Frequently Asked Questions
1. My spouse and I just separated, is there such a thing as a legal separation in NJ?
You need not file a specific document with the court to prove you are separated. The date that you separated will be used in any future paperwork filed. Be aware that the law still considers you married until a judgment for divorce is entered. However, a good family law attorney can resolve your issues without seeking a divorce by drafting a property settlement agreement which can resolve a number of issues including child support, spousal support, division of assets and custodial issues.
2. How long will it take to get a divorce?
It is impossible to predict. Every case is unique and involves different issues which need to be resolved. Some parties are able to reach an agreement regarding distribution of property, child support and custody in a short time and others litigate their issues over many months.
3. About how much will a divorce cost?
Every case has its own unique issues that need to be addressed. If the parties can reach an agreement to resolve the issues of equitable distribution, custody and support, an experienced family law attorney can prepare a property settlement agreement and the costs to proceed with a divorce will be less as compared to those cases where the parties litigate all of the issues.
4. How much child support do I have to pay/will I receive?
The New Jersey child support guidelines are used to calculate support. This is an income based calculation and does not take into consideration the expenses of the parent. The amount of support is based on a number of factors, some of which include the ages of the children, whether or not either party is supporting any other children from a prior relationship, how many overnights the child is with each parent, the cost of work related day care and the cost of medical insurance for the child/children
5. How is child support paid?
It can be paid directly or by wage garnishment.
6. What happens if the supporting parent (payor) does not pay the support?
The parent who receives the support (payee) may file an action to enforce the support order. If the support is paid by garnishment through the probation department, the probation department may file an enforcement action when the support is in arrears.
8. Is there a waiting period before I can file for divorce?
There are a number of grounds upon which one can file for divorce. Some require waiting periods, others do not. The most recent changes to the law regarding grounds for divorce is allowing parties to file for divorce based on “irreconcilable differences” that have occurred during the prior six months.
9. What if my spouse threatens to quit his/her job just to avoid paying support?
The court will look to the level of income earned during the marriage and will impute income to the spouse if he/she is earning less that what they have earned in the past.
10. Does New Jersey law provide for alimony?
Yes, it is based on a number of different factors such as the length of the marriage, the age of the parties, the income of the parties and the economic need. In September 2014, the alimony statute was modified. It states specific factors for the period of time that alimony is paid or received and the factors to consider when modifying or terminating alimony.
11. My spouse has a drinking problem and I am concerned for the welfare of my children when they are with him/her. Is there anything I can do to protect the children?
Safeguards can be put in place if there is evidence that the children may be in danger when they are with the other parent.
12. My spouse was just laid off. Will he/she be able to reduce his child support obligation?
Being laid off is regarded as a temporary situation. The courts will not allow a modification based on this event, especially if the lay off was recent. In these difficult financial times, a lengthy lay off may impact how much one pays/recovers on child support.
13. If property is titled in one spouse’s name, does that effect whether it is marital property or not?
Yes and no. All property acquired from the date of your marriage to the date a complaint for divorce is filed is considered marital property, regardless of in whose name it is titled. There are some exceptions to this rule regarding inheritances or property owned prior to the marriage.
14. I am being deprived of seeing my children. Is there anything I can do?
Absolutely. Contact a good family attorney today and arrange a consultation. As a non-custodial parent, you have rights.
15. Do I need a pre-marital agreement?
If this is your second marriage, if you are getting married later in life and have acquired property or investments that you are bringing into the marriage, you may be a candidate for a premarital agreement. Contact an experienced family lawyer for a consultation. This is a highly specialized document.
16. What issues are generally covered in a premarital agreement?
The issues that are covered are as varied as the client’s needs. Does one party have pre-marital assets they wish to protect in the event of a divorce? Does a party wish to provide a formula for alimony in the event of divorce? These and a host of other concerns can be covered by a properly drafted premarital agreement.
17. When should I begin the process of having a premarital agreement prepared and signed?
Generally speaking, if you have a wedding date, it is not too early to begin. Oftentimes, people contact a family law attorney just weeks before the wedding date. This is far too late and serves to place unnecessary pressure on the parties to enter into the agreement. Starting the process many months ahead of time generally makes a lot of sense.
18. My spouse is abusive. What can I do about it?
If you are in fear of your safety, New Jersey provides for protection under the domestic violence act. You may file a complaint at the court house of the county in which you reside. If the courts are closed, you may file a complaint with the police and request that a judge sign a restraining order directing your spouse to be removed from the home. Other protections are also provided by the law.
19. Is it permissible for my spouse (or ex-spouse) to move out of state with our child?
New Jersey law provides that one party may not permanently remove a child from the jurisdiction of New Jersey without the consent of the other parent or a Court Order. If consent is not forthcoming, the Court may schedule a hearing to determine whether it is in the best interests of the child to be permitted to relocate.
20. My spouse committed adultery. Will I be able to get more of the marital estate because of his/her wrongdoing?
No. New Jersey is a no fault state. If one spouse commits adultery or wrongs the other spouse, that does not entitle the aggrieved spouse to a greater portion of the marital estate.
21. My spouse and I are not getting along. I have asked him/her to leave, but he/she refuses. What can I do?
Neither party can require the other to leave the marital home unless there is evidence of domestic violence which has resulted in a restraining order.
22. My spouse has moved out and left me with all of the bills. What can I do?
You can file a motion for support with the Court asking the Court to enter an order requiring your spouse to contribute to the bills. It is in your best interest to consult with an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible.
23. My child has graduated high school. Is there an obligation to contribute to college or continue to pay child support?
New Jersey law requires parents to contribute to a child’s college education. There are certain criteria which must be met before this obligation arises. Consult with a family law attorney to learn about your rights and obligations.
24. My child graduated high school. Does my child support obligation automatically stop?
No. Provided your child is not going to college as a full time student you must file an application with the Court requesting that your child be emancipated and that your child support obligation be terminated. The child support will automatically stop when your child is 19 years old as long as he/she is not a full time student.