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3 reasons why spouses end their marriages

Imagine that you and your spouse share several children together and own your white-picket-fence home. Your children are doing great in private schools and you and your spouse have a fat 401(k) account to make your transition into early retirement as easy as possible.

Your marriage and family look perfect on paper — and your friends might think you've got it made — but there's a dark underbelly to the relationship of which only you are keenly aware. Unfortunately, you're beginning to realize that for your health, emotional sanity and the best interests of your children, it's time to dissolve your marriage through divorce.

Child custody and unmarried parents

When two people aren't married, but they have a child together, the mother will usually receive sole physical custody automatically. In fact, it's rare that a father could win a child custody case over a mother in these circumstances. The child will most likely live with the mother full time unless the mother agrees to other circumstances.

However, the father can usually take action to receive -- at the very least -- visitation rights, even if the mother doesn't agree. Courts in New Jersey primarily believe that the children are best-served when they can spend a generous and regular amount of time with the non-custodial parent.

Is the other parent capable of meeting your child's needs?

When debating what type of child custody is best for you and your soon-to-be ex, it's important to consider the ability of both parents to tend to the needs of your child. Some people simply aren't cut out to be parents. For example, their level of maturity, their mental and physical health status, or their histories of violent or criminal actions in the past may get in the way of their ability to serve as caretaker.

Here are a few scenarios in which you might want to consider taking action to ensure the custody orders revoke the other parent's parental rights.

What if my ex-spouse was abusive? Can I prevent visitation?

Even in cases where the other parent of your child committed and/or was convicted of domestic violence, a New Jersey court could still award him or her the right to visit with your children. If you're facing a situation like this, you're probably wondering how to protect your children from the threat of further abuse when you're not around.

Fortunately, you may still be able to protect your children in spite of the court allowing them to spend time with your ex. The key to protecting your children against an abusive parent is to request supervised visitations.

Did you include these items in your parenting plan?

When it comes to organizing a parenting plan, two parents sharing child custody have a lot to keep in mind. For example, you need to know what will work for you and the other parent's schedules, and you also have to honor the unique needs and ages of the children involved.

Additionally, because your parenting plan will be difficult to change later on down the road, it needs to cover all the bases clearly, while offering some level of flexibility.

Can I end my marriage without getting a divorce?

Marriage is a legally-binding arrangement, and in nearly all cases, a divorce is required to bring the marriage to a close. However, divorce can be costly, difficult to navigate and stressful. This might make you wonder: Is there a way to end a marriage without going through a divorce?

There is one way that you might be able to end your marriage, but it will only work in a select few cases: annulment.

What does the mediation process look like?

Nearly every family law attorney will tell you that if you and your spouse can mediate your divorce, or find some other way to reach an out-of-court settlement, you'll save time, money and a lot of headaches. When you consider these benefits, it's easy to see why couples find the motivation necessary to overcome their differences during mediation.

That said, not all mediations are a success. One thing that can help you overcome obstacles during your meditation is to familiarize yourself with the process before it begins.

Could mediation work for you instead of a court divorce?

If you are on the cusp of a divorce in New Jersey and you don't agree with your spouse on terms, you may believe that a protracted court-based divorce is inevitable. However, before you prepare yourself for a lengthy trial in family court, consider your options. If there is any hope of compromise between you and your spouse, mediation could be an excellent alternative to a contentious divorce.

Mediation allows you and your spouse to set the terms of your divorce without a trial. Your divorce goes more quickly, with less fighting, than it would if you were headed to court. Choosing mediation can offer a host of potential benefits, such as protecting your children from the worst aspects of a messy divorce.

Understanding the most common custody outcomes in N.J. divorces

For many divorcing couples, custody of the minor children from the marriage is the most contentious and emotional issue. Both parents likely want to spend as much time as possible with their children. This can make compromising about custody difficult. What spouses can't come to an agreement on their own about custody, support and parenting time, the courts will step in to ensure everything gets handled properly.

For divorcing parents, not knowing what the custody outcome of your divorce will be is nerve-wracking. It's all too easy to find horror stories online, telling of doting parents denied shared custody or even visitation. You could start to worry that you won't get to see your children at all. In most cases, barring an inability to provide for your kids, a history of abuse or neglect, or issues with chemical dependence, shared custody is the most likely outcome to a custody dispute in divorce.

Who gets the house in a typical New Jersey divorce?

For many married couples, the home they live in represents the biggest asset they own. Most people spend thirty years of their adults lives or more paying off a mortgage on their home. Every single month adds to the equity, or amount of money you've paid against the principal balance of your mortgage. It's only natural, then, that people considering a divorce in New Jersey would wonder about how the courts decide who gets the house.

Every divorce is unique and every couple's ownership interest in their home is different, too. From the amount of equity you've built to the length of time you've lived there, there are numerous factors that impact the value of your home on both a financial level and a personal level. Still, there are certain guidelines about New Jersey divorces and marital assets that can help you understand the likely outcome as far as your home goes. The courts strive for an equitable distribution of assets, which includes your home unless there are special circumstances.

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To schedule a consultation, call LaRocca Hornik Rosen Greenberg & Patti LLC, at 732-246-2112 or contact us online. We serve clients in Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County, and central New Jersey from offices in Freehold and Red Bank.

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