Divorce is never an easy subject. In the best of circumstances, a lot of decisions must be made for a successful dissolution. In the worst cases, it may become an ongoing battle with neither party willing to give in. In every situation, an experienced Bergen County divorce attorney can make the difference.

Why Choose Peter Van Aulen

Peter Van Aulen has been a divorce attorney for more than 23 years, serving Bergen County and surrounding areas. During his years dedicated to family law, he has been part of many situations revolving around divorce and child custody issues.

His Record

Mr. Van Aulen has handled child custody cases as part of divorce for both men and women. He has obtained restraining orders for victims of domestic abuse. In addition, he has represented those falsely accused of the crime. Continue reading

The dissolution of a marriage is stressful enough, that is why it is important to choose the best divorce lawyer to handle your divorce case. Your divorce lawyer should be qualified, experienced, and reasonable.

Divorce Lawyer Qualifications

At the most basic level, the person you choose to represent you in a divorce case needs to be qualified as a lawyer. All lawyers must be licensed to practice law in the state of New Jersey. In order to be licensed, a lawyer must graduate from a law school that is accredited by the American Bar Association, pass a professional responsibility exam, pass the New Jersey Bar Exam, and receive a Certification of Character.

Divorce Lawyer Experience

There are tens of thousands of lawyers in New Jersey, how do you know which one to choose? While some lawyers have a general law practice, meaning that they handle multiple types of legal cases, many lawyers tend to specialize in a particular area of the law and devote their law practice to that type of case. Divorces cases, sometimes called matrimonial cases, fall under the umbrella term of family law. Choosing an experienced matrimonial attorney to handle your divorce case makes good sense, and asking the attorney you are considering about their experience handling divorce cases is a must. Continue reading

Mothers and fathers are responsible for ensuring that their children are provided with food, clothing and shelter, regardless of the relationship of the parents. For this reason, the State of New Jersey takes the payment of child support very seriously and provides services to ensure that child support orders are paid.

In New Jersey, child support payments may be handled either by the probation department or may be paid directly to the other parent. Handling child support payments through the probation department using the NJKiDS system provided by the state is often a good idea for both parents. The parent paying support benefits because a record of payments is automatically generated, providing proof of your payment. Paying the other parent directly creates a potential risk of not getting credit for payments made. For the parent receiving support, the record of payments made is also beneficial because missed payments will be clearly shown, and the probation department will automatically be notified to begin enforcement of the child support order.

New Jersey Kids Deserve Support (NJKiDS)

The New Jersey Kids Deserve Support (NJKiDS) is a state-run computer system that contains child support case information that parents can access by phone or online. It contains a record of the information about your child support case, including a record of past 13 months of child support payments and any major case events that have taken place. Using this system is beneficial to the parent receiving child support payments because if a payment is missed, it will automatically take action to enforce your child support order. Continue reading

What is Physical Child Custody?

Physical child custody is also known as residential custody. A child lives with the parent who has physical custody. The parent who the child lives with is called the Parent of Primary Residence (PPR).

What is Sole Physical Child Custody?

A parent may have sole physical custody of the child, meaning that the child lives only with one parent. In this arrangement, the child often has visitation time with the other parent, but does not stay overnight.

Can We Have Joint Physical Child Custody?

Yes, in New Jersey parents can share physical custody. The child will split time equally between both parents’ homes. A common example of this custody arrangement has a child living with a parent for a week, and then living with the other parent the next week. Continue reading

A divorce settlement agreement, also referred to as a ‘marital settlement agreement’ or ‘property settlement agreement’, is a legal document specifying the terms of a divorce. The agreement reduces to writing all of the issues the divorcing couple has agreed to. By entering into a settlement agreement in a New Jersey divorce case, the parties avoid a lengthy and costly trial.

What Issues Does A Divorce Settlement Agreement Cover?

Most of the issues relating to a divorce can be settled in a Divorce Settlement Agreement.

  • Child Custody
  • Child Support
  • Parenting Time and Visitation
  • Alimony
  • Division of Assets


  • Division of debt and credit, household items, property, and valuables

I Don’t Want To Compromise! Why Not Go To Trial?

Compromising with a former spouse is difficult, as any divorced person knows. But compromising often leaves both parties in a better position than fighting out all of their issues in court. Many issues relating to money, property, and children can be resolved through the settlement process. Going to court is a lengthy and costly process that many divorcing couples wish to avoid. Often the reason a party wishes to go to trial is money related, but the cost of going to trial is usually much more expensive than settling. Not satisfied that a settlement is in your best interest? Make sure you speak with a matrimonial attorney to determine whether trial is the right move in your particular case. Continue reading

The New Jersey Child Support Guidelines allow the courts to determine the level of financial support that a child with divorced parents is entitled to. The concept of child support exists because it is the philosophy of the state that a child should still benefit from constant financial support of both parents even if the child’s parents are not together. The guidelines attempt to ensure that a child with divorced parents is entitled to the same financial opportunities as a child of an intact family.

The guidelines are used by the courts to both create the initial child support order and modify orders if necessary. The court will apply the guidelines to each family situation and will presume that it is a proper arrangement unless one of the parents proves otherwise.

What Expenses Are Covered By Child Support?

It comes as no surprise to parents that children can cost a lot of money, but the question for the courts is how do we determine the actual amount? The following categories represent the things that a parent who receives child support will use that money to pay for. Continue reading

In March of 2016 the New Jersey case of Harrington v. Harrington was decided. The case deals with the retroactive modification of child support when a child is emancipated. In Harrington, the plaintiff and defendant had three unemancipated daughters, a twenty-year-old college student, a seventeen-year-old high school student planning to attend college, and a fifteen-year-old high school student, when they divorced in 2012.

The plaintiff agreed to pay $240 per week in unallocated child support. Unallocated child support is support that is not allocated as specific amounts of money per child, but rather one amount for all the children. In this case, that means that the $240 per week payment is not divided into ⅓ (or $80) per child.

In September 2014 the parties mutually agreed to emancipate the two eldest daughters, which typically means that the payment of child support would be recalculated. However, neither party sought to change the child support order, and the plaintiff continued to pay $240 per week in child support. Continue reading

In 2014 the New Jersey legislature amended the statutes that relate to alimony. Prior to the amendments, a person paying alimony had to actually retire before he or she could ask the court to modify the alimony. That made it difficult for the person paying alimony to plan for his or her post-retirement finances. Under the amended law, the payor can seek an order modifying or terminating the alimony order based on a plan to retire before actually retiring–allowing the prospective retiree to better plan for the future.

The New Jersey Superior Court addressed the issue of when a motion to modify alimony is timely based on prospective retirement in the April 2016 case of Mueller v. Mueller. In Mueller, the parties were married for 20 years before they divorced in 2006. Thereafter, Gordon Mueller paid Rosemary Mueller $300 per week in alimony, the amount agreed upon in the parties matrimonial settlement agreement. Gordon sought a court order that says that his alimony obligation will terminate upon his retirement under the new law. Gordon was 57 at the time he sought the court order, and planned to retire in 5 years when he was 62 years old.

As a threshold matter, the court discussed that the agreement was entered into well before the amendment. The court found that this case fell under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(j)(3), which covers alimony agreements that were entered into before the effective date of the amended statute, which is September 10, 2014. The age at which Gordon planned to retire was 62, which is not  the “full retirement age” defined by the Social Security Act, so the case would be covered by the section of the statute that deals with early retirement. Once determining that the statute applied to this case, the court could consider the factors listed in the statute in order to determine if it would be equitable for the alimony to be modified or terminated. Continue reading

New Jersey Laws Against Discrimination (LAD) do not limit protection of employees to the mere marital status of being single or married, but also protect employees from discrimination based upon other marital statuses. The June, 2016 Supreme Court of New Jersey decision in Smith v. Millville Rescue Squad took the opportunity presented in the case to identify and implement the legislative intent of the LAD by defining the scope and boundaries of the Act insofar as the term “marital status,” not previously defined in the Act or in case law.

The Court held that “marital status” was inclusive of “employees who have declared that they will marry, have separated from their spouse, have initiated divorce proceedings or have obtained a divorce. Thus, any employee in any of these enumerated statuses, as well as single and married, are afforded protection against discrimination in employment..

The facts reported in the case are as follows: Robert Smith was a certified EMT and paramedic in the employ of Millville Rescue Squad (MRS) for 17 years. He was terminated in February, 2006 from the position of Director of Operations. His superior, CEO of MRS, John Redden, was aco-defendant in the case. Mr. Smith’s wife, mother-in-law and her two sisters were also employed by MRS in various positions. Continue reading

On September 10, 2014, the New Jersey alimony laws changed, making a serious change on the prior state of the law. One seemingly small part of the statute now creates a scenario whereby it is presumed that alimony will terminate upon retirement, unless the person receiving alimony proves that it should not be terminated. The new law has shifted what is called the “burden of proof.” The earlier statute put the burden on the person paying alimony to prove termination of alimony was the correct result, now, the burden is shifted to the one receiving the alimony to prove it should not end.

The changes discussed are those where full retirement age has been reached and not situations dealing with early retirement. A reduction of income based upon what is often referred to as “good faith retirement,” after age 65, has long been considered a change of circumstances that warrant Court review of the financial situation of the parties to determine whether modification of the alimony award is appropriate.

The New Jersey Appellate Division had the opportunity to explain when portions of the new statute, NJ 2A:34-23(j), must be applied. In the case of in the case of Landers v. Landers. The Court made clear that subsection (j)(3) sets the standard for to be applied to final alimony awards issued prior to the amendment, placing the burden of proof on the party receiving alimony to show the modification or termination should not be granted. Continue reading

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