Category: Family Law
How to Prove a Parent Unfit in a Divorce Case in New Jersey
Divorce is a tough decision to make and having children involved, the complexity becomes even harder to manage.
Divorce is no easy task. Even when separating spouses have an amicable relationship, emotional energies can reach explosive levels due to the many stresses that a divorce proceeding invokes. When children are involved, these conflicts between spouses can reach a whole new level. When parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, and each is seeking sole or primary custody, their tactics for trying to prove that they are the right to fight for their children can include some downright nasty allegations against the other spouse.
In some cases, these allegations are simply the result of a battle for custody. In other cases, however, a spouse really is unfit to care for the children. If you’re trying to prove that it is not safe for your children to spend time with your ex, and they are unfit to care for your children and should have restricted visitation rights or none at all, contact our divorce and family law firm to learn how we can help protect your family.
What is the definition of an unfit parent in NJ?
According to New Jersey law, an unfit parent is someone who is unable to create a safe and nurturing environment for a child. This could look like a variety of different things: a parent who fails to properly protect and maintain the child, as well as to ensure that their educational needs are met, could be determined by the court to be unfit to care for the child. Another hallmark of a parent who is unfit to provide safety and nourishment for their child is one who engages in dangerous or reckless behavior that could endanger the child, such as someone who abuses drugs or alcohol or someone who has a history of violence in the home. Such a person could lose their custodial or parenting time agreement rights to visitation.
What constitutes an unfit parent in New Jersey?
A New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part judge will review a case against a parent alleged of being unfit to have visitation or custodial rights in a custody hearing. The judge will look for evidence that the parent has created physical, emotional, and psychological harm for the child.
This could include a parent who has:
- displayed dangerous behavior, either directly endangering the child or proving such behavior as habitual in or around the home;
- continuously struggled with alcohol and drug abuse;
- displayed mental health issues, either through examinations conducted in service of the child custody hearing, or prior;
- committed acts of domestic violence against the children or their ex-spouse;
- placed their child in danger by means of neglect.
How do you prove a parent unfit in Ocean County, NJ?
Proving that your ex-spouse is unfit to care for or visit your child is very difficult to do. This is because it is the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part’s primary focus to keep the well-being of involved children at the center of all custody hearings. And, the Court considers that it is in a child’s best interest to spend time with both parents. As such, in order to prove that a parent is unfit, you must show that your child was harmed by the behavior of your ex-spouse, and it is, therefore, the child’s best interest to not interact with your ex.
In order to prove that your ex is an unfit parent, you will need to gather substantial proof. This could come in the form of documentation such as social media posts and photos that display reckless behavior, court records showing prior legal trouble as well as prior domestic violence claims, medical records evidencing substance abuse, documentation from your child’s school in which they have been reviewed by a school psychologist, and other New Jersey documentation.
You can also document behaviors that show potential for harm for the child. In 2019, the New Jersey Department of Children and Families updated its system for identifying and reporting child abuse. The “Allegation-Based System” can be drawn from to prove that a parent is unfit to have custodial access or visitation rights to a child. The fifteen factors for determining whether a parent is causing harm to a child and is therefore unfit to enjoy basic parenting time agreement rights are reasonably straightforward. In some cases, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP) will become involved, since they are required to initiate an investigation after receiving any report of child abuse or neglect.
Seek the advice of a Family Law attorney to help you make wise decisions for you and your children’s best interest in Brick, NJ
It is highly advisable to consult with a well-versed attorney who regularly handles New Jersey family law and child custody issues to ensure you have strong foundations for your case. When you retain one of the attorneys at Bronzino Law Firm, LLC., you know you can count on a professional who will walk by your side every step of the way. Moving through the law and all of its implications requires knowledge and experience that our attorneys have at your service.
Contact us online or call us today at (732) 812-3102 and allow us to help you in these troublesome times. We are ready to serve your needs as we often do for clients in Howell, Toms River, Manchester, Jackson, Lacey, Point Pleasant, Neptune, and Wall. You can also schedule an appointment to visit our offices in Brick and Sea Girt for a free consultation.
Learn what the Parent Education Course is in New Jersey and its Role in Your Divorce
Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce, and as unpleasant as it seems, the fact is divorce is as prevalent now as it has ever been. If you are going through a divorce that includes issues of visitation time, child support, or child custody, the courts in the State of New Jersey require that both parents take an education program to help them understand and meet their children’s needs in this highly stressful time. Completion must be proven and accepted before the court will issue a divorce decree.
If a parent doesn’t appear at the in-person version of the course or fails to finish the online version, the court will be notified, and the parent must give a reason for the absence.
As your children go with you through the emotionally difficult periods of separation and divorce, they will need extra care and support. This education program helps you provide that care and support, and it also helps parents build a healthy, beneficial co-parenting method and relationship.
The course’s official name is the New Jersey Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course, often referred to as the Parent’s Education Program, divorce parenting classes, the parent’s education course or seminar, and similar monikers. It was established by law through the New Jersey Parent’s Education Act, N.J.S.A. § 2A:34-12.1 – § 2A:34-12.8.
As we mentioned, the course is mandatory in divorce cases in New Jersey. But even if it weren’t required, it would be wise to enroll in the class because it will help your family considerably as you shepherd your children through separation and divorce. Also, it will give you and your children practical, lifelong skills.
What Topics Does the Parent’s Education Seminar Cover in NJ?
The thought of being required to take a course on parenting may feel burdensome during all the upheaval you’re going through with a separation and divorce. But you’ll find the course material to be highly relevant to your current situation, and it will provide parenting guidelines that will bring you and your children benefits for years to come.
The seminar offers strategies to prepare your family for the changes that are upcoming or already in the works. It gives helpful pointers on coping with the emotional stress you and your family are experiencing. It provides valuable tips on long-term divorce issues, such as how to co-parent after divorce and how to manage blending families in the event best you remarry.
In other words, this course helps you be the best possible parent during the divorce process and for a lifetime.
The seminar has nine sections that include the following topics:
- Divorce is a difficult loss
- Parenting is forever, and how to share the parenting
- How children develop throughout childhood and adolescence
- How to communicate with your children during the divorce
- How to communicate with the other parent
- How to manage time for parenting
- Resources for the future
The seminar’s other topic is the mediation of your divorce settlement, which is an alternative process to the more traditional litigation route.
Choosing the Parenting Course Provider in Ocean County
You will want to choose a parenting course approved by the State of New Jersey and that provides a certificate that will be accepted by all New Jersey courts that permit distance learning.
When searching for a course, you may need to search under related names:
- Children coping with separation and divorce
- Children in transition
- Parenting during divorce
- Reducing domestic conflict during divorce
- Parents avoiding conflict during divorce
- How to cope with divorce and separation
What is the Time Requirement?
The Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course can be completed entirely online. You do not need to physically drive to the course or visit a staff member in an office. The course is structured in time allotments of four, eight, twelve, or sixteen hours. Within the online course is a timer that keeps track of the time you spend on the course. You can stop and start as much as you need to, and your work will be saved.
Obtaining a Certificate that Proves Completion
When you complete the course, the software will instantly generate a certificate of completion and email it to you. You can forward the email with the certificate attached to the party that required you to complete the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course.
Look for a school that guarantees that the certificate of completion will be accepted by New Jersey courts or that, if it is not accepted, will provide a refund of the fee.
With a bit of searching, you will be able to find a course that charges only a minimal fee, perhaps only a book fee of $20 or so.
Get in Touch with our Family and Divorce Team of Attorneys for a free consultation today
At Bronzino Law, we are tried and true professionals committed to helping families through the difficult transitions of separation and divorce. We provide our legal services and representation in places like Barnegat Light, Allenhurst, Bay Head, Asbury Park, Point Pleasant, and nearby Ocean and Monmouth Counties communities.
As a Family Law Firm, we highly encourage active participation in these types of parenting education programs and we can advise and assist you with making sure you complete the mandatory requirements during your divorce process.. Going through a divorce is not easy for the spouses, plus it may significantly affect the kids involved. The more information you have, the better the process will be for you and your children. We apply this in our day-to-day engagement with our clients, offering as much information as we can to make what seems confusing, more understandable.
Family Law Firm Counseling Men on Alimony and Spousal Maintenance in Brick, NJ
In recent years, women having to pay alimony to their partners has been trending, and it’s important to both parties to know their rights and responsibilities.
The changing role of women in the workplace, the increased financial contributions they are making to the family, not to mention the increased number of men taking active caretaking roles and embracing being stay-at-home dads, has impacted the likelihood that more financially secure women will pay child support and alimony to their spouse in a divorce. “Manimony,” is a somewhat recently coined phrase for the alimony or spousal support payments some high-earning women are being made to pay to their former husbands as part of a divorce settlement. While many women required to pay financial obligations to their exes may say this limits their lifestyle choices and doesn’t reflect their managing a difficult work and home life with almost no support from their spouse, this does signal a significant shift in the way courts are treating women during a divorce.
The number of breadwinning females and mothers is on the rise, according to a 2018 American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) survey in which 45% of lawyers noted an increase in the number of women paying spousal support or maintenance, and there was a 54% jump in mothers paying child support. The long-term implications of these trends are uncertain as the impact of the COVID pandemic on the workplace and school enrollment has seen women comprising nearly 60% of university enrollments and many males opting to secure a paycheck over student loan debt or just choosing to disengage from society. Thus, potentially widening the socioeconomic gender divide.
Divorce and civil union dissolutions are on course to becoming more expensive for high-earning women in New Jersey and around the country. If you have questions about your right to alimony, child support payments, and child custody laws, or if you are dreading the prospect of paying alimony, consult an experienced Ocean County, NJ alimony attorney who can help you negotiate a fair alimony settlement for yourself and your future.
Can Men get Alimony in NJ?
Yes. Although alimony is not granted as part of every marital settlement, and the amount and duration will vary, it is gender-neutral and need-based. Under current New Jersey alimony law, and the five different types of alimony that can be awarded, the higher-earning spouse pays alimony to the spouse who earns less.
Impact of Traditional Gender Roles and Stereotypes When Seeking Alimony in New Jersey
When it comes to determining alimony, actual need, ability to pay, earning potential, education, financial standing, general health of each spouse, length of marriage, marital lifestyle, and any existing prenuptial or postmarital agreements are among numerous factors considered when determining temporary spousal support or permanent spousal maintenance (open duration).
According to Forbes, of the close to half a million people in the United States getting post-divorce spousal support, men make up about 3% of that number. While the article attributes sexist judges in some parts of the country to the low figure, it also states that stereotypes, traditional gender role expectations, and unconscious biases may also be factors that make it harder for men to not only win their cases but also obtain an appropriate amount of financial support for themselves and possibly any children from the marriage.
All sound reasons for men to better understand their rights to alimony during the divorce process, and during the disclosure phase of the divorce when collecting financial records for the Case Information Statement. As this document forms the backbone of most divorce cases and outlines all of the income, expenses, assets, and marital debt.
Meeting with an experienced New Jersey family law attorney can be a beneficial first step for men who are considering divorce and believe they are entitled to alimony.
How Long Will I Be Expected to Pay Alimony to My Male Ex in Ocean County?
The amount and duration of alimony and spousal support varies per case and alimony type which was awarded. If reimbursement and rehabilitative alimony are granted, those payments will end after the required training or education period.
Alimony payments can be terminated or a modification of alimony can be requested if your ex-spouse remarries, begins a cohabitation relationship, the ex-spouse refuses to seek employment or comply with job training, there is an inheritance, or there is a change in circumstances with the payor (death illness, retirement, cost of living, etc).
Contact a Toms River, New Jersey Men’s Rights to Alimony Attorney Today
At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC we understand that every client has their own unique concerns, priorities, and needs, so we work with you to craft unique legal solutions for a fair alimony settlement beneficial for you now and in your future. Whether you may be the payor or recipient of alimony, we help you to better understand your rights and the impact your spousal support obligations can have on your livelihood and lifestyle. We serve our clients in places like Holmdel, Colts Neck, Millstone, Wanamassa, Ramtown, Bayshore, and places nearby Ocean and Monmouth Counties.
We believe in an honest and communicative approach with our clients and providing them with the best legal service possible. Our family law team has an extensive track record of working tirelessly to protect our clients’ legal rights until a favorable outcome is reached.
Relevant things to consider when dealing with a Chronic Illness in the Middle of a Divorce in Monmouth & Ocean County
Divorce is already a complex process, and combined with chronic disease, it requires the help of a seasoned attorney.
On your wedding day, you vow, “in sickness and in health,” meaning it wholeheartedly and never expecting you would be filing for divorce. Embarking on such a powerful decision as divorce presents a myriad of changes and stress, added to the challenges of a chronic illness. Whether the spouse who is the caretaker or the spouse who is chronically ill, petitions for divorce, managing the ins and outs of this legal termination of their union, can be exceptionally difficult. An experienced divorce attorney can work with you to decide the best way to move forward.
What the Research Says about Divorce when a Spouse is Chronically Ill
According to U.S. Institute on Aging, the divorce rate of couples where a chronic illness is suffered by at least one person is 75%. In a specific study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior Researchers looked at the gender and chronic illness of 2,147 couples beginning in 1990. Chronic illnesses such as dementia, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, COPD, and Alzheimer’s were included in the study. The researchers were surprised to find that the healthy husbands were more prone to file for divorce, men were more inclined to acquire a chronic illness, and there was no significant difference in gender regarding the sick spouse filing for divorce. The study found a distinct relationship between the onset of the disease and the divorce. It did not consider other factors such as support from family or friends, the severity of the illness, or possible mental illness of either spouse.
What is Considered a Chronic Illness?
A chronic illness has many factors leading to its onset, an extended developmental period, a period of illness that extends more than six months, and associated disability that either remains stable or becomes progressively worse. The affected party has a reduced capacity to complete daily tasks such as housework, full-time employment, or childcare. Common chronic illnesses are COPD, cancer, Alzheimer’s, dementia, Crohn’s, hemophilia, traumatic brain injury, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, lupus, myasthenia gravis, and fibromyalgia, among others.
How Does Chronic Illness Affect Marriage in NJ?
A debilitating illness puts pressure on the household economically. Often, someone who suffers from a chronic illness is unable to work full time or sometimes even at all. Early retirement may not be a possibility for the healthy spouse to guarantee the income needed to support the family. Health insurance is another big concern as health benefits may be tied to the healthy spouse’s employment.
The social aspects of life such as vacations, reunions, even small get-togethers or dinners out with friends and family become impossible. Chronic illness can be isolating, and many sufferers and/or their spouses also develop depression/anxiety disorders. In the case of illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, drastic changes in personality and cognition may occur at such a profound level that the healthy spouse can no longer care for their husband or wife on their own.
When an ill spouse is in constant pain, they may lash out at their partner or at the least are constantly complaining and frustrated. No one enjoys being sick and the symptoms of a chronic illness wax and wane. On the “good days,” an outing for the day is perfectly fine, while on a “bad day,” even getting out of bed is a battle.
How Is Divorce Different with A Chronically Ill Spouse?
Divorce is complicated under the best of conditions. When a spouse is chronically ill, the complexities of health insurance, child custody, and property division can create the perfect storm and a divorce that is so tangled that it could be a recipe for disaster without an attorney by your side.
One of the biggest hurdles is health insurance. If the working spouse has their husband or wife on their insurance, that won’t be possible once they are divorced. The federal Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act (COBRA) forces employers to provide health insurance to the employee’s former partner for no more than three years. Once that period is complete, other insurance must be arranged. Not all chronic illness sufferers cannot work, but if their health continues to decline, full-time employment with health insurance benefits is no longer a possibility.
When it comes to child custody, judges prefer joint custody, but if the chronically ill parent cannot adequately care for the children, that isn’t a possibility.
Alimony is not necessarily a forgone conclusion for the ill spouse. Still, as New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, in all likelihood, some amount of spousal support will be arranged to contribute to health-related expenses. The severity, length, advancement, and prognosis (as to possible improvement or worsening and at what pace) are all considered.
Finding Another Way of Living if one Spouse is Sick in New Jersey
Frequently, when we think about divorce, images of courtroom battles and heated arguments are the first scenes that come to mind, but that is actually much rarer than you would think. Although to some, it may seem selfish or cruel to divorce a chronically ill spouse or a healthy spouse who has cared for you during some very tough times, it doesn’t mean that your relationship is forever broken. Some couples divorce, and the healthy spouse remains a caregiver but is able to seek romantic relationships outside of that connection. Someone who is chronically ill may want to release their spouse from having to care for them, allowing them to have a life outside of their illness.
Do you have a chronic illness that has put an irreparable strain on your marriage? Contact our NJ Divorce Firm to Review Your Situation
If your partner is chronically ill and in need of more care than you can give, it is recommended to look for the support of a talented team of attorneys to help you carry your burden. At Bronzino Law Firm, we understand the difficulties chronic illness can cause in a relationship. We have helped many couples reach an agreeable separation in places like Rumson, Point Pleasant, Colts Neck, Holmdel, Belmar, Asbury Park across Ocean, and Monmouth Counties. With our experience in child custody issues and equitable distribution, the services we provide are just what you need to handle your divorce. Whether you are sick or you are part of a couple with a spouse affected by a chronic condition, our firm is committed to helping you navigate and effectively handle the unique challenges you may face when divorcing.
You should call us today if you have questions and are looking for legal counsel. Let us help you plan for your family by calling (732) 812-3102 for a consultation today. You can also fill out our online form and will hear from us shortly.
Explore your Scenarios with Divorce Attorneys to Understand Gifts, Loans, Marital Property and how it is Divided in NJ
Over the course of a marriage in New Jersey, it’s common for persons in that relationship or civil union to receive monetary gifts or property from third parties, such as parents, in-laws, grandparents, or other family members.
If you are going through the divorce process or civil union dissolution and are unsure if certain gifts are subject to the equitable distribution of assets, the first thing is to determine what that particular relative’s wishes were in gifting that particular item, whether it was intended for an individual or both parties.
For divorcing high-asset couples, especially from wealthier families, for whom one spouse over the course of the marriage received significant gifts that impacted their marital lifestyle or helped sustain a certain standard of living, this could play a role in the parent’s or grandparents’ will and estate planning process. So although some gifts or loans may not be considered marital property, they could impact alimony and child support obligations.
Considering multiple factors, New Jersey’s property division statute requires courts to divide marital property in a “fair and equitable” manner to both parties during a divorce. This includes “interspousal gifts” or gifts exchanged or given to a spouse during the marriage (i.e., birthday presents, anniversary gifts, etc.). But understanding the difference between a “pure interspousal gift” and an “interspousal re-gift” such as when one party inherits money and in turn uses that money to buy a gift for their spouse, or what happens when a spouse deposits a final gift in a joint account, can make property division more complicated. Add in an existing marital agreement such as a prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial or mid-marriage agreement, and things get even more interesting.
The division of matrimonial assets can be challenging, complex, acrimonious, and may seem emotionally unbearable. Under such circumstances, it’s advisable to consult an experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer who can help you understand which assets fall within the scope of personal property, so don’t lose any energy or time rebuilding your life.
If you are in the process of crafting your will or estate plan and wish to protect beneficiaries named therein from having their inheritance affect divorce agreements such as alimony, marital asset division, and child support, trying to establish your marital standard of living budget or filling out your Case Information Statement, you want the judge to have as complete an economic picture of life a possible.
When Does a Gift Become Marital Property in Ocean County, NJ?
In previous articles, we listed the two basic property types within a marriage: separate and marital property, and discussed that property acquired before marriage and acquired during a marriage as a gift or an inheritance by one party alone, is generally considered separate property.
In situations where a financial gift or inheritance was originally intended to be given to only one spouse, but that recipient spouse deposited those funds into a joint account for an extended period of time, or that same recipient spouse used the monetary gift to benefit them both, then a judge may rule that by commingling the gift with an account used for the household, the gift has lost its separate character. However, if the spouse can provide evidence that the money is separate, was never intended to share with the other party, and they can trace the exact amount through banking documents, then there is a greater likelihood that the gift will be recognized as separate property.
Most interesting is the role equitable distribution laws may play regarding a family home if said piece of real estate was the separate property of one party before the marriage. Although there are several factors at issue, the marital contributions of each spouse, like time investments, renovations, general upkeep, appreciation in value, etc., could mean that the contributing spouse is entitled to a portion of the asset or debt. Consulting a knowledgeable local lawyer can help one determine who keeps the house, what happens to the house mortgage, and any fate of any vacation homes or property.
It should also be noted that in New Jersey, a portion of a personal injury award for medical expenses and lost wages can be subjected to equitable distribution. Still, any amount awarded to that individual for pain and suffering or disfigurement is not.
How Does New Jersey Define Interspousal Gifts?
Interspousal gifts or “pure interspousal gifts” are items exchanged or given from one spouse to another during marriage and that are not the result of a third party gift or inheritance. The most common divorce question regarding interspousal gifts is related to the engagement ring.
Because an engagement ring is considered a pre-marital or non-marital asset and a “conditional gift,” once the person fulfills the promise of marrying the other party, the obligation or condition has been met, and the ring belongs solely to that person as separate property.
Proving Your Assets Were Gifts or are Separate Property in a NJ Divorce
If you want to ensure an asset is classified as separate property in New Jersey and not subject to equitable division laws, you must prove that it was a gift. The burden of proof to establish the immunity of an asset from distribution rests on the spouse asserting the immunity. Although sometimes the best way to prove that asset’s exemption as a gift, is to provide a receipt or proof of some kind, under other circumstances a CPA, tax professional or forensic accountant may be employed to trace assets and possibly offer expert testimony.
Determining Whether A Matrimonial Asset Was a Gift or Loan in Monmouth County, NJ
On a basic level, this matter revolves around the simple elements related to the expectation of repayment. When someone gifts an item, they do not expect to be repaid and when someone makes a loan, there is an expectation between the giver and recipient(s) of repayment.
It is common within the context of a divorce that one party will refer to the existence of a “familial loan,” possibly given to be used towards buying a home or another more form of marital property, and often there is no clearly stimulated repayment date, or the repayment obligation terms are very lax.
Being able to clearly determine if this was in fact a loan or gift, can have a significant impact of either reducing or increasing the marital estate available for equitable distribution. If there is no canceled check, promissory note, substantiated written proof, gift tax returns, bank or mortgage records, wills, evidence of partial repayment, or verbal corroboration, the burden of establishing this kind of debt may require the court to use its discretionary authority to in allocation of the alleged debts,
If you face separate property issues regarding gifts or loans in a divorce, retain an attorney with expertise in equitable asset division and tracing property. Going it alone without the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney could mean losing your separate property entirely or partially to your spouse.
Get in Touch with a Sea Girt Equitable Distribution Attorney Today
At the family law firm of Peter J. Bronzino, our experienced team, has successfully helped clients draft fair matrimonial property division agreements which protect their rights, financial future, and what they care about most.
One of our distinctive features is our personal and mindful relationships with our current and new clients. We have constant and fluent communication with each of them, assuring they stay informed and are a collaborative part of the entire process from the moment of our first contact until the resolution of your case. If you need to retain a lawyer and live near Mantoloking, Rumson, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Bay Head, across Ocean and Monmouth counties, Bronzino Law Firm is ready to get or call or online form.
Fill out our online form or call our offices conveniently located in Brick or Sea Girt, NJ at (732) 812-3102 to go over your particular questions and doubts when it comes to the division of properties during divorce in an initial and confidential consultation with Mr. Bronzino or any other member of the team.
Considerations for Parental Time and Child Refusal in Brick and Sea Girt, NJ
Contact us for assistance if you have questions regarding your child’s visitation refusal, need help enforcing a child custody order, or face a contempt of court charge related to your custodial agreement.
If you have a child custody order due to divorce litigation, a civil union dissolution, or because you are a grandparent or the unmarried parent of a child, your parenting time and visitation rights are legally protected and enforceable. If you refuse to comply with a visitation order with your co-parent or someone you share custody with, you risk being charged with parental alienation and being found in contempt of a court-mandated order and could face possible jail time, penalties, or a reduction in your own parenting-time.
NJ laws are set up to protect children and assure that their best interest is paramount. If your child refuses visitation, it requires your most objective perspective when listening to, acknowledging, responding, and reflecting on why they feel that way. Balancing the need to understand the situation at hand and to keep your child safe from possible emotional, psychological, or physical trauma resulting from a forced visit with an untrustworthy parental figure should not resulting in you violating the other person’s rights.
If you fear for your child’s safety or have previously been involved with high-conflict custody matters with the person you share custody with, contact an experienced Ocean and Monmouth County, NJ child custody attorney to discuss your options. An attorney can advise you on making the best decision, whether requesting emergency custody or arranging mediation to understand the issues at hand better. When your child’s safety is at stake, you may feel overwhelmed, but an experienced attorney can help you make informed decisions so you can fully exercise your rights and protect your child.
To speak with someone and arrange a free consultation related to your child custody issue, call our Brick, NJ office at (732) 812-3102.
At What Age Can A Child Refuse Visitation in NJ?
A child custodial order requires parents to ensure their child is reasonably available for visits with the other party and is a productive tool to help children maintain and build healthy relationships with their parents. Children can go through phases where they may not want to visit their other parent or may have peer-related activities that they would instead participate in. For the rejected parent, this can be painful.
When a child reaches the age of 18, they are considered adults, and adults can decide with whom they share their time. Even if that particular parent they are expected to visit pays child support, and the child has not yet graduated from high school.
Until that child reaches the age of adulthood, each parent is obligated to inform their co-parent when the child is ill or otherwise unable to make a scheduled visit. They are also expected to encourage the visitation process with their child. Of course, there are circumstances when parenting time is impossible, but exploring other options that facilitate or support “virtual visitations” should be explored.
Other Reasons Why a Child Might Refuse to See a Parent in New Jersey
If you have concerns that your child is the victim of child abuse or child neglect, or even in danger due to others who may live with or frequent the home of the other co-parent or guardian, you should contact the police and your attorney immediately. Due to the severe nature of this type of action, it should be used if your child is in imminent danger.
If you need to report abuse, contact the Division of Child Protection & Permanency Child Abuse Hotline (State Central Registry): 1-877-NJ ABUSE or 1-877-652-2873.
However, in most circumstances where visitation is not posing a danger to the child, you need to show a judge that you are doing everything you can to make visits possible. This could mean protecting yourself in these situations by carefully documenting facts and involving your child and the other parent in cases where a child refuses visitation.
Create a Safe Place and Listen to Your Child
When a child refuses visitation, it can be painful for one parent while putting the other in an emotionally challenging position. To gain better insight as to the reasons, one of the most important things to do is provide the child with a safe and comfortable space, so they can openly and freely talk with you.
Depending on the age of the child, if the visit is during the divorce process or following the marital settlement, these feelings may be due to the impact or inconveniences in their new life schedule (i.e., preferring visits with friends, hassles of changing homes, travel time between both locations, possibly missing out on another event or activity, etc.) or an emotional one where they feel either bored, ignored, they don’t have fun, or the co-parent is too strict.
Two options a parent may consider are: having your child discuss their feelings with a child psychologist or request that a child custody evaluation be conducted to get to the root cause of their refusal. Another option, especially in more contentious situations, is for your child to have their own attorney representing their needs and best interests.
Essentially, honesty and openness with both your child and the person with whom you share your custodial agreement can help relieve some of the stress and possible misunderstandings regarding the reasons for refusing visitations.
Practice Open and Compassionate Communication With Your Co-Parent
Because your custody arrangement and parenting time agreement are based on specific court-ordered schedules detailing how your child’s time will be divided between parents, each party has expectations regarding how the shared parental duties of childrearing will be. The reality is that the co-parenting experience requires a bit of flexibility if certain unforeseen (i.e., illness, transportation problems, etc.) circumstances occur and lots of open communication to make sure all parties are on the same page.
Slight adjustments to your parenting time schedule are probably not an issue for the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part to weigh in on – unless one parent is actively withholding another parent’s rights to spend court-approved time with their child. Minor changes to recoup lost time can likely be managed through an informal agreement between the parents.
When it comes to parenting plans revised due to the COVID pandemic, the ability to compassionately or non-violently communicate for additional hours or days, especially as we move closer to the holiday season, is key.
If you have a successful co-parenting relationship, you could ask that person to call the child on the phone or via video chat or visit your house and you both try to speak with the child who is refusing visits.
A Family Court judge may express more understanding of a parent whose teenager refuses parental visitation, as compared to a five-year-old who does so. What you don’t want, in emotionally confusing situations like these, is for a judge to penalize you for your child’s defiance or your inability to discipline and control the child.
What If I Need to File A Motion for Contempt in Toms River, NJ?
We are prepared to collaborate with your spouse to reach a child custody arrangement peaceably. Still, we are also ready to aggressively defend your rights and needs in court if it becomes necessary.
If no other options exist, our family law team can assist with your case by making application to the court for contemptby your co-parent. In our complaint, we can assemble the most compelling body of evidence to suggest that your child’s other parent has not been abiding by the mandatory orders of the court with regard to parenting time and visitation.
Child Refusing Visitation in Ocean County? We can Help.
The team of attorneys at Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, over the years, has acquired extensive experience providing legal services to clients in Mantoloking, Lavallette, Jackson, Lanoka Harbor, Brick, Toms River, Lacey, and nearby places in all family law-related issues.
Mr. Peter Bronzino as the lead attorney in the firm, shares his experience with each of his clients by working side by side, with fluent communication along the way to help you determine what is the best path to follow in your particular case.
To speak with Peter Bronzino and the legal team today in a free and confidential consultation regarding any parenting, visitation, or child custody issue, please get in touch with us online or through our Brick, NJ office at (732) 812-3102 today.
Important Steps when Adopting Internationally in Monmouth & Ocean County and across NJ
Adoption, especially from an international pool of deserving children, can be an overwhelming experience.
There are a myriad of things to consider when making decisions about your international adoption, and laws and procedures regarding the international adoptions process are different from intrastate or interstate practices. When entering into such a potentially overwhelming situation, it is helpful to have some guiding information and steps to prepare. Read on to learn more about international adoption laws in New Jersey and some tips on how to move thoughtfully and confidently through the international adoptions process.
New Jersey Laws on International Adoption
The process of adopting a child from a different country carries specific procedures in New Jersey. For the state to recognize an internationally adopted child as a New Jersey citizen, the child must meet two qualifications:
- First, the child must have at least one adoptive parent who is a New Jersey citizen;
- Second, the child must have a visa for legal immigration issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Once the family of the child has provided evidence of these two qualifications met and has offered to the State Register
- The child’s birth certificate; and
- The official copy of the judgment from the country in which the child was born,
the child will officially become a New Jersey citizen.
Tips for a Successful International Adoptions Process, Neptune
The process of deciding that you want to adopt is a long one. There is no rush in Love, and that’s precisely the state of being you’ll want to be inviting your new child into. Be honest and reflective as you consider international adoption. Allow the following questions to guide your review:
- Why do I want a child?
- What do I hope having a child from another country will bring to my life?
- What do I hope to bring to the life of a child from another country?
- What country do I want to adopt a child from? Why?
- What cultural and social norms and gems of the country’s culture do I want to ensure that my child grows up knowing and developing?
- Is adoption legal and ethical in the country I am considering?
- What can I do to support the child, my family, and myself in the transition, which can often be traumatizing?
Do Your Research
Throughout the entirety of your experience, from first considering adoption to bringing your new child home and beyond, you’ll want to make sure that you’re equipped with reliable information from reputable resources, as well as subjective testimonials from parents (and children) who have gone through this process. Nothing can prepare you emotionally to become an adoptive parent, but having a plethora of resources and experiences at your disposal to digest can only help you ensure that you make the correct decisions for your life and family.
Closely Consider Which Placement Agency You Want to Work With
An adoption or placement agency is the company that will serve as a liaison between you and the adoption agency in the child’s home country working to place the child. Legally, to become a New Jersey adoptive parent, you must work with a New Jersey placement agency. Choosing a placement agency is another area in which research is essential to facilitating a smooth and successful adoptions process. Read up on the agency’s self-proclaimed mission, ethics, and practices, and then read plenty of adoptive family reviews. VeryWellFamily.com recently published their top seven adoption agencies. These are just a handful of placement agencies. While these are just some of the available placement agencies that would have sectors in New Jersey, it’s a reputable place to start your research.
Elect Your Home Study Agency
Once you have begun the adoption process by entering into a contract with a placement agency and empowering them to start to make contacts in your chosen country, you’ll be responsible for completing a home study with a licensed agency or social worker. Your home study is your opportunity to share who you are as a person or family and what type of circumstances the child you wish to adopt will come into.
The home study agency must be licensed for the work in New Jersey, and in some cases, they must be a Hague-approved agency. Be thorough in your background research as you align your adoption placement agency and your home study agency, as some adoption agencies only work with specific home study agencies. Additionally, as noted above, some countries from which you may be looking to adopt a child – countries that have signed the Hague agreement – will only agree to adoption processes with home study agencies that have signed the Hague agreement.
Considering International Adoption? Contact our NJ Family Law Attorney to Discuss Your Situation
If you are considering international adoption, it is essential to have skilled legal representation. It is an important decision and you need to cover all fronts. At our Brick, NJ offices, our team of attorneys will take the time to ensure you have all you need to move forward in the right direction. If you are engaged in the adoption process, we can help you walk through and effectively navigate the road ahead.
Contact Bronzino Law Firm at (732) 812-3102 to schedule a free consultation and get the answers and the information you need to make a well-informed decision regarding your international adoption case. If you need assistance in Lakewood, Howell, Point Pleasant, Belmar, Lacey, Toms River, or another town in South Jersey, reach out to us, and let’s talk.
NJ Child Support Attorneys Advising on the Options if your Ex can’t Pay because they are Incarcerated
All children in New Jersey have the right to their parent’s financial support.
If one parent pays child support to the other parent, that money is for the children’s health, welfare, and maintenance. The amount of support a non-custodial parent pays is configured according to state guidelines that take into consideration the income of each parent, their time-sharing arrangement with the children, and the expenses of the parties, mandatory retirement, healthcare, and other payments the parties pay monthly, like taxes, childcare, medical expenses, student loans, or private school tuition.
Although the child support guidelines exist to form a basis for child support, judges may award a different amount than what the guidelines suggest if there is good reason to do so. For example, some children have special needs, or some parents have other child support obligations. These and other circumstances form the basis for the court’s child support amount consideration, such as the standard of living the child enjoyed with both parents, the parents’ assets, education, work history, and roles they have played in their children’s lives historically. And the age of the child or children makes a difference as to their financial needs. Young children have financial needs different from older children, who may be planning for college.
Can I stop paying Child Support if I have a special situation?
Taking all relevant factors into the equation, the court orders a child support payment that becomes the law of the parties’ divorce or child custody arrangement. Since the payments belong to the children, a paying parent may not pause or cease payments without permission from the court in the form of a child support modification. They cannot unilaterally stop paying child support, even if they suffer hardship, like illness, unemployment, or incarceration. Since the parent receiving the child support payments can enforce the order through the state Child Support Agency, the paying parent may be surprised to find out that the child support arrears continue accruing and the state keeps track of child support payments even if they are incarcerated. New Jersey state laws ensure children receive support and health coverage, so the payor must pay or modify their order.
What Happens if a Parent in Prison Stops Paying Child Support?
If a parent does not fulfill their child support obligation, the New Jersey Child Support Agency can collect past-due child support and current child support through various enforcement methods. They can garnish or withhold income from the payor’s paycheck, report the debt to credit reporting agencies, suspend the payor’s driver’s license, deny them a passport, seize assets, offset tax refunds, or lottery prize money, and get both civil judgments and criminal enforcement through warrants. The enforcement method depends on the payor parent’s income, as a wage earner or independent contractor, for example. For wage earners, income withholding makes the most sense as the employer can deduct child support payments directly from the earner’s paycheck for all outstanding child support.
Getting Money from other Sources if your Ex is in Jail in New Jersey
The Agency may also intercept lottery winnings and tax refunds to pay for child support if the payor parent owes at least one month of child support and wins $600.00 or more in the lottery. If that is not enough to pay all the outstanding support, the Agency can confiscate a portion of a federal or state tax refund or other rebates to pay the child support order. The Child Support Office can also attach bank accounts, stocks, and bonds to collect an unpaid support amount of one month’s support or more. Any civil lawsuit awards may likewise be attached. However, if the custodial parent received public assistance for children, the amounts owed to a public assistance agency get paid first from any of the sources from which the Agency collects.
Other enforcement methods aim to incentivize the payor to fulfill their obligations, like reporting child support arrears of more than $1,000.00 to credit rating agencies so that the delinquent payor cannot get credit for major purchases, like homes and cars. Also, the non-custodial parent may lose any licenses they hold or are applying for, such as driver’s, professional or recreational licenses, if they owe six months or more of child support payments. Passport agencies also check to see if an applicant owes child support through government agencies that report child support debts to the U.S. State Department. A child support arrearage of $2,500.00 can justify a passport restriction and denial.
A NJ family court may enforce a child support order upon a hearing request by the custodial parent.
Both parties appear in court, after which the court decides to order immediate payment, arrest, or other order to get child support paid. A court can issue a warrant for disobeying a court order or a missed court appearance. Moreover, a child support judgment may attach to real property the debtor owes, and they cannot sell or transfer the property without satisfying the debt. And delinquent payors cannot escape their child support debt as New Jersey uses the New Hires Directory to find non-paying parents at their work. The directory tracks employees through their employers by releasing the employee’s social security number, name, and address.
So, even if the parent ordered to pay child support is incarcerated, they still must pay support until and unless they file for a hearing with the family court to pause or reduce the child support payments. And even then, a court may order the child support payment arrears, if any, be paid by means other than wages if the payor has assets or any sources of income, such as rental income, residuals, or royalties. Whether your children’s parent owes an outstanding child support obligation, or you need assistance filing a motion to get child support arrears paid, you will need a family law attorney to make sure you are not accruing insurmountable child support arrears that your children need.
Ex isn’t paying child support while in jail? Call one of our attorneys to schedule a confidential consultation at our Brick office.
New Jersey offers a wide variety of options to enforce child support payment. Our family law attorneys handle both types of cases, whether you are the one needing a child support payment modification or the one wanting to enforce a child support obligation. We know what to anticipate as defenses from the other side and how to position your case for the best outcome while protecting your interests.
Do not wait until a child support debt, whether yours or the other parent’s, is overwhelming. Contact Bronzino Law Firm at (732) 812-3102 to book a free consultation and get immediate assistance to discuss your case today. Our team is ready to receive your call. If you live near Jackson, Wall, Point Pleasant, Sea Girt, Brick, or another town in South Jersey, do not hesitate to contact us for help today.
What happens to the Mortgage on the House when Divorce hits in New Jersey
Fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce and as unpleasant as it seems, the fact is divorce is as prevalent now as it has ever been.
We see in movies and on television, that possession of the marital home is a central focus during a divorce. The characters complaining about how they are paying for a house in which they no longer reside and are living hand to mouth to keep up with two mortgages. Rarely is that the case. A knowledgeable attorney, such as those at the Bronzino Law Firm, can process your divorce and create an equitable agreement that will allow you and your ex to decide who will keep the home, who will pay the mortgage, or if the home will be sold. You and your ex have the control in determining which option to choose when handling the house with a mortgage while divorcing in New Jersey.
Mine, Yours, or Ours?
Before the marital home can be sold, or changes made to the mortgage, its owner must be determined. The marital home is usually considered marital property when it was purchased after the wedding, whether both names are on the deed or not. If one spouse has paid all of the mortgage payments up to the time of the divorce while the other stayed home raising the children or caring for the home, it is still considered marital property. If the home was inherited and only the beneficiary’s name is on the deed, they are the exclusive owner but if their spouse’s name is added to the deed, the house becomes marital property. Finally, if a spouse purchased the home and owned it outright before the marriage, it is not considered marital property.
Who Keeps The House?
There are several answers to that question. The first scenario is to sell the home and distribute the proceeds as stated in the divorce settlement. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, so there is no hard and fast rule that the assets will be split down the middle. Equitable distribution takes many factors into consideration such as the length of the marriage, the standard of living, education, and economic contributions, etc. One of the drawbacks of selling the property is the fluctuating housing market. You could have your house up for sale for 18 months to two years depending upon your area.
Secondly, you and your spouse can co-own the house. Many families choose to keep the house, mostly due to emotional ties to it, especially when children are involved. Frequently, families don’t want to send their children to school in a different school district or have the extra expense of moving. Keeping the house in both names does have its drawbacks. Having one mortgage and wanting to start over by buying another home may make getting a second loan difficult. Also, if you and your ex have agreed on how to handle the mortgage payments and either of you gets behind, your credit score is in the basement.
The third option is to buy your ex out of their share of the house. To get a large amount of cash, you will probably need to refinance your mortgage. Let’s say your home is appraised at $300,000 and according to the divorce settlement your ex is entitled to half of the house’s value after what is still owed on the mortgage is deducted. The unpaid mortgage balance is $100,00, which means your ex should receive $100,000. In order to pay that large a sum, by refinancing your mortgage, you can obtain the money for the buyout, but the negative side is that a loan that may have had 8 years left, is a new loan for 15 years.
Divorcing with the House, What About The Mortgage?
Whoever takes over ownership of the house should be on the mortgage. The only way to make any changes to whose name is on the mortgage is by refinancing a loan in the name of the sole owner. Frequently, there are several snags with this process. If the person requesting refinancing doesn’t have available credit or good credit history, they will not be able to refinance. If you and your ex agree to remain on the mortgage, but they will be making the payments and at some point cease to do so, the bank will pursue both of you.
Getting a divorce and dealing with what to do with the family home are extremely difficult situations. So much emotion, memories, and energy are tied into your home. There are ways to settle your divorce in the least painful way possible.
Do you need someone to help get you through the divorce process while handling a home with a mortgage? Contact our Divorce Attorneys in Monmouth and Ocean County, NJ
There are professionals ready to help you make the right choices for you and your family. It is so important to feel as though we are doing the right thing.
At Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our priority is to take you through the divorce process listening to your concerns, and providing the experience and knowledge to meet your unique needs. Our law firm excels in efficiency, empathy, and professionalism.
Contact us online or call us today at (732) 812-3102 and allow us to help you in this difficult time. We are ready to serve our clients in Mantoloking, Beach Haven, Barnegat Light, Lanoka Harbor, Lavallette, Lacy, and Waretown. Visit our offices in Brick and Sea Girt for a consultation.
NJ Divorce Attorneys will guide you if you want to divorce but can’t locate your spouse
There are a myriad of reasons a married couple may choose to separate or one spouse may file for divorce, but things become more complex when one spouse has gone missing.
In an uncontested divorce, both parties are in agreement about the divorce. In this scenario, the exes more or less work together to determine the proper terms of a divorce, such as the separation of assets, appropriate alimony agreement, and child custody arrangement when children are involved. In a contested divorce, the filing spouse’s terms for divorce either do not match the wishes of the other spouse, or the spouse does not want to divorce at all. These types of divorce can be a bit testier, as one can imagine, and the support of a skilled and experienced family law attorney is essential to facilitate this potentially turbulent process.
There is a case in which one spouse would like to file for divorce, but they cannot find their ex to serve them the paperwork. This situation constitutes a type of uncontested divorce that requires a specific procedure to move through the entirety of the divorce in the absence of the other.
What is the difference between a no-fault and an at-fault divorce in Lakewood?
There are two main categories of divorce in New Jersey, and either of them can be filed in the presence or absence of one of the spouses.
No-fault divorce is legal separation due to no fault of either of the spouses — it is divorce because of “irreconcilable differences.” In this case, neither of the spouses needs to prove that the other did something specifically wrong that would cause the divorce. It is a relatively cleaner way to end legal matrimony without there needing to be a public record of the horrible things one or the other spouse did. A spouse may move forward with a no-fault divorce given that the couple meets specific requirements, such as the fact that irreconcilable differences have been ongoing for at least half of a year, leading to the disintegration of the marriage that cannot be reconciled; and that the couple has both lived in New Jersey for the full year before the divorce filing.
A spouse can also file a no-fault divorce on the grounds of separation, in which the couple has lived separately for at least 18 months, and there is no possibility of reconciliation.
A fault divorce in New Jersey is filed on the grounds that one spouse committed an act that went against the sanctity of the matrimony and led to divorce; such a divorce claim would very likely affect the division of assets, financial spousal support, and custody determination. Reasons for fault in a divorce include adultery, long-term (12 months) abandonment, domestic abuse, or drug addiction.
What is a divorce by default, Lavallette NJ?
In either of the no-fault cases and the fault cases, if the filing spouse cannot locate the partner to serve divorce papers, they can file a divorce by default, specifically by providing Notice of Order by Publication.
If you can prove that you have attempted to serve your spouse with the divorce papers at their last-known address and have been diligent in attempting to locate them, but they are not to be found, you can file for divorce by default. Divorce by default signifies that your ex did not respond to your Complaint for Divorce within the legally allotted period of time.
Specifically, in the case that you cannot locate your ex, this divorce by default takes the form of divorce by Notice of Order by Publication.
Filing for Divorce by Notice of Order by Publication in Toms River
When a spouse can’t be located, the filing spouse can move forward with the divorce proceedings by applying for Divorce by Notice of Order by Publication. This is a legal advertisement in the local newspaper nearest to the last-known whereabouts of the delinquent spouse. The legal advertisement must be published in the local newspaper for at least three weeks, giving the spouse an opportunity to respond to the notice of intent to divorce. This is considered a final notice to the spouse; after three weeks, the legal process of divorce can move forward with an affidavit of marshal service confirming publication of the notice being submitted to the Superior Court: Family Part. At this point, the judge will take into consideration only what is provided by the filing spouse to make determinations regarding the separation of assets, alimony requirements, custody arrangements, and child support payments.
Want to divorce, but your spouse’s location is unsure? Contact our talented attorneys for a free confidential consultation at our Brick office.
If you are seeking to divorce and cannot find your spouse in New Jersey, it is important that you are supported by a family law attorney. If you want to file for divorce by default, we can help.
At Bronzino Law Firm, we have the knowledge and experience you need when divorcing, especially under unusual circumstances, including when your spouse is missing. If you reside in Waretown, Rumson, Belmar, Beach Haven, Point Pleasant, Manchester, and nearby places in Monmouth and Ocean Counties, get the assistance you need by contacting us to discuss your particular divorce case and options.
Call today for legal advice at (732) 812-3102 and schedule a free consultation to go over your options and guide you during the entire process. It will be our pleasure to work in your case and get the best scenario for your situation.