Divorce Lawyers in NJ
Alimony, also often called spousal support or spousal maintenance, is where one party to the marriage/divorce is ordered to pay the other party a sum of money, typically on a recurring basis. In 2014, New Jersey’s alimony laws were revised, making notable changes to the system.
For example, permanent alimony – where one spouse makes payments to the other for the remainder of their life absent a court order terminating same – was eliminated. The new alimony statute replaced permanent alimony with open durational alimony. Open durational alimony includes a presumption that alimony shall end upon the payor reaching full social security retirement age at age (67). The alimony statute further provides that the length of alimony payments cannot exceed the length of the marriage unless the marriage was 20 years long unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Under the New Jersey Alimony Reform Act, in all actions for a divorce, one of the parties to the action may seek alimony. In order to determine whether or not an alimony award is appropriate, as well as how much and what type of alimony is appropriate, the court will consider the following factors:
- The economic circumstances and needs of each party;
- How long the marriage or civil union endured;
- The emotional and physical health of each party;
- The parties’ ages;
- The standard of living of each party established during the course of the marriage;
- How long one party has been out of the job market;
- The ability of each party to earn an income (education, training, etc.), and how much time it would take to acquire such ability;
- Contributions to the marriage of each party, both financial and nonfinancial;
- Each parent’s responsibilities in regards to children; and
- Any other factors that the court finds relevant, including the tax implications of an alimony award to both parties.
If you are seeking alimony, or want to fight back against a request for alimony, contact our Family Law Department at Wilentz.
If you are the noncustodial parent of your child, you have as much of an obligation to support your child financially as does the custodial parent. As such, you will be ordered to pay child support. At Wilentz Goldman & Spitzer, we can help parents to understand their duty to pay child support, as well as take action to enforce violated child support orders.
In New Jersey, child support is typically determined by the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. The New Jersey Child Support Guidelines take into account each parent’s income, the number of overnights the child spends with each parent, whether a party is paying or receiving alimony, whether a parent has a child born of another relationship, the cost of work related child care, the cost of health insurance for the child and any other expense that may be appropriate to include in the guidelines calculation. Irrespective of the custody arrangement, under New Jersey law, a parent must provide financial support to his or her child until the child is emancipated.
A judge will also the needs of the child. If the child has any special needs or if there are any extenuating circumstances, these too will be considered. In addition to income and child needs, the amount of time that each parents spends with the child will also be considered, as shared parenting time reduces the amount of money a parent owes in child support.
Of all of the issues that individuals face when going through a divorce, who will maintain custody of a child is often the most emotional and the most controversial. At Wilentz, all of our Family Law Attorneys have children. We understanding what is at stake in a custody dispute and the extreme emotions that are present in negotiating a custody agreement. Our Department Head at Wilentz, Joe Russell, Esq., frequently tells his clients that negotiating a legal document that will dictate which days/times you will see a child is an overwhelming burden. Litigating a custody action is even worse as parents often hostile toward one another and the children are dragged into the process. While children are resilient, it becomes difficult to protect them from feeding off the parents’ emotions and hostility toward one another. Ultimately, whether your case is settled or tried, the parents have to move forward and effectively co-parent the children. It is far better to do so with two parents that get along and truly have the children’s best interests at heart.
Those who wish to co-parent in New Jersey are encouraged to come up with an arrangement on their own about how parenting time will be divided, and then to present this plan to the court for approval. Unfortunately, such is not always possible. When this is the case, the court will make a determination on parents’ behalf by considering the following:
- Each parent’s ability to provide and care for the child;
- The relationship that the child maintains with each parent;
- The health of each parent, both physically and mentally;
- Each parent’s place of residence and the implication that this may have of visitation; and
- The child’s preferences, assuming the child is of a mature enough age to express such preference.
Our family law firm understands that you want to do what is best for your child, and when it comes to child custody, you may have serious concerns and worries about what a court will decide. We will help you to reach an agreement with your spouse out of court, or can advocate for you before a judge.
New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, which means that all property that is acquired during the course of the marriage is considered marital property, and much be divided equitably among the parties to the divorce as such (separate property is not up for division). As with child custody, parties are often encouraged to determine how property will be split on their own out of court, often through mediation. However, when parties cannot come to an agreement, a court will intervene and will divide property as it sees fit. Factors that a court will consider include the type and value of property up for division, the income and earning abilities of each party, any debts or liabilities, and numerous other factors the court finds to be relevant.
Title 2A – ADMINISTRATION OF CIVIL AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE
Mediation refers to out-of-court talks that are mediated by a neutral third party, and that are held with the objective of coming to an agreement about issues in divorce, including alimony, child custody, and property division. All discussions at mediation are confidential. Settlement offers and positions at mediation cannot be disclosed to a court, arbitrator or tribunal. What happens at mediation – stays at mediation, unless a written agreement is signed by the parties.
Resolving disputes through mediation is a preferred method of resolution for numerous reasons. First and foremost, mediation is typically much less time-intensive, and much less costly, than is having issues resolved in court.
Mediation can also set the foundation for a healthy, cooperative relationship between parties to a divorce moving forward. When parties are able to resolve tough issues on their own, and to come to an arrangement through cooperation that both parties are satisfied with, there is typically less animosity and anger. While this may not seem important for a couple who is splitting ways, it can be essential when the couple still shares mutual interests, such as the parenting of a child, common friends, pets, and the like.
Mediation is preferred because it puts the power in your hands – you have the opportunity to determine how issues in your divorce will be settled and what your future will look like moving forward. If you are unable to come to an agreement through mediation, the court will make these determinations for you.
The attorneys at our New Jersey family law firm have represented clients throughout mediation, and can help you to understand your rights during mediation, how to articulate what you want from a divorce settlement, and when to compromise. We can draft an agreement, or review an agreement before it is finalized.
Our Team Leader Joe Russell, Esq. is a R. 1:40 Qualified Mediator who regularly handles private and court appointed mediations in Monmouth County, Middlesex County and Ocean County.
You have the right to appeal a divorce judgment or decree in the event that you believe the court made an error that affected your rights, or you believe that all evidence to your case was not presented to the court. It is important that you file your appeal within a timely manner, and that you do so only when appropriate and rational. Simply disagreeing with a divorce settlement is not a good enough reason to appeal it.
In addition to an appeal, another way to express your opinion to a court about an issue in a divorce is to file a request for modification. For example, if you are ordered to pay alimony, but three years later, your circumstances change significantly, you can file a request with the court to modify your alimony order based upon a substantial change in your financial circumstances.
We have experience representing clients during the appeals process and the process of seeking a modification of a support or other court order.
Annulment of Marriage
There are very limited circumstances where a court will grant an annulment in New Jersey. Grounds for a New Jersey annulment are as follows:
Bigamy: Where your spouse has another spouse at the time of your marriage. This ground for annulment requires that you are not aware of your spouse’s existing marriage at the time of your wedding. The burden is on the spouse seeking the annulment to prove the existence of your spouse’s other marriage.
Duress: Where a threat of violence against you forced you to get married. By way of example, your spouse threatened to kill a family member unless you entered into the marriage.
Nonage: A person must be over the age of 18 to have the legal right to marry in New Jersey.
Incapacity: Both spouses must have informed consent to marry in New Jersey. Where one or both spouses lack the mental capacity to marry, either may seek an annulment to their marriage. By way of example, the couple is highly intoxicated at the time they entered into the marriage.
Impotence: Where one spouse is impotent and this was concealed to the other spouse.
Incest: If you marry a blood relative, you may be eligible to annul your marriage in New Jersey.
Fraud: A misrepresentation that impacts the marriage may constitute fraud. The most common types of fraud are: alcohol or drug addiction; lying about a desire to have children or not have children; using a spouse for immigration purposes to obtain the ability to remain in the country legally; and/or misrepresentation of religion or religious views/beliefs.
Trust & Estate Planning
Divorce and Estate Planning go hand in hand. A party to a divorce should immediately update their estate plans or create one for the first time. There is often the need to update/amend beneficiaries for life insurance, retirement plans, etc. Wilentz is a full-service law firm with over 115 lawyers that specialize in every area of law. We have an excellent Estate & Trust Department to service our divorce clients with their estate planning.
Key Financial Information and Records to obtain in Planning for Divorce
Complete Federal and State Tax Returns with all attachments
Social Security Statements for both parties
Three most Recent Pay Stubs
W-2 statements for both parties
Business income tax returns,
Statements for all accounts in your name, joint name, your spouse’s name, your children’s name or in trust. These include bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, pensions, 529 accounts, certificates of deposit, annuities, mutual funds
Real estate deeds
Mortgage or home equity loan records
credit card statements (joint/individual)
IRS liens and notices
Automobile finance or lease statements
Kelly Blue Book appraisals for cars, boats and motorcycles
student loan documentation
Loans payable or receivable
Corporate/Business Documentation pertaining to ownership of business(es)
Appraisals of real estate, jewelry, art, etc.
Contact Our Family Law Attorneys Today
Few things are more personal that you relationship with your spouse, going through a divorce, and how issues in your divorce will be resolved. Surely, you do not want just anyone representing you during the process; you want to work with a law firm that you can trust, and that will respect your privacy and maintain confidentiality. At the law firm of Wilentz Goldman & Spitzer, we appreciate the sensitive nature of your situation and will represent you with compassion and skill. To schedule a consultation with our talented New Jersey divorce lawyers, contact us at ((732) ) 726-6236 today.
Selecting the right attorney will help minimize the pain of divorce. The Wilentz Family Law team offers a number of legal services for divorce:
How Do I Begin? – The divorce process in NJ and court appearances for a New Jersey divorce, custody action or family law matter.
Property Division – The division and distribution of assets between parties.
Modify Your Settlement – Discover how you can modify your divorce agreement or judgment of divorce.
Appeals – An appeal is when a higher Court reviews a lower court’s decision.
If you are considering filing for divorce in New Jersey, be sure to first have a lawyer that you know will be empathetic, while still focusing on the financial elements of your case. Contact us today for more information about our divorce legal services or call 1.(732) 726-6236.