Divorce is a significant life altering event. Considerable issues may play a role in your divorce including taxes, resumption of your former surname, insurance policies, pensions and other retirement accounts, child support and child custody, and more. In addition to the emotional toll divorce can take on an individual or family, decisions made during divorce have long-standing effects. Our firm has extensive experience helping families work through the difficulty of divorce.
In addition to handling divorce proceedings, our attorneys offer assistance with prenuptial agreements and adoption proceedings. In all family law matters our firm provides personalized legal counsel and aims to ensure that you can reach favorable resolutions for your legal matters. Your family’s well-being is our top priority, and we are prepared to help you get through complicated issues without unnecessary stress.
DIVORCE IN N.J.
In New Jersey, divorce and its related legal issues are part of family law. In addition, New Jersey recognizes same sex civil unions. The dissolution of these unions generally follows much of the same procedures as those required for dissolution of marriage.
- Irreconcilable differences for at least 6 months
- Abandonment for 12 or more months
- Separation for at least 18 months
- Extreme cruelty
- Addiction to narcotic drugs or alcoholism for 12 or more months
- Mental illness that includes institutionalization for at least 24 months
- Incarceration for at least 18 months
- Deviant sexual conduct
You may dissolve a civil union for the same grounds as divorce, with the exception of irreconcilable differences.
To file for divorce in N.J or dissolution of a civil union in New Jersey on any grounds but adultery, either you or your spouse must first be a resident of the state for at least one year. However, if you are filing with the grounds of adultery, you can do so immediately. You may initiate your suit by filing a Complaint for Divorce in the Superior Court in the county where you reside. If you do not live in New Jersey, you can file in the New Jersey county where your spouse lives. Furthermore, New Jersey requires that you and your spouse learn about divorce mediation and arbitration before filing.
New Jersey is an equitable distribution state. This affects how the court rules on the division of real estate, personal property, and debt. Generally, the property you entered the marriage or civil union with remains yours. The property you both acquired after you got married is joint marital property, with certain exceptions, and must be fairly distributed between you and your spouse. Courts consider various factors when making a determination as to alimony, including but not limited to length of the marriage or civil union, the disparity in your incomes, your ages, education and health, your standard of living during the marriage or civil union, and the economic circumstances for each of you now.
WHEN CHILDREN ARE INVOLVED
If you have children, you will also need to come to an agreement on child support and child custody. New Jersey law supports a continued, ongoing relationship between parents and their children after divorce. When awarding joint or sole custody, the court considers the best interest of the child. Many factors are taken into consideration when making child support and child custody rulings, such as household incomes, job stability, spousal communication and cooperation, your children’s needs, how much time you each spent with your children before separating, your job responsibilities, your children’s ages, and other factors. An experienced family law attorney from Schiller, Pittenger & Galvin, P.C. can help you navigate through the child support and child custody process.
Divorce or dissolution of a civil union is a significant life altering event. Other issues that may play a role as well include taxes, resumption of your former surname, insurance policies, pensions and other retirement accounts and more. Our skilled family law attorneys can help you deal with these complicated and sensitive matters.
ADOPTION LAW IN N.J.
Adoption terminates the legal rights and duties of a birth parent and establishes this legal relationship between the child and the adoptive parents. New Jersey adoption law allows the adoptive parents to pay certain expenses for the birthparents and the adoptive child, such as medical and hospital care during the pregnancy and birth and up to four weeks after the end of the pregnancy. Costs for some living expenses, placement and legal services are permitted as well. Minor birth mothers may legally consent to placing their child for adoption in New Jersey. With a New Jersey agency adoption, there is typically just one court hearing, which occurs no sooner than six months after the child is placed. The adoptive parents are issued a new birth certificate identifying them as the parents on the document.
ADOPTION AND NEW JERSEY
New Jersey has adoption-friendly laws, reflecting support and approval for adoptions. Families from across the nation come to New Jersey to adopt and place their children for adoption through the state’s stream-lined process. There is no waiting period; once a birth mother has surrendered her parental rights as legally required at least 72 hours after the child’s birth, the adoption is permanent. Fraud, duress, and misrepresentation are the only grounds for contesting a legally finalized adoption. And in New Jersey, birth mothers are not required to identify or name the child’s birth father. Additionally, NJ adoption law doesn’t discriminate against potential adoptive parents based on sexual orientation or marital status. Therefore, single parents, gay and lesbian couples and married couples can adopt. Adoptions in this state are filed in the Surrogate Court of the jurisdictional county.
CHILD SUPPORT IN N.J.
Child support in the State of New Jersey is guided by the principal that each and every child is entitled to support from their parents. Determining the proportions of child support or who will pay is based on numerous factors including, the parent’s income and assets, work related child care costs and the cost of medical insurance, in addition to the needs of the child. Having a child support lawyer on your team is crucial to understanding the legalities of child support, as well as how to maneuver through the various intricacies of child support law and address your child support concerns. At Schiller, Pittenger & Galvin, P.C., we are committed to aggressively pursuing child support obligations, challenges, and disputes to ensure your children are granted the support they deserve.
All parents have a financial obligation to support their children, even in the face of divorce. In a majority of cases, the parent who retains physical custody of the child will be awarded financial assistance from the other parent until the child is of age to be emancipated. Child support is not limited to monetary compensation only, but can also include provisions such as healthcare expenses, insurance coverage, and more. Modifications to existing child support agreements are also possible, assuming supporting evidence can be communicated.
ABOUT NEW JERSEY CHILD SUPPORT LAWS
New Jersey continues to rank highly for newly formed civil unions, domestic partnerships and marriage licenses across the nation. While no union is formed with the intent of divorce, separations and divorce proceedings are now commonplace in New Jersey society. In fact, the New Jersey Department of Human Services Division of Family Development estimates a three-month average of $325M in total collections for the Child Support Services Program.
HOW IS CHILD CUSTODY DETERMINED?
Divorce proceedings can be resolved by divorcing spouses without the need for extensive legal intervention. When one spouse files for divorce, they have the ability to suggest terms for certain aspects of divorce, including custody. The other spouse will then have an opportunity to agree to these terms or dispute them. If they disagree with a proposed custody plan, both parties will likely be required to attend mediation.
In mediation, parents will have the ability to express their desires for custody plans and work toward a favorable resolution. This is the best means of resolving a dispute, as it requires minimal legal services and can result in a decision that everyone supports. There are few requirements for such agreements, as long as they benefit your child.
During mediation, parents should consider the following:
- Provisions for each child’s health
- The safety of a given arrangement
- Emotional and nurturing needs
- Each spouse’s parental ability
- Any relevant information
If you and your spouse can agree on a custody/visitation plan that benefits your children, you will not have to discuss the matter any further. Our legal team generally recommends a mediated approach to divorce, as it tends to be easier on everyone involved. We offer professional mediation services to aid an uncontested decision.
WHEN TO TAKE YOUR CASE TO TRIAL
If you cannot negotiate a custody arrangement, it may be in your best interest to take your case to trial. An attorney from our firm can litigate on your behalf to ensure that you receive a favorable custody ruling. While New Jersey law tends to favor joint custody, the evidence presented at your hearing may result in a number of parenting arrangements.
Possible outcomes of a custody ruling include:
- Shared physical custody
- Joint legal custody
- Sole physical custody
- Sole legal custody
In the end, the court will always rule in favor of a plan that is most beneficial to your child. Because the evidence presented in your case will directly influence a ruling, it is essential that you work with a qualified family lawyer in Union County. Our legal team is not afraid to provide aggressive representation to help you maintain parental rights during and after a divorce.
PLAN IN ADVANCE TO AVOID CONFLICT LATER
Prenuptial agreements tend to have a negative stigma, and are typically only associated with the extremely wealthy. However, more and more, financial experts are advocating the beneficial nature of prenuptial agreements for couples of any level of wealth. While they may not be the most romantic premarital topic, prenuptial agreements can help you and your spouse have the peace of mind knowing that you are prepared for the worst.
At Schiller, Pittenger & Galvin, P.C., we understand the uniquely delicate and complicated nature of these agreements. Our Union County family lawyer will help you draft an agreement that protects your best interests. We are dedicated to helping ease the stress associated with marital financial planning.
PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS ARE NOT JUST FOR THE WEALTHY
Generally, people associate prenups with extremely wealthy couples and don’t believe that they are necessary for everyone. However, there are numerous scenarios in which an agreement may be needed. Having an agreement can provide peace of mind that certain assets and property will be protected in the event of a divorce.
You might consider drafting a prenuptial agreement if any of the following apply to you:
- You own a business
- You own large assets including property, stocks, or funds
- You are an heir to a large inheritance
- You are much wealthier than your spouse
- You have children from previous marriages
- You are providing educational support to spouse
HOW CAN A PRENUP HELP?
When a couple divorces, questions surrounding the division of assets and spousal support can cause immense tension, stress, and frustration. With a prenuptial agreement, these terms will have been predetermined, which can make the process of divorcing much less stressful for you and your family. As the divorce rate is unfortunately high, it is always a good idea to be prepared.
Benefits of a prenuptial agreement include:
- Protection of inheritance for children from previous marriages
- Protection of one spouse from incurring the debt of the other
- Compensation for the sacrifice of a lucrative career for the sake of the marriage
- Can cover decision-making responsibilities regarding finances in advance
- Limitation on amount of spousal support
It is essential that you have a Union County family law attorney guide you through the prenuptial agreement, as there are many ways in which the agreement may be invalid. This may occur if the agreement was not written, was improperly executed, or contained false, incomplete, or invalid information. Furthermore, the document must be presented to your spouse with enough time for consideration before the marriage. Finally, if you or your spouse feel pressured or the terms are grossly unfair, the agreement may not be enforceable.