Even in the most amicable of divorce proceedings, problems often arise when discussions turn to the subjects of child custody, child support, and alimony payments. The resulting pressures and anxieties are capable of clouding anyone’s judgment, and left unchecked, can prolong the legal process beyond what is necessary. Many individuals struggle to navigate the complexities of New Jersey’s divorce legislature, and even a minor mistake or omission could potentially result in significant losses in terms of custody, child support, alimony, or the division of property.
For all of these reasons, it is important to work with an experienced attorney who can help to build your case, protect your rights, and keep the atmosphere civil while focusing on bringing the proceedings to a satisfactory outcome. Divorce lawyer Joseph Lombardo has more than 20 years of experience handling divorce cases and child custody disputes on behalf of New Jersey residents, and proudly serves communities including Hammonton, Linwood, Atlantic City, Vineland, Mays Landing, Cherry Hill, and Winslow Township.
To arrange for a free and completely confidential legal consultation with Joseph, call Lombardo Law at (800) 930-3241 today.
Requirements to File for Divorce in New Jersey
In order to file for divorce in New Jersey, you must meet two requirements. First, it must be established that either party was a bona fide resident of New Jersey for at least one year. Further, there are certain reasons or “grounds” that must be proven in order for the divorce proceedings to move forward. Simply making a claim is not sufficient: on the contrary, these grounds must be substantiated.
Grounds are divided into “fault” and “no-fault” categories. Fault divorces are based on a specific issue or behavior, whereas no-fault divorces are based on separation or irreconcilable differences which the parties cannot overcome. Different grounds have different waiting periods, which range from no waiting period at all to as long as 12 consecutive months. Joseph can help you understand which waiting periods potentially apply to your unique situation.
Acceptable grounds for divorce in New Jersey include the following:
- Deviant Sexual Conduct
- Extreme Cruelty
- Institutionalization for Mental Illness
- Irreconcilable Differences
- Voluntarily Addiction
- Willful Desertion (Abandonment)
Even if you aren’t quite sure whether your situation meets any of the following grounds for divorce, we encourage you to contact us to discuss the matter in greater detail.
Equitable Distribution: How Will Property be Divided?
In addition to reporting and substantiating the grounds for divorce, New Jersey law also requires that marital property shall be divided in an equitable fashion. Contrary to popular belief, “equitable” does not mean “equal,” but seeks to divide property in a fair and reasonable manner. Certainly there are situations where the separation of assets and guardianship is mutually agreed upon; but as you can imagine, in many instances this is simply not possible.
In pursuing an appropriate allocation of marital property, the court will encourage both parties to reach a settlement on property and debt issues. If you and your spouse are unable to agree on these matters, the court will intervene to declare the property award. The court will consider many different factors when making its decision, including but not limited to:
- How long the marriage lasted.
- Each spouse’s mental and physical health.
- Each spouse’s income, assets, and financial resources, including future outlook based on earning capacity.
- Each spouse’s debts and liabilities, including factors such as bankruptcy and unemployment.
- Potential tax implications arising from the manner of distribution.
As you can therefore imagine, it is critically important to have a knowledgeable attorney advocating on your behalf in matters of property and asset division. Without dedicated legal support, you increase your risk of exposure to significant financial losses and liabilities which may otherwise be avoidable.
Alimony, Child Support, and Child Custody
Alimony, which is sometimes called spousal support, has long been a subject of controversy in New Jersey. In 2014, Governor Christie signed the New Jersey Alimony Reform Act of 2014 into law, thereby making significant changes to longstanding alimony legislature. The Reform Act eliminated permanent alimony, limited the duration of alimony to the duration of the marriage itself (with some rare exceptions), and introduced alimony relief upon reaching retirement age.
Despite the new provisions supplied by the Reform Act, spousal support remains a complex matter which must be decided on a case-by-case basis at the court’s discretion. Whether you are a “recipient” seeking support, or a “payor” being sought for support, it is crucial to have an experienced attorney by your side during this process.
When minor children are involved, the family court system will do everything possible to (1) help lessen the emotional trauma the children may be experiencing, and (2) safeguard the best social, financial, health-related, and educational interests of the children. While parents are given the opportunity to devise their own parenting plan, be advised the court will establish the custody order at its discretion if the parents cannot come to their own agreement.
Finally, there are a number of variables the court will consider when determining which parties are responsible for the financial support of a child, and to what extent. These factors can include:
- What the court believes the needs of the children are.
- The previous standard of living.
- All sources of income and assets from each parent.
- The earning ability of each parent.
The court can also impose its own reasons for determining the amount of child support each party is responsible for. Again, it is imperative to have legal representation by your side during these proceedings.
If you are thinking of getting divorced in New Jersey, or if your spouse is asking for dissolution of your marriage, attorney Joseph Lombardo may be able to help. To start exploring your options in a free and private case evaluation, call Lombardo Law at (800) 930-3241 right away.