Grandparents Are Fun–But You Know Best

Wills Trusts and Estate Planning attorney for familiesDivorce and Custody Battle

Divorce is hard on everyone, especially if children are involved. Custody battles make it difficult for children to deal with the divorce of their parents in a healthy way; they see their parents angry, fighting, they are being asked hard questions, and in uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and unfriendly courtroom environments. Custody battles can get messy and involve child therapists, lengthy meetings and discussions in chambers with judges, and possible leaving the child to feel responsible for legal outcomes and decisions. Parents care deeply about their child’s feelings and emotional health; divorce takes its toll, taking over and making you unable to think past your own pain and emotional strain. It doesn’t mean someone is a bad person; its means they’re human.

“Kids Count” is a program designed to give children going through a divorce and possible custody battle, an outlet for their unfamiliar and difficult feelings, other children going through something similar to talk to, and parents the opportunity to see how their marital issues are actually affecting their children.

The program puts children in contact with trained professionals that can help them with emotional strains, and help the parents look beyond the issues they have with one another, in order to decide what is truly best for the child.

Paying for College

When two people divorce, it is not just two people ending their marriage, especially if children are involved. Changing a family dynamic is tricky and emotionally trying; it’s just complicated. Bottom line. Many decisions have to be made when one of the providing members of the family is moving out of the home, and thereby shifting financial responsibilities. Questions like: how are the bills going to get paid, who is going to do the holiday shopping, and of course, one of the hardest and most stressful —who is going to pay for college—have to be answered, in order to avoid a painful or complicated situation for the child/family later on.

The law takes certain things into account when it comes time to make legal decisions about the families’ finances and about which responsibilities will be assigned to which parents. Who pays for college, or how much each parent will be expected to contribute to the child’s education, is decided by a number of factors, including: what each parent is actually capable of contributing financially, if the child will be working during college and contributing to their own expenses, whether financial aid will be an option, and whether a college education is something that is even feasible for the child, or something they are interested in.

Having a fractured relationship with your children is not usually considered by a judge when financial decisions are being made. Making sure a child is cared for should not depend on how you, the parent, is feeling about the situation. The child, their needs, and their goals are what matter most.

Early Settlement Panel

After the discovery period is completed, you have the opportunity to go before the “early settlement panel.” This panel is made up of three extremely experienced marital attorneys who will hear both parties’ positions and advise each spouse’s attorney based on, in their opinion, what they think a judge’s ruling will be on the case.

Before appearing before the panel, you and your spouse exchange settlement proposals which give both parties and their attorneys an idea of their spouse’s suggestions on how to resolve issues surrounding child custody, dividing of the assets, etc. There should be no surprises at the early settlement panel hearing; both attorneys present their client’s settlement proposals and then the panel gives their opinion as to how to resolve the case—which is non-binding and confidential..

If you and your spouse can come to an agreement at the early settlement panel you can be divorced that very day, saving time, money, and more emotional strain. If you decide not take the panel’s advice and settle that day, while the process could go on for several more months, you will at least have a better idea of where you and your spouse stand on the important issues, and how much more negotiating you will have to undergo. Communication is always a good thing.

First Meeting With Your Attorney

Matrimonial Law Attorney

It’s important to choose an attorney that you feel comfortable with; you’ll be sharing intimate details of your financial situation and working with someone who can be professional and sensitive will be necessary.

Before the first meeting with your attorney, you want to make sure you have the required documents and information; not only will it be important to maximize each session with your attorney, but you also want to make sure your attorney understands your financial situation as well as you do. They are your representative through the divorce proceedings.

Basic financial information will need to be provided; documents like bank statements, social security reports, tax returns, etc. It is also suggested you have property information ready to share with your attorney. These documents should detail any homes that you and your spouse currently own together, valuable antiques of heirlooms, and vehicles. Information on what is money is owed in the form of loans, credit card balances, and the like, will have to be disclosed early on in the proceedings, as well as any legal documents like wills and of course…prenuptial agreements.

Besides financial and property information, you should also have a general answer for questions regarding children (where they will living after divorce is finalized), spousal support, what will happen to the primary home (will it be sold?), and whether the insurance beneficiaries will need to be changed on the insurance forms.

The legal process may seem complicated but your attorney is there to help guide you. The more detailed information you can share with them, the better.

Child Support

child support guidelines

Divorce is hard on everyone involved, including the children. Deciding on child support can be an arduous task, but a necessary one.

There are many factors examined when deciding what appropriate child support payments should be, including: income and assets of both parents, the current economic status and standards of living of each parents, the needs of the child, possible future needs of the child (like braces or higher education), earning ability of the child, age and health of both parents and any children in the household, etc.

The needs of your child are paramount and should come first. The court tries to be thorough when deciding the amount to be paid by either parent to the care-giving parent; no one wants to see a child who is not being provided for.

Discovery Can Take a While

Discovery is often a lengthy process that can seem to drag on…and perhaps be a stressful or anxious time—but it doesn’t have to be. If both parties are upfront and cooperate fully, the discovery process could be sped up. You will be asked to provide detailed and accurate information about your financial status, current and projected needs of your household (which includes all individuals currently being supported by you and/or your spouse), and the household budget among other things.

A “Case Information Statement” must be provided by both parties, and include all information about debts and assets; information like retirement funds, pension values, bank accounts, and tax returns must, of course, be provided and reviewed by each spouse’s attorney, but real estate values and vocational earning estimates may also be asked for. Everything should be taken into account during this stage in the divorce proceedings. Making sure both parties leave the marriage taken care of and able to care for themselves and their dependents are crucial.

Both parties want to be able to negotiate the divorce fairly, and if all information is provided from the start, that shouldn’t be an issue. Divorce may take a while—longer than you would prefer, anyway—but it is important to make sure you have all information necessary to make good and informed decisions about your family’s future with your New Jersey divorce lawyer

Common Grounds for Divorce

Every person is different, which would mean every marriage is different—as well as every divorce; New Jersey divorce law was written with that in mind.  There are ten possible grounds someone can use to file for divorce, the most common grounds being separation, extreme cruelty, and the often used irreconcilable differences.

When declaring your grounds for divorce in New Jersey, it’s important to make sure your claims can be substantiated. For example, using “separation” as your grounds is only possible if the couple has been apart for 18 months or more; proof of the physical separation would obviously have to be given.

Reasons for divorce vary, and the definition of the legal grounds can be interpreted differently and applied to fit each individual divorce situation. “Extreme cruelty,” for example, is one of the grounds commonly used by plaintiffs when filing, or by defendants who are responding. The ground of extreme cruelty can  mean daily verbal/physical abuse, or a lack of emotional support.

“Irreconcilable differences” is used as grounds in New Jersey divorce proceedings when the couple does not want to file with any blame pointed at the other spouse. There are situations when the marriage is simply over despite best efforts being made by both spouses.

Beginning the End of Your Marriage

No one gets married and assumes they will one day have to deal with divorce, but sometimes, unfortunately, despite your best efforts and intentions, the marriage is over; so you’re getting divorced…now what? Starting the divorce process can be overwhelming for a lot of people, but with a basic knowledge of the system and the general process, you can save yourself unnecessary stress and concentrate on what is really important—healing.

Most people look into the New Jersey divorce process with tons of questions about the overall cost, status of their finances, and how to begin what—at first glance—seems like a complicated and involved process.  Divorce is difficult enough without the added legal headaches; if there is a positive side to be seen, it is that skilled  New Jersey Divorce lawyers can painlessly guide you through this process.

The divorce process officially begins when one spouse files a “Complaint for Divorce” document, making them the “plaintiff,” and the other spouse, the “defendant,” files a response (which could mean filing for divorce on their own set of grounds).

The New Jersey Divorce process seems more complicated than it actually is. Divorce means changes for you and your family, and the decision to end your marriage comes with a lot of thought and personal reflection. Caring professionals will be able to assist you with the legal proceedings with sensitivity; contact Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group, LLC for more information on how to start the process and get your family looking toward the future.