Category: Child Support
Be Aware of the Implications of Getting a New Job While Divorcing in NJ
An Experienced Divorce Lawyer Will Navigate the Pros and Cons of Getting a New Job in Monmouth and Ocean County, New Jersey
There’s no doubt about it; the process of divorce is a draining one. Not only can it drain your finances, but it also can have an adverse effect on your emotional and mental health. Even physical repercussions can take their toll due to loss of sleep and tension. So could it even be considered possible to add one transition to another by starting a new job or career during the process of reaching a divorce settlement? And even if it feels energetically possible, is it legal, and what effects would it have on the divorce process in New Jersey? Read on to learn more about changing jobs during divorce, and what its impacts are.
It is Possible to Change Your Job During a Divorce, but Take the Time to Consider the Implications
The technical answer is yes, you can change your job while in the middle of a divorce proceeding. Whether it’s a suitable option for you, however, depends on a number of factors. There are definite benefits to switching professional ships during a divorce; and, on the other hand, there are some potentially costly drawbacks. If you’re considering changing careers or jobs at this transitional time in your life, consider the following.
First, Let’s Take a Look at the Benefits of Having a New Job
There are some definite boons to a job change during the tumultuous transition between married and divorced. One of the primary upsides is that you can harness the energy of change in marital status to re-create yourself and align with a more authentic version of you that catapults you into a fulfilling future. While there is a lot of energy being zapped through multiple elements of the divorce, including often emotional engagement with your ex, financial stressors, disregulated children, and the fear of the unknown; such a time can be harnessed for your future benefit, including a more fulfilling job or a higher-paying gig.
Now, Let’s Consider the Disadvantages of Starting a New Job
Just as there are benefits to changing jobs during divorce, there are definite setbacks. One of the most obvious is the amount of energy that is required to navigate a divorce, and the limited amount that then leaves you with to make a good first impression in a new role. One key to successfully transitioning into a new job while undergoing divorce is to prioritize self-care and sleep during this important time. A new job could mean more time available to spend with your child, which will be looked upon favorably by the Superior Court judge in the case of litigation and your ex in the case of out-of-court settlement. Any additional finances through a new income may be considered as marital assets before the divorce is finalized, so your spouse, their lawyer, or a judge may require a more in-depth review of your finances, extending the settlement or litigation process and costing you in the meantime.
Additionally, there is a risk that, if you opt to switch to a career that provides a lower salary, the judge may consider this move an attempt to shirk your responsibilities as parent or ex-spouse when it comes to child support and alimony payment. More about that now.
How New Salary Conditions Impact Alimony and Child Support in NJ
If you opt to take a job that pays a higher salary, your new income may trigger augmented spousal support and/or child support payment. On the flip side, if you move to a job with a lower salary, the court may still require that your former income be utilized to calculate your spousal and child support responsibilities.
Child Custody and Visitation Time Can Also be Affected by Switching Jobs
The court will take into consideration all elements of each spouse’s living circumstances before and during the divorce process to determine what is in the best interests of the child in the divorce, which is the central focus of the Superior Court. As such, your new income, location, work hours, and availability for parenting time will all play a role in what custody award you receive and how much visitation you are allowed with your child. If you are moving into a new job during a divorce and have children, it’s essential that you take into account whether the new job will allow you ample time to attend school and extracurricular functions and spend regular time with your child on afternoons, weekends, holidays, and summer vacations.
If You are Considering Changing Jobs or Have Recently Accepted a New Position, Contact Our Brick Divorce and Family Lawyers Today
Having the support of a family lawyer is essential to any divorce, especially when there are fluid related elements such as a changing salary and professional role. If you are considering a new job or career while in the process of divorce in New Jersey, let us at Bronzino Law Firm guide your way to a smooth transition. We successfully represent clients in divorces, custody cases, post-divorce modification matters, and other related family law issues in Howell, Manchester, Belmar, Manalapan, Wall, Freehold, Red Bank, Point Pleasant, Eatontown other communities in Monmouth and Ocean County, and across Southern New Jersey.
It May Not Be a Good Idea Opting for a “Do It Yourself” Divorce
It’s Highly Recommended to Walk into Court with an Experienced Family Lawyer by Your Side
You and your spouse have talked things over and agreed that an amicable, quick divorce is best for the family. Your spouse has chosen a lawyer, and you, wanting to save some money, have decided to represent yourself. You can get all of the forms online and watch some how-to videos that will explain everything. Besides, you have already agreed to keep everything civil.
Divorce, like potato salad at a picnic, can go bad before you know it. Your spouse has someone protecting their rights and making the most strategic choices while you are struggling as you read your notes from the online information you have gathered and use all the legalese you have seen on tv or in the movies. It is not going to go well for you, and once the divorce is filed and signed by the judge, there are no do-overs. It is imperative to seek a professional divorce lawyer to protect your rights.
Options in Divorce Representation in NJ
Yes, you most certainly can. Should you choose to do so, there are some essential tips it would behoove you to keep in mind. If only a few issues have you and your spouse from getting a divorce, try mediation. A divorce mediator can help you straighten out the sticky wickets that are preventing you from moving on.
It is valuable to acknowledge whether you have the time to complete all the forms and file them at the specified times. Some people use document preparers who are brick and mortar locations or online. For an extra fee, document preparers will fill the documents for you with the court. The level of reliability of each business is subject to investigation, so do your homework.
If you and your spouse agree on property distribution, spousal support, custody, child support, and a parenting plan, you could be a candidate for a DIY divorce. Still, emotions often get high, and the agreements go out the window.
Legal Jargon Can Be an Issue in Self Representation
Just because you and your spouse appear to be on the same page regarding your divorce, that does not mean that a DIY divorce is a good idea. By doing the divorce yourself, you are liable to make hundreds of mistakes that commonly include calculating child support, a solid picture of assets and expenditures in the home, visitation, child custody, and more.
Everyone has a pretty good idea of the economics of their household, but the financial part of the divorce is not about good guesses. It is about gathering evidence and filling out a CIS (Case Information Statement), a detailed form that presents all of the financial information of the home. It is a complicated form and needs to be done carefully as it is an official court document. If your statement is miscalculated, it can change the number of assets and how much will be divided.
You and your spouse talked about you buying their share of the house or getting a new loan with only your name on the deed. Now your spouse wants to keep the house for the kids. According to the equitable distribution, the judge can make several decisions, such as selling the home and dividing the proceeds or one of you buying out the other and getting a new loan. But what happens if neither of you can get a new loan or other property issues arise?
Probably the most complicated part of divorce is when children are the topic. Before child support is talked about, a visitation schedule is established. This is more than a PowerPoint calendar with two different colors. The type of custody must be decided. When support is discussed, if an agreement cannot be reached, the judge will set an amount that may be higher than the non-custodial parent can pay.
Consider the Following Aspects Before Your Final Call
You are not a lawyer. You don’t know how to prepare documents, calculations, or witnesses (if need be). You are on a raft in the ocean without a paddle, you know where you want to get, but you haven’t the slightest notion of how to do it.
The discovery process can be a minefield. You and your spouse must exchange pertinent documents to outline the divorce agreement. Your spouse’s lawyer will know what information is protected because it is considered privileged; if your spouse does not want to release everything, you will have to file a subpoena to obtain what is missing (if you know what you are looking for.)
Maybe you don’t know what an equitable settlement is. If your neighbors got a divorce, and they have three children the same age as you and assets similar to yours, then what worked for them should probably work for you, right? Wrong. Every divorce is different. If you represent yourself, how will you approach the judge with the “But-it’s-not-fair” clause when their decision is far different from what you expected? You cannot use other people’s divorce results as a springboard for yours.
The most important reason you shouldn’t represent yourself in your divorce is perspective. You are too close to the situation and cannot see it clearly, try as you might. For as kind and amicable as you and your ex have been with one another, there are still deep feelings that could cause you to act with poor judgment. This is even more true when there are children involved. A lawyer is familiar with all of the child custody laws and can protect your rights and those of your children.
Thinking You Should Represent Yourself when Getting Divorced? Think Again. Contact Us for Help from a Seasoned Ocean NJ Divorce Lawyer
Divorces are frequently adversarial, and you need a knowledgeable divorce lawyer working with you to make sure your rights are protected and you are not taken advantage of. Your lawyer will investigate and obtain all the necessary documents and forms to represent you completely. They will represent you in court and keep you abreast of every step to be taken as well as being an expert negotiator.
In conclusion, CAN you represent yourself in your divorce? YES, you can. SHOULD you? If you are a divorce lawyer, maybe. If you aren’t, absolutely not. When you go to a restaurant, do you go back into the kitchen and cook your favorite dish? Of course not. You let the pro make your favorite meal and par for the privilege.
Is divorce expensive? Yes. Is your family’s future worth the expense? I would think so. The great Pres. Abraham Lincoln had something to say about this topic that hits the nail on the head, “…Every man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.” At our firm, we have represented clients in Mantoloking, Jackson, Holmdel, Oakhurst, Brick, Ocean Township, Rumson, and across Ocean and Monmouth County.
If you are getting a divorce or know someone who is, Bronzino Law Firm has excellent divorce lawyers who, through experience, have been shown to be talented, astute, and, if need be, aggressive. Call us today at (732) 812-3102 or send us a message online to get a free consultation or make an appointment.
Critical Information You Can’t Miss to Defend Your Visitation Rights
Child Support and Visitation Rights Lawyers Providing Support in Little Silver, Lavallette, Toms River in Monmouth and Ocean Counties
There are few things about divorce that are easy, but one of the most difficult for ex-spouses to navigate interpersonally and emotionally is how their divorce will impact their kids. Issues around physical and legal custody of the child can be heart-wrenching for both parents, as everyone wants for their children’s best interests to be at the center of their world. In fact, the New Jersey Superior Court: Family part also places children’s best interests at the heart of any divorce settlement, and it affects everything from their judgments on child custody to visitation and child support. Read on to learn more about how visitation is determined in New Jersey child custody cases and how child support affects it.
Child’s Rights to Spend Time with Both Parents
New Jersey law considers it a child’s right to have a relationship with both parents. As such, the courts consider a child’s time with both of their parents paramount in any divorce and they will ensure that when a parent has been granted full custody, the other parent will receive as much visitation with the child as is appropriate and safe. Whatever the custodial arrangement, both parents will have fair visitation time with their child, as outlined in a parenting time agreement. New Jersey labels the custodial parent, one who the child spends over 72 percent of their time with, as the “parent of primary residence” (PPR). The non-custodial parent is called the “parent of alternative residence” (PAR) in New Jersey. Both have the right to spend quality time with their child if it is safe for the child.
Child support is court-ordered payment by the PAR to the PPR to help the child’s upbringing, and it is not directly related to visitation. However, a court may withdraw visitation rights if a parent does not make their ordered child support payments.
Delayed Support Payments and NJ Visitation Rights
It is not a parent’s prerogative to determine the visitation rights of a child outside of the court-ruled arrangement. As such, if a parent is late on their child support payments, it is the PPR’s duty to report late payments to the New Jersey Department of Human Services, the New Jersey child support payment agency.
Extreme Scenarios to Deny Visitation Rights to a Parent in New Jersey
The New Jersey Family Court is always going to hold the child’s best interests as their central pillar in child custody determinations. The court will generally award the non-custodial PAR either ‘reasonable visitation,’ ‘unsupervised visitation,’ or ‘supervised visitation’ with their child. In some cases, however, the court will deny the parent who does not receive sole custody visitation rights. This generally occurs in severe cases in which, due to a history of domestic violence or drug or alcohol addiction, the court deems the non-custodial parent to be an unsafe influence in the life of the child. This is reserved for extreme cases, as the court considers it a child’s right to have a relationship with both parents regardless of custody status.
What to Do if a Spouse Denies Visitation Rights in NJ
As the non-residential parent, it is your right to have visitation with your child if the court has awarded you reasonable, supervised, or unsupervised visitation. A PAR who has a court order and parenting time plan detailing the original agreement that has been denied may approach the court to hold the custodial parent in contempt. As a first step, you can contact your local authorities to enforce the court order or contact your New Jersey county’s child abduction response team.
If your visitation rights have been arbitrarily suspended in New Jersey, seek counsel from our Brick NJ Family and Custody Lawyers
If you have been denied visitation, a New Jersey family law attorney will ensure that you are granted your rights, both in your child’s best interests and your own. A court ruling that has denied visitation for safety issues due to your past can be revisited with the help of a family lawyer. Additionally, a parent who has been granted visitation by the Superior Court but has issues with the custodial parent following through with the parenting time agreement can rely on the preparation, education, and experience of a lawyer to file a motion in court to enforce the order and even change custodial designation.
If you have been denied visitation rights or your visitation is being withheld, our lawyers are exceptionally positioned to serve on behalf of your child and your best interests. At Bronzino Law Firm, we understand how important your relationship with your child is for their healthy development. We advocate for parents in child support and custody matters in Point Pleasant, Ocean Township, Middletown, Barnegat, Beach Haven, Rumson, and across Ocean and Monmouth County to fight for justice when it comes to custodial and visitation arrangements.
Contact (732) 812-3102 for a free consultation to discuss your particular case and the roads that we can assist you with taking to rectify the situation.
You Were Partners in Life, Can You be Partners in Parenting?
Co-parenting isn’t about you and your former partner; it is about creating the best atmosphere possible for the health and well-being of the children you share. Consider these things when seeking to create your mutually beneficial parental partnership in New Jersey.
If 50% of marriages end in divorce, many divorced couples co-parent. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a fourth of all children live with one parent. Successful co-parenting implies a partnership, and even if you are divorced, your child’s emotional and psychological welfare depends upon you and your ex’s ability to co-parent in a way that is at least civil and, at best amicable.
Characteristics of Healthy Co-Parenting
Parenting is a tough job that becomes even more challenging when there is a divorce. Parents should see each other as partners even though they are no longer a couple. The parenting plan agreed upon with the divorce should be followed closely. It is healthy for children to share time with both parents. The kids have to come first. A healthy sign of co-parenting is seeing both parents attend sports events, plays, or recitals without making a scene.
In a healthy relationship, parents agree; they have each other’s back. The theory of divide and conquer was never more accurate than in co-parenting. Setting equal boundaries for children such as bedtimes and screen time on a united front provides stability.
In a healthy co-parenting relationship, there is flexibility. Sometimes extended families have activities that don’t necessarily fit into the family plan, or some family comes to visit from out of town. Having flexibility shows a willingness to compromise.
One of the critical components of this relationship is respect. No one speaks ill of the other, not the parents, not the children. Children hear, see, and imitate their parents’ behavior. Co-parents in a healthy relationship respect each other’s time, resources, and ideas.
Communication is probably the most significant factor in having a healthy co-parenting relationship. Parents need to communicate with one another, and the children should have access to either parent regardless of with whom they are residing at the time.
Working on a Healthy Co-Parenting Relationship in NJ
Experts provide pages and pages of advice to divorced couples who want to avoid the toxicity frequently found between parents after their divorce. Here is what some of them have to say. First, show each other respect and civility. If one rule had to be chosen, this would be the one. Do not insult one another in person, on the phone, in texts, when talking with family or friends, teachers or coaches, no one. Your children love both of you, and to hear you speak ill of someone they love is heartbreaking. Do not argue with your ex and not in front of the children if you must. Don’t interview your children after they visit your ex. They will want to make you happy but don’t want to betray the other parent by divulging information they are supposed to keep secret.
Importance of Creating a Healthy Environment For the Children
Children learn how to treat others by watching the people around them. Respect is of the utmost importance in all families, not just those affected by divorce. Children who watch their divorced parents speak to one another civilly, coordinate plans for the coming week, discuss or even disagree politely will learn to do the same. There is security and a sense of safety when parents avoid aggression by demonstrating a willingness to put their children’s needs first. This attitude can later be applied in the children’s lives when compromise is needed. It teaches them to get along with someone even when they don’t agree on everything.
Talking about feelings, holding space for all of the emotions children have, and allowing them to talk about them free of judgment or sarcasm is crucial to their emotional and psychological development. They need to be heard on their terms to develop a confident sense of self. The best environment to provide for them is where both parents are open and willing to listen. Another cornerstone in your relationship with your ex is compromised. Try to keep an open mind and pick your battles. Is that extra Saturday every three months the hill you want to die on? Put things in perspective and focus on the primary goal: happy, healthy children.
Secure a Healthy Setting For Yourself
Divorce can take a toll on the health and wellness of everyone involved. If you want to create a healthy surrounding for your children, it is essential to take care of yourself. You will never be able to move on with your new life if you don’t try new things. Book clubs, exercise classes (Cross Fit, yoga) can put you in a group atmosphere where you can socialize and stretch those “meeting people muscles.” Seeking companionship (platonic or otherwise) is a great way to keep you emotionally healthy. Constructing a healthy space makes coming home something special every day. Even on a budget, adding some pillows here or painting an accent wall there can perk you up and keep you moving. Showing your children that life will continue is the best reason to take care of yourself.
Influence of an Unhealthy Relationship on the Children
When co-parents are constantly at war, their children feel insecure, frightened, and even angry. When there are fights, often, children feel the need to choose a side to please the parent they have picked as the favorite. Children are sponges and absorb everything they see and hear, so when parents disrespect one another by insulting or yelling, it can be traumatic for them. Discussions about back child support, reimbursements for medical or dental appointments can give them the sense that money is scarce. Even if it is, that isn’t something they should be listening to. When children watch their parents fight, they think they are the reason their parents split up in the first place. They carry tremendous guilt, and this unhealthy relationship can cause resentment, hostility, and rebelliousness toward either parent or both.
How Can An Unhealthy Relationship Affect You?
First and foremost, scientists have directly linked the amount of stress a person has and their immune system. A never-ending cycle of colds, flu, stomach viruses, etc., can affect your work and home life, making you unable to function at anything more than the bare minimum. Depression and grief are expected, and getting professional help can slowly help you turn things around. Still, a toxic relationship with your ex will hinder your ability to connect with your family. Stress can affect your appetite and lead you to binge eating or eating very little. The routines you had of exercising, playing with your children, taking time to go to the movies, or having drinks with friends, are all pushed by the wayside, and you isolate yourself. This is a dangerous space to be in emotionally, and seeking the advice of a therapist is a necessary first step.
Contact a Family Lawyer to Help You Build A Good Co-Parenting Foundation in Middletown, Wall, Point Pleasant, and Mantoloking NJ
A divorce is never easy, and when managing the decision-making needed to protect your children can be frustrating when you and your ex cannot agree on much. It is helpful to have someone in your corner to guide you through the process of settlement, a parenting plan, and financial support for the spouse and children.
The first step you should take is to meet with your spouse and your lawyers to make a parenting plan with visitation dates and times clearly worked out, including holidays and vacations. Lawyers, like the ones at the Bronzino Law Firm, are superb negotiators and can help you build a parenting plan for your situation. Sometimes divorce brings out the absolute worst in people. There is hurt, anger, sadness, and fear. The family law professionals at the Bronzino Law Firm are compassionate, good listeners, capable of taking care of your and your children’s rights.
Let us show you the most effective strategies to complete your divorce as healthy as possible for your family. Call us at(732) 812-3102 or contact us online for your free confidential consultation. Our experienced lawyers provide service in Little Egg Harbor, Beach Haven, Manchester, Colts Neck, Belmar, Point Pleasant, Tinton Falls, and towns throughout Monmouth and Ocean County. Let our knowledge and experience provide you with the support you need most at this time.
Experienced Lawyers will Provide Advice when Juggling Divorce and Bankruptcy in New Jersey
Filing for Divorce and Bankruptcy plus deciding which one comes first.
Divorce is the cause of financial ruin for many couples, and inversely economic issues are one of the leading causes for divorce. We mismanage our money as couples because we were taught not to talk about it. Should a couple consider divorce and filing for bankruptcy in New Jersey, what should they do first? Unfortunately, there isn’t a cut-and-dried answer. Every situation is different and cannot be determined without analyzing the factors and conditions of the divorce and the bankruptcy. The optimal way to do this is by hiring a skilled bankruptcy and divorce attorney promptly.
Pros and Cons If I File For Divorce Before Bankruptcy in New Jersey
First, it is essential to determine what kind of bankruptcy you are filing for. Chapter 7 clears out your debts with the court’s approval. This process usually takes a few months. Chapter 13 is a reorganization of your debts, and you repay them using a payment plan. Some of the obligations may eventually be discharged.
Filing for divorce before bankruptcy may be more straightforward because the property and the debts will have been equally distributed in the divorce. The heavy lifting has been done. Also, if you are listing your income alone, there is a better chance you will qualify for Chapter 7 in terms of revenue. Your payments will be measured individually, increasing your opportunities to be under the income limit for filing for bankruptcy. Also, If you and your ex do not work together well, this is ideal as you won’t have to work with one another on the bankruptcy case.
Now the bad news is that filing for bankruptcy after your divorce means you have to pay your filing fee and attorney instead of sharing the expenses with your ex-spouse. Also, if your ex-spouse was ordered to pay a joint debt, like a medical bill during the equitable distribution of the divorce, but it was discharged in the bankruptcy, the creditor can still go after you to collect on it. You cannot go to family court to uphold the order that your ex pays the debt because the discharge from the bankruptcy trumps family court.
What If I File For Bankruptcy Before Divorce in NJ?
Most of the time, people choose to file for Ch.7 bankruptcy because it takes three to four months rather than three to five years. Also, Ch.13 involves a certain amount of repayment on the debtor’s part through a payment plan, while Ch.7 removes any qualifying debt. You are filing for bankruptcy before your divorce can delay the distribution of assets. You will be assigned a bankruptcy trustee to keep your assets in a bankruptcy estate. Those items will be sold, and your debtors will distribute the money.
The benefits to filing for bankruptcy before divorce is that you can get rid of debts and get out of contracts like a car loan or your mortgage (if your house is underwater, it has no equity). You and your spouse can use the same lawyer and file together. When filing jointly, your combined income must be below the “means test.” This is an analysis of your average monthly payment for six months before filing against the median income in your state. If you are in a one-income household, filing before your divorce will help you pass the means test because both of you have debt, but only one of you is earning a salary. Relieving some debts will make it easier for the wage earner to pay alimony in the future.
Advantages of Filing Together in NJ Courts
There are some advantages to filing together. The first is that you can double the exemptions in your bankruptcy profile. An exemption is an asset not placed in the bankruptcy estate, so it will not be sold to pay the creditors. This is an excellent way to keep more help than filing individually. Filing a joint petition will reduce the number of assets and debts distributed in the divorce proceedings. Moreover, the legal costs are lower when filing together and using the same lawyer. Also, couples who file together profess to a more organized divorce process when filing before their divorce.
Bankruptcy and Child Support in New Jersey
Bankruptcy does not discharge child support. It is impossible to include child support in the debt discharged by bankruptcy. There are times when a parent’s economic problems cause them to make late or partial payments, but they can file a motion to modify support until the situation improves. Medical bills or other debts incurred from a child’s care cannot be discharged either.
Why Is It Important To Include Credit Debt In Your Bankruptcy?
There are a few reasons you should include credit debt in your bankruptcy. First, credit cards are unsecured debt, Which means that whatever you purchase does not have to be returned, and your debt is not guaranteed against your house, car, or another asset. Second, if you and your spouse are preparing to divorce and the credit card debt is discharged for your spouse, the credit card company can go after you. It is essential to include that you must not make any luxury purchases or go on shopping sprees from six months of considering bankruptcy because, in all likelihood, that debt will not be discharged.
Advantage of Filing For Bankruptcy Before Divorce When it Comes to Joint Accounts
A joint filing can be challenging because it demands cooperation between spouses. The good news is it gets the debts and assets organized, making the distribution part of the divorce simpler and smoother. Legal fees and the time necessary to agree on everything are lessened because many of the decisions have already been made when it comes time for the divorce.
Navigate Through the Variety of Options and the Specifics of Your Divorce Case with Help from the Lawyers at Bronzino Law Firm in Brick & Sea Girt, NJ
Many are the pros and cons of filing for bankruptcy before or after your divorce. The only person who can advise you on your decision is an excellent lawyer. Each case is different, and your needs should be taken into account. It is scary to file for bankruptcy. What if you are refused? What if not enough debt is discharged? How long will my divorce take? There are so many questions.
At Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, we have many of the answers you need to move forward with your divorce and bankruptcy. Our goal is to stand beside you during the entire process and provide the representation you deserve as we analyze every angle and possible results.
The one mistake you don’t want to make is waiting too long. The sooner we can help you, the better. You can contact us from Freehold, Rumson, Red Bank, Manchester, Toms River, Middletown, Berkeley, and throughout Ocean and Monmouth County for additional assistance. Call us for your free confidential consultation at (732) 812-3102 or fill out here our convenient form.
Conversion of Child Support to Financial Maintenance for Disabled Children in Ocean and Monmouth County, NJ
Our family lawyers can help you handle financial maintenance supporting a disabled adult child and government benefits that exist to that end.
According to New Jersey’s Child Support Termination Law, a non-custodial parent is required to pay child support until the child turns 19 years old. Before this law, which was enacted in 2017, a non-custodial parent was required to pay child support until one parent filed a motion with the court to declare the child ‘emancipated,’ effectively ending financial duty.
According to the Child Support Termination Law, child support can be extended for another four years if it is determined by the court before the child’s 19th birthday that the child is disabled. This is explained in the associated statute: N.J.S.A. 2A:17-56.57.
As of a disabled child’s 23rd birthday, the non-custodial parent is no longer required to pay child support. Instead, there is a system in place in which child support can be transitioned into what is called ‘financial maintenance.’
Financial Maintenance When it Comes to a Disabled Child in New Jersey
As noted, child support duties end when a child turns 23, even if they have been determined by the court to be physically or mentally disabled to an extent that the child requires additional financial support after their 19th birthday. As of the child’s 23rd birthday, even a disabled person is considered ‘emancipated’ by the New Jersey courts and child support is no longer a financial duty of the non-custodial parent. However, child support responsibilities may transition into ‘financial maintenance’ duties for an adult dependent if a motion is filed requesting this support that includes evidence of such need. In many cases, the court orders a parent to pay financial maintenance in the same amount as the prior child support payments, but the amount determined by the court will be dependent on the evidence provided to show medical, living, or school expense support needed. Contrary to child support, financial maintenance payments are not handled by the New Jersey Probation Division, and as such are more difficult to enforce, though they are court-ordered.
Emancipation and Children with Disabilities
As of a disabled child’s 23rd birthday, they are considered emancipated. At this point, a non-custodial parent’s duties to pay child support end. However, these financial support duties may be rolled over into financial maintenance requirements if a motion filed by either parent is approved by the court.
How Long Does one Pay Financial Maintenance for a Disabled Child in NJ?
There is no set point at which financial maintenance must end. As such, a non-custodial parent must file a motion with the court claiming that the financial needs of the adult dependent have shifted in order to be released from financial maintenance duties.
Government Assistance for Children with Special Needs
The Special Needs Alliance outlines a number of government resources available for children with special needs. They include the Social Security Insurance (SSI) income in the case that the family is considered low-income; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, another government program for low-income families that is not limited to families with special needs children; and Social Security Disabled Adult Children benefits, among others.
Recognizing Security DAC Benefits and Their Requirements in NJ
Social Security Disabled Adult Child (DAC) benefits provide government-funded financial support for adult dependents with special needs. These benefits apply to adult children who are at least 18 years old and whose disability began before the age of 22. Those who are able to prove that they are unable to work due to their disability receive Social Security Disability Benefits.
Supplemental Benefits Trust
A supplemental benefits trust is a trust that is set up to add to government benefits on behalf of a person with a disability, including a child, adult dependent, or another person with a disability. A trustee supplements government benefits for the disabled person but does not replace them. This provides a security net in the case that the adult dependent becomes for some reason no longer eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income benefits but still has enhanced financial needs, such as may be the case if they are able to earn a meager income but lose their SSI benefits as a result of employment.
Child Support Calculation in the Case of a Child with Special Needs
The New Jersey Child Support Guidelines outline factors the court takes into consideration when determining how much child support a non-custodial parent will be required to pay. When it comes to special needs children, the court takes into consideration the financial capacities of the non-custodial parent and the financial amount required to maintain the child prior to the divorce. The child support amount for a special needs child may likely be higher than other more traditional child support payment requirements.
Seek the Advice of a Child Support & Family Lawyer to Identify and Eventually Claim DAC Benefits in Toms River & Freehold, NJ
Having a family law attorney on your side through this often convoluted process can mean the difference between losing child support payments at your child’s 23rd birthday though they still require heightened financial support, and being able to draw from a number of resources to maintain your adult child’s well-being, such as from the non-custodial parent’s continued payment through financial maintenance, as well as government programs designed to create financial stability for your family and your child’s special needs.
During the critical transition into a special needs child’s emancipation, a skilled family law attorney can ensure that your adult dependent’s needs are taken care of. Are you the divorced parent of an adult child with special needs? We are here to help. Our clients in Beach Haven, Holmdel, Manalapan, Toms River, Freehold, Colts Neck, Middletown, and towns in Ocean and Monmouth County receive the support they need to care for their child’s physical, mental, and financial future.
Here at The Bronzino Law Firm, we know how dear your child is to you, and how critical it is to protect their right to health and financial security. Contact us at (732) 812-3102 to set up a time to discuss your family situation.
Mediation Offers Several Advantages You Can Discuss With an Experienced Mediation Lawyer in NJ
There are several benefits to mediation, whether it is voluntary or court-ordered.
Mediation is consistently being chosen by couples seeking to divorce in a less combative and hostile manner. It consists of the couple and a mediator who will direct discussion around the critical points such as child custody, child support, alimony, and distribution of debts and assets. The mediator is usually familiar with family law and financial matters. Several sessions are typically paid for down the middle by the couple. The mediator prepares a “Memorandum of Understanding” to be given to each party’s lawyer. They will write up the PSA (Property Settlement Agreement), a binding document in the divorce.
Mediation Advantages Over Litigation in New Jersey
Cost is one of the biggest advantages when it comes to mediation. It is substantially less expensive as opposed to litigation. A mediator is paid per hour, per session, and the cost is split between two people. Many mediators do not require a retainer as lawyers do (from $2,000 to $10,000) and charge about $200 per hour instead of a lawyer’s fees which can run from $250-$600 per hour. If the Carrisons choose to mediate their divorce settlement, on the first day, they spend 4 hours with their mediator at the cost of $150 per hour. That means each spouse paid $300 for that session. If the Greens went straight to litigation and spent 5 hours waiting for their turn in court, they have just spent $1,250 each and haven’t even started their case. Of course, there will be times when mediation can stall and become more expensive, but even then, it is less than litigation.
Private mediation sessions can be scheduled at the convenience of everyone involved. This provides ample time for preparation and reflection instead of court sessions which are subject to availability on the calendar. The efficiency of mediation takes much less time in terms of conflict resolution than litigation.
Rest assured that litigation leaves no stone unturned, no matter how delicate the subject matter. What is left of your dignity disappears as every text message, and email rapidly becomes common knowledge and on the record. Mediation is a confidential process that allows couples to be upfront and sincere, their minds eased by the fact that the sessions and their contents are private.
Anytime a relationship ends, emotions are running high. Mediation is effective at turning points of contention into points of consideration. This is not to say that sensitive subjects suddenly become inconsequential. Still, the ability to speak in confidence in a meeting room instead of putting on a show of sorts in an extensive, formal courtroom provides an opportunity for sincerity and flexibility in a safe space of mutual respect.
And the Kids
The less conflict, the better for everyone involved, especially the children. It isn’t just about “winning” when you are both hurting your kids. It is essential that you set an example of how to reach a compromise, even when you may not like each other very much right now. Children should never be forced to choose sides or to “tattle” on the other parent as fodder for mud-slinging in court. Adult issues should stay between the adults, but children will overhear or perceive discord. There is no doubt that there will be questions, but it is an excellent opportunity to talk about peaceful conflict resolution.
Benefits of NJ Court-Mandated Mediation
There are times when mediation is not voluntary. The NJ Courts frequently send couples to mediation before settling the divorce in a courtroom to allow the couple an opportunity to resolve their disputes through mediation rather than hashing them out over a lengthy, contentious trial. Parents focus on the best interests of their children more often than not, putting their well-being ahead of any personal agenda against their ex. Divorce is a scary time for everyone, and when children see the grown-ups acting as such, they feel more confident and less anxious. Another plus is that court-mandated mediation for child-related issues is free.
The MESP (Matrimonial Early Settlement Panel) is one kind of obligatory mediation. This panel will look into all of the financial disputes holding your divorce settlement back. Each spouse creates a memo with their lawyer that indicates where they stand on the economic area of the settlement. The lawyers will present the positions to a panel of two family law attorneys who will then recommend. This is not mediation because the couple does not settle the matter directly through a mediator, but their proposals are considered. If the suggestions are accepted and there is no custody problem, the divorce can be finalized the same day as the MESP. If not, the divorce will be scheduled for trial.
Whenever child custody is involved in a split, the couple is ordered to participate in mediation. The couple must construct a parenting plan in mediation to present to the Court. Not all plans are complete because sometimes the relationship breaks down and will not move further, but custody mediation gets the ball rolling. Parents who take an active role in the choices made regarding their parenting plan and child support are more likely to work together when future situations require it.
If You Want to Know More About what Mediation can do for You, Contact Our Family Law Offices in South Jersey
Mediation is not for everyone, but it can be a quicker and less expensive way to settle your divorce. Also, couples who go through mediation have more success in their relationships with new partners thereafter. There is nothing easy about getting a divorce, but you can be given negotiating tools that you can use moving forward by using mediation.
Bronzino Law Firm knows that there are many issues on which you need to decide. We do not believe in a cookie-cutter divorce. Our goal is to map out a plan with you, listen to what you want for your family, and help to implement that plan. The alternative dispute resolution options are there for the taking, if that is the most suitable venue for your family law matter. Whether you choose to litigate or go to mediation, we will be behind you all of the way.
If you want to discuss the possibility of mediation with one of our mediation lawyers in Sea Girt, Toms River, Berkeley, Stafford, Howell, Holmdel, Jackson, Freehold, or any town in Ocean and Monmouth Counties, contact us at (732) 812-3102 to schedule a consultation or fill out our online contact form to get back to you.
Key Information to Know about Wages in a Divorce in New Jersey
Influence of Income and Earning Potential on Divorce Outcomes in Monmouth and Ocean County, NJ
The lives of parents and children depend on financial support for their survival after divorce. Though the calculation for support begins with the income of both parents or spouses without children, determining what is and is not income for a support calculation can be tricky. The calculation for child support, for example, begins with each parent’s gross monthly or annual income. Gross income is commonly known as the before-tax income, whether by employee wages or self-employment income. Paid employees can easily calculate gross monthly income by their check stubs. Self-employed parents, however, have a more difficult time arriving at a gross monthly income due to expenses and other adjustments. Regardless of how calculated, support is a critical measure of post-divorce life quality for divorcing families.
One or both spouses may be wage earners before, during, and after marriage. Wage earner gross income includes wages, which a W2 summarizes for the year. Paycheck subs also provide monthly and year-to-date gross income calculations. However, wages may also be tips, bonuses, royalties, and commissions for food servers, CEO’s, artists, investors, and salespeople, for example. And for those who collect fees, say, for consulting, that income is also included. For self-employed folks, on the other hand, gross income includes proceeds from operating a business, less the ordinary expenses for running a business. For example, a landscaping business may bring in $4,000.00 a month for residential landscaping, but expenses to provide landscaping services include gas to run mowers, blowers, and trucks and maintenance on the tools and machinery to conduct the business. Business owners may also deduct employees and independent contractor pay from gross proceeds.
Examples of Gross Income in New Jersey
Other businesses, such as real estate rentals, include rental income and property value increases or gains from rental sales. Again, though, the cost of repairs, management fees, and other expenses incidental to owning and operating rental units can offset rental income. And investors have interest and dividends on their stock, annuities, trusts, life insurance policies, contracts, and other holdings to consider as income in addition to investment sales. Personal injury or other lawsuit awards, including workers’ compensation; retirement plan distributions; trust interests; profit-sharing plan distributions; disability payments; unemployment benefits; severance pay; and governmental and private retirement and deferred compensation distributions, are all part of gross income. Even alimony from prior relationships is income.
Dealing With Imputed Income
Other sources most people do not consider are net gambling winnings, income tax credits, rebates, and overtime pay. The most challenging source of income to calculate is cash. Some businesses operate on a cash basis, and without diligent records and truthful disclosure, cash income is easy to hide from taxing agencies and spouses in divorce proceedings. But what baffles many divorce participants is imputed income. Parties looking to dodge alimony or lower child support payments believe that working for lower wages helps them in the long run. For example, a top executive in a Fortune 500 company with an annual salary of over $500,000.00 a year may consider taking a lower-paying job as a sales manager in the company, making half as much annually, until the divorce is over.
How Do Courts Manage to Impute Income in NJ?
Courts are wise to that maneuver and may impute income, meaning assign an income to the party whose potential is to make the salary they did for the last three to ten years given their level of experience and education. They may also rely on state Labor Department statistics on earnings for the spouse’s occupation to attribute income. The same applies to an unemployed spouse with a consistent history of making a specific wage or salary in their employment history. A court may impute even a minimum wage full-time income to one who is unemployed or underemployed unless there are legitimate reasons for not working, like medical conditions, whether temporary or long-term. In that case, a party may have disability payments included in their income calculation.
When Determining Gross Income is not that Easy
While sometimes the gross income calculation is easy, other times the calculation is not that easy, even for a wage earner. Those caught in the part-time work cycle may have fluctuating income over the years, as do employees with annual bonuses or commissions that vary so that income averaging may be appropriate. A court may add up all sources of income, such as commissions, bonuses, and base pay for the three to five years before the time of calculation to assign a gross income to one or both parties. In addition, a court can configure future income with projections for those just starting careers. New employees expect pay raises as one party starts on a new job or career, like an unemployed homemaker who goes to school and becomes a teacher or a medical doctor who begins as an intern and then becomes a full-fledged doctor. The averaging projections can affect support and alimony.
Considerations on Income Averaging in New Jersey
Income averaging may cause conflict and controversy as it is not an exact reflection of income. For example, a spouse whose income includes large bonuses based on company performance in some years and small or nonexistent bonuses in others may be struggling to meet support obligations in leaner years. The same may be true for commission earners in industries with up and down cycles. For example, solar company sales may be profitable when government policies endorse and subsidize alternative energy sources but are poor under administrations that do not. Seasonal employment and teachers who do not work in the summers may also be subject to income averaging.
Having the Support of an Experienced NJ Family Lawyer Can Be a Turning Point in Your Case
Fortunately, experienced family lawyers can be creative to resolve impasses on income attribution and support. Support may be calculated based on supplemental support payments contingent on percentage increases due to good vs. bad years. Creativity and strong advocacy are essential for spouses who must live as single parents post-divorce. While married, one spouse may have sacrificed a career to child-rearing. At the time of divorce, the unemployed parent may need time and vocational rehabilitation to become self-supporting. Thus, alimony may be high for the payor spouse while the other spouse gets educated, trains for a position, or re-emerges into the workforce at an entry-level position.
Formulas for life stages can be helpful to keep parties from having to come back to court to adjust support based on changing incomes, though sometimes that is inevitable. People lose jobs, get sick, win the lottery, or otherwise roller coaster through the economic up and downturns. When you are divorcing and have variable income, you probably need help calculating support and arguing for a feasible solution to meet your support obligations or receive support for your children and you. Consulting with a professional family law attorney is a must to ensure you and your children have the means to survive and thrive.
Contact our Divorce & Family Lawyers for Advice on Earning Capacity Issues in Toms River & Freehold NJ
The lawyers at the Bronzino Law Firm have been helping clients balance their needs and priorities with the demands of everyday life, employment, and divorce for years. We have an attuned ear when it comes to understanding your situation and are particularly adept at crafting unique solutions to best resolve your conundrums throughout the divorce process.
If you are in need of assistance or further guidance in a divorce case in Howell, Jackson, Middletown, Manchester, Sea Girt, Beach Haven, Toms River, or elsewhere in Ocean and Monmouth County, contact our Brick office to confer with a lawyer free of charge.
We can help you assess how earning potential; past, current, and future income may impact your key issues like spousal support, custody, and equitable distribution. Call (732) 812-3102 today to learn more.
Know the Do’s and Don’ts When it Comes to Refusing a Paternity Test in NJ
The process of determining paternity can be initiated by a man who believes they are the child’s father, the child’s mother or custodial parent, or the child whose paternity is in question.
Paternity is who is legally the father of a child. In New Jersey, fatherhood is typically established when a man and a woman have been married for at least ten months before the child’s birth. If the parents are not married, they must complete a parentage certificate, identifying themselves as the mother and father of the baby. The certificate is then given to a birth certificate coordinator, who will file it with the Department of Health and request that a birth certificate be conferred.
Can a Father Legally Refuse a DNA Test in New Jersey?
The short answer is yes. The long answer is more complex. A complaint is submitted to identify the paternity of the child. Family Part Intake Service will establish a hearing. What happens when the supposed father does not appear or does not acknowledge paternity? In that case, Family Part Intake Service will schedule a hearing with the Child Support Hearing Officer, who will recommend to the court that both individuals take a DNA test. The tests are expected within ten days of submitting the test order. If the alleged father denies taking a paternity test, he can be charged with contempt of court, leading to fines and even a criminal charge. Most of the time, if the father refuses to take a DNA test, the court will assume that the test results would not have favored the father, which is why he refused the test.
Can You Be Forced To Take a Paternity Test?
No one can take a swab or blood sample from a person under duress. Everyone has complete autonomy over their own body.
Paternity Tests Options in New Jersey
There are a few types of paternity tests utilized in New Jersey. The most common is a blood test where the blood from the father, mother, and baby is analyzed to determine parenthood. This is called the Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity Test and has an accuracy rate of 99.9%. The second is the CVS (Chorionic Villus Sampling), which requires the insertion of a needle into the mother’s cervix to extract chorionic villi (tiny pieces of placental tissue containing the same genetic material as the fetus).
What If a Mother Refuses a Paternity Test?
Again, no one can be obligated to participate in genetic testing if they choose not to. Body autonomy comes first, but a man cannot be compelled to pay child support until paternity is proven, so it would behoove her to cooperate.
Possible Scenarios to Request A Paternity Test
A paternity test isn’t always requested by the mother alone. A man who believes he is the biological father or wants to disprove his paternity can request a trial. Someone who legally represents a child and can act on their behalf or a state social service agency investigating a problem with neglect. A child who is 18 years or older can also request a test.
Challenging Paternity in New Jersey
Anyone involved in the paternity of a child can challenge the established paternity as long as it takes place before the child’s 23rd birthday. The person challenging a legal presumption of paternity must present clear and convincing evidence.
When the court requires DNA testing, several factors affect the decision. For example, the nature and length of the relationship between the child and the supposed father, the age of the child, any harm that would come to the child upon knowing paternity as other than what has been stated all along, how the acknowledged father’s realization of his non-paternity came about, and others.
The parties should focus on these factors in either seeking DNA testing or asking the court to deny DNA testing.
What Taking a Paternity Test can Offer the Child
A child with a mother and a father lives a more well-rounded experience, able to have a relationship with relatives from both sides of the family, creating a sense of identity not given when a parent is absent. Child support cannot be determined until paternity is established and necessary resources. Also, having access to their medical history is of utmost importance to their health. Many hereditary conditions can be prevented if they are recognized early. A father’s health plan, social security benefits, inheritance, or life insurance benefits a child when paternity is established.
Are You in the Midst of a Paternity Case? Contact our Knowledgeable Paternity Lawyers in Freehold and Toms River, NJ
Have you been boxed out by the mother of your child because she won’t acquiesce to a paternity test? Do you need someone on your side? If you have custody issues, need help with child support, or assistance to determine paternity, the Bronzino Law Firm can provide you with the service you need. From child custody agreements to paternity determinations, our years of experience put us in the perfect position to provide you with the representation you require.
Wills, living trusts, and inheritance can all be affected by a change in paternity, and you need to protect your family’s rights. Deciding paternity can be an emotional experience, and we are sensitive to your situation. Our well-versed family law team’s attorneys are ready to serve your needs, as we so often do for clients in Berkeley, Colts Neck, Rumson, Belmar, Manasquan, Freehold, Middletown, and towns and across Ocean and Monmouth County, and the Jersey Shore.
The Costs of Running the Household as a Factor in Your New Jersey Divorce
There are Several Financial Ramifications to Consider Once the Divorce is Underway, Housing Related-Expenses being One
Getting a divorce is costly, but living as a divorced person can be even more so. Expenses double when needing to provide for two households. In all likelihood, the standard of living to which a family is accustomed is drastically changed after a divorce. Spousal support, distribution of assets and debts, child support, and the costs of running two households can put severe stress on an already difficult situation. The best way to manage the changes is with the help of a financial planner and an experienced divorce lawyer.
Household Finances when Getting a Divorce
With divorce comes sweeping changes to the household finances. The most obvious of these is the family home. Usually, the mortgage is paid by whoever lives there. If both spouses are on the deed, the loan must be refinanced by that person to place the mortgage in one name. If the loan is not approved, or the payments are too high, the house must be sold, the debt paid, and any remaining income will be divided through the equitable distribution process. Another option is a buyout. One spouse pays their share of the equity in the house to the other. If the home is “underwater” (more is owed on the mortgage than what the house is worth), a short sale can be held where the bank will purchase the home for the asking price even when it is below what is owed. This frequently occurs when the house has been purchased within five years of the divorce.
If spouses live apart during the divorce, keeping up with two households can be a budget buster. There are fixed expenses such as rent, mortgage, car payments (for two cars), insurance for vehicles, health, life, and homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, childcare, cable/internet services, utilities, gym membership, and extra-curricular activities such as sports or dance/music lessons for the children. Variable expenses are either unexpected, or their amount is not the same every month. Examples of varying costs are groceries, gas, car maintenance, apparel, footwear, one-time purchases such as household appliances (if the house or apartment is unfurnished), household goods, and furniture. Vacations or weekends with the children will also need to be considered.
Factoring in Housing Expenses during the Equitable Distribution Process in NJ
Like many states, New Jersey divides assets and debts in a divorce “fair but not equal” manner. Separate assets such as a property purchased before the marriage or an inheritance can be left out of the distribution under certain conditions. Marital property is divided based on the contributions of each party. It is seen as a partnership even when only one person works outside of the home. If one partner chooses to sacrifice their career to stay at home and take care of the children, it is still considered a valuable contribution. Still, a judge will not calculate a monetary amount.
Debts have to be distributed as well, primarily credit card debts. Usually, the person with more income will pay the lion’s share of the debt. Although it may be tempting, running up a huge credit card bill just before settling the divorce is a terrible idea. The court could obligate the binging spender to pay the entire bill independently. Credit card debt is the leading reason people file for bankruptcy post-divorce. If the credit cards are in both names and one person files for bankruptcy, the other is left holding the bag, and the credit companies will go after them aggressively.
The age of the spouses when getting a divorce is also important to consider. For instance, grey divorce is when a couple over the age of 60 gets divorced. Financially, this kind of divorce can be the most devastating. After decades of commingling assets, buying a home, sharing debts and savings, equitably dividing it all will take a significant amount of time, discussion, and probably heartache. Dividing retirement accounts and investments has severe penalties and tax issues. If there are children, even adult children, their inheritance will be divided between spouses. The house which was supposed to be used to grow old in, will be sold and its earnings divided.
Maintaining a Household Alone after the Divorce
As a divorced parent, you are responsible for maintaining your household alone. Yes, alimony and child support help somewhat, but money isn’t the only issue. You independently must work out the children’s schedules, when to drop them off and pick them up, prepare all of the meals, maintain the grounds and the interior of the home when minor repairs are necessary, with no other adult to lighten the load. Moms and dads experience anxiety equally. But women struggle more financially than men after divorce. In 2019, in New Jersey, single mothers earned 35% less than single fathers after their divorce. Another financial consequence is that children of divorced parents earn less and are more likely to get divorced, affecting them financially.
Outline an Action Plan for Handling Household Financial Considerations in Your Divorce with Help from our Divorce Lawyers in Sea Girt and Brick, NJ
Divorce is not something you want to do alone. Alimony, parenting plans, custody issues, child support, division of assets are only complicated issues faced in the divorce process. It would help if you had a qualified divorce attorney prepared to guide you through the divorce process, answer your questions, quell your anxiety, and provide you with a result you feel confident to accept.
At Bronzino Law Firm, with local offices in Brick and Sea Girt, we have a team ready to analyze your specific divorce case and discuss how we can help protect your financial future. There is a lot of work to be done, and we look forward to doing it with you.
If you are considering a divorce, have already filed for divorce, or know someone who has, please reach out for legal guidance and representation by calling (732) 812-3102 or via our online contact form. We can be of assistance in Brick, Beach Haven, Manasquan, Rumson, Red Bank, Monmouth Beach, Ocean Township, and towns throughout Monmouth and Ocean County. Do not hesitate to get in contact and allow us to work together with you on how to best position you during and after the divorce process.