Articles Posted in Divorce

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Entry of final papers in a divorce frequently triggers a variety of emotions. There may be a feeling of relief at having survived the legal process. Even when divorce is uncontested there is often a feeling of sadness from officially ending a relationship that once was special. There should also be feelings of hope and optimism as you embark on a journey to create a life after divorce.

Creating your new life means letting go of the old. Harboring resentment from actions taken or things said during the divorce process will only hold you back. Now is the time move forward, to set new goals, welcome new experiences and to revive the dreams of what you once hoped to accomplish in life. Certainly, you may need time to grieve over the loss of your marriage, but also view this life change as an opportunity to rediscover and reinvent yourself.

Your new life will require attention to practical matters but should also allow you to enjoy activities that, while married, you may have deemed impractical. On the practical side, you need to change your will and, possibly, the named beneficiaries on your life insurance. Joint accounts should be closed. You may need to obtain your own health insurance. Review your budget and monthly expenses taking into consideration any spousal or child support you may pay or receive. This process may have begun while the divorce was pending, but a quick re-evaluation may prove worthwhile. Continue reading

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Divorce and Health Insurance

The availability and cost of health insurance for both children and soon-to-be former spouses should be considered in every divorce. Maintaining access to affordable health insurance consistently ranks near the top of consumer concerns. Child support laws vary by state. While every state requires parents to provide health insurance for their children, there is no legal obligation for one spouse to provide insurance coverage for the other spouse following divorce. However, several options exist to help ensure both spouses have adequate health care coverage after a marriage is terminated.

Insurance Coverage for Children

Federal and state laws require parents to maintain health insurance coverage for dependent children. The responsibility to pay for health insurance is often spelled out in a child support order entered at the end of a divorce proceeding. In some cases, both parents will be ordered to provide insurance if it is available at an affordable cost through an employer. Alternatively, one parent may be ordered to provide insurance with the other required to contribute to the cost based on income. If coverage is not available through employment, insurance must be obtained from the private market, Medicaid or the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program.

If both parents are able to obtain insurance, one policy may be designated for primary use with the other policy covering costs not paid by primary coverage. Since the parent who takes a child to the doctor will be expected to pay for services when rendered, parents are often advised to enter into a contract with the doctor that specifically outlines the percentage of co-payments and other uninsured costs for which each parent will be billed and expected to pay. The contract should be signed by both parents. Continue reading

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If you are going through a divorce, chances are that you have already allied yourself with the usual suspects: a lawyer, a therapist, family members and old friends. But one of the best resources you can draw upon to give you strength during the divorce process is a divorce support group. Perhaps you have never heard of these. They are meetings of people going through a divorce, where individuals can share their stories and express their emotions in a neutral and supportive environment. Many churches or community centers offer these groups – it just might take a bit of digging to find out where and when they are held. Joining these groups can make a significant, positive impact on your emotional well-being during your case.

These groups can offer a number of benefits. First, they can be held in person or even online, meaning that you have no excuse to not attend. Deciding to do so is a major first step, and if you take the plunge, take a moment to praise yourself. Some groups might offer events that could help you, such as bringing in professional counsellors or legal experts to provide general information about going through a divorce. Others are more traditional, encouraging its members to be open about their experiences and share solutions and stories. Some might be able to provide you with professional resources or referrals. They provide a supportive community and keep you accountable for your actions and attendance. But most of all, they comprise of people who will listen to you with an empathetic ear. Each member in that group knows exactly what you are going through. Sometimes, just being able to acknowledge that you are not alone in your suffering can be incredibly healing. Continue reading

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In any divorce matter, the issue of retirement can be contentious. This is usually because it can be one of the largest assets in the marriage, particularly when the parties have been married long-term. When it comes to the division of military retirement, the regulations surrounding its division can be complex – especially when military disability is involved. The New Jersey Appellate division case of Fattore v Fattore discusses the various issues that can arise with military retirement and divorce.

The parties had been married over thirty-five years when they divorced in 1997. Their final judgment included a waiver of mutual alimony, which stated that they each waive alimony to each other now and in the future. Among other assets, each party’s pension was divided. Plaintiff, an operating room nurse, earned a modest pension, and she was to receive a one-half interest in the community portion of defendant’s pension, which had been offset against any equity she was going to receive in exchange for defendant keeping the marital resident (about $55,000.00). The defendant was a full-time member in the Army National Guard at the time of the divorce. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) was finalized in 1999. The defendant continued in his role in the Army for another three years until he became disabled in 2002. He was able to receive pension and disability without impacting his pension pay-out, and he was able to receive disability benefits, tax-free. A party opting for disability benefits in lieu of retirement payments are fairly regular occurrences in the context of military retirement and divorce.

The plaintiff never contacted the defendant to find out the status of the pension, and the defendant assumed that she had been receiving her share of the benefit. In 2010, the plaintiff contacted the Army and they responded that because a portion of the defendant’s pay is based on disability, it cannot be divided. It is an authorized deduction and so, there is nothing left for the property to be divided. She filed a motion to compel the defendant for compensation in 2016. At trial, the judge determined that although the situation was the fault of neither party, it was nevertheless unfair and appointed a pension appraiser to determine what her interest in the defendant’s pension would have been at the time of their final divorce judgment. In the interim, the defendant was required to pay her $1800 a month, which would be taken from any of his resources. This was not to be alimony, nor would alimony be required since both parties had waived their rights to it previously. Continue reading

Raising teenagers is a challenge on its own. Chances are your teen is already dealing with school issues, dating, hormones, and emotions that seem to change every minute. If you and your partner have decided to separate, it’s crucial that you talk with your teen as soon as possible about the divorce. This way, your child has time to process what’s happening. While it might make more sense to wait until the divorce is final, the truth is that your child likely already knows something is wrong or different at home. Sitting down and talking with your child will help provide stability, comfort, and understanding. Here are some suggestions on how to explain divorce to a teenager.

Sit down as a family

One of the most important things you can do for your child is to sit down as a family to tell your teen about the divorce. While you might not be on speaking terms with your spouse, it’s essential that you present a united front for your child. Sitting down together ensures you both know what you’re telling your child about the cause of the divorce. That also enables you to address any concerns or questions your child has at this time. Many children, even teenagers, feel unloved and afraid when they discover their parents are separating. Talk with your partner ahead of time and decide how you’re going to tell your child about the divorce. Then the three of you should sit down and have a long, honest, and open discussion about how your lives are going to change. Continue reading

Divorce is rarely an easy thing for the children, no matter their age. While those still living at home often have to deal with being ferried between parents and at times living with a new stepparent, dealing with the dissolving of your parents’ marriage as an adult is not easy either. There are at least five things you should do as an adult if your mom and dad get divorced.

Avoid Being Caught in the Middle

As an adult, your relationship with your parents is likely different from your childhood relationship with them. You may have become more of a friend or confidant rather than just their child. Because of this, it can be easy to get caught in the middle. One or both parents may try to complain to you about the other one. You may feel like you have to take sides. They may even try to use you as someone who relays messages to the other parent. With the exception of abuse or other related issues, you will likely want to try to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents. This means letting both of them know that you are not going to listen to them badmouthing the other one as well as telling them that you are not taking sides.

Set Boundaries

Boundaries may include the sort of things they can discuss with you. For example, you may want to hear about how your mother is having a great time dating a new guy, but you want her to keep the intimate details to herself. Boundaries may also include the amount of help you will provide. Maybe you are willing to teach Dad how to iron his work shirts, but you expect him to start doing it on his own after a few days. Continue reading

Chances are you never expected to go through a divorce. No one does. If you thought you were going to get divorced, you likely wouldn’t have gotten married in the first place. This makes going through a separation even more difficult. During a divorce, your emotions will be running high. You might feel anxious, stress, or shocked. You might feel betrayed. You might feel scared, alone, or isolated. No matter what you’re feeling, what you’re going through, or what you’re planning to do once the divorce is finalized, it’s important that you meet with a NJ divorce lawyer to help you through your divorce. The right New Jersey divorce lawyer will help you every step of the way. Instead of your divorce being a complete nightmare, your lawyer will help make things bearable and will ensure things go as smoothly as possible. Here’s what you need to know.

First off, an experienced NJ divorce lawyer understands all aspects of divorce and separation. Because divorce can be complex, it can be challenging to find out what your rights and responsibilities are. A divorce lawyer will be able to help you with this. Your New Jersey divorce lawyer will guide you through any paperwork you need to fill out and will tell you whether you need to appear in court or not. They’ll make sure all your paperwork is filed on time and if you need to serve papers to your former spouse, your lawyer will help you arrange this.

Your NJ divorce lawyer will also help with custody arrangements. If you and your partner share a child or children, it’s even more important that you have legal representation. Because there are different types of child custody, your New Jersey divorce lawyer will help make sure you and your child have the best possible outcome when it comes to determining physical and legal custody of your child. If joint custody is an option, your lawyer can also assist you in creating a parenting plan that meets the needs of you, your former spouse, and your child. Also, an experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer understands the alimony and child support laws in the state. He or she will be able to inform you what you are entitled to or what you are obligated to pay. Continue reading

Divorce is never simple or easy. Maybe you wrestled with the decision for years before finally deciding to proceed with a divorce. Perhaps your former spouse made the decision for you. Maybe you and your partner chose to end things on amicable terms. No matter how your divorce came to be, it’s important that you take the time to work through your emotions and feelings regarding the separation. Then you’ll be able to help your children cope with their own emotions, as well.

Whether your children are infants or teenagers, they’re going to experience a variety of emotions regarding the separation. Their entire life will change when you get divorced, so it’s important that you help them deal with it as effectively as possible. No matter how old your children are, there are several steps you can take to help them face these new changes.

First off, make sure you avoid talking negatively about your former spouse. While it can be easy to point fingers and place blame during a divorce, try to remember that to your children, this is their beloved parent. Even if your partner has been terrible to you, try to avoid saying anything that would stress out your children or make them feel like they’re being placed in the middle of your divorce. If you can’t say anything positive about your former partner, simply avoid saying anything at all to your children. Continue reading

Getting divorced can be stressful, even in the most amicable situations. Before you proceed, it’s a good idea to get an idea of what to expect before you begin filing for divorce in NJ. You should, reach out to an experienced family law attorney to guide you through the process.

Terminology

It’s important to have a basic grasp of the words used when filing for divorce in NJ. If you file the petition, or the one requesting the divorce, you are the plaintiff, and your spouse would be the defendant. The words ‘divorce’ and ‘dissolution’ are used interchangeably, and in fact, the initial form to file is called the ‘Complaint for Divorce/Dissolution.’

A no-fault divorce is in New Jersey is either based on living at two separate residences for at least 18 months before the divorce, or where the parties had irreconcilable differences for at least 6 months before filing. A fault divorce is when a party’s actions resulted in the breakup of the marriage, such as adultery, cruelty or abandonment.  It is important to note that in most cases there is nothing to gain by filing a fault divorce. In most situations if you prove fault you will not receive more alimony, child support or receive more in asset division.   Continue reading

One of the most financially impactful events in life can be the possibility of a divorce. New Jersey is not a community property state, but rather, an equitable distribution state. This means that, under New Jersey equitable distribution law, the courts have the discretion to divide marital property in an equitable manner – meaning the split between you and your spouse will be fair but not necessarily equal.

The recent Slutsky v Slutsky case provides a good application of New Jersey equitable distribution law after a party appealed their final decree of divorce. This case illustrates the idea that dividing up property in a divorce is very often complex, and not straightforward. Nancy Slutsky filed for divorce from Kenneth Slutksy after 30 years of marriage. The court case was long and difficult, and eventually, a trial was conducted over 19 days. Both parties challenged various provisions of the final judgment, and Kenneth ultimately appealed. There were nine issues he brought before the court, but for our purposes, this article will focus only on the equitable distribution issues. Essentially, Kenneth claimed there were factual flaws in what the judge found, and argues that the calculations of the division should be reversed.

Defendant was a lawyer, having graduated from Harvard Law School. He was a tax law specialist, became an equity partner in his firm, and owned one share of stock. Shortly before the divorce was filed, the firm changed its payment structure, from a corporation to a limited liability partnership. As capital, Kenneth provided $300,000 to the firm, which was financed through a four-year promissory note. Plenty of evidence was presented concerning Kenneth’s compensation, including the payout for his stock, estimated earnings until retirement, value to the company and his contributions to the firm in general, in order to determine the value of his ‘termination credit account’ (TCA), or what his interest in the firm was. Nancy’s expert initially found the TCA value was $350,830 – but on cross-examination, he admitted the value was likely closer to $292,908, excluding goodwill. Not surprisingly, Kenneth’s expert found the value of the TCA to be $285,000. However, Nancy’s expert estimated goodwill in the firm to be over $1 million, resulting in a revised TCA value of $1,185,304. Kenneth’s expert denied there was any goodwill, to the judge’s dismay. The judge accepted Nancy’s expert’s valuation, finding that Kenneth shared in the firm’s goodwill and awarded plaintiff one-half of the value as her equitable interest. Continue reading

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Peter Van Aulen is certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Attorney.

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