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New Jersey Family Law Blog

What are the best circumstances for joint custody?

New Jersey parents who are in the process of navigating their divorce proceedings will need to consider how they will organize child custody. These days, a lot of parents choose 50-50 custody arrangements in which the children spend half the time with mom and half the time with dad. New Jersey courts also tend to support such arrangements as they are often in the best interests of the child or children concerned.

That said, 50-50 custody arrangements may not be suitable for all family dynamics. Here are the situations in which 50-50 custody can be a workable compromise:

  • The parents are both onboard with the idea of a 50-50 child custody split and that it's in the best interests of the children.
  • The parents can reach agreement on important family decisions without arguing excessively.
  • The parents live close enough to one another that exchanges are convenient and can be carried out frequently without too much hassle.
  • Both parents have an interest in being directly involved with caring for their children.
  • Neither parent has been convicted of domestic abuse, child abuse or kidnapping.

New Jersey child relocation ruling changes the law

The New Jersey Supreme Court has reversed approximately 20 years of family law with a groundbreaking decision about the relocation of children by divorced parents. Previously, the law focused on whether the potential move could result in "harm" to the child; and, in order to determine this, the courts assumed that the children would be happier when the parents were happier.

In recent years, psychological research has revealed that children are happiest when they have contact with both parents. The recent decision reflects this fact by ensuring that courts consider whether a child will have continued contact with both parents when deciding if a move will be in the child's best interest. One family law attorney commenting on the decision said that it was not revolutionary or landmark, but it was sensible.

Getting real about your finances post divorce

When you're married, you benefit from a lot of different financial advantages. Although a lesser earning spouse can often seek alimony or spousal support to try and maintain a similar standard of living enjoyed during marriage, the reality is that most spouses will probably take a serious financial hit following the finalization of their divorce.

New Jersey courts recognize that being married brought the financial advantages of cohabitation and other financial benefits. Being single costs more. You'll have to pay your own rent and your own expenses without sharing them between you and your spouse. As such, both you and your ex-spouse are likely to be living at a level below where you were at during marriage.

Can you reduce or end payments under the Alimony Reform Act?

In 2014, Governor Chris Christie signed the Alimony Reform Act, and most advocates for change felt that it moved the old New Jersey alimony laws in the right direction. Others worried that it would take years of litigating cases to properly interpret the statute.

Some of the provisions seem clear enough, however. Four of the provisions speak to the most common circumstances involving alimony payments: permanent alimony, length of marriage, loss of income and cohabitation.

How to navigate back-to-school season as a single parent

Back to school season can be stressful -- especially if you wait until the last minute. Parents are often scrambling to buy school supplies and new clothes so their kids can start the school year off right. There's also the need to organize pickups and drop-offs and how the kids will be cared for until you can get off work.

For single parents who are juggling shared custody with an ex-spouse, back to school time can be even more stressful. Here are a few tips for dealing with back-to-school season as a single parent, and helping your kids start the new year off right:

Your family might benefit from a spendthrift trust

It's common for divorcing parents to choose the co-parenting option for dividing time spent with their kids. Often children will live half the week with one parent and the other half of the week with the other. This can be a beautiful arrangement when done properly, but it can be extraordinarily difficult to organize if your ex is unable to get along with you.

Here are a few things you can do if you're trying to co-parent with a difficult ex-spouse:

  • Consider hiring a mediator: A mediator might be a social worker, a counselor or a trusted person from your church. This individual could be present during interactions with your ex in order to facilitate peaceful discussions and decision-making about your parenting decisions.
  • Reduce contact: Try to reduce contact with your spouse to as little as possible, so that you're only communicating about necessary details regarding your children. Consider using email or passing a notebook to your ex's home to communicate information.
  • Remind your kids that both of you love them: It's always good to remind your children that you and your ex love them equally, and that you both are doing a good job as parents.
  • Stay cordial: Always treat the other parent with respect, and bite your tongue if necessary. This will help your children so they don't feel like they're being put between the two of you.
  • Think of the best interests of your kids: No matter what decisions you make, consider the best interests of your children above all else.

Advice for your divorce from those with experience

Do you think you're not going to make it through your divorce process? The truth is, even if it feels like that on an emotional and psychological level, divorce is not fatal. In fact, you can make it through your divorce and you will be better and stronger because of it -- especially when you follow this advice from people who have made it through the process.

Here are some real divorce tips from actual divorcees:

  • Keep your documents: You want to have supporting documentation if you have to go to court to defend your rights during your divorce. You should therefore save all of your bills and emails. Fortunately, with a modern computer or smartphone, you should be able to save a copy of everything in a snap.
  • Ask for financial disclosures: As early as possible, you should get financial disclosures related to everything in your marital estate, and your and your spouse's personal assets. This is most easily achieved by your divorce attorney. Letting him or her handle the process will reduce a the stress for you.
  • Get a therapist, and fast: Even if you feel fine, never assume that you're perfect. There is no downside to going to a therapist. Everyone can benefit from having a neutral party to speak with about how they're feeling -- especially during divorce proceedings.

New Jersey's divorce rate: 4th lowest in the country

The National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green University claims that New Jersey boasts a low divorce rate compared to states in other parts of the country. In fact, it's the fourth lowest out of all the 50 states. The national average is 16.9 divorces out of every 1,000 women annually; and, New Jersey's figure is 13.9 divorces out of every 1,000 women annually.

If you're going through a divorce right now, you might view these statistics as disheartening. You might say, "What's wrong with my marriage, and why am I different." However, as with any statistical figures -- especially those pertaining to marriage and divorce, it's important to take a step back and look at the big picture. In fact, not only does New Jersey boast a low divorce rate, but it also boasts a low marriage rate. Fewer couples are getting married in New Jersey compared to other states. Also, those couples who do get married in New Jersey are often getting married when they're older than people getting married in other states.

Can I deduct alimony payments from my taxes?

New Jersey residents do not tend to enjoy paying alimony to their ex-spouses each month. Fortunately, in many cases, the alimony payments you may be forced to pay will be temporary. Also, the money you give to your ex-spouse will be tax deductible. Your ex, who receives the money, will be the one required to pay taxes on it.

If you want to deduct your alimony payments from your taxes, you'll need to meet the following requirements:

Are legal custody issues complicating your divorce?

Divorce is stressful, there is no getting around that. When you add in the matter of legal custody of your teenage child, the strain you are dealing with increases. You only want the best for your child, but if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse cannot agree on custody matters, a judge may have to step in.

If you are getting ready to petition the court, there are several aspects of child custody in New Jersey to keep in mind.

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