How can I protect my child during a divorce?

How Can I Protect My Children During a Divorce?

One of the most difficult aspects of a divorce has nothing to do with the financial situation of the people involved, but with their children and the impact of divorce on them. Divorce is a tough emotional experience not only for the parents but also the children, as the entire family dynamic changes. People often struggle with this aspect, whether it be concern about how to tell the children about the divorce or the eventual impact on the child’s life. People going through a divorce are often torn about how they will raise the issue with the children – whether they tell the children in a family meeting, or perhaps with the assistance of a third party such as a therapist the child already trusts. This can also be impacted by the age of the children. Obviously the discussion that mommy and daddy are divorcing is going to be a very different conversation with a toddler than with a teenager. It is important to remember that while your relationship with the other party is over and there may be a lot of hurt feelings, the children did nothing wrong, and it’s important that you make your best effort to not speak poorly of the other parent or share inappropriate information with the children. There’s no reason for the children to know the details of what led to the divorce or information about litigation that has already occurred. Just as with adults, the children will probably be very concerned about what life will be like after the divorce. Will they live with mom or dad? Will they have to move? Change schools? Will they still be able to see their friends and the other parent’s side of the family? These are all very valid concerns for a child, and they should be addressed sensitively and honestly. It may be a good idea to get the children into therapy for at least a short time so that they are provided with a neutral viewpoint who can assist them in adjusting to their new reality. Mom and Dad should also be involved so the child’s therapist can provide some insight on issues the child might be struggling with. The effect of a divorce on children will vary depending on the child, as well as their age. In some ways, it may be easier for a young child to adjust to life after the …

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What Will Happen to My Art Collection During a Divorce?

What Will Happen to My Art Collection During a Divorce?

In most cases, people who are going through a divorce are able to work out who will keep what personal property.  But what if that property includes a collection?  Especially a collection that may be worth a significant amount because of that Van Gogh painting. Collections, such as an art collection, are subject to equitable distribution just as other property accumulated during the marriage.  The easiest way to deal with the distribution of this property is to reach an agreement with regard to what items each party will take.  In some instances, the parties might alternate making selections until all of the artwork is distributed.  If one party wants to retain the collection, it may be necessary to have the collection valued.  This will establish the amount of money the person who wants to keep the collection will have to pay the other for their interest. If neither person wants to keep the artwork, it will be sold and the parties will share the proceeds from the sale. When having the collection valued, or distributing the artwork, it is important to provide the certificate of authenticity.  This can assist in completing the valuation of the collection.  It is also important to keep receipts for artwork that is purchased, as it is possible that one party may attempt to claim that certain pieces are their pre-marital property.  If one person can prove that he or she purchased a piece of art prior to the marriage, the other person cannot receive a share of that particular piece of art. At DeTorres and DeGeorge, we have experience in all aspects of equitable distribution, including the handling of valuable collections.  If you are concerned that your art collection may be impacted by your divorce, call 908-284-6005 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today.

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What Will Happen To My Pets During A Divorce?

What Will Happen To My Pets During A Divorce?

Many people who are going through a divorce in New Jersey are surprised to learn that the courts treat animals as personal property to be distributed, rather than viewing it more like a custody issue with children. Of course, as an animal cannot be divided in the same manner as bank accounts or other property, there are some considerations that should be made, including the pet’s well being. This may result in a judge determining that one party receives the animal, while the other may receive some amount of money for his or her “interest” in the pet. As any animal lover knows, money will not replace a beloved pet. If you are wondering how to get custody of a dog in divorce, one important thing to keep in mind is that it is always best if you can reach an agreement on the issue with your significant other. When you make your own agreement, you can be more creative with the solution whether by providing that the dog will travel between houses with the children, or perhaps the person who does not have the dog the majority of the time will take the dog when the other party goes on vacation. Deciding on the custody and timesharing of your pet in a divorce settlement will allow you to fashion whatever arrangement works best for you and your ex. If you are unable to reach an agreement about custody of the dog after a breakup, a judge will have to make a determination about which party the dog should continue to live with. A judge will likely not order any type of support, or “petimony”, to share the expense associated with the animal. As the New Jersey court views the pet as an asset, he or she will decide who the animal should live with and that person will most likely be solely responsible for all costs of the pet’s care. In the event that you are currently going through a divorce, you can get a pet without fear that your ex will take the animal from you. As is the case with money and other property, once a complaint for divorce has been filed all property obtained remains that party’s separate possession. Therefore, if you have filed for divorce and then purchase a new pet, your spouse will have no claim to the animal. In the past year, there …

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I Want To Divorce My Drug Addicted Husband

I Want To Divorce My Drug Addicted Husband

In New Jersey, there are many options to divorce a drug addict.  Addiction is a lesser used cause of action for a divorce.  It is often not as widely utilized by attorneys or parties seeking divorce because it can be difficult to prove substance abuse in court. If you wish to file for divorce under the grounds of addiction, you will have to be able to prove a dependence on a narcotic or other dangerous substance, or habitual drunkenness for a period of twelve or more consecutive months prior to filing the complaint for divorce.  You will also need to be able to prove to the court that the other party used alcohol and/or drugs persistently and substantially.  Due to these requirements, it is not a common cause of action as it is unlikely that a person has the sort of proof necessary to meet the burden in court. A slightly easier burden to meet in order obtain a divorce due to drug addiction would be to file for divorce under extreme cruelty.  This is defined as any physical or mental cruelty which makes it improper to expect a person to continue to live with his or her spouse.  Therefore, you could allege that being married to a drug addict has caused you to suffer emotionally.  This could be demonstrated by specific examples of times where the addict treated you poorly, was mean or possibly destructive within the home due to their addiction issues.  The court is generally very liberal with respect to what constitutes extreme cruelty in the context of a divorce proceeding.  The burden of proof is also easier to meet than filing under addiction, as it is largely a credibility issue.  So long as your testimony is credible with regard to the cruelty encountered in the marriage, a judge will likely grant the divorce on these terms. The easiest method of divorcing a drug addict, however, is to file under irreconcilable differences.   This is New Jersey’s no fault cause of action and all that you need to prove is that you are no longer getting along with your spouse for a period of at least 6 months.  This can, of course, become complicated in the event that the other party does not participate and a default divorce hearing is necessary.  However, if your spouse is willing to cooperate, this is the simplest basis for filing for divorce. …

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What Will Happen To My Business During A Divorce?

What Will Happen To My Business During A Divorce?

Many people who are going through a divorce are concerned about the division of their assets and the effect it will have on their financial well-being.  This is especially true when the parties, or one of them, owns a business.  A business is subject to equitable distribution in a divorce, meaning that both people in the marriage have an interest in the business. The way a business is divided in a divorce is very fact sensitive.  In many cases, a divorce action will trigger a need for a business valuation.  Essentially, one or both people will retain an expert to offer an opinion on the value of the business.  This entails the owner of the business opening the books and records for examination by the experts.  The person performing the valuation will advise specifically what is needed in order to complete their examination.  The cost of these valuations will vary depending on the size of the business, the amount of information to be examined by the expert, the transparency of the books of the business, and importantly, the cooperation of the parties.  The fees for a business valuation may be paid from marital funds, or if the parties have already divided their finances, a judge may decide that one party is responsible for the fees. When performing a business valuation, the expert will not only look at the financials of the business, but also the other assets belonging to that business.  For example, an auto repair shop has a value of the business as a whole, but also the value of the assets, such as the tools and equipment.  These assets will be considered by the expert in reaching the final value of a business. The amount of the business subject to equitable distribution depends on the facts of your specific case.  For example, if you owned your business prior to the marriage, it may be necessary for the expert to determine the value of the business at the time of marriage, as well as the current value.  If both parties own the business and do not wish to sell the business to a third party, it is likely that a settlement will include one person buying out the other person’s interest.  The amount of the buy-out would be based on the value of the business as determined by the expert.  Another complication may be whether you own the business …

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Child Custody Versus Guardianship, What’s The Difference?

Child Custody Versus Guardianship, What’s The Difference?

When people are going through a divorce, they are often faced with issues of child custody.  This deals with the custody of the child or children, as well as the additional issues of child support and visitation.  People are often very concerned with how to get custody of their children.  While each parent’s prior involvement in the children’s lives are considered, it is not the deciding factor.  Instead, the court will base its decision on the best interests of the child which takes into account many factors in deciding who gets custody of the kids. It is also important to differentiate between the types of custody in New Jersey.  When you are seeking legal advice on the issue of child custody, it is necessary to ensure that these differences are clearly explained to you.  Specifically, there are two types of child custody: legal and physical.  In the majority of situations in New Jersey, parents share joint legal custody of their children which means that they share in the decision making process for major aspects of their children’s lives, including their education and health.  Physical custody refers to who the child physically resides with.  Often this is designated as the parent of primary residence or the parent of alternate residence depending on the amount of visitation, known as “parenting time” in New Jersey, with each parent. The amount of child support you may be ordered to pay for your child is related to the custody and visitation schedule in your case.  Specifically, the number of overnights you have with the children may impact the amount of child support you are required to pay.  Generally the legal custody designation does not impact the child support calculation. Custody of the kids continues through the children’s emancipation, which generally means their 19th birthday or completion of college, depending on what the parties might have agreed to.  In many cases, physical custody may no longer truly apply due to a child’s residence at school.  However, parents may still share legal custody as far as the child’s educational decisions. Guardianship generally applies after an individual’s 18th birthday.  Upon reaching age 18, New Jersey views the individual as an adult and parents can no longer make decisions on behalf of the child.  In the event that an adult child is unable to make decisions about his or her life, such as medical care, a guardianship may be …

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How Will My Executive Compensation Be Impacted By Divorce?

When parties are going through a divorce, they are very often concerned about the financial impact of the divorce process, as well as what their financial picture might look like following the entry of a divorce. This is especially true for high-earning executives who may need to pay alimony and child support to their spouse. Executives often receive compensation packages that consist of not only salary but also additional benefits like cash bonuses, restricted stock, performance shares and stock options. All income must be included when calculating child support for the children. For cash bonuses, the parties may elect to have the bonus included as income and put directly into the child support calculation. However, this may not always be the best way to handle a cash bonus in the context of child support because the child support guidelines are structured in such a way to “max out” when the parties’ combined net incomes exceeds $3,600 per week. If your combined net income exceeds $3,600 per week, it may be more appropriate to utilize just the parent’s respective salaries in calculating child support, and then include a separate provision that a certain percentage of the bonus received by the parent who pays child support shall be paid to the supported spouse in addition to the basic child support amount. This will ensure that the children continue to benefit from all of the income sources of the parents which is what the child support guidelines seek to ensure. Bonuses should also be considered when determining an appropriate amount of alimony. As with child support, this is often handled by the parties reaching an agreement distributing a percentage share of the bonus to the dependent spouse in addition to alimony calculated on the wage earner’s base pay. Generally, parties agree that this will be paid in a lump sum within a certain number of days following the receipt of the bonus. Many executives also receive stock options or restricted stock units as part of their executive compensation package. As stock is subject to equitable distribution, they must be divided in a divorce. In some instances, the party who owns the stock may have the ability to transfer the vested stock to the other party’s name. If this is possible, it may be preferable to do it in this manner as it gives the other party the ability to manage the stocks themselves. …

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Who Gets Child Custody During a Legal Separation

Who Gets Child Custody During a Legal Separation?

New Jersey does not have legal separation in the same manner as some other states. However, if you and your spouse no longer wish to live together, but are not prepared to proceed with a divorce, you can certainly live separately. In fact, you can even resolve issues of child custody, child support, and spousal support by filing a non-dissolution, or “FD” case. However, the underlying law with regard to child custody remains the same for both a divorce and FD case. When dealing with a child custody matter, you need to determine two types of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody deals with who is entitled to make major decisions in your child’s life. These decisions include the child’s health, education, and religion. In most cases, the parties decide to share joint legal custody of the children, which means that both parties are entitled to participate in the decision-making process for the major events in their children’s lives. It is less common for parties to agree to, or for a judge to order, sole legal custody. In this scenario, only one parent is permitted to make the major decisions for the child. Physical custody of the child is often the more difficult aspect of a custody dispute to resolve. Many years ago, the courts subscribed to the tender years theory which essentially stated that children were better off with their mothers. The New Jersey courts have not utilized this theory in many years and instead evaluate the best interest of the child when reaching a determination in a custody case. This will include the consideration of a number of factors, such as the parties’ ability to work together, the needs of the child, the opinion of the child if they are of a suitable age, and the stability of the home environment with each parent. Recently the trend has been away from the old standard of alternating weekends and 1 dinner visit per week for dads. More and more couples who are going through a divorce are agreeing to a shared parenting arrangement, which can consist of any arrangement up to and including a 50/50 schedule. Parents are regarded as being on equal footing with regard to parenting time and neither is considered more suited to having primary physical custody based on gender alone. The Courts encourage parties to resolve their custody matters without court intervention. Parents who are …

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Can I Break My Prenuptial Agreement?

Can I Break My Prenuptial Agreement?

A pre-nuptial agreement is entered into by two parties who are engaged to be married.  The purpose of a pre-nuptial agreement is to protect the separate property of the parties by setting forth terms regarding the ownership of those assets and liabilities in the event that the marriage ends in divorce.  While many people still view pre-nuptial agreements as appropriate only in high asset marriages, this is not the case.  Any person who has assets or liabilities when entering into a marriage can benefit from the protections offered by a pre-nuptial agreement. A standard pre-nuptial agreement provides for the rights and obligations of each of the parties in property that is outlined in the financial disclosure portion of the agreement.  It often also outlines the rights to buy and sell that separate property, establish ownership rights in the death benefit of a life insurance policy or retirement asset, and to limit or eliminate the possibility of alimony.   An essential aspect of the pre-nuptial agreement is the inclusion of a financial disclosure which sets forth all of the assets, liabilities, and property belonging to each party.   It is also important to include the incomes for each party, as well as any investments that may be income producing. In situations where a party objects to the enforceability of a pre-nuptial agreement, the Court would first look to see if it was signed voluntarily.  The court may find that the signing was not voluntary if the pre-nuptial agreement was not presented to the other party until shortly before the wedding.  In a situation where one party has a pre-nuptial agreement drafted and gives it to his or her fiancé days before the wedding with the understanding that there will be no wedding without a signature, it is unlikely that the agreement will be enforced. It is very important that the parties signing a pre-nuptial agreement have sufficient time to meet with and review a pre-nuptial agreement with an attorney prior to signing the document.  It is essential that the parties are forthcoming and provide all information sought by the other party regarding their individual assets and income.  If the parties agree that they will not exchange proof of these finances or retain legal counsel, there must be a written waiver included in the pre-nuptial agreement. Given the ease of access to information in the modern world, some people feel that obtaining a lawyer …

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Restraining Orders and Divorce in New Jersey

Restraining Orders and Divorce in New Jersey

It’s not uncommon for one or both parties involved in a divorce proceeding to obtain a restraining order during the divorce process. Restraining orders are a part of many divorce cases and are an important protection that is necessary to prevent domestic violence and allow victims of violence or threatened violence to live their lives safely. There is no question that restraining orders are necessary and appropriate most of the time they are issued. However, restraining orders can sometimes be misused as a tactic in a divorce. Restraining orders can be issued where the victim has been harassed, stalked, assaulted, threatened or the victim of criminal mischief. Many people in a divorce may feel they have a good case for a restraining order because a marriage that is heading towards divorce often becomes very volatile, at least for a short time. The domestic violence law in New Jersey is drafted to ensure that a victim of domestic violence feels protected and safe. In that regard, often times the judges hearing a domestic violence case will award exclusive use and occupancy of the home to the victim and order that the perpetrator must reside outside of the home. In a matter where both parties wish to retain the marital residence, this may give the victim spouse who is permitted to remain in the home an upper hand in the overall settlement of this issue. Additionally, domestic violence between the parties or in the home is a factor that is considered when a judge addresses custody. Just as with the marital home, judges hearing a domestic violence matter will likely order that the children will reside primarily with the victim during the divorce proceedings. This is intended to protect the children and act in their best interests by protecting them from a potentially volatile parent. However, it can also give the victim parent an advantage in a custody dispute, as it may set the stage for a new “status quo” custody arrangement. Restraining orders, while certainly necessary for the protection of victims, can also complicate the divorce proceeding in other ways. A party who has a restraining order against the other will have no option but to have counsel resolve all issues, even minor aspects of parenting time that may arise. For example, when a restraining order is in effect, a parent who is running late to a parenting time exchange may …

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