Case Issues in New Jersey

What Property Am I Entitled To?

From the day of your wedding to the date of the filing of the complaint for divorce (or depending on your circumstances, sometimes your separation date) all property acquired by either you or your spouse during that period is part of the "marital estate". For example, if you buy a car in your name, it's part of the marital estate. If you buy a house in your name, it's part of the marital estate. If you make contributions to your retirement fund, it's part of the marital estate. The property in the marital estate is subject to "equitable distribution" between the parties.
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Should I Get Child Support Through the Court or Have My Child's Father (or Mother) Pay Me Outside of Court?

The benefits of having child support paid through the Court are: 1. You will not be in the position where you have to hope that you get paid on time. I've seen too many cases where the custodial parent was "nice" and did not set up child support through the State, and the non-custodial parent took advantage of the situation, and failed to pay, half-paid, or just blew off their child support obligation. 2. You have the security of knowing that the State is collecting the money for you. If you do your own child support deal with the non-custodial parent you may find yourself in the position of having to act like a collection agency, constantly calling your ex saying "Where is my check? "When will I get it?" "Why is it half of what we agreed to?" Not knowing when you are going to receive child support will increase your level of stress, anxiety, and economic insecurity and instability. 3. The State reviews and increases the amount of the child support payment every 2 years if the cost-of-living in New Jersey increases. (See Rule 5:6B ). If you do not set up child support payments through the State, you will not receive automatic cost of living increases. Over 5,10 or 15 years you lose significant amounts of money that the State would have automatically collected and sent to you. 4. You have no interaction and no opportunity to fight with the non-custodial parent over money issues. With the State acting as your buffer your interactions with the non-custodial parent can focus on co-parenting and not fights over when the child support money is coming. 5. The State keeps track of arrears. If you do not use the State you will have to keep track of arrears and then you will have to try to enforce the arrears on your own at your own cost in time, money and aggravation. It is important to understand that if you do not have an active child support probation account you cannot let non-payment or half-payments continue for months or years and then come in to court and ask for all the back child support that has accumulated. The Court can only award you child support back to the date that you file your motion with the Court. All the other child support that was due and owing to you will be unenforceable.
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Can I Get Alimony?

Yes, if there is a substantial difference between your income and your spouses income, and your marriage is not a "short-term marriage" (the definition of short-term marriage varies from court to court).
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My Spouse Has a Business Am I Entitled to Money From That Business?

The marital portion of a spouse's interest in a business is subject to valuation and equitable distribution. If the business was started before the marriage then the pre-marital portion is not subject to equitable distribution, but the growth in the business from the date of marriage to the date of the complaint for divorce is subject to equitable distribution.
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Can I Make a Friend or Other Family Member the Guardian of My Children If I Die?

Yes, you can. However, there is a New Jersey law NJSA 9:2-5, which the New Jersey courts have interpreted as saying that there is a rebuttable presumption that the non-custodial parent has a stronger right to have custody of your children if you die than anyone else, including your parents, your brothers or sisters, or your friends. However, proof of gross misconduct, abandonment, unfitness or the existence of exceptional circumstances can tip the presumption in favor of the guardian who you appoint.
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After the Divorce Can I Move Out of State With My Child(ren)?

If the parties have "joint legal custody" (most parents do) then the "parent of primary residence" (PPR) cannot relocate outside of the State of New Jersey without the consent/permission of the non-custodial parent. However, in certain instances the Court will allow the custodial parent to relocate, out of state, over the objection of the non-custodial parent.
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What Are Typical Custody and Parenting Time Arrangements in a New Jersey Divorce?

The parties are free to fashion any custody and parenting time that they agree to. The courts will generally not interfere in a couple’s custody and parenting time decisions. So you can fashion as unique a custody and parenting time schedule as you and your spouse see fit. A typical custody arrangement is for the parties to share joint legal custody, and for one parent to be the PPR (Parent of Primary Residence) while the other parent is the PAR (Parent of Alternate Residence). The default parenting schedule for the PAR is overnights every other weekend, with one overnight during the week.
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Can I Force My Spouse to Take More Parenting Time (Visitation) Than They Want To?

No. There is no mandatory minimum amount of parenting time (visitation). If your spouse wants no parenting time then they will receive no credit for parenting time expenses against their child support obligation.
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In a New Jersey Uncontested or No-Fault Divorce, If We Agree on Child Support Can a Judge Change the Amount That We Agree To?

Yes. A Judge has the power and the duty to review your child support to make sure that it is line with the New Jersey child support worksheet guidelines. If there a valid reason why the child support should be different from the guidelines calculation then the reason can be presented to the Judge, and she or he may approve it.
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If I File for an Uncontested or No-Fault Divorce in New Jersey Can the Judge Change the Terms of Our Agreement Other Than Child Support?

The Superior Court, Family Part is a court of equity. The Judge hearing your case has the power to do what is equitable in your case. However, in an uncontested case the Judge will not intercede to overrule or amend the parties will as expressed in a signed Property Settlement Agreement. If you have a signed Property Settlement Agreement the court will ask questions to see: whether you and your spouse signed the paperwork without being forced to sign; whether you and your spouse understand the terms of the agreement; and whether you and your spouse understand that the Agreement will become part of your divorce Judgment and will bind you in the future.
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Can My Spouse Waive Child Support in New Jersey?

The general rule is that your spouse cannot waive child support. However, you and your spouse can deviate from the child support guidelines worksheet child support number if there is a valid reason for doing so. You can call my office to further discuss this issue.
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My Spouse Is in the Country Illegally. Will the Court Force Me to Support Her Even If She Says That She Doesn’t Want Support?

Generally, no. You can call my office to discuss the specific facts of your case.
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I Want to Move After I File for an Uncontested Divorce in New Jersey. Do I Have to Wait Until the Divorce Is Finalized to Move?

No, you can move once you file the complaint for divorce. However, depending on the Judge and the county you may have to come to court on the day of the final hearing.
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