Monmouth CountyNew Jersey Divorce Lawyer
What to Expect IN A DIVORCE
New Jersey divorce law is complicated. My job is to protect your legal rights while encouraging the parties to reach a reasonable settlement. Having litigated many divorce cases in my long career, I advise my clients that whenever possible, due to the high legal fees incurred by parties who go to trial, negotiating a settlement is the preferable way to proceed. I aim to offer realistic advice and employ cost-effective strategies to help you achieve your goals so that you can move on with your new life as quickly as possible.
The Court Process
The length of the divorce process can vary greatly depending on the complexity and contentiousness of the case. Most divorces go through the same phases:
A Complaint for Divorce (a lawsuit) is filed by one spouse indicating the grounds upon which they are seeking a divorce. The other spouse has a certain amount of time to file an answer/counterclaim.
At this point, sometimes temporary financial and/or child custody agreements (known as pendente lite orders) are required to maintain the status quo and/or stabilize the situation.
The Court sets a time frame for progression of the matter through the court system, including when the parties shall exchange information (called discovery), when mediation shall occur, etc.
In discovery, the parties disclose their debts, finances and property owned on a document called a Case Information Statement that gets filed with the Court.
Attorneys for each party begin the negotiation phase, which includes Court Ordered mediation in an attempt to resolve the matter.
The attorneys report to the Court on a scheduled timeframe to update the Court on the status of the case, called a Case Management Conference.
If all modes of settlement are unsuccessful, any unresolved issues must be prepared and presented at trial before a judge or at arbitration, if the parties agree to pursue Alternative Dispute Resolution. The Judge/arbitrator will decide your matter for you.
If a party disagrees with a Judge’s findings, a party can appeal.
HOW MUCH DOES A DIVORCE COST
With divorce, the cost depends largely on your goals for life after divorce, how much your goals conflict with your spouse’s, and how hard the two of you are willing to fight. The number of children and the complexity of your marital estate and businesses owned also influence the cost. I have decades of experience in everything from simple uncontested divorces to highly contested, high net-worth dissolutions. When you contact me to discuss your matter, we can discuss cost more fully.
NEVER NEGOTIATE A DIVORCE SETTLEMENT WITHOUT LEGAL REPRESENTATION
Marriage is a legal vehicle. A divorce settlement is a legal contract, and you are within your rights to freely negotiate and sign one without an attorney.
However, negotiating an agreement without experienced legal counsel is never a good idea. Legal language has consequences that you may not fully appreciate, and contracts need contingency clauses for events you might not foresee.
You might have the idea that since you negotiated informally, you can always amend your agreement the same way. However, once the court approves your agreement, it has the force of the law behind it. Nothing obligates your spouse, who may have gotten the better of the bargain, to renegotiate with you. If your terms prove burdensome, you will have to get a new court order to fix things. But unless you show that your circumstances have changed significantly, the court is unlikely to allow changes to be made.
Don’t get stuck with a divorce settlement you will regret.
I can negotiate and draft an agreement to protect your rights. No two divorces are the same and for these reasons Family Law attorneys must be flexible in the methods they use to achieve their clients’ goals. Brian has resolved hundreds of divorces over his 33-year career and knows how to get results for clients no matter what method I employ.
What You Need To Know About
Custody often proves to be the most difficult legal issue to resolve in a divorce. Depending on the willingness of the parties to compromise, child custody issues can cause the parties to incur extensive legal fees battling over the children. Legal custody and physical custody (or residential custody) are the two child custody concepts relating to divorce.
Physical custody provides the parents with the right to have the child on a daily basis. Legal custody provides a parent with some critical rights. The most important distinction between the two types of custody is that the non-custodial parent will have to pay child support to the parent with physical custody. Very often, one party will fight for split custody in order to avoid paying child support. The more overnights that a non-custodial parent has (very often) translates into lower child support payments.
In the majority of cases, the parties have joint legal custody and one parent is designated with physical or residential custody. If the parties are unable to agree on a custody or parenting time plan, the Court orders attendance at the Custody and Visitation Mediation Program. If an agreement cannot be reached, the parties will proceed to a custody trial.
In a Custody trial, the Court will apply the “best interest of the children” standard to the proceedings. This standard is extremely fact sensitive and the issue is emotionally charged.
Brian’s 33 years of family law experience serves to protect and guide you through the legal intricacies inherent in a custody battle and prepares you to mount a successful defense.
Visitation, is the parenting time schedule that is (ideally) adhered to once parties separate their households. Parenting time schedules are very individual, however, typical visitation for the non-custodial parent is every other weekend and parenting time mid-week. If parties are amendable and flexible, the parenting time plan can be adjusted to conform to each parties’ schedule and lifestyle.
A parenting time plan will normally define each parties parenting time during all the major holidays, parent and child birthday’s, summer vacation, Mother and Father’s Day, etc.
What You Need To Know About
Determining an alimony settlement is a difficult challenge in a divorce settlement. It is important to hire an experienced attorney who can interpret the nuances of New Jersey law in order to ensure the best settlement based upon the particular facts of your matter.
In 2014 the alimony statute altered the types of alimony available in New Jersey, and made alimony payments non-tax deductible by the payor and non-taxable to the payee (for federal tax purposes) for all agreements signed after December 31, 2018. Alimony is currently classified into four categories: open durational, rehabilitative, limited durational and reimbursement alimony.
Generally speaking, if your marriage lasted less than 20 years, you should not expect to collect alimony for longer than the term of the marriage, barring exceptional circumstances.
An Alimony calculation involves a multitude of factors and is often balanced against the broader settlement terms. There is no mathematical formula that is followed to easily predict an award of alimony in New Jersey.
An experienced attorney who knows the legal intricacies is the only way to protect your future financial well-being.
The distribution of assets and debts in a divorce is called equitable distribution. In a divorce, the court will distribute assets and liabilities according to what is fair and equitable based upon the Statutory factors. In most long-term marriages, the marital assets are divided in half. Assets include, for example, bank accounts, the marital home, retirement accounts, pensions accrued during the marriage, mutual funds, stocks, vehicles, vacation property, etc. The responsibility for the marital debt, including credit card debt, home equity loans, car loans for example, will also be addressed and delineated in a Property Settlement Agreement (along with all other issues).