Tax Issues in Divorce Attorney Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
Frequently, couples filing for divorce rarely consider the tax implications and changes in their filings after the divorce is settled.
How will alimony change your tax situation? Can both couples claim the children as dependents? When do you have to stop filing jointly? Does sale or equitable distribution of the assets change the amount of taxes to be paid? It is a complex process that requires expertise and knowledge of the changing laws in order to meet your needs and specific situation.
HOW DOES ALIMONY AFFECT MY TAXABLE INCOME?
A major change that came out of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a new tax rule that applies to alimony orders put in place on or after January 1, 2019. Before, the spouse required to pay alimony could deduct payment amounts from their income taxes. The spouse who received alimony had to claim it as income. Couples who divorced prior to 2019 are not included due to what is known as a grandfather clause which creates an exemption based on circumstances that existed previously.
Under new tax rules applied to new orders, alimony payors can no longer claim the deduction; alimony payments remain part of the taxable income. Spouses who receive alimony are not required to claim it as income because that would mean the amount of alimony would be taxed twice, both from the payee and the recipient.
Unfortunately, this new law can affect the way alimony is negotiated making the divorce process more complicated than ever before. Lump-sum payments of alimony rather than monthly payments are becoming more popular considering the new tax laws. Negotiating marital assets is another way to handle the present tax situation. For spouses who receive alimony, any plan must be subject to great scrutiny to ensure their financial security will be safeguarded.
CAN BOTH PARTIES CLAIM CHILDREN AS DEPENDENTS?
After a divorce complaint is filed, the court may require one spouse to interim support, to maintain as much financial stability as possible during the divorce litigation. When the court orders this interim support, the judge may not specify that as being for the spouse or the children. Unless the judge indicates that the interim support is non-taxable, if the recipient spouse does not file a joint income tax return, that interim support received is taxable.
Child support payments determined at the time a divorce is granted are not considered income taxable to the parent who is receiving them, nor the parent paying child support is able to deduct those payments on his or her tax return.
Post-divorce the litigants may have a dispute over deductions or exemptions. The parent with primary residential custody may claim the children as exemptions on his/her income tax return. In a settlement, the parties may agree to share the exemptions or alternate them in some way. That agreement should be placed in writing to insure adherence by both parties.
WHEN SHOULD A SEPARATED COUPLE STOP FILING JOINTLY?
This is often a point of contention during divorce litigation when the parties are in the middle of litigation still at tax time. Should they file jointly? Should they tile separately?
Your marital status as of December 31 of the tax filing year will determine your filing status for that year. If your divorce is finalized by that date, you must file separately. If that is not the case, and one spouse wants to file a joint income tax return to be able to take advantage of the tax deductions available to married persons filing jointly, that spouse may make an application to the court to either obligate the other spouse to sign a joint income tax return or to have that spouse bear the financial consequence of not signing a joint tax return. The party seeking to file jointly would have to provide the court with a mock-up of how the returns would appear based on filing a tax return jointly and individually. The spouse objecting to filing a joint return would need to have a reasonable explanation for not wanting to file a joint tax return.
One good reason for not wanting to file a joint income tax return occurs when the other spouse is self-employed or the recipient of a large settlement or inheritance and is manipulating his or her income for tax purposes. Also, as alimony and child support are based on income, filing a report with a lesser amount could be a way to decrease spousal financial obligations. By filing jointly, the couple could be charged with tax fraud rather than the one spouse who was dishonest in his/her claim.
What Are Tax Considerations for Selling Assets to Distribute in a Divorce?
Some spouses who are divorcing might desire or be forced to sell assets in order to equitably distribute assets acquired during the marriage. There are serious tax implications to be considered. If a home or other real estate is being sold, there may be capital gains on the sale that must be allocated. Any stocks or bonds cashed in are also subject to taxation. Retirement money and 401K’s are distributed equitably and will be charged penalties for restructuring. In some cases, a capital gains tax is applied so it is important to include them in the tax plan of the divorce settlement.
Wall Township Divorce Lawyer Help You Explore different scenarios related to taxes
Divorce can be stressful, painful, even scary sometimes, but it need not be your burden alone. There are empathetic, top-notch attorneys with the experience and knowledge to guide you through this difficult time. If you would like more information, please visit our online form or call us at (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your options.
Tips on how to Manage your Estate Plan in Monmouth and Ocean County Divorce
Estate Plan Attorney educating on your financial well being in Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Ocean Township, Red Bank and across the Jersey Shore
Divorce has implications for every aspect of a person’s life, from their emotional, mental, and physical health to their financial wellbeing. During and after a divorce, most people reassess elements of their lives and plans for the future and refine them, in order to be more in alignment with their new trajectory. One financial rearrangement that may need attention is the estate plan. An estate plan doesn’t only strategically prepare you for your future – it affects your children and determines many important elements of their wellbeing in the case of your death or that of your ex. Having an understanding of how the divorce could and does affect the myriad aspects of your estate is essential in the early post-divorce process. So what are immediate steps to take involving updating your estate plan after finalizing a divorce? Read on to learn more.
Update your healthcare proxy
The healthcare proxy is the person who can legally make decisions for you if you are injured and cannot make decisions for yourself, and you likely don’t want your ex maintaining that legal power. Change your healthcare proxy to a trusted friend or family member.
Change your power of attorney
As is the case with the healthcare proxy, it is important to withdraw your ex’s legal role as the power of attorney if they are so named. In their place, name a trusted friend or family member.
Share your divorce agreement with your estate planner
Your estate planner has your family’s best interests and financial wellbeing in mind. As such, sharing your divorce agreement with them is an essential early step in the post-divorce process. Before the estate planner can help you update your estate plan, they need to know what your legal obligations are to your ex in the case of your death. What you can change will depend on what you must legally provide in the case of your death.
An estate planner can also check for holes in the divorce agreement that will adversely impact your financial wellbeing and that of your family, such as what the impact of the divorce is on retirement account beneficiaries and whether you are protected from having to pay state and federal estate taxes. The estate planner will review whether your ex can change beneficiaries and how your death would impact your children’s financial wellbeing as estate plans currently stand.
Change your will
There is a likelihood that you will no longer wish for your ex to be named in your will. If this is the case, it’s time to update it. The main revision will be removing your spouse from the role of executor of the will. Unless specifically desired, you do not want your ex to have power over your estate or your trust.
Update your beneficiaries
There are numerous savings accounts and policies for which you have named a beneficiary. Retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and IRAs are just some of the accounts you will need to update if you don’t want your ex to maintain a claim if you die. Some states automatically wipe an ex-spouse from being a beneficiary, but this is not always the case. If you named your spouse while you were married, forget to update, and then die, the process of the desired or secondary beneficiary receiving the funds could involve litigation.
Consider a trust
A shared life insurance policy will need to be addressed during the divorce proceeding. The person who owns the policy must pay premiums – yet they also have the power to change beneficiaries. In order to ensure that your children are cared for in the case of your ex’s death, it may be wise to name a trust as the owner of the insurance policies in order to ensure that a steady continuance of payment of the policy continues for the benefit of your family.
A trust can also be established in order to ensure a steady flow of alimony and child support. The creator of the trust, called the grantor, makes payments into the trust based on its outlined provisions. If the grantor dies, the beneficiaries can receive funds without probate. There are also tax advantages to setting up a trust as opposed to other forms of handling alimony and child support.
Consult an experienced Estate Planning and Divorce Attorney in Brick or Sea Girt NJ to protect your interests
At Bronzino Law Firm, our team is skilled in handling all matters of divorce and estate revisioning for our clients across in Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Ocean Township, and across the Jersey Shore.
Our unique approach ensures that your financial legacy is secure.
To meet with an experienced team member to go over your estate planning needs, please call 732-812-3102 to schedule a consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Brick and Sea Girt or fill out the online form and we´ll get back to you shortly.
Understanding Prenuptial Agreements in Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
Read on to learn what a prenuptial agreement is, why it is used, and myths about prenups that may impact your premarital decisions.
Prenuptial agreements have gotten a bad name in modern culture because it appears to be a death sentence for a marriage – before the marriage has even begun. This is not the case. A prenuptial agreement serves many purposes, and its use is not solely to ensure that, in the case of a separation, each party will walk away with pre-determined assets still in their possession.
What is a prenuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement, or ‘prenup,’ is a legal contract a couple enters into before joining together in marriage or civil union that provides them with certain controls in their marital legal rights, whether the marriage ends in death or divorce. New Jersey law sets certain legal precedents regarding the rights of a spouse in the case of separation by death or divorce, including division of assets, the right to seek alimony, and fair distribution of the estate of the spouse. A prenuptial agreement, however, can supersede those precedents
Prenups provide legal rights to couples regarding more than simply division of assets, however. Read on to learn some common myths about what a prenup is – and isn’t, and the reality of prenuptial agreement.
Myths about prenups
Fact or Fiction? The existence of a prenuptial agreement means the marriage will end up failing
This is, of course, fiction. There are many reasons a prenuptial agreement is a wise contract into which to enter, and fearing for the worst is rarely one of them. According to Business Insider, there is no conclusive evidence that the presence of a prenup results in a higher divorce rate.
Fact or Fiction? Only people with lots of money enter into prenuptial agreements
This, too, is fiction. Because the legal rights addressed in a prenup cover more than the division of assets, they are not all about big money. Prenups include legally-binding agreements from whether a spouse will be legally entitled to alimony payments in the case of a divorce to who will get the pets. They can outline how assets will be separated amongst any children and how shared debt will be handled. Because a marriage or civil union is a business partnership, a prenup acknowledges the many financial and non-financial assets to be considered in a partnership, and upon its termination.
Fact or Fiction? New Jersey prenups can include child custody arrangements in the case of divorce
This is false. The New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part holds children at the central consideration in all divorce and custody arrangements. Because the court uses this ‘best interest of the child’ standard, they must take into account the living situation each parent would offer the child at the time of the divorce, no sooner. The inclusion of a child custody arrangement in a prenuptial agreement would be invalidated by a judge.
Fact or Fiction: A prenup can be drawn up and signed without a lawyer in New Jersey.
This is factual. New Jersey law mandates that prenuptial agreements must be in writing and signed by both spouses, and included an attached statement of the assets addressed in the agreement. While New Jersey couples are encouraged to seek the support of an experienced family law attorney before submitting a prenuptial agreement to the State, it is not legally required. If one spouse hires an attorney and the other does not, a statement of acknowledgment and consent to not having an attorney must be filed as part of the prenuptial agreement. After the entry of a prenuptial agreement into law, it can only be amended or nullified with signatures from both spouses.
Fact or Fiction: If you decide later that you want legal right over your assets after you get married, you can simply sign a post-nuptial agreement.
Easy there! It is not as easy to protect your assets after you get married as that. Any assets that you have accrued between your marriage and the time you decide to arrange a postnuptial agreement are considered marital assets, and as such, they are shared equally. The process of determining what assets will remain with whom will likely require the support of an attorney, and open communication and amiability between spouses.
Get in touch with a Wall Township Prenuptial Agreement and Family Law Attorney Today
At Bronzino Law Firm, our experienced attorneys support clients in Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas in their marriage and family arrangements, including prenuptial agreements.
Separation and Parenting Time Support When Raising a Teenager
Instructing parents going through separation or divorce while raising a teenager in Spring Lake, Brick, and all of Eastern New Jersey
Separation from a spouse can upend even the most together person. In addition to all of the legal considerations and steps that must be taken to finalize the divorce and fairly distribute marital assets, one must tend to their own emotional, physical, and mental health – all of which can be upended by such a stark transition.
This is simply the personal process; add children to the mix, and the process of divorce is an experience that can shift family dynamics, and not just for the better. When you are divorcing and there is a child involved, it is imperative that you keep their stability and wellbeing at the center of all consideration. When the child is a pre-teen or teen, there are additional hurdles to maintaining stability, especially emotional. Anyone who has or has ever been a teenager knows that drama is a byproduct. The following considerations will help you navigate separation from a spouse while strengthening your bond with your teenager.
Seek the support of a parenting counselor
Committing to seek the support of a New Jersey parenting counselor with your ex can make the road to stability for you both – and your teenager – a much smoother process. A parenting counselor is trained in developing systems and norms with separated parents that ground co-parenting in common goals, visions, and routines. The parenting counselor is not there to discuss why you separated, though they will be able to help facilitate discussions regarding differences of opinion about how to raise the child. A parenting counselor is there to offer practical support while keeping a child-centric, age-appropriate focus for the co-parenting planning.
Set up shared systems and routines
Having shared systems in place is key to a stable environment for a teen splitting time between parents. Shifts in hormones, as well as the drama and stress that today’s teens face, in addition to the divorce, make for trying atmosphere within and around them. Have as many grounded routines as possible in place in both homes, so your teen feels a sense of consistency and safety despite an inwardly turbulent experience. As part of your custody arrangement, you will develop a parenting time agreement with your former spouse. Be as detailed as possible about arrangements for co-parenting, and be willing to update it as you try it on and get a feel for what works – and what doesn’t work – for your teen and you both.
When common systems are in place, it makes it easier for you as a parent to check in with your teen about how their time with their other parent was, as you have a frame of reference and a sense of understanding of what your child’s day-to-day flow is like.
Communication is a key component
During the time following a divorce – and the entirety of a child’s teen years – communication can be the last thing you want to engage in. This time, however, is the most important time to be in open and compassionate communication with your ex and child. Remember that you and your ex are now partners in raising your child; as such, focus communication around how to make the process of co-parenting more smooth. Consider the relationship one of the colleagues, and brainstorm ways to make co-parenting more streamlined and your teen’s emotional, mental, and physical health more robust.
If communication with your ex is difficult because of a trying divorce, remember the principles of Nonviolent Communication:
- Use “I” statements, sharing how you feel (I feel calmed…)
- Be specific about behaviors or actions that you perceive to be helpful or unhelpful to your capacity to support your teen the most effective possible (…when I see you take initiative on scheduling transportation.)
- Open up and let your ex know how you would like to feel (I would like to feel this calm regarding weekend visits…
- Make specific and measurable requests (…could you please suggest one specific time on Saturday mornings for a drop off each week?)
Ultimately, your former spouse and you are on the same team. Regardless of what has caused the separation, remember that you can come together to ensure the wellbeing of your teen at this important time in their growth and development into a kind, capable young adult.
Seek advice from an experienced Brick NJ Divorce, Custody, Support, and Family Law Attorney today
At Peter J. Bronzino, our attorneys support clients across Toms River, Wall, Point Pleasant, Asbury Park, Spring Lake, Brick, and all of Eastern New Jersey in their custody arrangements and the development of parenting time agreements.
Hidden Assets in Divorce in Ocean and Monmouth County NJ
Studies show that dissolving marriages that include a large number of assets are often more susceptible to one or both partners hiding assets in order to maintain more than their fair share in the split.
The details of any divorce are complex. They take a toll on the mental, emotional, physical, and financial health of an individual. When the divorce is not amicable, however, stress increases and the risk for damaging behavior is higher as well.
Studies show that dissolving marriages that include a large number of assets are often more susceptible to one or both partners hiding assets in order to maintain more than their fair share in the split. This illegal trickery is not only limited to high-asset divorces, however. Many spouses, especially those that do not have a respectful relationship with their exes, attempt to hide assets during the divorce process. Read on to learn more about what happens if you are found to hide assets and some ways to suspect if your ex is hiding assets during your divorce proceedings.
What are the potential consequences of hiding assets?
Withholding assets is a dangerous move because it is illegal. When you and your spouse file a financial affidavit with the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part that outlines all of your marital assets, each of you signs it. Submitting a signed affidavit to the court signifies that you swear all information is true. If you are hiding assets from your spouse and legal teams, as well as the Court, this constitutes an act of perjury.
If you are found to have committed perjury, you will be found in contempt of the court and punished in a variety of ways: either by a penalty or even by incarceration. N.J.S.A. 2C 28-1 notes that perjury is a third-degree offense in New Jersey. Someone convicted of perjury in New Jersey could face up to 3-5 years in jail and fines of up to $15,000.
A judge also has the legal standing to determine what to do with the assets a spouse attempted to hide if they were discovered. Hidden assets face the potential of being stripped completely, instead of being more fairly distributed if they had been disclosed.
How are assets often hidden?
If you are in the process of divorce, you would hope that your spouse is being honest in their disclosure of their assets. However, that’s not always the case. There are some common ways that spouses hide assets that can be investigated if you suspect that your spouse isn’t reporting the full extent of assets that you have a legal right to share in the split.
Hiding money at the office
- This is a very common move and rests on the assumption that a spouse will not investigate assets that may reside – or be stashed – at the place of employment. Using business to withhold assets could also look like temporarily storing funds in a business bank account or safety deposit box. If your spouse owns a business and you suspect foul play, it is wise to talk to your divorce attorney to discuss legal steps you can take to ensure you receive your fair share. One such way is having counsel serve subpoenas upon the business or bank.
Use the IRS to hide funds
- It’s risky, but a spouse may underreport their income so that their ex’s attorneys and the courts believe they have less money coming in than they actually do. They will then file amended taxes after the completion of the divorce proceedings to rectify the ‘error.’ Additionally, if assets are tied up with the IRS because they have been used to overpay taxes for the coming years, these shared marital funds used for personal gain could be hidden unless investigated.
Transfer of assets to family or friends
- A quality divorce attorney is going to seek the tax records of your spouse for the last many years to determine what accounts have existed to house assets. If there is a discrepancy between past accounts and amounts and present, or accounts are not listed in the financial disclosure statement, your attorney will have reason to follow up on this red flag.
- Some spouses may open up a custodial bank account or an account under their child’s name to make it look like the money belongs to the children and is not a shared marital asset.
- A stealthy spouse may ‘loan’ money to a friend or family member that they will soon reclaim. Keep a close eye on bank accounts to ensure that this doesn’t happen.
Retain a Brick and Sea Girt Asset Division Attorney Today
Our unique and thorough approach ensures that our clients receive their fair share of the marital assets in a divorce.
Will my Retirement Account/401k/IRA be Protected in my Divorce?
Learn from an Ocean and Monmouth County Divorce Lawyer, some strategies for maintaining your hard-earned savings when you legally separate from your partner.
The process of divorce is full of moving pieces that can wreak havoc on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Having a skilled divorce attorney can ensure that financial distress doesn’t have to be part of the separation, too. The separation of assets is a key piece of any divorce, and when you have been in a marriage for a substantial amount of time, chances are that you will have a large 401 (k) as a marital asset. How do you protect your retirement savings from being taken in the divorce?
Determine how you would like to handle your divorce: in court or out of court in settlement
The direction you choose to take in your divorce proceedings will impact how you go about handling the division of assets – and the protection of your retirement savings. If you choose to go through the courts to finalize your division of assets, ensure that you properly and transparently report all assets. A judge who learns that a person has been hiding assets will likely rule in favor of awarding an amplified amount to the spouse.
If you and your spouse decide to settle the division of assets outside of court, the process will likely be more rapid and less costly. This is a great option for a couple who is still on amicable terms. Because the proceedings are not open to the public and driven by a New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part judge, a separating couple can experience a much more flexible process, in many ways setting their own rules. The finalized agreement is, of course, subject to approval by the court.
In order to ensure a just division of assets and the protection of retirement savings, however, it is imperative that you ensure a fair settlement and, if possible, not take cash, or lump sum, payout, as it is subject to steep penalties. At the end of it all, one who receives a lump sum ends up receiving much less money and, unless immediate cash is required, loses out on their fair share in the division of assets.
Be aware of your assets, including your retirement funds
A divorce is a business transaction. While it is emotionally trying and exhausting of physical, mental, and financial resources, it is ultimately a legal arrangement to determine who takes what in the split. As such, it is important to make sure that you are clear about what your marital assets and your shared debt are. It is also important to have a firm handle on what your personal assets are, as they may be taken into question during the course of the divorce proceedings. What was the balance of your retirement savings when you got married? What is it now? Taking the initiative to know this information will save you stress and potentially money in the long run.
Check your prenuptial agreement
All income added to a 401 (k) during the course of a marriage is considered a marital asset and is therefore considered to be shared with your spouse. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, the court will take responsibility for dividing the assets among spouses. If you and your spouse signed a prenuptial agreement, however, the court will rule based on the legally-binding agreements outlined within.
Be aware of the Qualified Domestic Relations Order
A spouse may take a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to their ex’s employer to ensure that they receive their fair share of the retirement account. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order is a court-ordered document that enables the spouse’s retirement administrator to swiftly and legally transfer retirement funds into the partner’s bank account. The entitled amount will reflect a deduction if you have paid into the retirement fund of your spouse during the course of your marriage.
Attempting to hide or resist marital assets such as retirement funds in order to improperly protect shared marital assets is not worth it. Seek the support of a skilled and experienced divorce attorney to help you protect as much of your assets as you can while complying fully with New Jersey Divorce Law and avoiding lengthy and potentially costly litigation with your spouse.
Contact A Brick Retire Savings Attorney Today
Attorney Peter J. Bronzino is committed to serving our clients across Spring Lake, Sea Girt, Point Pleasant, Toms River, and the greater Ocean County area in all divorce and family law cases.
Our unique approach supports our clients’ financial wellbeing, leaving them to focus on their emotional and physical wellbeing as they move into the next chapter of their life.
Brick and Sea Girt NJ Same-sex Divorce Attorneys
Monmouth and Ocean County Divorce Lawyers discuss potential roadblocks that divorcing same-sex spouses may come across
Going through a divorce is difficult for anyone involved. It comes with emotional, mental, physical, and financial stress that can turn your world upside down. Often, there are complicating factors that make a divorce even more difficult to navigate, such as when children are involved. Another example is two spouses of same-sex divorcing. Their stresses may be augmented due to a few additional complications in the process.
Dividing Assets Prior to Legalization of Same Sex Marriage
One of the most difficult hurdles that many divorcing same-sex couples in New Jersey face is the division of their assets. New Jersey legalized same-sex marriage in 2013, relatively recently for many LGBTQ couples. Couples who have a longstanding relationship and many shared assets accumulated over the years will have a harder time legally dividing those assets, as their union was not recognized until their marriage was legalized in 2013 or later. As CNBC noted in its 2017 report “Same-Sex Divorce Poses Complications for Some Splitting Couples,” court systems don’t have a standard method of determining how assets are split from a couple that has been together for longer than their legal recognition. According to the report, some courts may accept, given proof, that the relationship functioned at the status of marriage, albeit unofficial, before the passage of the 2013 Garden State Equality Law. In such a case, the judge may consider all assets acquired since then shared assets. This certainly isn’t the standard, so a divorce involving a long-term relationship that has only been legalized in the last few years could mean a dependent spouse losing entitlement to many of the ‘shared’ assets.
State-to-State Discrepancies in Same Sex Marriage Law
States have dealt with the issue of same-sex marriage differently from state to state over the past decades. Until the Defense of Marriage Act was found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and repealed in 2013, determining that the federal government cannot discriminate against a gay, lesbian, or queer couple for the purposes of federal legal rights and protections, same-sex couples have had to navigate their relationships differently. Even after DOMA was overturned, it took years for many states to legalize same-sex marriage, though domestic partnerships may have been legally recognized. Until 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states in Obergefell vs. Hodges, couples who moved between states over the course of their relationship or were in states in which domestic partnership – or nothing – was legal had to live between blurred lines in the recognition of their union.
According to Forbes, one of the main difficulties same-sex couples face is that before the DOMA was repealed, many couples obtained the legal status of a domestic partnership. After the repeal, some states automatically converted domestic partnerships to marriages. However, some did not. This means that upon divorce, some couples have to terminate the marriage and terminate the domestic partnership.
The complications that a long-term, interstate relationship can add to a divorce are many, though they can be navigated and resolved with the support of a skilled divorce attorney who is knowledgeable in the state and federal legal timeline of marriage law before the federal blanket legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015.
When children are involved
As with any divorce, the inclusion of a child complicates matters. This is especially the case if the child was adopted before the marriage was legalized in New Jersey. The parent who has legal guardianship rights of the adopted child may receive custodial rights in a divorce if, at the time of adoption, the couple was not married.
If one member of the couple is the biological parent of the child, they will likely be granted custodial rights unless the other parent has undergone the process of adoption. This means that the other spouse is not required to pay child support after a divorce, though they may also not have custodial or even visitation rights after the divorce if there is no legal relationship between spouse and child. In order to have custodial rights or visitation rights – and pay child support, the spouse must have adopted or taken steps to adopt, or have obtained a parentage judgment.
CONTACT A BRICK, NJ SAME SEX DIVORCE ATTORNEY
At Bronzino Law, LLC, our team of divorce attorneys serves clients across Monmouth County and Ocean County towns including Neptune, Manasquan, Point Pleasant, Toms River, Brick, Asbury Park, Wall and more in all divorce and child custody matters.
Feel free to call our Brick or Sea Girt Bronzino Law, LLC office at (732) 812-3102 for a free and confidential virtual consultation today to discuss your specific situation when it comes to any kind of divorce or family law matter.
Ways to Safely Exit the Home of an Abusive Marriage Attorney Brick and Sea Girt NJ
Being in a marriage with an abusive spouse is a constant cause of stress and worry.
The helplessness that can overwhelm an abused partner – whether that abuse is mental, emotional, or physical – can weigh a person down until they feel even more trapped than they already are. Additional worries such as what to do about money if you are financially dependent, or what will happen in a custody proceeding if you have children, can upend even the most practically-minded person. Having a clear head and strategically planning an exit are essential for your family’s safe exit from an abusive marriage. Even in the absence of threats or actuality of physical harm if you attempt to leave, as a manipulation tactic to get you to stay, it is important to be highly cautious and plan every move.
In order to safely leave the shared living space and eventually the marriage, consider using the following supports:
- Contact a Domestic Violence Hotline – There is a myriad of domestic violence hotlines whose counselors are specifically trained to support your safe transition out of abusive shared living space and ultimately a relationship. They will help you put together a step-by-step plan for your exit that includes invaluable considerations that you may have overlooked, such as what to put in your overnight bag, where to find emergency insurance, what paperwork to travel with, where local lines of support can be found, and what type of shelter to seek when you leave. This process of organizing the exit into a manageable task will immediately ground you.
The New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached 24 hours per day at 1-800-572-SAFE (1-800-572-7233).
Things to take into account if suffering from abusive behavior
- Subtly prepare your children to leave – It is not wise to let your children know that you are all going to be leaving. However, you do want to ensure that they know important information such as how to spell their first and last name, what their address is, and what to do in the case of an emergency. This emergency preparation would include both what to do, such as ‘run to a specific neighbor’s house,’ and who to call, ‘911.’
- Keep track of instances of abuse – Documented evidence of abuse can be used to convict a partner of a domestic violence charge. While your first priority is to get your family safely out from under the same roof as the abuser, having documentation of their mental, emotional, and physical forms of abuse will support your case later down the road. This paperwork is one of the documents to keep in the overnight bag you have packed and ready to go.
- Contact a family law attorney to file a restraining order – Having the support of a family law attorney to ensure that you and your children are legally protected from the advancement of your partner during the divorce process is essential. An experienced member of the team will facilitate the process of filing a restraining order with the New Jersey Municipal or Superior Court.
Filing a Restraining Order
It is important to have the legal support of a professional during this process because filing for a Temporary Restraining Order with the New Jersey Superior Court Family does not automatically ensure that a Restraining Order will be immediately placed on the abuser unless the plaintiff shows physical injury. As such, for your safety and that of your family, it is important that you seek professional support to ensure that a Restraining Order, either Temporary or Final, is placed from the outset.
- Stay vigilant about protecting your preparation process – One thing many abusers have in common is that they use threats to manipulate the other person to stay. This often takes the form of the abuser snooping through emails, phones, and computers to find reasons to allege any infidelity to the abusive relationship. Do all of your research regarding the exit from the home on another computer, such as that of a trusted friend or the community library. While it is important to keep your plan as secret as possible, if possible, keep at least one friend or family member abreast of your evolving plans, perhaps even providing them with important documentation in the case of emergency.
Facing an Abusive Marriage? Contact Us At Our Brick Or Sea Girt Office Locations
At Peter J. Bronzino Law Firm, our family law attorneys are experienced in protecting our clients in Brick, Spring Lake, Asbury Park, and all of Eastern New Jersey in all matters of domestic violence and abuse in the home.
Our approach places the safety of our clients at the center, ensuring that they can safely exit an abusive situation and be legally protected throughout the process of separation and divorce, equipped with the resources they need to have mental, emotional, and physical support and safety.
Proof Required for a Final Restraining Order Attorney Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
Helping clients across the Jersey Shore in Point Pleasant, Toms River, Jackson, Wall, Sea Girt, and Brick.
The restraining order is a powerful tool used by law enforcement and the courts to ensure the safety of those who have suffered from or are at risk of domestic violence or harassment. However, before the courts will grant a final restraining order and extend the protections it provides to at-risk individuals, there are three very specific proofs that need to be determined in order to assure that such an order is warranted.
Put simply, these proofs are:
Did an actual act of domestic violence take place?
To determine if an act of domestic violence occurred, the judge will want to know whether the precipitating incident fits the criteria for one or more Crimes of Domestic Violence, as defined by the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. These Crimes include:
- Homicide J.S.A. 2C:11-1
- Assault J.S.A. 2C:12-1
- Terroristic threats J.S.A. 2C:12-3
- Kidnapping J.S.A. 2C:13-1
- Criminal restraint J.S.A. 2C:13-2
- False imprisonment J.S.A. 2C:13-3
- Sexual assault J.S.A. 2C:14-2
- Criminal sexual contact J.S.A. 2C:14-3
- Lewdness J.S.A. 2C:14-4
- Criminal mischief J.S.A. 2C:17-3
- Burglary J.S.A. 2C:18-2
- Criminal trespass J.S.A. 2C:18-3
- Harassment J.S.A. 2C:33-4
- Stalking J.S.A. 2C:12-10
There are several types of evidence that can be presented to the judge in the final restraining order hearing including a police report and arrest records, witness testimony, personal testimony from the victim, and other evidence such as photos of injuries/damage, emails, texts, and phone messages as well as other records.
2) Is there a provable history of domestic violence?
Should a judge find that a Crime of domestic violence took place, they will next want to determine if this was an isolated incident or if it is part of a pattern of domestic violence. If there is a history of domestic violence present in a relationship (including prior threats, harassment, and or physical violence), evidence can be presented to the court that documents this, including prior police and hospital records, emails, text messages, photos, journal entries and testimony from those who witnessed the abuse.
3) Is a restraining order necessary in order to safeguard the victim’s safety?
Finally, the necessity of a final restraining order to ensure the victim’s safety in the future will be considered by the court. Important factors taken into account will include the severity and extent of domestic violence that was experienced. In addition, the court will examine what happened after the temporary restraining order (TRO) was enacted. Information such as if the parties named in the TRO still texted, called, or met in person could be critical in the court’s final decision. Any contact, even something as small and seemingly insignificant as you liking a Facebook post of the person named in the TRO, could constitute contact in the eyes of the court.
For a TRO to become a final, permanent restraining order (PRO), the plaintiff has to prevail at a final restraining order trial. This means that the plaintiff must prove in court, by a preponderance of the evidence, that a predicate act of domestic violence occurred and that future protection is needed. The preponderance of the evidence standard means showing that “more likely than not” or, commonly described as 51%, that the plaintiff has proven past violence and future danger.
Whether or not a trial is held in an open court or in a closed session is completely dependent on the preference of the judge. However, both sides are typically permitted to have persons in court to support them. Often the judge will need to confirm that these individuals are not fact witnesses; meaning someone that you intend to make a statement to the court regarding a specific issue or event.
Given that a permanent restraining order can have lifelong impacts the process is intentionally extensive and thorough. For this reason, having effective representation, no matter on which side you may fall on is absolutely critical. Many people wrongfully think it is a process that they can guide themselves through. However, if you are seeking protection or if you feel you have been and are being wrongfully accused, the stakes are far too high to attempt to go at it alone. A skilled and experienced attorney can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.
Consult a Wall Township Restraining Order Lawyer Today
At Bronzino Law Firm, our teams of experienced attorneys are skilled in serving our clients across Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas in all domestic and criminal law matters.
Manipulation and Domestic Violence Attorney Advising Clients in Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
Domestic abuse is a prevailing issue across our communities, and as we are required to stay at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, cases of domestic violence have significantly increased.
One doesn’t have to be physically injured to be the victim of domestic violence. There are many forms of domestic abuse, including physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual – the key all have in common that makes them the abuse is the manipulation of one partner by the other at their core.
- Cyber Harassment
- Criminal Restraint
- Sexual Assault
- Criminal Sexual Contact
- False imprisonment
- Criminal mischief
- Contempt of a restraining order
- Crimes involving risk of physical harm to those protected by the 1991 New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act
As you can see, in addition to the more obvious forms of domestic violence like assault, behavior that attempts to control, manipulate, or threaten are chargeable offenses under New Jersey law.
Subtle Control as Domestic Violence
But what does this look like in the home? Below are some subtle signs of domestic violence that create a culture of control inside a relationship, slowly stripping one’s power and eventually leading to mental, emotional, and even physical insecurity:
- One central tactic that domestic abusers will use is to isolate you from loved ones and external relationships in your life so they are your sole influence and the only voice in your head other than your own. When there are fewer perspectives providing you information about what is occurring, you will be easier to control. If a spouse keeps you from working, offering you an allowance to keep you in the home, this is also intended to isolate you from the empowerment of income-generation and external influence and is a form of domestic abuse.
- Everyone wants to feel belonging. As such, an abuser will tell you and show you that you are not worthy of their love, separating you from your own self-love and self-loyalty. Subtly or explicitly, they will put you down, making you question yourself and tricking you into believing that you have to change to merit another’s love.
- Gaslighting is a subtle and dangerous form of mental abuse in which one person uses manipulative tactics to convince the other person that they cannot trust themselves, making them completely controllable by their abuser. Some forms of gaslighting are lying, blame, projection, and insincere generosity. The use of these tactics drive a victim into self-doubt, a state at which they can be much more easily controlled.
- A partner who threatens revenge if you leave is engaging in abuse. These threats that create a sense of being trapped, whether it be emotionally or physically, are domestic violence.
- When one partner uses money to control the dynamics, or actions within a relationship or withholds shared money in separate accounts, this is considered financial abuse.
Getting out of a manipulative relationship
If you feel you are in a subtly or overtly abusive relationship, there are steps you can take to get out.
- Spend time daily participating in self-development practices such as listening to self-help podcasts, practicing affirmations, meditating, or practicing yoga. An abuser will cut down your self-esteem in order to keep you on a tight leash, and in order to break this cycle of mental and emotional control, you must have another influence reminding you of your inherent worth.
Have a support network
- Open up to friends, family, or co-workers with whom you can confide about your unhappiness and concerns. Having a sense of being in a community outside of your relationship is essential for your safety and ultimate sovereignty.
Protect your money
- Privately open a separate bank account or begin saving money in a hidden place. Even if you are expected to hand over your earnings to your spouse, it is important that you have some financial capital to support you in your transition. Look for ways to earn a small income if you don’t currently have a job while you build your skills.
Contact a Domestic Violence hotline for advice and to develop a plan.
The New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline is open 24/7 at 1-800-572-SAFE (1-800-572-7233).
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is open 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233.
Seek the advice of a Wall Township Domestic Violence Lawyer Today
At Bronzino Law Firm, our family law attorneys serve clients across Point Pleasant, Brick, Wall, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the greater Ocean and Monmouth County Areas in all matters of domestic violence.
Our approach holds their safety at the center of our process, and we are equipped to inform and empower their right to a safe and protected living environment and a thriving, free life.