New Jersey’s standard for modification of an alimony award is based upon a change of financial circumstances such that a modification of the award is warranted. More importantly, the financial change of circumstances cannot be of a temporary nature, but must be of a permanent nature. The permanent change standard is a very high hurdle, discussed and reiterated in the recent New Jersey Appellate Court’s decision of Grier v. Grier.

The Grier case, in relevant part, deals with what the Court determines to be a financial change of circumstances that is of a more temporary nature, so modification warranted, the matter not even requiring a hearing in the lower court. A hearing is only required when the plaintiff demonstrates a prima facie case in his pleadings. This means that Mr. Grier had to provide enough information, sufficient allegations, to support his claim to modify support based on a permanent change of circumstances. The lower court found he provided inadequate support of his claim, as did the Appellate Court, because the change of circumstances he pled was temporary.

In short, Mr. Grier’s claimed that he had a reduction of income since entry of the order for alimony because he lost a client, and wanted the court to reduce his alimony obligation based upon that financial change. The lower court as well as the Appellate Court simply did not see the loss of one client as a permanent event, assessing that his income could increase again at any time, thereby making the income reduction temporary. In addition, Mr. Grier had filed bankruptcy in 2014, greatly reducing his debt, which the court stated he “admitted.”    Continue reading

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A divorce causes drastic changes in your life because you are suddenly alone. You may have children, friends, and other family members who love and encourage you, but it is not the same as it is with a spouse. Morning coffee becomes just a routine, you watch movies with a bowl of ice cream, and those early morning conversations are now between you and the cat. Things are different, and loneliness can become commonplace. The first year is the hardest because it is a new experience.

Do You Really Miss Your Ex?

Most people miss the experiences they had with their former spouse. When you have been part of a relationship for years, it is difficult when it ends. Perhaps you went out for dinner and a movie twice a month, bowled with friends, enjoyed camping, solved crossword puzzles over coffee, and went for evening walks. The activities you shared are what you miss; if you and your spouse were compatible, you would not have divorced. Remember, if you enjoyed going out to dinner and a movie when you were married, you will still enjoy the experience with friends. Everything you did with your former spouse is still fun for you to do with friends, a date, or by yourself. If you feel lonely at night, it is because you have been used to having another person to talk to or watch a television show with. Invite a friend over or consider getting a roommate.

Holidays And Special Occasions

There are some days when loneliness hits you harder. You and your spouse may have created your own traditions for birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. You thought they would last a lifetime, but they no longer matter. Start new traditions for every day that is important to you. Don’t allow yourself to slip into an emotional funk because your former spouse didn’t acknowledge your birthday. Unless you have children, you will probably never hear from your former spouse again Continue reading

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Divorce is an ugly word but an unfortunate circumstance in many families today. While a divorcing couple can typically navigate the process with as few hurt feelings as possible, it is often impossible to keep children completely out of the battlefield when parents start considering separation and divorce. It is easy to let your children slip to the back of your mind when you are preparing to go through a divorce, simply because there is so much for you to worry about. One thing you simply cannot do, however, is stop worrying about your children. They are going through the divorce with you and your spouse – even if you try to keep them as far from the process as possible.

If you and your spouse are giving serious thought to ending your marriage and you would like to spare your children as much anguish, confusion, and heartache as possible, here are several important things to remember when you begin the process.

Reinforce your love for your children.  Children of divorce often feel that they are at fault in some way for their parents’ divorce, while this is usually never the case. It is critical that you and your spouse constantly reinforce your love for your children while you are going through the process of divorce. They need to know that they are important to you and that the reason why mommy and daddy are no longer together has absolutely nothing to do with them at all. Continue reading

Although the credit bureaus do not consider divorce one of the many factors that contribute to an individual’s creditworthiness, expecting to come through a divorce with your credit unscathed simply isn’t realistic. Your individual financial behavior, the types of debt you and your spouse carry and the amount of joint debt you both owe affects your credit scores long after the divorce is final.

Closing Joint Accounts

It isn’t uncommon for married couples to hold joint accounts. One of the first financial decisions most divorcing couples must make is whether or not to close their joint accounts. While closing a joint bank account doesn’t have a clear credit impact, closing a joint credit card often damages both individuals’ credit scores.

Your credit utilization ratio–the percentage of debt you carry on a credit card as measured against that card’s credit limit–has a significant effect on your credit rating. When you close a joint credit card, you lose the available credit remaining on that card. This increases your credit utilization ratio and, in turn, adversely affects both your credit scores and those of your spouse. Continue reading

Divorce rarely brings out the best in people, and common sense is often the first attribute to fall by the wayside at the beginning of proceedings. More than one spouse has ended up on the other side, officially divorced and scratching her head, wondering, “What have I done?” You love the house. You worked hard to improve it over the years. Your kids go to school down the street. There may be a lot of reasons you want to hold on to the property. But consider all the pros and cons before you give up everything else in settlement negotiations.

Keeping the House for the Kids’ Sake

Let’s start with your children, the ones who go to school in the district where the marital home is located. Changing schools can be traumatic for a youngster. If you’re sure you can’t relocate to a new home in the same district, this may be a consideration, but it may be less of a concern if your kids attend private school – a move may simply mean you have to drive farther to deliver them and pick them up on schooldays.

Their ages are an important factor as well. Although it may be upsetting for a fifth grader to change schools, the effect on a high school junior may be far worse if moving means he can’t graduate with the same kids he’s gone all through school with. The flip side is that he will most likely fly the nest in a couple of years, going off to college. Do you really want to make a long-term commitment to the property when your primary reason for keeping it is short term? Continue reading

Financial factors are very crucial for you to review as you begin the divorce process. You are most likely aware that divorces can be expensive, but do you know how much yours will cost you?

You may be surprised to find out that the average cost of a divorce is about $15,500. However, the costs vary depending on dozens of different factors. A simple divorce can cost you as little as $3,000. While a complex divorce can cost $100,000 or more.

Below you will find some helpful information about the financial obstacles that you may face during your divorce. Continue reading

Choosing an attorney for your divorce is a complicated decision, and one not to be made lightly. You want an attorney with impeccable credentials and a caring personality who isn’t afraid to deal with unpleasant issues. Until you meet with one of the best divorce lawyers in NJ for a free consultation, you won’t know if you’re making the right choice.

Why a Free Consultation is Important

Not all attorneys offer a free consultation. They begin charging you from the first moment you meet However, you don’t want to select an attorney just based on research. Choosing a divorce lawyer is a personal decision. Just because Attorney A was great for your friend, it doesn’t mean he will be right for you. Personalities may not match or he may not offer you the solution you want.

When you sit down with Peter Van Aulen for a free consultation, he will listen to you tell the details of your case. He won’t make snap judgments or provide recommendations until he understands your situation. He doesn’t have a set method of dealing with divorce cases but provides legal counsel that is unique to each client. Peter Van Aulen understands that psychological and emotional circumstances play a part in each case and must be taken into account when creating a case.

A Passionate Defender

When an attorney offers a free consultation, he’s telling you he takes a strong interest in each case. He’s not just looking to add another win to his resume or to make more money. He is selective about his cases and only chooses those he feels will benefit from his knowledge. Peter Van Aulen will work with you to form a powerful strategy to meet your goals. He is confident in his ability to represent you, and he wants you to feel the same sense of trust in him. Continue reading

If you’re at the point in your divorce where it’s time to make decisions and negotiate a settlement, you’ll need some pointers to help you reach your goals.  Here are some tips for negotiating the best result from your divorce.

Goal setting

Prior to a negotiation meeting, list your goals – a general overall goal, such as “do what’s best for my children,” “make sure I have a place to live,” and “ensure I can retire at a reasonable age,” as well as more specific goals on each issue, like “I want to pay less than $1,000 per month in spousal support” or “I want a 10/4 parenting time schedule.”  Your smaller goals are just guideposts and may move throughout the negotiation. Keep your big picture in mind and be flexible with your smaller, more specific goals.  This way of thinking helps you compromise on non-core issues and hold firm on matters central to your overall, primary goal.

Think long-term to avoid settler’s remorse

To illustrate this tip, let’s say you are a long-term stay-at-home mom and you want primary custody of your children. However, you know your husband won’t agree because he wants to pay as little as possible in child support. You want to propose that you’ll take less in child support if he will agree to your custody proposal. It may be tempting to give in on an issue in order to do what you think is best for your children. Before you give in too quickly, hold out a bit, stand firm, or fight back. Generally, given the circumstances above, you should receive primary custody and child support. Keep in mind that child support is financial support for your children and they need that, too, as much, if not more than time with you. Concede on points that don’t matter to the big picture and dig in on issues that have a big impact on your long-term goals. Continue reading

Divorce can be one of the worst experiences in life. Just when you feel most vulnerable and afraid you have the added stress of financial upheaval, the loss of friends, and the sight of distressed children. More than at any other time, advice is absolutely crucial.

1) Take care of yourself. When gripped by the trauma and stress of divorce, many people neglect their physical health. But you will be of no use to your children if you allow your body to falter. You may complain that you do not have time to exercise or prepare healthy food, but you must make the time. If you eat plenty of fresh, healthy food and keep up your fitness regimen, your head will be clearer, you will make better decisions, and you will have the energy to fight.

2) Accept what has happened. As with the bereaved, the newly divorced often fight their situation. They know intellectually that the person has gone, but deep inside they resist. And this can apply even to those who initiated the separation. Of course, acceptance will be even more difficult if your partner left suddenly, without warning. But the fact is, you will not begin to heal until you have fully grasped the reality of your situation. Continue reading

The annulment of a marriage erases the marriage completely, as if it never happened. Without a marriage, there is no marital property or debt. Therefore, in a civil action to annul a marriage, there will be no equitable distribution. There are other mechanisms to divide jointly owned property, but not by equitable distribution.

An action for annulment results in custody and child support orders, if children are involved, just as it would with any unmarried couple. Although rare, alimony can be awarded. Religious annulments are something entirely different and must be addressed with your religious leader, not the court system.

Grounds for Annulment

  • One spouse is already married or in a civil union and the other spouse was unaware of that at the time of the marriage
  • Nonage: Either spouse was under the age of 18 at the time of marriage, having no legal right to consent to marry
  • Duress: Threat of serious violence, or something similar, generally toward the spouse-to-be or a loved one, if that individual does not marry the threatening spouse-to-be
  • One or both of the spouses lack mental capacity or mental ability at the time of the marriage to give consent. Think in terms of severe intoxication as well as other physiological lack of metal capacity or ability.
  • Failure of one spouse to advise the other of their impotence. This includes the refusal to consummate the relationship as well as the inability to do so and if a woman conceals her inability to bear children
  • Marriage of between close blood relatives
  • Fraud and misrepresentation including:
  • Lie of either spouse about desire to have, or not have, children
  • Immigrant lies about reasons for marriage when really only going through the marriage to obtain citizenship
  • One spouse is addicted to drugs or alcohol and misrepresents that to the other spouse prior to marriage
  • Lies of one spouse about their religious beliefs which was a major factor in the marriage or civil union
  • At time of marriage, wife fails to advise husband that she is pregnant by another man
  • NOT lies about financial circumstances (this has been found inadequate to support annulment)

Continue reading

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