Articles Posted in Divorce

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.

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Do 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.

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I 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.

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Will 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.

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New 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.

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My spouse and I would like to legally separate before deciding whether to divorce. Can we do this?

The legal separation of married couples is technically not permitted in the State of New Jersey.  Instead, spouses may choose to separate informally, enter into a separation agreement, or consider a limited divorce. In a “divorce from bed and board,” (also known as  Limited Divorce) a married couple has the option to end their marriage from a financial standpoint while still remaining legally married. Since it may be revoked, a limited divorce makes it easier for spouses to later reconcile. Similarly, such a divorce may be converted into a standard judgment of  (Absolute) divorce. Since all support determinations and asset distributions are made when a “divorce from bed and board” is granted, property and financial issues are no longer an issue if a New Jersey couple ultimately chooses to end their marriage after engaging in a limited divorce.

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I keep reading about celebrity co-parenting in the news. What does it mean?

Unfortunately, no one is immune from divorce. Couples across all walks of life from celebrities to your favorite friends or neighbors choose to end their marriages every year. Regardless of the cause, it is important for divorcing parents in New Jersey to work together to ensure the best possible outcome for their children. Although ending a marriage is no doubt difficult for the divorcing couple, parents should remember that their children are likely experiencing similar feelings of loss, anger, betrayal, and emotional pain.

Most couples in New Jersey and elsewhere don’t consider on their wedding day that they may divorce. Similarly, many parents never pictured themselves negotiating parenting time or alternating holidays with their children. In order to provide kids with the stability they need, many former couples choose to co-parent. While effective co-parenting can be difficult at times, working towards this common goal is often vital for a child’s well-being. How do you do that? Good question!  Here’s how.

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How can I keep my divorce from bankrupting me?

The choice to end a marriage typically has both an emotional and a financial impact on a former couple. Despite this, getting divorced doesn’t have to leave you both in the poor house. There are a number of ways a divorcing couple can refrain from making the process more expensive than it needs to be.

First, it is important to choose the right divorce attorney as soon as you are able. You want a New Jersey lawyer who is experienced in family law and has the ability to answer all of your questions. Now is not necessarily the time to rely on the recommendation of a friend or relative. If you are concerned about keeping costs down, remember that selecting an experienced attorney is vital.

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I have been married for less than one year and we have no children. Can I get an annulment?

Unlike a divorce that terminates a marriage, an annulment is a legal determination that a marriage or civil union never existed. Individuals often seek a civil judgment of nullity due to religious or personal preference. Although a New Jersey couple may pursue a no-fault divorce based on irreconcilable differences, obtaining a judgment of nullity in this State is not as easy.

In New Jersey, an annulment must be based on the statutory factors included in N.J.S.A. Section 2A:34-1 (2014). Typical grounds for a New Jersey annulment include incurable impotency, incest, bigamy, fraud, duress, mental incapacity such as intoxication or insanity, or one or both members of the couple being younger than 18 at the time of the marriage. Despite this, certain circumstances such as a partner’s prior knowledge about the impotence, parental consent, or continuing to live as a married couple after a fraud was discovered may serve to  ratify the marriage in some situations and frustrate or defeat the ability to secure an annulment.

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I am about to retire. Can I stop making alimony payments to my former spouse based on New Jersey’s 2014 alimony reform law?

Since the Alimony Reform Act of 2014 was signed into law last September, New Jersey residents whose marriage lasted fewer than 20 years generally may not be required to pay alimony for more years than the couple was married, absent certain special circumstances. This durational cap only applies to couples who received a final judgment of divorce after the reform law was signed by the governor. For couples who ended their marriage prior to this, there must be a legitimate reason, such as retirement, cohabitation, or loss of a job, before a New Jersey court will modify an alimony award. In addition, a court may not alter an alimony order if the couple’s divorce judgment addressed such issues in advance.

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