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Understanding Family Law in New Jersey

To better understand Weinberger Law Group's focus on family law in New Jersey and what family law covers in the state, we have put together this general overview of information on what it means for you when you are looking for help from a family law attorney and how we can help:

What Exactly does Family Law Cover in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, the practice of family law pertains to legal issues that arise in families or in personal relationships between individuals, including these most commonly known matters:

  • Divorce and post-divorce issues,
  • Civil unions and domestic partnerships,
  • Domestic abuse and restraining orders,
  • Property settlement issues related to divorce or dissolution,
  • Child and spousal support,
  • Child custody and parenting time,
  • DYFS (Division of Youth & Family Services)
  • Paternity issues,
  • Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements,
  • And more.

Court matters that involve family law are handled through the New Jersey Superior Court's Family Division - http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/family/. Divorce and dissolution-related issues, restraining orders, juvenile delinquency cases, child support, adoption, custody and visitation, and terminations of parental rights, are all heard by Family Division judges. Generally, each vicinage/county in New Jersey maintains its own Family Division court. A few vicinages, including Morris County and Sussex County share family court services. Statewide, family courts handle about 350,000 cases per year.

Differences Between Family Law In New Jersey and Other States

For residents of New Jersey who may have married in a different state, or pursued a family law matter in a state where they previously resided, it is important to note that family law differs from state to state. For example, in matters of marital asset division during divorce, some states view marital property as "community property" which should be divided equally 50-50 unless a premarital agreement or other mitigating circumstances dictate otherwise. Other states, such as New Jersey, apply the concept of "equitable distribution" to marital assets. This means the court will divide the marital property as it deems fair. In New Jersey, marital property can refer to assets such as real estate holdings, retirement accounts, business interests, and stock portfolios acquired during marriage. Couples in New Jersey can draw up prenuptial and postnuptial agreements to outline their own terms of asset division, similar to rules in other states.

What Is A Family Law Attorney?

Family law attorneys represent individuals going through a divorce or may work with a couple or an entire family concerning legal issues, such as adoption. In New Jersey, policy holds that only members of the New Jersey Bar may practice law in the state with only some exceptions. To be admitted to the New Jersey Bar one must:

  • (1) have earned a Juris Doctor from an accredited law school;
  • (2) qualify for and pass the New Jersey bar examination;
  • (3) receive a Certification of Character;
  • (4) pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE); and
  • (5) take the Oath of Admission.

To build experience in the field, family law attorneys will often intern with a Family Division court judge or volunteer with a non-profit organization in New Jersey that provides free or low-cost family law advice or divorce representation. Many family law attorneys continue working with domestic violence shelters and other groups throughout their careers.

What is a Certified Matrimonial Attorney?

In New Jersey, the title of "Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney" is an official designation given by the state Supreme Court to attorneys who have demonstrated a specific skill set in the areas of family and matrimonial law. The certification process is rigorous and demanding, with an emphasis on family and matrimonial (marriage-related) law, including such difficult subjects as high net worth divorces, complex child custody disputes, military divorce, and parental alienation. The New Jersey Supreme Court approves only a small number of family law attorneys for this title each year. Simply put, a certified matrimonial law attorney is a true expert of New Jersey family law. Further details can be found in our article, "Why Should You Use a Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney?"

Help for Your Family Law Matter

Whether you are contemplating divorce or separation, dealing with a child custody dispute or paternity issue, need help seeking a restraining order, want to learn more about prenuptial agreements, or have questions concerning any facet of family law, please don't hesitate to get in contact with our family law firm. Weinberger Law Group offers free initial consultations to new clients and welcomes a chance to provide you with the help and answers to your New Jersey divorce and family law-related questions.