The practice of Family Law includes: divorce, annulment, alimony, child support, child custody, child parenting time, education costs, adoption, domestic violence restraining orders, violations of restraining orders, enforcement motions, pre marital agreements, the division of property, and payment of marital debts.
Most clients need legal advice to deal with these important issues. It is very important that you get legal advice from an experienced Family Law attorney to advise you about what your rights are and what your responsibilities are. Hiring the right lawyer in this difficult situation will prove crucial to your understanding of all of the issues you face and your satisfaction with the ultimate outcome of your situation.
Divorce is the process of legally ending a marriage. It involves the important issues of alimony, child support, parenting time, dividing the property and debts of the marriage, tax adjustments, attorney’s fees and all other related issues.
In New Jersey, there are numerous grounds for Divorce:
b. Willful and continued desertion;
c. Extreme cruelty;
d. 18 Months of Separation
e. Voluntarily induced addiction;
g. Imprisonment for 18 months
h. Deviant sexual conduct; and
i. Irreconcilable differences.
The most common grounds for divorce utilized is irreconcilable differences.
B. Child Custody and Visitation/Parenting Time
This is the most emotionally charged area in Family Law as nothing is more important than the care and education of the children. Custody is more than naming who lives with the children. It involves who gets to make the day-to-day decisions concerning the child’s life. It involves the child’s schooling, religious up-bringing, medical decisions and who gets access to these records. The Legal Custodian of the children will get to make the daily decisions for a child and will get to make the decisions for the child’s schooling, religious up-bringing and medical decisions and will have access to all of these important records. The parent who has Residential Custody is the parent who lives with the children. In most cases, the parents will share Legal Custody of the children but the children will reside with one parent more than with the other parent.
Visitation, now known as Parenting Time, is the schedule of time that the non-residential parent spends with the children. The family is always better off when the parents can agree to the schedule that fits both parents. When the parents cannot agree, the Court does try, by way of different mediation programs, to establish a Custody/Parenting Time schedule that works for the entire family.
C. Child Support
Child Support is the amount of money one parent pays to the other to feed and care for the children of a family. New Jersey uses a formula called the Child Support Guidelines to decide how child support will be provided, and the Guidelines are based on the parties' income. In New Jersey, Child Support is determined by the use of the Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines are based upon the premise that both parents have the continuous duty to support their children, that the children are entitled to share in the current income of both parents and that the children should not be economic victims of a divorce or an out-of-wedlock birth. There are circumstances where parties can deviate from the Child Support Guidelines, such as when income is very high or when the child has special mental or physical needs that will require support throughout their life. These exceptions and modifications are determined on a case by case basis.
Parents are required to financially support their children until the children are Emancipated. In New Jersey, there is no set age for emancipation. Many people seem to think that a child is emancipated when the child reaches the age of 18, but in most cases this is not true. The Superior Court of New Jersey has stated that “When a child moves beyond the sphere of influence and responsibility exercised by a parent and obtains an independent status on his or her own, generally he or she will be deemed emancipated.”
Since the issue of whether a child is emancipated is sensitive to the facts of each case, it is very important that both parents clearly understand when Emancipation of a child will take place, triggering the end of the Child Support payments.
Some of the typical Emancipation Events are as follows:
1. Reaching the age of 18 years or the completion of post-secondary education (college), whichever occurs last;
2. Marriage of the child;
3. Permanent residence away from the parent’s residence, except that residence at boarding school, camp or college shall not be deemed a residence away from the parents;
4. Death of the child;
5. Entry of the child into the armed forces; and
6. A child obtaining full time employment after attainment of the age of 18 years, except that a child engaging in full time employment during vacation or summer periods while attending high school, college or other post-secondary education on a full time basis, shall not be deemed full time employment.
E. Alimony/Spousal Support
Alimony or Spousal Support is a payment from one spouse to another is based on many factors, including:
1. Length of marriage;
2. Needs of the family;
3. Standard of living and circumstances of each party;
4. Sources of income and assets of the parties;
5. Earning capacity of each party;
6. Financial needs of each party;
7. Age and health of each party;
8. Responsibility of the parents to support any other children;
9. Debts and liabilities of the parents;
10. Need and ability to pay;
11. Equitable distribution of property; and
12. Any other factors the Court deems necessary.
There are several types of alimony in New Jersey including: Permanent alimony, Rehabilitative alimony, Reimbursement alimony and Limited Durations alimony.
The adoption of children is governed by New Jersey Statutes which seek to promote a state policy of promoting the best interest of the children. The "best interest of the children" standard controls the adoption process as well as the maintenance of stable continuing relationships between parent and children. Adoptions involving a child from one state being placed in New Jersey or vice-versa are governed by the interstate compact on the placement of children which has been adopted by the State of New Jersey by statute. Every adoption requires the approval of the Court to take place.
G. Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a serious crime and is affirmatively addressed by both law
enforcement and the Courts, so that the victims and society are protected. It is not always easy to determine if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship. Domestic Violence comes in many forms, and affects many different types of woman and men. Abusers can be husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, partners, even adult children. No one deserves to be abused.
The New Jersey Statutes states that the definition of a “victim of Domestic Violence”
includes any person:
A. Who is 18 years of age or older, or who is an emancipated minor, and who has been
subjected to domestic violence by:
b. Former spouse
c. Any other person who is a present or former household member, or who, regardless of age, has been subjected to domestic violence by a person: With whom the victim has a child in common, or With whom the victim anticipates having a child in common, if one of the parties is pregnant, or who, regardless of age, has been subjected to domestic violence by a person with whom the victim has had a dating relationship.
Most importantly, you do not have to live in fear and do not have to wait to be hurt to seek immediate help.
Unfortunately, sometimes people wrongfully take advantage of this very important Law by alleging that they are the victims of Domestic Violence in order to gain some type of advantage in a pending Divorce. If you believe that a Domestic Violence Complaint has been wrongfully filed by your Spouse/Partner we can help you in your defense of this claim in the Court.