On the first Tuesday of each month on our Facebook page, we host Family Law Tuesday, our live Q&A chat to answer questions you have related to divorce, child custody, child and spousal support, prenuptial agreements, postnuptial agreements, asset division and more. Please join us! Our next Family Law Tuesday is scheduled for August 5 from 8-9 pm. You can ask your question live, or send us a private message with it anytime (we’ll post our answer during the hour).
What can you expect? Here’s a sampling of Q&As from last month’s Family Law Tuesday:
Q: Do we need an attorney to write up our prenuptial agreement or can it just be reviewed by an attorney for accuracy, then notarized and filed?
A: While prenuptial agreements can be drafted without the assistance of an attorney, it is highly recommended that both parties retain attorneys. In fact, should the marriage dissolve and one party seeks to enforce the prenuptial agreement with the Court, the Court will look to whether both parties were represented by separate attorneys at the time the prenuptial agreement was executed. This is because the Court wants to ensure that both parties have made full disclosures of all assets and liabilities and that neither party was coerced and/or pressured to enter into the agreement. The money that you spend on an attorney now will benefit you in the long run.We hope this helps!
Spouse Told to Leave House After Separation
Q: My husband and I have decided to separate. At first I thought we could do this as friends, but now he’s telling I’ve got to leave our house or I am going to find the locks changed. Can he throw me out of our own home?
A: We’re sorry you are going through this kind of stress. However, you will be relieved to hear that the answer to this question is generally no, you cannot make a spouse leave the family home just because you have decided to divorce. There is one major exception to this and that is if there is any history of domestic violence between the two of you. New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act allows a judge to bar an abusive spouse from the marital home as part of a restraining order. If there has been no behavior that amounts to domestic violence, but circumstances exist that make it dangerous, extremely unfair, or against the best interests of the children for one spouse to continue living in the home, the other spouse can file a motion in family court asking the judge to order the aggressive spouse to move out. Do either of these situations apply in your case? If you feel pushed out, or do come home to the locks changed, you can file a motion in court asking a judge to clarify your right to be in the home. We have a great blog with more about home ownership issues. Hope this helps!
Q: I have joint custody of my child but my ex is making it difficult for me to see her. What should I do?
A: Our hearts go out to you in the struggles some situations take on after a divorce and in enforcing legal agreements, but, truly, the best thing to do is to go back to your attorney, or consider hiring a new one, to help you enforce your child custody agreement. Post-divorce issues are not uncommon. For more, see our article about child custody modifications. Hang in there!
Q: My husband really wants to go to mediation, but I am leaning towards going to court because I trust a judge more than him. Is mediation really better, or is he suggesting it because he thinks it will make things better for him? We have children.
A: Before making up your mind, we encourage you to thoroughly investigate the pros and cons of mediation as they might apply to your divorce. In answer to your question, private mediation is a process that requires both parties to willingly attend. If ultimately, you decide that you are not interested in participating, you are not required to go and your spouse cannot force you.
However, you should also know that if you proceed through the court system and are unable to resolve your case, the court may require you and your spouse to attend court-mandated mediation sessions. This is something that many people don’t know up front, but the court usually sends parents who haven’t settled their custody and visitation issues to mediation very early in a case. If you can’t settle your property distribution or other financial issues, the court will send you to something called the Early Settlement Panel program, and then if you still can’t resolve things, you will have to go to Economic Mediation.
I would encourage you to get more information on private mediation before ruling it out. Mediation provides a confidential and secure environment where you can state your positions and receive non-binding recommendations. You always have the option of continuing on to court if you can’t resolve all of your issues in mediation. We hope this helps!