New Jersey Family Law Legal Definitions

What is family law? What does a divorce decree mean? Find out the answers to these questions and the definitions of other New Jersey family law legal definitions:

What is marriage?

Marriage is a legal union of two individuals that gives certain legal rights and obligations to the couple. Marriage gives couples certain tax benefits, property rights and the ability to make medical decision for the other.

What is family law?

Family law is an area of laws and statues that address issues of the family, such as marriage, divorce, custody, adoption, domestic violence and support. If an attorney practices family law, he or she represents clients in these types of cases. That attorney appears before family law judges that “sit” in the family part of the Superior court of New Jersey.

What is a divorce decree?

A divorce decree is the same as a final judgment of divorce. It is an order signed by the judge in your case that officially dissolves your marriage.

What is the difference between alimony and child support?

Alimony is support paid to a former spouse for their maintenance and child support is support paid for the care of a child.

I received a Catholic annulment. Am I also legally divorced?

No. The Catholic annulment process is in no way a substitution for a legal divorce. It is a religious procedure which seeks to determine whether or not a matrimonial union according to the church doctrine, ever occurred. If you receive a Catholic annulment it simply means you are free to remarry in a Catholic church. However, you must also obtain a legal divorce or legal annulment prior to remarriage.

What is a community property state? Is New Jersey a community property state?

In a community property jurisdiction, most property acquired during the marriage (except for gifts or inheritances) is owned jointly by both spouses and is divided upon divorce, annulment, or death equally. Joint ownership is automatically presumed by law. New Jersey is not a community property state; it is an equitable distribution state, which allows courts to divide marital property equitably, or fairly, and not necessarily equally or 50/50.