Please join us for Family Law Tuesday, our live Q&A session held on our WLG Facebook page on the first Tuesday of every month. The next Family Law Tuesday is planned for November 4 from 8-9 pm. What kinds of questions do people ask? Here is a round up of Q&As from our October event.
Shawn asks: I’ve started to look for a divorce attorney, but would it be ridiculous to think that I could just represent myself? My divorce involves a 10 year marriage and no kids.
Our reply: Hi Shawn, we often hear from people who decide to represent themselves and take a do-it-yourself approach to divorce. When do we hear from them? Unfortunately, it’s usually after they realize they made mistakes in their settlement. You may own a house together, or need to divide retirement assets and other joint accounts. Looking for an attorney now may seem difficult, but it’s better than making DIY divorce mistakes that will really cost you down the road. We have two helpful resources for you — our article on issues that can happen when you represent yourself http://www.weinbergerlawgroup.com/blog/newjersey-law-divorce-separation/divorce-horror-story-a-do-it-yourself-divorce-gone-wrong/ and tips for finding a good attorney: http://www.weinbergerlawgroup.com/blog/newjersey-divorce-lawyer/4-key-traits-to-find-best-divorce-lawyer-and-questions-to-ask/ Hope these help!
Sylvia asks: I am going in for my first consultation with an attorney next week. How should I prepare?
Our reply: Hi Sylvia, before your first appointment, it’s a good idea to gather together all available financial documentation and bring this along. Having your financial records handy can give your attorney an idea of type and complexity of asset/financial issues you will be dealing with in your divorce, plus the income/asset/debt information contained in your records will eventually be needed to fill out divorce paperwork. A list of financial information generally required in divorce can be found here: http://www.weinbergerlawgroup.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/WLG-financial-information-checklist.pdf We have additional preparation tips here: http://www.weinbergerlawgroup.com/blog/newjersey-divorce-lawyer/5-steps-to-take-before-meeting-your-divorce-attorney-for-the-first-time/ We hope the meeting goes well!
Amanda asks: My husband left me two months ago. He is playing mind games with whether or not he’s coming back. I just want out and want to file for divorce. How do I do get the ball rolling?
Our reply: Hi Amanda, we’re sorry to hear you are going through this. In NJ, the divorce process can start when one party (in your case, you) files a Complaint for Divorce, the legal form establishing the court action. You can read more about what the Complaint entails, as well as other needed divorce documents to get the process started here: http://www.weinbergerlawgroup.com/divorce/divorce-documents/ For more, please see our article, “Starting the Divorce Process”: http://www.weinbergerlawgroup.com/divorce/howto-begin/starting-divorce-process/ We wish all the best on the road ahead.
Karen asks: Does a step parent have rights? For example. Husband remarries. New wife is an active role model/supporter/parent in stepchildren lives. Mother of stepchildren speak badly of stepmother to children and tell them they are not allowed to like step mother. Does stepmother have any rights especially when it is a 50/50 shared custody
Our reply: Hi Karen, basically the law concerning parents and their children deals with either child support or child custody rights. Unless there is a guardianship or custody order in place for the step-parent, generally, the courts only look at issues involving the child’s legal parents or guardians, but there are exceptions as the courts in most states will look at what is in the best interests of the child.
Alec asks: Governor Christie recently signed alimony reform. I’m divorced and paying alimony to my ex who is living in a house owned by her long-term boyfriend. Can this new reform help me with a cohabitation argument?
Our reply: Hi Alec, unfortunately, the recently signed alimony reform laws only apply to new divorces and new alimony orders. It is true that part of alimony reform clarifies the definition of cohabitation and the financial responsibilities of cohabiting couples. In your case, with a pre-existing order, the old statute still applies, but as in any case, individual circumstances can always allow for the possibility of a modification. You can read more about the process of filing for a modification here: http://www.weinbergerlawgroup.com/alimony/modifications/
Amanda asks: My husband is two months behind in child support payments. The first month, he gave me some excuse, but now he’s avoiding me. How do I get the money he owes?
Our reply: Hi Amanda, New Jersey has strict laws in place for enforcing child support orders, including garnishing wages and seizing property from those parents who fail to fulfill their support arrangements. For more information about how to recoup past due payments, please see our resource article on child support enforcement: http://www.weinbergerlawgroup.com/child-support/enforcement/. You can also visit the New Jersey Office of Child Support Enforcement’s website to explore your options: http://www.njchildsupport.org/Services-Programs/Custodial-Parents/Enforcement-Making-sure-child-support-gets-paid.aspx Bottom line: help is available. Please let us know if we can answer any further questions for you.
Tom asks: During my first marriage, I lived in California where I obtained a legal separation before going to divorce. I married again and moved to NJ. This marriage is unfortunately going through a rocky patch. I have read that filing for legal separation in NJ is not required, but I don’t want to make a blunder right off the bat. We separated last week. I am not sure if/when one of us will file for divorce. Do I have to fill out any separation paperwork right now?
Our reply: Hi Tom, some states require couples who separate to go to court to file a Complaint to formally declare this status, but NJ is not one of them. Here, you and your spouse can simply choose to reside in different homes until you a. reconcile or b. divorce. If you and your spouse have children, you can put in place temporary child custody, visitation, and child support agreements to cover what happens during your separation. You can also put in place temporary alimony and asset distribution agreements during this time as well. For more on the legal steps to take during a separation, please see our article: http://www.weinbergerlawgroup.com/divorce/legal-separation/ Please let us know if you need any further information.
What question do you have? We hope to hear from you in November. To discuss your matter further right now, schedule an initial consultation.