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Monmouth County Family Law Blog

Divorce mediation: When court may be the best solution instead

Many couples going through the divorce process look for alternatives to litigation. For some New Jersey couples, divorce mediation might be that alternative. However, there are times when the meditation process may not be the ideal situation. For couples considering the process, there are some disqualifiers for mediation of which they should be aware.

When domestic abuse is a factor in a divorce, mediation is not likely to be advantageous. Both parties must be honest in the process, and if one fears retribution for being honest, a mediator may not be able to help. Also, if a mediator suspects child abuse in any way, he or she must report it to authorities. A mediator cannot be neutral (as he or she must otherwise be in the process) when he or she suspects child abuse.

Coparenting with a toxic ex? Try parallel parenting instead

One of the hardest aspects of a divorce will be figuring out what will happen to your kids. You know they will benefit if allowed to have access to and a strong relationship with both parents, but that may not be easy for you to navigate. Even if you and the other parent do not get along, you may be able to find a way to make it work for the benefits of the kids. 

However, co-parenting can be especially difficult when your ex displays toxic behaviors. You want to continue to allow your children to see their mother or father, but how can you deal with the negativity and difficult circumstances without losing your own sanity? One of the first things you can do is to learn to recognize toxic behavior and figure what child custody arrangement will work best for your family.

Property division: What New Jersey spouses should know

Deciding to divorce is no small matter. In fact, it might be one of the most significant decisions you make in a lifetime. As a parent, your children's best interests are no doubt one of your highest priorities. Another important topic, however, and one that can affect your kids, is property division.

New Jersey divorces are governed by equitable distribution guidelines regarding property division. The judge overseeing your case will take numerous factors into consideration and determine a fair division of all marital property and debts, which will not necessarily be 50/50. If you signed a prenuptial agreement before marrying or you can establish separate ownership of a particular asset (such as money from an inheritance that was designated specifically for you) it may keep certain assets from being divided.

Setting up a trust in New Jersey to make alimony payments

Once the emotion is removed from a divorce situation, it basically amounts to negotiating a business deal. Part of those negotiations for some New Jersey couples who are divorcing involves alimony. But even in the best of circumstances, negotiating a divorce settlement is rarely easy, especially with relatively new tax laws in place, which has meant changes in the ways payors and payees of alimony look at things.

Essentially, the spouse who now pays alimony can no longer claim the payment as a tax deduction, while the spouse on the receiving end doesn't have to claim the funds as income. These payments are now more costly for the payor because of the elimination of the tax break, so many such payors have set up trusts to pay their former spouses alimony. Grantor trusts actually mean the payee pays taxes on funds paid out, so it takes some negotiating finesse to get a payee to agree to this situation. 

Holidays have parents reviewing custody basics

The weather has turned a corner. As children return to their classrooms and Halloween candy reappears in store aisles, families plan their holiday seasons. Like any other families, that those with separated or separating parents.

Questions about the children’s holiday schedule can cause anxiety for children and parents, especially if this will be the first holiday season since separation. It helps to keep a few guiding principles in mind and focus on “best practices.”

Child support in New Jersey: What fathers need to know

Usually (but not always) it's a man who will pay to support his children after a divorce if the mother is a custodial parent. New Jersey fathers who pay child support should be aware of the laws that govern that support. Both parents are financially responsible for their children, and parents who share joint custody of their kids have child support calculated by the court based on the percentage of each person's income and the time each parent has physical custody. 

It doesn't matter in the eyes of the law if a couple never married -- it is beholden upon a parent to financially support his or her child. A stepfather typically isn't responsible to pay child support unless he legally adopted the children. Child support payment amounts are usually calculated using a payor's income and expenses with the state setting guidelines. These payments may be modified at some point if a payor or payee's life circumstance changes.

Why LGBTQ married legal parents also adopt their children

New Jersey has often been early and strong in protecting the rights of LGBTQ families. The state recognized same-sex marriage rights two years before the U.S. Supreme Court extended them everywhere in the country with its Obergefell v. Hodges decision. In some ways, New Jersey’s same-sex parenting laws are also more progressive than those of most other states.

New Jersey residents should be mindful that rights secure in the Garden State may be questioned when you travel or move to other states. It may seem bizarre to adopt your own child, but attorneys are urging non-biologicals parents to consider adopting their children, even if they’re married and listed as a parent on the child’s birth certificate.

What judges look for when it comes to alimony payments

Judges look at a number of factors when considering support payments. When it comes to spousal support or alimony and child support payments, both New Jersey payors and payees should know what those factors are moving forward in a divorce process. Usually, a family court judge will look at both earned and passive income to come to a support payment decision. 

Earned income can include a salary for a job, perks or bonuses received in regard to a job, or partnership distributions. On the other hand, passive income might include investment dividends. A judge will likely look at a potential payor's most recent tax filing, but also might look deeper when ascertaining alimony and child support payments. That's not where it could end, since a judge could also look at what a payor could be earning, depending upon the individual's credentials.

Don't go to a New Jersey child custody hearing unprepared

You've likely heard the old scouting phrase that encourages scouts to always be prepared. It's good advice, even for grownups. In fact, there may be times in your life when such advice can really come in handy, such as if you're heading to court for child custody proceedings. When you filed for divorce, you no doubt understood that it would have a significant impact on your children's lives.

You may have determined from the start that you needed to build a strong support network to help them come to terms with the life changes ahead and to successfully adapt to a new lifestyle. What you do and say during child custody proceedings in a New Jersey courtroom can greatly affect all that. The better prepared you are, the greater the chances of a favorable outcome.

How do I keep my business safe in a divorce?

Splitting up assets in a divorce is always difficult. But if you are a business owner, the process becomes that much more complex. You will have to decide the best way to split your marital assets while hopefully keeping your business alive and profitable.

As you and your spouse go through the process of divorce, your business will be part of your assets and your income evaluation. Here are a few tips to make sure you keep your business safe:

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