You can’t just stand there and lecture anymore," says Yoseloff. Kids raised on Sesame Street, to say nothing of MTV, expect more action from the front of the classroom.

In Stage 1, prospective teachers learn teaching techniques and classroom management. They also spend a substantial amount of time observing in classrooms.

In addition to learning how to teach, the students learn how to land a teaching job. In this area, too, there has been tremendous change. Where a job interview used to involve only a sit down with a principal or department head, it now routinely includes preparation of lesson plans and the teaching of the lesson.

Stage 1, taught in the Middlesex program by two retired principals, includes instruction on writing a winning resume as well as on preparing for a demanding job interview process.

Stage 2. Students must secure a teaching position before they enter this stage. The "first choice," says Yoseloff, is that each of them win a full-time position. However, some other options are also acceptable. "Students can get jobs as substitutes," she says, "but it has to be something like a replacement for a teacher out on maternity leave, or it has to be a situation where they substitute every day." The occasional day at the head of a classroom is not enough. Another option, if all else fails, is a job as a teacher’s aide.

In this stage, there is more work on methodology, but the meat of the class is a teaching seminar in which students are observed as they stand in front of their classrooms. "It’s a very intensive process," says Yoseloff. There are meetings before and after the observations, along with extensive analysis of classroom performance.

The demand. After going through Stage 1, most students will know if teaching is for them. They will have learned that discipline can be a tremendous challenge, and will have had their myths blown away. While the community often thinks that teachers have the cushiest job on earth, students in the Pathways program will have learned, that, as Yoseloff says, "a teacher’s day does not end at 3 o’clock." They will have learned about the amount of time and effort that must go into lesson preparation, correcting papers, patrolling halls, coaching the cheerleaders, or heading up work on student publications.

But if they decide that they want teaching, is the sentiment likely to be reciprocated?

"There is great demand in math, the sciences, and world languages," says Yoseloff. The same can not be said for English and history. At the elementary level, it is even tougher to get in. Schools, she finds, have plenty of fresh elementary education majors to choose from, and generally prefer them over career changers. An alternative is to apply to inner city schools. "They need everybody," she says.

No, teaching is not for everybody, as anyone who suffered through classes taught by bored or incompetent teachers knows. But for those with the gift – and the grit – the good news is that Pathways is a new way into the classroom that is tailored to fit the needs and the lifestyle of career changing adults.

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VoIP: Cheaper Internet Calls

Clarke Okun, of Competitive Telecom Solutions Inc., and Allan Sulkin, telecommunications consultant, are out to preach the gospel of Voice over Internet protocol, or VoIP. This VoIP technology uses the Internet to send digitized telephone signals at a cheaper price with comparable quality. College Road-based ITXC has networks that handle VoIP and is a leader in this industry.

Okun and Sulkin tell about the advantages of VoIP on Friday, January 23, at 7:45 a.m., for the Somerset County Business Partnership at the county vo-tech school in Bridgewater (North Bridge and Vogt Drive). Cost: $25. Call 908-218-4300.

AT&T Corp., Qwest Communications International Inc. and Time Warner Cable all plan to begin to route more calls over the Internet. Even now, about 11 percent of all phone calls use VoIP at some point in the network. Most of the calls are international, and most of the time the calls start and end on traditional circuit-switched networks, using traditional handsets. The calls get handed off to IP (packet switching) technology for the long distance parts.

Down the road the major telephone companies will use non-traditional networks for the start and the finish, and costs are expected to plummet.

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Business Approach To Volunteer Militia

We are a culture with a lot of time on its hands. At the same time, we are a society rife with homelessness, poverty, illiteracy, and service breakdown. The redeeming beacon of light is that individuals in record numbers are responding by giving some of their time to volunteer work for a host of worthy charities. If wisely directed, the sheer force of these helpers may be enough to turn the tide. But are they being wisely directed?

How does an organization handle a group of willing workers who suddenly land on its doorstep? Some of the better methods are discussed in "Managing the Volunteer Universe" on Monday, January 26, at 5 p.m. at the Frist Campus Center of Princeton University. Cost: $26. Call 609-924-8652 or visit

Speaker Juanita Joyner, vice president of special projects for Trenton-based Isles, joins 18 other workshop speakers in the Princeton Community Works (PCW) annual program, which covers the entire gamut of the non-profit experience. PCW acts as a trainer and broker helping central New Jersey volunteers connect with various non-profit agencies.

Joyner has spent her whole adult life working with the willing hands and hearts of central New Jersey. Born and raised in Princeton, she has earned her B.A. and is completing her M.A. in community economic development from the Southern New Hampshire University online. For the last 20 years, she has served on non-profit boards. She has been both a member, then president, of the Trenton Board of Education and the Mercer County Board of Education. She has also served on the boards of the NAACP, the Urban League, the New Jersey Work Environment Council, and the volunteer-brokering agency Hands on Helpers.

Joyner’s 12 years at Isles have covered the full spectrum of volunteer needs. With a goal of establishing individual self-sufficiency, Isles offers programs in financial literacy, affordable housing, career training, and even community gardening. For each new volunteer and each new project, Joyner finds a match.

"Undoubtedly, the biggest blunder organizations make is to view volunteers as strictly a labor force," says Joyner. "Telling a person merely to lift this, copy that, or mix that coffee, be he CFO or forklift operator, will lead to very quick burnout."

Once you make the decision to accept volunteers into your organization, you must integrate them as active, specialized parts of the whole. This entails creating a full and proper infrastructure for them, just as you would for any employee in any business:

Job description. Most businesses write abominable job descriptions and rare is the charity that pens any guidance at all for their volunteers. Yet just because he is not receiving pay, a worker’s time should not be wasted because of misdirection – or no direction at all.

Given a written statement of purpose, set in a positive tone, your new volunteer will be more apt to work harder and more efficiently, and to take on new responsibility. He is also more likely to stay and save you valuable time hunting up his replacement.

Beyond a description of the work to be done, time limits on specific projects should be included, and most importantly, a list of supervisors with whom your volunteer can discuss problems. While volunteers are often rich in energy, it often takes a lot of boundary setting to make them effective. The mere process of organizing and writing down several job descriptions will not only help the planner clarify his own institution’s goals, but make each department more creative in using those helpers who arrive with special skills.

The job interview. Volunteers tend to hide abilities. A CPA who spends weekends on his boat will arrive at your soup kitchen and probably never disclose his skills at carpentry, electrical work, or teaching new skills to deck hands. Yet one of these skills may be just what you need today.

"Recently, I had two technicians from Geographic Information Systems arrive to volunteer," recalls Joyner. "These are the fellows who establish global positioning systems (GPS). They make $100 an hour. It became my challenge to use their capabilities to my organization’s best advantage."

Seizing on special skills seems wise, but it must be done with one caveat: Not all volunteers enjoy a busman’s holiday. Few professional librarians want to spend weekends organizing their church or charity’s collections. They volunteer deliberately for a change of pace. For this reason, Joyner always, as part of her initial volunteer welcome, includes an expectations interview. "These people must be treated with respect and dignity," she says. "Find out what they want and expect, then tell them what you expect."

Keep statistics. "We had over 4,000 man hours of volunteer time contributed in 2003," says Joyner. "I can give you absolute breakdowns by projects, by groups, and individuals if you let me get my files." By keeping precise statistics, Joyner has welded her volunteers into an accountable, measurable, workforce whose output becomes predictable for the next year.

Additionally, such statistics reveal strength and flaws. If you are experiencing an 80 percent turnover in volunteers each season, you must ask why. What is it in your environment that is driving these people away?

Fundraising. Nothing so attracts financial contributions as an impressive list of volunteers. But here again, Joyner insists that your efforts be backed up statistically. "If you can say to a potential contributor that you’re collecting for a volunteer reward program whose 1,000 hours of labor produced a $16,000 labor saving to your non-profit, you are much more likely to interest the giver," she explains.

As its problems grow more severe and more visible, a great hooray should go up for America that so many of its people are volunteering their time and efforts to help bring solutions. Yet, more important than praising them verbally, we owe it to them to value their labor, and spend it at least as cautiously as that of any paid employee.

– Bart Jackson

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Making the Most Of the Volunteer Board

They gather once a month to chat. They are all friendly, warm, charitable, intelligent people. In fact, you’d love to socialize with this group except for one fact: You are the CEO who is responsible for making things happen and they, this seemingly inert fraternal group, are your board of trustees. How do you light the fire?

Linda Meisel, executive director of the Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Mercer County, grapples with the issue in her talk, "Essence of an Effective Board," which is one of dozens of sessions taking place at the annual Princeton Community Works meeting, Monday, January 26, at the Frist Campus Center of Princeton University. Cost: $26. Call 609-924-8652 or visit

As staffer, executive director, member, and president, Meisel has witnessed the foibles and good works of boards of trustees for three decades. Born and raised in Brooklyn, she graduated from Brooklyn College with a B.A. in history, followed by a masters in social work from Rutgers. Through the 1970s she worked for several social service agencies. In l978, she began a 10-year stint as executive director of Princeton-based Corner House Community Center. During this time and during her six years as executive director of Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Meisel simultaneously viewed life from the trustee’s chair. She has been board president of the Riverside School Parent Teacher Organization and board member of both the Princeton Nursery School and the Jewish Center of Princeton.

Meisel has seen it all.

"Getting the right board is easy," says Meisel. "You have only to select people congruent with the mission of your organization." Few labors sound so simple, but in reality prove so difficult. The board of trustees is mantled with the vague responsibilities of overseeing and advising the organization. They are the group’s architects, not foremen; generals, not drill sergeants. Yet beyond their sometimes vague commission, boards have several specific duties – and behind each duty lurks an all-too-frequent performance flaw.

Mission. Why are we here? The group name does not guarantee all the answers. The name "New Jersey Homeless Aid Society" narrows the field a little, but questions still arise: Exactly how do we help the homeless? What kinds of projects should, and feasibly can, fall under our purview? Periodic reworking of the written mission statement is a necessary part of the board’s work, says Meisel. Without it, the board’s advice and directives are merely a scattering of opinions.

Beyond the actual goal of the organization, the board must set a leadership plan. "You are not going to have a president or members for life," says Meisel. Part of the mission is to develop an appropriate leadership process and trustee replacement qualifications. Meisel finds herself guided by "the three Ws." They are wealth – a member who can bring in funds; wisdom – a member who can bring needed skills; and work – a member who is a willing, passionate devotee of your cause.

The problem with mission is that it is a moving target. Whether your organization produces plays or serves a needy group, its environment is changing as we speak. Maybe your homeless patrons need job training or financial tutoring even more desperately than housing. Maybe grants are coming available to produce plays for grammar school children, while support for public performances is dwindling. Missions must adapt.

Traditionally, certain local luminaries get invited onto boards. The mayor’s wife and the head of the local bank are often invited to join boards. While that is not generally a problem, it is important that they know this is not a dinner party. When board members view their role as an idle honor, or even worse, an evening’s opportunity to be argumentative, little progress can be made.

Strategic planning. Where will you be five years from today? Examining the need for your service, the funding caps, and all predictable variables, boards must have a written plan that flexibly outlines the path they intend to travel. It should blend staff growth, funding sources, and probable new projects. "The key here is staff involvement," says Meisel. The board is not hurling fiats from Mount Olympus to a group of lowly staffers who scurry around to fulfill them. The staff brings insight from its day-to-day experience and it with the perspective of the board.

The problem here can arise when the board attempts to micromanage. This blurring of board responsibilities can be a big problem in smaller organizations. It often starts with board members dabbling in the hiring process. When a board member forces himself into the role of drill sergeant, morale plummets. Employees feel their judgment is not trusted, and they may be trying to act under differing sets of expectations.

Micromanagers come in two popular species. The first has the exasperating call, "I think you should whip us up three more reports on that issue before we can make up our minds!" Staff time means nothing to this bird. The second sounds the frequent call of "I have to do everything around here myself; no one can decide anything without me!" This individual desperately needs some more productive way to feel self-important.

Fiduciary responsibility. Ultimately, the board holds the purse strings. It reviews the director’s budget and makes adjustments. The primary basis for these budget changes, or any spending, Meisel explains, "is to make your services go on for as long as needed." Spending and cutting are not chess moves in an interpersonal competition.

The most common problem on this front comes from the financial nay sayer. Almost every board has at least one member who sees his sole role as strictly a staunch against hemorrhaging cash. Every expenditure is bad. The staff are all overpaid. Every project is too costly. No one is watching outflows.

Meisel’s solution to this project-killer is to overwhelm him with facts, not ideas. This individual needs numerical proof that your budget for each project is already pared the bone. Secondly, Meisel suggests, a private lunch with the board president and executive director never hurts.

Set policy. Organizational policy rambles the wide range from investments to risk management. How do we invest our surplus cash? Do we allow two corporate officers to fly in the same jet? It is these written policies that gives the board’s decisions continuity and rationale.

Problems arise here when the board attempts either or over-manage or to under-manage policy. No one wants the board to be the lapdog for the CEO or executive director. An unofficial policy of totally trusting the top executive leads to abuse. Conversely, establishing scores of little checkpoints can hamper the staff from doing its job. One elder banking sage was fond of saying, "Write your board’s policies in blood. That way, you won’t make too many."

Fundraising. This role varies with each organization, and often with each board member. Frequently, well-heeled individuals, or those with access to corporate charitable chests, are drafted onto boards for very obvious reasons. In some non-profits it is a tradition that each member is expected to raise a set amount of money for the group, while in others, all fundraising is a staff duty. Any of these approaches may work well, providing the board members and employees are fully apprised.

While wealth is a good characteristic for a board member to possess, making surplus cash the only requirement for board membership almost guarantees leadership woes. Nothing quells a new member’s ardor for work like telling him, even tacitly, that he must buy his way onto the seat. Capital is important, but it is only a tool to continue the work of the group.

It is virtually impossible to sit 12 or 20 people around a table and have them all nod in agreement on more than a single issue. But by making the goals and the roles clear from the start, boards of trustees can end up pulling on the same rope in the same direction most of the time.

– Bart Jackson

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Start Totting Up Your Tax Deductions

The tax laws are a moving target with so many gyrating parts that it is hard to hit the bulls eye and win the most beneficial result at filing time. Alex Ermoloff, a man with 32 years of wrestling with tax codes in this background, provides guidance when he gives a two-part class on "How the New Tax Laws Affect You as a Taxpayer" on Tuesday, January 27 and on Thursday, January 29, beginning at 6:30 p.m. each evening at Mercer County Community College. Cost: $50. Call 609-586-9446.

Ermoloff, principal in Alex Ermoloff Tax Services in Englishtown (732-446-8896), is a Brooklyn native who earned an accounting degree at Baruch College. He began working for the New York City controller’s office soon thereafter, and retired two years ago.

Even when he was an employee, though, he was building up his own practice on the side. The entrepreneurial lifestyle came from his grandfather, who owned a real estate brokerage in the Bronx. "He was a very people-oriented person," Ermoloff recalls. "I loved to visit his office." His grandfather’s advice: If you want to succeed in life, own your own business.

That advice is especially timely this year. "Businessmen are getting a tremendous benefit," says Ermoloff. "They can write off $100,000 of purchases for the business. They don’t have to depreciate it." Everything from cars to office chairs is included, and the deduction is a huge jump from the previous allowance of $24,000. The amount is set to increase in coming years. "It may even rise to $225,000," he says.

This is the time for business owners to coral every receipt for every purchase made for their operations last year, and it is also a good time to think about what purchases might make sense – and save tax dollars – in the current tax year.

In the rush of day-to-day business it is easy for both the business owner and the employee to forget about tax planning, but doing so can save money now, as the time to prepare 2003 returns approaches, and throughout the year. Ermoloff finds that most of his clients fail to take advantage of all the breaks that the tax code allows them. Here are some of them:

Job related expenses. This is the first area Ermoloff mentions. It contains deduction opportunities that few professionals take. "If you belong to a trade organization, the dues are deductible," he says. So are any work-related books or magazines you purchase. Fees for classes related to your profession come in here too.

However, don’t try to slide in those suits you wear to the office, but wouldn’t dream of donning on the weekends. Deductions are granted for work clothes, but, says Ermoloff, "only if they are unique to the profession and are required."

He has a client who is a chef, and who insists that he should be able to deduct his aprons. No way, says Ermoloff, the IRS won’t buy it. On the other hand, garage mechanics and construction workers who are required to provide their own tools can deduct them. And anyone forced to purchase a wiener-motif outfit for a job at a hot dog stand can deduct the expense.

Medical expenses. Ermoloff has several clients who are struggling with infertility. Their treatments easily run to five figures a year, and are often not covered by insurance. They are, however, tax deductible. So are treatments for smoking and for weight loss. In order to derive a benefit from medical deductions, they must surpass 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income. That threshold can be hard to reach, but an expense such as in vitro fertilization or dental implants can be high enough to result in tax savings.

Where possible, it is a good idea to plan ahead, and to bunch deductions in a single year. For example, if the family is due for dental work late in the year, put it off until January if other big expenses are likely to occur in that year. Likewise, in a year where there have been broken bones, broken glasses, and psychotherapy to clean up the emotional damage of broken hearts, it would be a good idea to schedule any elective procedures before the year ends.

Health insurance. Self-employed people can deduct 100 percent of the premiums they pay for health insurance. These payments are not subject to the 7.5 percent test.

Job hunting expenses. Ermoloff’s wife went from a career in social work to one as a paralegal. Because she switched fields, her job hunting expenses were not deductible. But anyone looking for a new job in the same field can deduct many expenses, including resume preparation, travel to interviews, phone calls to prospective employers, and any fees charged by career counselors.

Transportation and medical savings plans. Commuters get a break for their train tickets, subway fare, and even their parking costs. Set up a savings fund with your employer and the money is set aside from your paycheck, before it is taxed. The same is true for uncovered medical expenses. Money to cover them can be taken out before it is taxed, and withdrawn as needed during the year.

Ermoloff finds that few people take advantage of these painless ways to save tax dollars. He puts part of the blame on employers who do not inform their workers that these tax breaks are available.

After-school care. When both spouses work, they can earn tax credits for the care of children under the age of 13. The credit for one child can be as great as $1,050. If there are two children at home, the credit can rise to $2,000.

Retirement accounts. So desperate is the government to encourage retirement savings, says Ermoloff, that people with low incomes – generally up to $50,000 for a married couple – can get a tax credit of up to $2,000 just for investing in a tax-sheltered retirement vehicle such as a 401(k).

Charity. Clean out your attic! That’s Ermoloff’s advice to those who want to increase their deduction for charitable giving. Furniture, collectibles, clothing, computers, and appliances that are no longer being used can all be turned into deductions when they are donated to charity.

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New Benefits for Domestic Partners

Think of the outcry that would have gone up 25 years ago if grandma had moved in with her boyfriend. "Shacking up" and "living in sin" were how these unions were most often described by neighbors, and few people of any age were brave enough to face the social approbation. On January 12, however, the state of New Jersey gave a heads up to senior co-habitation as part of a Domestic Partnership Act that goes into effect in six months.

The act also extends rights and significant financial benefits to same sex couples, and in fact that is the group that inspired the legislation, which went through significant revisions on its way to Governor McGreevey’s pen. Robert J. Durst II, chair of Stark & Stark’s family law group, is surprised by how easily the bill became law, and suspects that the seniors were included to help smooth its way.

Durst has been involved in co-habitation law and trends for years and is now working on a white paper for the American Bar Association on the legal ramifications of domestic partnerships. As part of the project, he speaks with 10 colleagues around the country via teleconference once a month.

When the New Jersey legislature started considering its Domestic Partnership Act, also referred to as the Family Equality Act, his American Bar Association contacts told him to expect to see "large vocal groups, pro and con." Instead, he says, "they did a great job of getting it passed, really under the radar screen." Gay rights groups supported the bill, and conservative religious groups opposed it. Durst’s colleagues thought that the bill would have a hard time making progress in New Jersey because of the traditional influence of the Catholic church in the state. But at the bill’s signing ceremony, he talked to legislators who said the Catholic church did file a statement in opposition, but that the action appeared to be a half-hearted, pro forma move.

Durst, clearly fascinated by the potentially far-reaching implications of the new legislation, says that it is far from clear just what effects – social, legal, political, and financial – it will have. Stark & Stark tries to sort out the issues when holds a seminar, "Ramifications of the Family Equality Act," on Thursday, January 29, at 9 a.m. at the firm’s offices at 993 Lenox Drive. The seminar is free by reservation. Call 609-219-7413.

Who is covered? People who want to register as domestic partners must be of the same sex and at least 18 years old, or they must be at least 62 years old and not of the same sex. No one seems really sure why the age of 62 was chosen, but Durst thinks it has to do with the fact that 62 is the age at which individuals become eligible for Social Security.

In a press release that accompanied the signing of the bill into law, John McKeon (D-Essex), a supporter of the bill, was quoted as saying "Oftentimes, associated financial penalties prevent or dissuade domestic partners from marrying."

Those who qualify must file an Affidavit of Domestic Partnership with their local registrar. They must prove that they live together, and that they have enduring emotional ties and joint finances.

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