Horizontal manila file folder

How long do I have to have lived in New Jersey before I can file for divorce here?

Except in cases alleging that the spouse against whom the divorce is sought committed adultery, at least one spouse must have resided in New Jersey for one year. It can be either spouse; it does not necessarily have to be the spouse who is seeking the divorce.

Continue reading

A hand holds a bundle of twenty dollar bills

How are child support payments calculated in New Jersey?

The State of New Jersey has established child support guidelines that are used in determining the amount of financial support that a parent should contribute to the care of his or her child. An “income-share” formula, which takes into consideration the income of both the custodial parent (now known as th4e PPR or, Parent of Primary Residence) and non-custodial parent (now known as the PAR or, Parent of Alternate Residence), is used to calculate the exact amount due. The guidelines also take certain expenses into account, including health insurance costs for the child or children,  and child care. In some cases, the parents may agree on the amount due under the guidelines. If this is not possible, the family court will make the decision.

Is it possible to deviate from the amount that the Child Support Guidelines say is owed?

Yes, but the family court must make a specific finding, in writing, for a deviation. In such a case, the court may disregard the guidelines or make an adjustment that reflects the children’s needs and the parents’ circumstances.

Continue reading

file0002142617802 morguefile kamuelaboyDo I have any recourse if my spouse destroys our jointly owned property in a violent fight?

When an unmarried New Jersey resident destroys property that belongs to another individual, he or she may be committing criminal mischief under the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (“PDVA”). Despite this, married spouses in the state are generally deemed to own all marital property jointly. This means a spouse who destroys marital property is also ruining his or her own property. Until recently, it was unclear whether such an act could be considered domestic violence under New Jersey law.

Continue reading

file2651300054070-morguefile-deegolden-300x201Do I have to pay income tax on my spousal support payments?

In New Jersey and elsewhere, alimony is the transfer of money to a former or soon to be former spouse for his or her support and maintenance. This transfer typically results in a reduction in the taxable income for the payer and an increase for the payee. For alimony to be deducted from a paying spouse’s gross income, eight factors must be met. First, all spousal support payments must be made pursuant to a written decree that cannot state the payments do not qualify as alimony for tax purposes. In addition, the divorcing or former spouses may not reside together at the time the payments are made or file a joint income tax return. All alimony payments must be made to, or on behalf of, a former spouse in cash or using a cash equivalent and may not be referred to or deemed child support by a court. Finally, the spousal support obligation may not survive the payee’s death.

Continue reading

IMG_20150101_115844163_HDR morguefile MoonlightwayHow can a permanent resident who illegally brought his or her child to New Jersey in order to escape abuse gain legal custody and ensure the child is allowed to remain in the United States?

In August, the Supreme Court of New Jersey ruled that Family Part judges may not grant “special immigrant juvenile” status to immigrant children who are residing in New Jersey illegally. According to the high court, Family Part judges are permitted to make determinations regarding the best interests of such children and ascertain whether a child who applies for special immigration status would be placed at risk for neglect, abuse, or abandonment if returned to his or her home country. After that, the Supreme Court stated the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) must make the final determination regarding a child’s immigration status.

Continue reading

Treasure Chest2 morguefile dodgertonskillhauseI learned that my former spouse kept a hidden bank account throughout our marriage after our divorce was finalized. Am I entitled to half of the money in the account?

In New Jersey, divorcing spouses are legally protected from fraudulent divorce settlements that result when one spouse endeavors to hide or otherwise fails to disclose important information regarding marital assets. From the date of a couple’s marriage, each spouse owes the other a fiduciary duty. This means each spouse is obligated to act in the best interests of the other party. In the context of a New Jersey marriage, a fiduciary duty exists until a couple’s assets are equitably distributed following dissolution. A divorcing individual who violates this duty may be required to pay his or her former spouse’s legal bills and forfeit the entire value of the hidden or otherwise undisclosed asset. The allegedly deceitful party may also be subject to additional scrutiny by the family court.

Continue reading

piggy-bank-on-money morguefile financeWill my spouse be entitled to permanent alimony if we divorce after 15 years of marriage?

Since September 2014, the term “permanent alimony” became a thing of the past.  Now, in New Jersey, it has been  replaced with the phrase “open durational alimony.”  Currently, a family court must first determine whether open durational alimony is merited before considering other types of spousal support, such as limited duration or rehabilitative alimony. Although there is no bright-line rule regarding what constitutes a long-term marriage, the September 2014 amendments to New Jersey law now state a spousal support award may not exceed the length of a couple’s marriage if the union lasted less than 20 years, except in certain exceptional cases.

Continue reading

sw_BacklitKeyboard_FFP10029 morguefile jppiWill evidence of my spouse’s infidelity affect our divorce?

Recently, personal information related to millions of users of an online dating site for married people became publicly available as a result of a data breach. Since then, there has been wide speculation regarding the potential fallout for exposed cheaters. Famous persons, political figures, and individuals from all walks of life apparently utilized the now-hacked website, created in an effort to facilitate affairs for married people. Although infidelity is one of the many grounds for divorce proceedings in New Jersey, it is no longer a smoking gun under the current no-fault divorce regime that exists across the bulk of the nation.

In New Jersey, adultery does not lead to any sort of punitive or other damages against the partner who was unfaithful. Typically, a couple’s assets and any debts or other liabilities that were acquired during the marriage will be divided “equitably” (not necessarily equally) upon divorce. This often includes any assets that are held in only one party’s name.   As a general rule, the manner in which the title to an asset is held which was aquired during the term of the marriage, may be disregarded.  Certain factors can, however, impact the manner in which that asset may be equitably distributed.  Despite this, an adulterer may be required to reimburse the marital estate for any funds that were spent on an extramarital affair or paramour. For example, the money a cheater paid for an online dating site profile, hotel costs, and other expenses associated with an affair may be factored into a divorcing couple’s property settlement.

Continue reading

IMG_4626 morguefile markgrafIn July, the New Jersey Senate passed a bill that would allow child support payments to automatically terminate once a child turns 19. Despite the proposed alterations in child support obligations, S1046 would allow such support payments to continue by court order in certain circumstances. For example, a parent or child may request that support continue for a child who is attending a secondary or post-secondary school. In addition, child support may continue under the proposed law for a recipient who has a serious disability that predates his or her 19th birthday or when the Division of Child Protection and Permanency determines a child must be placed outside the home. The law would also preserve any arrearages that a parent may accrue prior to a child’s 19th birthday.

According to bill supporters, S1046 aims to reduce the family court case load by reducing the number of situations where a New Jersey court is required to declare a child emancipated and terminate child support payments. In addition, supporters claim the proposed measure provides courts with the flexibility to continue child support payments when merited.

Continue reading

251732_agreement__signing sxchu username lfpilzNew Jersey’s Family Court Recognizes the Changing Times in Which We Live- Judge Rules that a Permanent Restriction on an Ex-Spouse’s Paramour Staying over His or Her House When the Child is Residing at the Home May NOT be Enforceable.

Can my ex-husband allow his new girlfriend to spend the night while our child is at his home for parenting time?    This is the question that Mrs. Mantle, an Ocean County post -divorce litigant wanted to know.  She believed she could enforce such a restriction.  The Court believed otherwise.   Judge Lawrence Jones sitting in the Ocean County Superior Court, Family Part, was willing to tackle this sensitive issue we family law practitioners frequently encounter in the divorce cases we handle at Goldstein Law Group.   Until now, there was little guidance on what time periods or other conditions, if any, were reasonable for an ex-spouse to ultimately expose his or her children to that spouse’s new significant other, in particular, to have the paramour sleep over the house when the children were also residing there.   We, as family law attorneys, counseled our clients accordingly, based upon the ages of the child or children, the living arrangements, any psychological issues the child or the parties were facing, and other case sensitive factors.  In many instances, the parties sought to impose “DaVita” restraints (taken from the case in which Mr. and Mrs DaVita addressed such issues, and there were restraints imposed on the exposure of children post-divorce to a parent’s significant other. Here, Judge Jones recently ruled that blanket DaVita restraints are not generally enforceable.  Rather, divorcing parents may not permanently ban a child from interacting with a parent’s new significant other without proof of inappropriate conduct.  In Mantle v. Mantle, two divorcing parents agreed to indefinitely restrict either parent’s new paramour from having access to their child during parenting time.  A few months later, the child’s mother sought to enforce the open-ended “no exposure to dating partners” requirement on his father.  Despite this, the mother did not assert that the father’s new girlfriend committed any inappropriate or harmful acts in the presence of her son.

According to the family court, a 1976 Appellate Court case upheld a trial court’s decision to place a restriction on a child’s access to his or her parents’ dating partners.  In DaVita, the court ruled the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it granted a mother’s request that her former spouse’s girlfriend be prohibited from spending the night during the father’s parenting time.  In that case, the court added that the decision was not contrary to the current societal norms in the community.

Continue reading