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Most of us are on our best behavior when we enter a relationship. Fights are rare, we’ll drop everything to take a phone call from them, and we can’t imagine our feelings ever changing. But fast forward to five years into marriage, and things have become a lot more comfortable, maybe even too comfortable. Once we’ve walked down the aisle and signed the marriage certificate, we don’t hold ourselves up to the same standards we did while dating.

We take our spouses for granted, disrespecting them in small ways and before we know it, our once idealistic marriage is heading for a divorce. When a marriage breaks down, it doesn’t always come from a huge event like an affair, it can be more like Chinese water torture, where we wear each other down slowly and painfully over years by adopting bad habits, or not giving our best selves to the relationship. If you’ve noticed your marriage is in a slump, consider whether you are guilty of the following behaviors.

You’re More Critical than Kind

Throughout the course of a marriage, there will be many occasions when you feel the need to criticize your spouse. No matter how well-intentioned the advice is, if it’s delivered unkindly, it will be more hurtful than helpful. Practice being kind, even when you’re frustrated, and your spouse will be more receptive to your advice. Continue Reading →



If you and your partner are going through a divorce, it’s incredibly important that you take the time to talk with your child about what’s happening and to help them deal with their emotions. Depending on your child’s age, they may feel a variety of emotions. They might feel sad, relieved, frustrated, or scared. Your child might even feel anger. This is one of the most common emotions a child can experience when their parents are getting divorced. Fortunately, there are several things you can do dealing with divorce and children.

  1. Tell your child about the divorce right away

While you might be tempted to wait until things are almost finalized before you speak with your child, it’s important that you talk with them often and early. Your child will be able to sense that things are changing around the home and that family dynamics are shifting. Talking with your child will let them know you trust them and care about them. Don’t spring the divorce on them at the last second. Instead, once you and your partner have agreed to separate, sit down with your child and have an open and honest discussion.

  1. Answer your child’s questions

While you don’t need to answer all of your child’s specific questions, it is important that you address as many questions as you reasonably can. For example, your child doesn’t need to know about infidelity that led to the divorce. What you can say is that you and your partner have chosen to separate, but that both of you still love them. Focus on your child’s relationships with both of you and place an emphasis on the fact that you will still be a family. Do not say negative things about your spouse because it will increase their anger and damage them. Continue Reading →

Marriage counseling, or couple’s counseling, is a form of psychological therapy that seeks to deal with mental health issues, or other problems, stemming from a relationship between two people. The idea is that both parties will attend counseling as a means to elaborate upon the issues and the strain being caused between them. Ideally, they will learn how to solve their problems through the mediation of a professionally-trained counselor or therapist.

The marriage counseling statistics indicate that couples attend therapy for any number of reasons. Arguments, abuse – both physical and emotional, loss of love or other feelings, parenting troubles, resentment, and problems with affectionate or sexual intimacy are all common reasons for attending couple’s therapy.

In the United States, couple’s therapy data reports an overwhelming satisfaction rate for this form of counseling. The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists reports that 98 percent of couples surveyed felt they had received excellent therapy. Over 90 percent claimed they received the care that they needed and felt ready to tackle their marital or couple’s problems. Continue Reading →

Adultery is one of the most common causes of divorce in New Jersey. It can also make divorce incredibly fraught and complex, with emotions ruling the day instead of clear heads and rational thoughts. Sometimes, parties who divorce want to use the court system as a way of ‘getting back’ at their spouse, and dragging all their dirty laundry out for all to see. However, there is another way to handle the issues of adultery and divorce in New Jersey – through a ‘no fault’ divorce.

A no fault divorce is basically telling the court that you and your spouse can no longer get along. No one has to take the blame for the relationship falling apart, and it can help things go quicker. But, this choice isn’t for everyone, and sometimes individuals just need their day in court to move on. In these cases, a ‘fault’ divorce might be more appropriate. In these cases, one party has to prove the other’s misconduct which caused the divorce. Along with adultery, abandonment, abuse, or substance abuse can all be used as grounds for a fault divorce. Of course, due to the heavier burden of proof, litigation will be more costly and lengthy, so it’s important to think about your strategy before filing your divorce petition.

Despite this, one of the big advantages in filing a fault case for adultery and divorce in New Jersey used to be that judges get to look at whose fault it was in the break-up of the marriage when determining things like alimony and property division. Alimony, or spousal support, is what one spouse might pay to the other upon separation or divorce to ensure the other party can support themselves. In the past, only a fault divorce would allow a party to request alimony; luckily, things have progressed, and now that most people file for a no fault divorce, courts will rarely look to fault when determining whether alimony should be awarded. In New Jersey, the court will only consider crimes that have resulted in the death or serious bodily injury to their spouse (or attempts to do so). In other words, if one spouse has tried to kill the other, they will not be awarded alimony. The other time courts will consider adultery and divorce in New Jersey when determining alimony is if this adultery negatively affected the couple’s economic estate. So, for example, if a wife purchased her boyfriend an apartment in the city, this would have been a wasting of the assets and could be looked at when determining whether, and how much, alimony should be awarded. Continue Reading →

Will my alimony obligation end upon retirement under New Jersey alimony laws?

On September 10, 2015, the Governor of New Jersey signed into law an amended alimony statute. Said amended statute made a number changes in regard to alimony and retirement. According to the amended statute, there is now a rebuttable presumption that his or her alimony obligation will end upon attainting full retirement age.

 How is full retirement age defined under NJ alimony laws?

The amended alimony statute defines full retirement age when a person can collect full Social Security benefits.

Can the presumption that alimony terminates upon reaching full retirement age be rebutted under the alimony laws in NJ?

Yes, it is a rebuttable presumption. A court will consider the following factors in determining if the presumption of terminating alimony at full retirement age should be rebutted:

  • The litigants’ ages at the time of the motion for termination or modification of alimony;
  • The litigants’ ages when they married and their ages when alimony was awarded;
  • The amount and duration of economic reliance by the payee upon the other party during the marriage;
  • Whether the litigant has exchanged something of value for a longer or larger alimony award;
  • The sum and period of alimony formerly paid;
  • The litigants health when the retirement application was made;
  • The litigants’ assets at the time of retirement;
  • Whether the payee has obtained full retirement age;
  • All sources of income of both parties;
  • The party who is collecting alimony capability to have saved adequately for retirement;
  • Any other relevant factor.

Continue Reading →

Going into divorce actions, people often do not realize that it is not just marital assets that are distributed by the court. Marital debt is also equitably distributed by the court. Equitable distribution in NJ does not mean equal. Distribution of debt will be done in a way that is seen as fair and reasonable under the circumstances of the case.

Types of Marital Debt

Marital debt consists of the debt incurred by either spouse during the course of the marriage.

Credit card debt is commonly part of marital debt that will be distributed by the court. The general rule is that the full amount of the credit card debt, whichever spouse incurred the debt, is distributed between the parties, though there are exceptions. When only one party has derived a benefit for the expenditure, a court may decide if only that party should be liable for the debt. The court will not go through all charge statements, item by item. If there is a situation where only one spouse has benefited by substantial expenditures, then your attorney will bring that up to the court to have the court consider assessing payment of that particular credit card debt to that spouse.

Mortgages against the marital home or other real property will be distributed in the divorce action as well. There are two typical ways to address the mortgage:

  • Sell the real property, pay the mortgage and any proceeds will be divided pursuant to the distribution of marital property made by the court. This can happen right away, or one spouse may stay in the house with the children for a stated period of time before the house is sold.
  • One spouse can buy out the interest in the real property from the other spouse and take responsibility for the mortgage, often refinancing the mortgage.

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 →

When searching for a divorce lawyer in NJ, you want someone you can trust. You’re dealing with an unfortunate situation which may be complicated by child custody or other legal issues. You may have to handle disbursement of assets or alimony. Since complicated emotions are involved, it helps to have an objective view from an experienced attorney.

Experience Matters

Peter Van Aulen has more than 23 years of experience as a New Jersey divorce attorney. His years of practice have been devoted to this area of the law, and he’s become recognized as an authority through his reputation. He has worked with clients in various situations in both large and small cases.

Experience in divorce law is important when selecting from divorce lawyers in NJ. You may be navigating new territory as you seek a divorce, and you need someone who knows the law to protect your interests. When children are involved, the situation can become even more intense. Peter Van Aulen has a solid record of handling child relocation, child custody and parent alienation. Continue Reading →

Although New Jersey became a “no-fault” state in 2007, no-fault divorce was an addition to grounds based divorces, not an elimination grounds. There is now a choice whether to seek divorce on a no-fault or fault based grounds.

A fault based divorce gives no advantage on determinations of property division, child support or alimony.  As to child custody, unless the fault claims negatively impact the children, fault grounds provide no benefit in custody determinations, either.

No-Fault Divorce: Irreconcilable Differences

In New Jersey, the reference to “no-fault” divorce means that there are irreconcilable differences between the parties resulting in a breakdown of the marriage for at least six months. The parties need not be separated for any period of time whatsoever. Continue Reading →


In most New Jersey cases the home is considered joint marital property and will be subject to equitable distribution at divorce. How do we determine if the home is marital property? The main issue we look at is when the property was purchased.Typically, if the marital residence was purchased during the marriage, it is likely to be considered a marital asset.

If the house was purchased before the marriage by one spouse, it may be considered separate property and may be awarded solely to the spouse who purchased it. The reason we have to use the word ‘may’ in this context is that there are special circumstances under which property that would otherwise be considered separate property may become joint property. If there are questions about who the owner(s) of the marital home are, it is best to discuss the issue with an attorney.


Once it is determined that the marital residence is an asset that is subject to equitable distribution, the question becomes how to distribute it. With things like bank accounts it is easy to divide the asset into parts and give some of it to each former spouse. With real property however, it is trickier. Below are three options for the equitable distribution of a marital residence in New Jersey. Continue Reading →

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