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Monmouth County Family Law Blog

Planning to divorce? Take time to prepare

There is no way around it, divorce is complicated. Whether you have a house in Middlesex County along with three kids and a dog or it's just you and your spouse renting an apartment in Freehold, divorce is not an easy process to get through. The people who tend to have the most trouble and come out of their divorces in tough positions are those who do not properly prepare.

Divorce is never as easy as simply calling a divorce attorney and then signing the paperwork. You will have to make a seemingly endless string of decisions, from who gets custody of the kids to who gets to keep the living room furniture. However, before you even make that call to a lawyer, there are some things you should do to prepare for divorce.

The potential impact of a custodial parent's relocation

When parents in New Jersey and throughout the country get divorced, they must keep the best interests of their children in mind. This means that it may not necessarily be a good idea to move to a new state, and it can be even harder to justify if it means taking the child further from the other parent. However, a relocation may get the blessing of a judge or the child's other parent if it's done for a legitimate reason.

For instance, if it is to pursue a job with a higher salary or to be closer to family, there may be less resistance from other interested parties. Parents who are planning on moving with their children should be able to show how it is in the child's best interest. It may also be necessary to propose adjustments to a custody or visitation schedule as a condition of being allowed to relocate.

Obtaining visitation during a divorce

When a New Jersey couple decides to get a divorce, determining how to split up time and parental responsibilities can be difficult, especially if the former couple is not able to work together. In some of these cases, the custodial disputes can get ugly and even result in preventing a parent from being able to maintain a solid relationship with his or her children.

In decades past, mothers often retained custody while the fathers were ordered to pay child support. In many cases, these fathers were not given ample visitation with their children. However, courts now are more likely to recognize the important role fathers play in parenting the children. Even so, many kids still end up living primarily with the mother.

Can you challenge a premarital agreement in a New Jersey divorce?

It has become increasingly common for couples to execute prenuptial agreements prior to legally marrying. New Jersey calls these documents premarital agreements. New Jersey, like most other states, recognizes the validity of these agreements and postnuptial agreements, provided that the parties involved executed them appropriately.

Some people agree to the terms of a premarital agreement without much consideration, assuming they will stay married forever. It is only when the marriage takes a turn for the worse that these people begin to worry about the terms of the premarital agreement. It is actually possible for either spouse to challenge a premarital agreement on a number of different grounds.

The important parts of a New Jersey child custody schedule

If you're the "custodial parent" of your child, then he or she will spend the majority of time living with you in your home. If you're the "noncustodial parent," then you will likely receive regular child visitation rights. In other situations, both parents could be custodial parents and the child will live with both parents.

A New Jersey child custody and visitation schedule is where you will codify the rules and guidelines that surround these arrangements. When appropriately drafted, your plan will contain the following three areas:

Research suggests joint custody is better for children

One of the most contentious issues for divorcing couples in New Jersey is often child custody. While there is a general inclination to keep both parents involved in a child's life, some parents may be advised to seek full custody. With instances when it's the mother seeking sole custody of toddlers, she might be advised that splitting time between parents isn't good for children that young. However, there's evidence suggesting otherwise.

Results from scientific studies on child custody that's shared between parents suggests that joint custody should be the norm for parents of children of all ages, including toddlers. A psychologist who published an analysis of previous studies on this topic also notes that warnings against infants and toddlers spending overnight time with fathers aren't in line with current understandings of child development or fully supported. More than a hundred experts around the world endorsed this psychologist's findings.

Managing divorce and alimony under the new tax law

Starting on January 1st, 2019, couples getting a divorce in New Jersey will have to be mindful of new rules regarding alimony and taxes if spousal support will be an issue. In a nutshell, payers will no longer be able to deduct their payments for tax purposes. Also, recipients will not have to report their spousal support payments as income. However, some smart planning may minimize financial concerns for couples not able to beat the clock and get their divorce in before the changes take effect.

It's not easy for couples to rush a divorce involving alimony just to beat the clock. This is because an alimony agreement must be a final settlement or court order, not a temporary one. Instead, it may be wiser for separating spouses to focus on other things affected by tax law changes, such as ownership of the marital home and custody of children.

3 tips to set up success in a co-parenting situation

The co-parenting relationship you have with your ex has a significant impact on your children. Whether the effect on your kids is positive or negative is largely up to you. Anyone in this situation should make sure that they are planning for a successful parenting journey.

When you and your ex first split up, it can be hard to separate the divorce from the parenting relationship but it is necessary. You don't need to allow resentment to fester because that can make the situation much more difficult. Finding ways to simplify things and turn this into a positive experience can be a challenge, but it is well worth it.

How does DNA testing affect child support cases?

New Jersey parents who are involved in child support disputes might need to seek a DNA test to confirm paternity. DNA testing to establish paternity has become very common in child support cases as the results it yields are accurate to up to 99.99 percent. Results could be used to relieve a man of support responsibility or confirm that he needs to be financially responsible for the child.

DNA tests are often used when the parents of a child were not married when the child was conceived or born. In those cases, the father's name is not legally required on the birth certificate, and he is referred to as the "alleged father." In order to legally establish paternity, a DNA test is required. The DNA test can be voluntarily requested by the parents, or it can be ordered by the court or a by a state child welfare agency. Results from DNA testing may help bring about quicker resolutions to legal cases. DNA testing is also used in many states to administer Temporary Aid to Needy Families so that non-custodial parents can be identified and held responsible for financial support.

What is at stake in a child custody hearing

When parents in New Jersey decide to separate, they may have very different plans for their future roles in their children's lives. Nevertheless, parents can come to agreements between themselves about how to share custody time and parenting responsibilities. A child custody order is often issued as part of the overall divorce decree. However, in some cases, people may find themselves in court for a child custody hearing without a divorce proceeding.

Child custody hearings can arise between parents who want to change the terms of their custody arrangements or parents who are separating but were never married. The process usually begins when one of the parents does not wish to share the child and wants to limit the other parent's access or when a parent wants to increase their level of time and responsibility for the child. During a custody hearing, a family court judge will make the determination of how custody will be apportioned between the parents. In some cases, one parent will have full or primary custody. In other cases, both parents will receive joint custody. The latter is increasingly becoming the favored default option, given the strong evidence supporting the involvement of both parents in a child's life.

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To schedule a consultation, call LaRocca Hornik Rosen Patti & Crupi 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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