Getting A Divorce In 2024? Here Are The 4 New Divorce Mistakes You Must Avoid

Getting a divorce in 2024 in New Jersey? Here is what to expect.

Making the decision to divorce in 2024?

Here’s what you need to know right now: The process of getting a divorce in New Jersey in 2024 is different from even just a few years ago. This is not your Aunt Patty’s divorce, or even your best friend’s pre-Covid split.

In 2024, new issues that frequently complicate the ending of a marriage include:

  • Court delays that still exist from pandemic-era backlogs,
  • Changes in how child custody decisions are made,
  • High tech concerns around spousal snooping, and…
  • Cryptocurrency as a favorite form of hidden asset.

Not taking the time to understand how these issues could play out in your divorce can be the tripwire for a string of errors and mistakes in your divorce that will add needless time, cost and stress to an already weighty process.

Ready to start safeguarding yourself and your children? Use these best practice tips to avoid 2024’s unique set of divorce pitfalls.

[For a general overview of the divorce process, please use our NJ Divorce 101 road map.]

What’s different about divorce in 2024?

Spousal snooping has been given a digital upgrade

When tensions run high in divorce, it’s tempting for spouses to snoop, and in 2024, this generally means prying into emails, texts, call logs, social media DMs, internet browsing history, recent downloads, and the use of location tracking devices.

Protecting your privacy starts by avoiding the big mistake of underestimating just how deeply you and your spouse are digitally connected.

For example, if you and your spouse have laptops and phones connected to a shared cloud storage account, you may be giving your spouse easy access to photos and documents that you thought were confidential. Cloud services can also share saved passwords, putting email and other protected accounts at risk.

Other forms of digital connectedness include:

  • Shared phone plans that reveal call and text logs.
  • Shared apps and other online services, including shared AppleID, which provide access to location data and other information.

To avoid the risk of your private information falling into the hands of a snooping spouse, in 2024, a good first step in divorce is to secure your digital life:

Get yourself out of the Clouds. Check your computer settings for items like “Cloud storage” “shared devices,”  or “users.” Go through these and unlink yourself. If you are not sure how to do this, visit a local computer repair shop for advice on how to cancel/disable Cloud accounts.

Get your own phone plan. Reduce the risk that your calls and texts will be tracked by establishing a separate phone plan. Pay-as-you go plans can be low cost option to help you make an immediate switch. Change your phone’s passcode for added security.

Change passwords and set up two-factor authentication. Change passwords on all personal accounts: email, social media, your own bank and financial accounts and other private/personal online accounts. Keep a written list of passwords in a safe place. Avoid saving passwords until you are certain that all your digital devices are separated. Whenever you have the option, enable 2-factor authentication (2FA) for added security.

Create an entirely new email address. Start fresh with a new email address and use this for confidential communications.

Clear browsing history after using the internet. If you are still living under one roof and private access to computers can’t be guaranteed, get in the habit of clearing browser history to avoid prying eyes.

Overcome AirTag loopholes. AirTags are often (unfortunately) used for covert location tracking. If you share an Apple ID with your spouse, traveling with a hidden AirTag won’t trigger any kind of warning (as long as it is synced to the AppleID). To check for AirTags, go to your iPhone’s FindMy app and look under “items” where AirTags are listed. From here, you can make the AirTag beep, helping you to find and remove it. Newer Android phones can detect the presence of AirTags, but older models may not or require an additional app to prompt an alert.

Is spousal snooping illegal? Generally, if the spouse is looking at shared information (from the cloud and other shared apps), it is fair game. “Hacking” into a private account in which the password was guessed or spyware was used to reveal it is generally inadmissible in courts, and can be evidence of spousal cyberstalking. Protecting yourself digitally is one of the most important steps to take as you prepare for divorce.

Embrace Mediation and Collaborative Divorce To Avoid Court Delays

Brought on by the pandemic and exacerbated by the state’s judicial vacancy crisis, the New Jersey court backlog crisis continues to rage as we enter 2024. Divorces are moving slowly through the courts, languishing for months or even years with few hearing dates on the dockets.

Do your best to avoid getting stuck in the New Jersey court quagmire by learning about low-conflict resolution methods for divorce, including mediation and collaborative divorce. Negotiating and settling out of court can speed up your divorce and help you reach a final resolution without getting bogged down waiting for a far-off court date. Settling out of court is less costly and less stressful too compared to litigation.

Tip: Having an amicable “low conflict” divorce doesn’t mean that you need to be friendly with your ex. It simply means that you are both willing to set aside your emotions and approach divorce with a businesslike settlement-minded attitude. Read more about the benefits of low-conflict divorce.

50/50 Child Custody Arrangements Are Becoming The Norm

If you are going into your divorce envisioning yourself walking away with full/sole custody of your kids, you may be in for bitter disappointment. In New Jersey, family law establishes that it is in a child’s best interests to maintain relationships with each of their parents, unless extenuating circumstances are present. In 2024, this increasingly means that — unless factors such as abuse, domestic violence, abandonment, and drug use are involved — the courts rarely grant sole legal and physical custody to one parent. In most cases, co-parents share joint legal and physical custody of their kids with a parenting time plan that is as close to 50/50 as possible.

Reality check: Waging a custody battle in the courts amps up conflict, drags children into the middle, and usually just ends up with the same shared arrangement that could have been reached through more peaceful means. Sometimes, couples locked in the “I should get the kids because you’re a horrible parent” fight benefit from seeing a divorce or family therapist who can help them focus on their child’s needs rather than their own animosity. Ask your attorney about realistic custody options in your situation and how best to reach them.

Forget the Cayman Islands: Hidden Assets Are All About Cryptocurrency

Unlike traditional bank accounts or investments, BitCoin and other cryptocurrencies offer a level of anonymity that is not as easily traceable, making crypto the preferred hidden asset of choice for duplicitous spouses in 2024. Is your spouse hiding marital assets by turning them into cryptocurrency? Here are some common signs to look for:

Interest in Cryptocurrency: Your spouse used to obsess all the time about the wonders of crypto, but then when marital assets are disclosed…no crypto is listed. This is a red flag.

Use of Cryptocurrency-related Apps and Websites: Check shared computers for the presence of cryptocurrency wallets, trading apps, or visits to crypto exchanges. Did your spouse leave their own digital trail?

Secretive Financial Behaviors: If your spouse is unusually secretive about their financial affairs or refuses to talk about money, it might indicate they are hiding something.

Large Withdrawals from Bank Accounts: Unexplained large withdrawals from joint bank accounts or credit lines could be a sign that funds are being converted into cryptocurrency. Look for credit or bank purchases linked to Crypto sites.

Physical Hardware Wallets: A hardware wallet, which looks like a USB drive, is a tool for storing cryptocurrency offline. Finding one without a clear explanation can be a clue.

Some good news about finding hidden cryptocurrency? Starting this tax season, cryptocurrency exchanges will now be treated as brokers, and digital assets will be reclassified from property to securities. Exchanges will have to report customer’s names, addresses and phone numbers; gross proceeds of all digital asset sales; and short-term and long-term capital gains or losses, to both their customers and the IRS. The legislation also adds tax reporting requirements for businesses accepting payments of $10,000 or more in digital assets.

What does this mean for you? The digital trail may soon be easier to follow, but for now, if you spot the signs that your spouse is a crypto user, yet no cryptocurrency shows up in their financial asset disclosures, consider hiring a digital forensic accountant to track down crypto activity. Ask your lawyer for recommendations.

Divorce in 2024: Your next steps

About to file for divorce or already in the process of divorce and have questions? We can help. Schedule a consultation today with one of our highly skilled family law attorneys and get answers and a detailed strategy for moving forward on your best options in divorce. Call us at 888-888-0919, or please click the green button below.

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