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New Jersey Family Law Blog

Tell your pediatrician about your divorce plans

If you've recently decided to get a divorce, it's likely that you've been considering it for a long time. Perhaps you made the decision for the health and well-being of your children. In order to further support your health and that of your children, you may want to talk to your children's pediatrician.

It's impossible to end things with a spouse without feeling the emotional pangs of separation, even if you know it's the right decision for everyone involved. The emotional wounds that come up at this time need to be honored and cared for so that they don't get worse than they have to be. This is especially true for your children. Fortunately, your pediatrician can help you with advice and guidance regarding how to support your children during this emotionally difficult time, He or she also needs to know what's going on in order to recognize the cause of medical issues.

What's the most important factor in your child custody cases?

The most important factor in any New Jersey child custody case relates to the best interests of your child. Ultimately, the family court judge will zero in on the best interests of your child or children when making any determination relating to your child custody case.

Here's what judges look at when deciding best interests in a custody dispute:

  • If the child is old enough and mature enough, what are his or her wishes?
  • What are the physical and mental health conditions of both parents?
  • Does the child have special needs, and is one parent better able to fulfill those needs?
  • Do any regional or cultural considerations need to play a part in the decision?
  • Which parent can provide the stablest home environment?
  • Do any other children live with the child and do their custody arrangements need to be considered?
  • Will the child be supported in interacting with other family members?
  • What's the age and sex of your child?
  • Do any patterns of domestic violence, drug abuse or alcohol abuse exist in the home?
  • Do any of the parents exert excessive emotional abuse or discipline?

Financial issues may be complex for older divorcing couples

While the divorce rate for most age groups has stabilized in the past few years, the rate for the 50-plus crowd has increased. When it comes to financial issues, older couples have concerns that do not necessarily apply to those who have not been married as long.

The subject of money in the post-divorce world is of primary importance to older people. Their questions range from how to handle social security to how much alimony the court will require them to pay.

Avoid these divorce mistakes regarding your family home

Divorcing New Jersey residents may need to face the difficult fact that they will not be as financially secure after divorce as they were in their marriage. If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have been living well within your means during your marriage, you will have an easier time adjusting to the financial aspects of life after divorce. That said, the following two financial mistakes regarding your family home could still prove detrimental to your financial security:

  • Don't keep a home you can't afford: You might love your home, but is it financially feasible for you to stay in it after divorce? If both you and your spouse are working, and you have a two-income household, you need to realize that you will not have as much money available to maintain your home. Be sure to calculate mortgage payments, insurance costs and upkeep expenses to determine if your budget can support these expenses.
  • Be wary of accepting real estate assets instead of liquid capital: To turn your home or other real estate into cash, you'll have to jump through quite a few hoops, and there's no guarantee of the outcome. Will you be able to sell your home quickly, or will you need to wait a long time before you find a buyer? Does your home come with significant tax consequences relating to capital gains liabilities? Also, how much will your home cost to maintain on an annual basis? Be sure to consider these factors before you accept the family home instead of more liquid and easily sellable assets.

Every New Jersey spouse should consider the above two issues carefully when it comes to the family residence in their divorce case. Your divorce attorney can help you weigh your legal rights options regarding this topic.

New research: Kids benefit from equal time with both mom and dad

Twenty or 30 years ago, the idea of shared physical custody was virtually unheard of. Family law courts in New Jersey and elsewhere traditionally awarded full physical custody to the mother for two primary reasons. First, they believed that the mother should naturally fulfill the role of caretaker. Second, they believed that children would have to endure an argumentative environment full of conflict if both parents needed to work together.

Courts are less gender-biased these days, and are more likely to award fathers child custody too -- especially if the fathers can show that they were involved in child-rearing activities before the separation. However, the notion of sparing children a conflictive and argumentative environment persists. In cases where the parents can't get along, New Jersey courts are more likely to award full custody to one or the other parent. That parent is often the mother because mothers tend to perform more child-rearing activities than fathers.

Can I receive more spousal support if I'm returning to school?

One of the most important parts of temporary spousal support involves helping a California spouse have the necessary time required to become financially independent. Part of the process of becoming financially independent from an ex-spouse could involve schooling to assist in finding a higher paying. However, what if you weren't in school at the time of your divorce, and now you want to go to school? Can you ask for an increase in spousal support?

If you didn't settle your spousal support agreement outside of court, you might be able to apply for a spousal support modification in court depending on your circumstances. Here are a few things a California court will consider if you're asking for more spousal support money so you can pay for school:

Community property division in New Jersey

Most states use the legal theory of "equitable distribution" to divide the property owned by two spouses, and New Jersey is one of them. This concept means that all property acquired by either or spouse during marriage -- with several important exceptions -- will be divided in a reasonable and fair manner. Although this could result in a 50-50 asset division, it doesn't have to as long as the division is fair.

Courts will generally decide how assets should be split by examining the following criteria:

  • How long did the marriage last?
  • What are the ages of each spouse?
  • What are the physical health and emotional health conditions of the spouses?
  • How much does each spouse earn in income?
  • What is the standard of living enjoyed by the spouses?
  • What economic circumstances do the spouses enjoy individually?
  • How much did both spouses contribute to the marital estate during the marriage, including the contribution and value that homemaker added through his or her services?
  • Other issues that the court feels are relevant to the decision.

Do this before you start your divorce

When it's time to get a divorce, you'll know, and the decision probably won't come easily. Most New Jersey spouses spend a lot of time deliberating before they are certain that divorce is their only option. During this deliberation phase preceding your divorce, here are few things to consider.

Consider marriage counseling: Marriage counseling can help you come to terms with your need to divorce, while giving your marriage one last opportunity. In some cases, couples can save their marriages with counseling, but in many cases, they find that parting ways is their best choice.

Important factors of separate property and marital assets

Though you hope to enjoy a long, healthy marriage, that is not the case for every couple. Therefore, it can be wise to plan for the instance of a divorce so the process can be as fair as possible.

Whether you are getting a divorce or are just looking to be prepared, it is important to understand how the courts will view your assets. There are a few key differences to understand about separate property and marital assets.

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.

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