50 Things You’ll Want to Know about Divorce in NJ

Sometimes you just need a quick answer. Wherever you are in the divorce process, you likely have some questions. This list of fifty represents no substitute for legal advice.  If you’re considering a NJ divorce or need to pursue a post-judgment action, you should really speak with an  experienced family law attorney .

What do we mean by a post-judgment action? As you go through life after your divorce, situations could change. If you demonstrate a change in circumstances that warrants modification of an agreement, your divorce lawyer can counsel you on asking for a new court order.

In some cases, this could mean an alteration to a custody and parenting time arrangement. You might also feel you should pay less or receive more in child support or alimony.  In the meantime, consider this simple summary regarding divorce in New Jersey.

First Comes Marriage

  1. Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce. Meanwhile, second and third chance weddings have a higher risk of failure.
  2. Millennials are holding off on marriage, and there is, therefore, less incidence of divorce in that age category. This accounts for an overall declining divorce rate.
  3. As unromantic as you might think it sounds, you may want to enter into a prenuptial agreement before the wedding date.
  4. The language of the prenuptial or premarital agreement contains information regarding your assets and income for starters.
  5. Before signing a prenuptial agreement, each of the parties should have separate legal counsel.
  6. You cannot be forced into executing a premarital agreement. Proof that you did not sign it voluntarily may invalid the document.
  7. Even if you don’t execute a prenuptial agreement, you should consider speaking with an experienced family law attorney concerning property you own before marriage.
  8. You should also consider meeting with legal counsel if you’ve inherited property or are due an inheritance.
  9. Premarital agreements are useful in dividing property and making decisions upfront concerning alimony.

10.   Enforcement of the prenuptial agreement  becomes part of the divorce action. If you have reasons to believe it should be unenforceable,  NJSA 37:2-38  places the burden of the proof on you to provide evidence of your allegations.

Next Ten: Separation and Divorce

  1.  There is technically no such thing as  legal separation  in the Garden State, although you and your spouse could sign separation agreements.
  2.  You can file for a no-fault or  at-fault divorce  in New Jersey.
  3.   NJSA 2A:34-2  provides the law on causes of action for divorce. There are two reasons you can file for a no-fault divorce.
  4.  If your marriage has broken down for a period of six months due to irreconcilable differences, you can file for a no-fault divorce. There must be no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
  5.  You can also file for divorce if you and your spouse have lived separately for 18 months. Once again, you must certify that you’re not planning on reconciling with one another.
  6.  If you file for divorce based on adultery, you’ll need to name the individual who cheated with your spouse. If you don’t know his or her identity, you’ll be expected to provide a description.
  7.  Your spouse’s addiction or habitual drunkenness is grounds for divorce as long as they existed for 12 months after you married.
  8.  Desertion for 12 or more months counts as a reason for an at-fault divorce.
  9.  Extreme cruelty constitutes grounds for divorce, as does deviant sexual conduct without the consent of the husband or wife seeking the divorce.
  10.  New Jersey divorce law contains specific requirements if you want to divorce your spouse because he or she was institutionalized or imprisoned.

Custody and Parenting Time

  1.  New Jersey laws treat  mothers and fathers equally when it comes to custody of the children .
  2.  Custody of unborn children isn’t decided until after their birth.
  3.  According to  NJSA 9:2-4a , the best interests of the children are the primary consideration in determining custody.
  4.  In today’s vernacular, you don’t have visitation with your child. Instead, you spend parenting time.
  5.  The court considers fourteen factors when making child custody decisions. The  same laws apply to infants and teenagers.
  6.  New Jersey has a  Custody and Parenting Time Mediation Program  designed to help parents mediate custody disputes.
  7.  It is possible to establish a  50/50 parenting plan  if the court agrees it is in your children’s best interests.
  8.  Even if you are not a biologically related to a child, the court may recognize you as a psychological parent.  This would be considered an exceptional circumstance when it comes to custody and parenting time.
  9.   NJSA 9:2-4  outlines custody in New Jersey. The law considers both legal and physical custody, as far as where the children reside and who makes decisions on their behalf.
  10. Grandparents may have a right to visitation . However, the courts will consider the opinions of the children’s mother and/or father.

Money for the Children

  1.  Both parents are equally responsible for ensuring children are financially supported.
  2.   Charts within the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines are used to determine child support  payments in most situations. There are exceptions.
  3.   Legal presumptions concerning paternity  may dictate the existence of child support obligations.
  4.   Overnight parenting time  factors into the numbers concerning child support.
  5.  Child support obligations end if a child marries, dies, or enters the military.
  6.  According to  NJSA 2A:17-56.67 , your obligation to pay child support may end when your child reaches the age of 19. However, this age could be extended if a court order states a different age.
  7.   Parents may be entitled to child support for disabled children  even after they reach the age of 19.
  8.  When children reach the age of 23, parents should not be required to make support payments.
  9.   College tuition payments  represent an issue for consideration and also extends child support obligations.
  10.  Your children could attempt to sue you for college tuition payments, but that doesn’t mean you become their “wallet.”

Alimony and Equitable Distribution

  1.  Alimony and spousal support mean the same thing. New Jersey law does not give gender preferential awards.
  2.  You can still be held responsible for spousal support even if your husband or wife cheated on you.
  3.  Dates matter when it comes to splitting up property and determining alimony payments.
  4.   NJSA 2A:34-23 (b)  divides alimony into the following types: permanent alimony; rehabilitative alimony; limited duration alimony or reimbursement alimony.
  5.  In determining alimony, the court considers twelve specific factors and any other it finds relevant.
  6.  In some circumstances, it may be necessary to  impute income for purposes of determining child support or alimony.
  7.   Retirement matters  when it comes to spousal support.
  8.  Equitable distribution of property does not necessarily equate to a 50/50 division of property.
  9.  Premarital assets are not subject to equitable distribution. However, you will need proof that a  business or property had value before the marriage .
  10.  As much as you consider your pet a family member, where they ultimately live is not a custody issue. Instead, your cat or dog becomes subject to equitable distribution.

Contact Us

As much as this list might address some of your concerns regarding divorce, you undoubtedly have more questions. The Law Offices of Sam Stoia offers a complimentary one-hour consultation to discuss individual circumstances. Give us a call to learn how we can help you.

50 Things You’ll Want to Know about Divorce in NJ

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