Common Misconceptions related to Joint Custody and Child Support In New Jersey
Read on to learn a few common misconceptions divorcing spouses encounter that affect them moving forward.
Divorce is a complicated matter. Because it is a legal union in addition to a relationship based on love, its separation requires clarity and precision on all levels. One thing that can get in the way of this clarity is the divorcing spouse’s understanding of what common procedures and terms related to the divorce mean. In order to limit misunderstanding that may cause problems down the road, it is imperative that both attorneys and judges ensure that the litigants understand the lay meaning of legal processes and outcomes.
Physical, Legal, and Joint Custody
Surprisingly, custody is one area for which many divorcing couples in New Jersey are underinformed or misinformed. When, in an introductory consultation, a spouse says, “we want joint custody,” they often don’t recognize that joint custody takes many forms.
First of all, there are two types of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody determines with whom the child will live, and this can take many shapes. Legal custody determines who will have a legal say in decisions regarding the child’s educational, medical, and general wellbeing.
Types of Physical Custody
When a person with a child is considering divorce, they often don’t have the necessary information to make informed considerations about how best to move forward. There are three types of physical custody, and two of them are ‘joint.’ Joint custody simply means that both parents spend time with the child based on the parenting time agreements they determine together, or that is court-established where they are not able to come to an agreement. While many who want ‘joint’ custody are thinking that they want the child to live with them an equal amount as they live with their spouse, this is rarely awarded by a court. Why? A 50/50 split is, in most cases, destabilizing for a child, as the child has to uproot and move back and forth more than is in their best interest.
The New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part’s first priority is the best interest of the child, so unless the parents live very close to one another, have an amicable relationship, and have similar parenting philosophies – or unless the divorcing couple will engage in nesting, by which the children live in the same home and the parents move back and forth between the family home and their secondary space, the courts will likely not award complete joint custody.
Primary Residential Custodian and Parent of Alternate Residence
The more likely arrangement is that one parent will be awarded primary residential custodian and the other parent of alternate residence. In this joint custodial agreement, the child lives with and spends the majority of time with one parent, and the other parent has ample visitation rights, as determined by their parenting time agreement schedules. The third physical custody agreement is sole custody, in which one parent has exclusive residential rights, and the other parent has limited and perhaps supervised visitation.
Child Support Expenses
Another common confusion regarding legal jargon is the meaning of child support. Believe it or not, many divorced parents request bank statements and other accounting to prove that the child support they have paid has gone specifically and exclusively to the support of the child. When they demand this type of accounting, they are generally thinking that their payments must be limited to direct child spendings, such as school supplies and extracurricular lessons. However, child support costs are far broader, and a parent receiving child support payments could be using that financial support to cover household expenses such as rent and utilities, car and gas payments, groceries, and other costs that are split between the householders, but of which the child is one. As such, a parent paying child support cannot argue that the other parent is using their specially allocated funds towards their own means. Supporting a child takes many financial forms, and the receiving parent is within their legal rights to use those child support funds in those ways. Of course, if a parent receiving child support is found to be using those funds to cover personal expenses or for personal matters, the ex-spouse could take that matter up with the courts.
Contact Our Sea Girt NJ Joint Custody and Child Support Attorneys Today
At Peter J. Bronzino Law Firm, our experienced team of divorce attorneys supports clients in towns across Ocean and Monmouth County, including Jackson, Sea Girt, Point Pleasant, Asbury Park, Wall, and the surrounding communities in all divorce and custody needs.
To schedule a consultation with a member of our team today regarding your divorce and custody arrangement, please contact us online, or through either our Brick office or our Sea Girt office at (732) 812-3102.
Brick and Sea Girt Divorce Attorneys Help You Achieve Financial Freedom
Social Security benefits are distributed in a divorce and orient toward financial freedom in the wake of a divorce.
The ins and outs of divorce are complex and often complicated, especially where New Jersey state law relates to divorce and intersects with federal law regarding the distribution of government benefits. One example is in the case of Social Security benefits.
How are Social Security benefits distributed after a divorce?
According to Section 202 [42 U.S.C. sec 402] of the United States Social Security Act, a spouse or divorced spouse of a person receiving Social Security benefits is entitled to a share of those benefits. Of course, there are conditions to the distribution of government benefits, and these are collectively known as the Social Security Ten Year Rule.
The Social Security Ten Year Rule reflects the Social Security Act’s mandate that a couple must have been married for at least 10 years for the spouse to be eligible to receive a share of the entitled party’s old-age benefits. This calculation of the ten-year period is laid out in the section of the Social Security Program Operations Manual entitled “Divorced Spouses.” According to this section, the marriage officially begins on the day of marriage. It ends on the day the court finalizes the divorce, not on the day that the Complaint for Divorce is filed with the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part. This federal law notes that the ten-year period after which a person is eligible to receive a share of an ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits may be truncated by a divorce, as long as a legal remarriage occurred. The Ten-Year Rule goes into effect two years after the marriage’s finalization lasting at least 10 years. This means that an ex-spouse can begin receiving a share of the benefits only after the divorce is two years old.
Additionally, the spouse or ex-spouse must abide by additional criteria:
- The spouse/ex-spouse must apply with the federal Social Security Administration.
- The working spouse must be at least 62 years old.
- The ex-spouse cannot be remarried (in the case that the spouse and the qualifying Social Security recipient are divorced).
- The spouse/ex-spouse cannot have accrued more Social Security benefits than the eligible partner.
A ‘share’ of the benefits does not mean that Social Security benefits constitute part of the fair and equal distribution of assets in a divorce. According to New Jersey Statutes N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23, because it is assumed that alimony, or spousal support, payments terminate when the working ex-spouse reaches full retirement age, it is unlikely that Social Security benefits will be included as part of the support.
Establishing financial freedom after divorce
Regardless of your age or how long you were married when you decide to divorce, there are ways that you can begin to establish a financial footing in the presence of an oncoming divorce. The first way to orient yourself towards financial freedom is to separate your income from your spouse. Because there are many ways in which income comes to the marital household, from one spouse earning the entirety or significant portion of the marital income to both spouses earning near-equal incomes, separating the incomes will bring clarity about what one can expect will be their spousal-support and/or child support duties or the length for which they can expect to receive such support. Having a clear understanding of each spouse’s separate financial positions allows for discernment in the next steps taken personally, professionally, and financially. If you choose to invest in a financial consultant during this time, they will be able to advise you on how to grow a financial portfolio to support the transition and your financial future through investments and benefits from your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits, as outlined above.
Just as separating incomes provides clarity, separating tax filings will also help you to make informed decisions moving forward. Because moving from filing taxes with the Internal Revenue Service together with your spouse – which saves the household money – to filing as ‘Single,’ on tax returns means the person will be responsible for paying more in taxes, wasting no time in making this move will provide foresight that will allow you to augment your financial decisions appropriately.
Contact a Wall Township, NJ Finance and Divorce Law Attorney to Build a Plan for Life after Divorce
At Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our team of experienced family law attorneys supports clients across [Geo locations] in all matters of divorce, including Social Security benefits distribution and other assets division.
To schedule a confidential consultation with an experienced member of our team regarding your divorce, please feel free to fill out the online form or call our Brick or Sea Girt office at (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your legal options.
Family Law Attorneys Help you Build your New Life after Divorce Brick, NJ
No matter who ended it and despite the future looking bleak, life does continue.
Divorce, separation from a partner, and dissolving a relationship, especially if you’ve been together for a while, can be painful emotionally, physically, and financially. Letting go of someone you love after you’ve invested so much time, emotion, and energy can feel like quitting. Not to mention the intense fear you may experience at the prospect of being alone and never finding love again.
No matter who ended it and despite the future looking bleak, life does continue, and many thousands of people go on to have happy and fulfilling lives after divorce. You, too, can be free, live your adventurous best life, and find love again. As you go through the divorce process, some people can act as resources before and once your divorce is finalized, who can help you on your journey through the darkness and to the light at the end of the tunnel. As we stated previously in “Nine ways to take care of yourself following a divorce,” you should trust that this period is much like being a caterpillar in a chrysalis and that your true unfolding and highest happiness are preparing itself for you in perfect time.
5 Resources to Improve Life After Divorce
Since one of the most challenging aspects of post-divorce life is wondering what the next steps are, having these five (5) key resources can significantly benefit your personal, financial, social, physical, and mental health and get you moving in the right direction:
1. Mental Health Professional
Whether it’s for yourself, the children, or for your ex-partner, a licensed mental health professional can help work through what happened during the course of the relationship and provide those in therapy with the ideal platform to discuss their feelings, grieve the end of the relationship, and work through thoughts of anger and loss. It may also mean learning to like yourself again or rediscovering who you once were.
2. Divorce Coach
A divorce coach can identify a more practical perspective and facilitate alternative dispute resolution processes and options to reduce conflict and motivate cooperation. With a forward-looking and goal-oriented strategy, they help you focus on the “bigger picture” while simultaneously helping manage numerous interconnected issues that must be immediately determined when marriages end.
3. Parenting Coordinator
For parents who have experienced a reduction in their parenting role either due to child custody matters, parental alienation, or issues within a custody agreement itself, a parenting coordinator can propose strategies to help preserve your co-parenting role and protect your relationship with your children.
4. Financial Advisor / Tax Consultant / Accountant
If previous marital circumstances were such that the other partner managed the financial decisions and household finances, this is an amazing opportunity to understand your financial health, plan, and get an overview of your assets, monthly expenses, and any marital debts that are. An experienced accountant or financial advisor can help you figure out what your next steps will be related to child support, alimony, and spousal support, and what you will receive after the equitable division of assets. For many, this alone provides a certain peace of mind.
5. Support Network (Family, Friends, Colleagues, etc.)
You don’t have to figure it all out yourself. Over the coming weeks and months, you need to really focus on looking after yourself and any children from the relationship. Be open to help from others during this difficult time in your life. During the divorce process and after you receive your judgment of divorce or divorce decree, your strongest support network will be your family and friends and those closest to you.
Concerned about life after divorce? Contact an Experienced Ocean and Monmouth County Divorce Attorney Today
At The Law Office of Peter J. Bronzino, LLC, our divorce attorneys’ team supports our clients across Wall, Point Pleasant, Asbury Park, Spring Lake, Brick, and all of Eastern New Jersey in ensuring a swift and just resolution of proceedings.
Our approach focuses on utilizing our extensive experience to navigate the logistics of settlement while our clients are encouraged and supported in the process of healing and moving forward.
When Is It Appropriate to Use Child Testimony in Divorce and Custody Proceedings?
The process of getting a divorce and dealing with child custody is precarious at best. You want your attorney to help you obtain the best outcome for you and your changing family situation and if your divorce lawyer wants to strengthen his or her case, it is likely that he or she will introduce witnesses to testify on their client’s behalf. However, before an attorney will consider the testimony of such witnesses as part of their child custody case, they must determine if the potential witness is credible or not. A credible witness is competent to give evidence because he or she has knowledge and experience with the issues involved. For example, a credible witness can be someone who has knowledge in a particular field, such as an expert in children’s psychology. Yet not all witnesses must be experts in a particular field to be considered credible. Oftentimes, family members are called to testify in matrimonial cases, specifically children if they are of a suitable age.
What are the legal considerations when considering using child testimony?
Generally, a child may testify as to his custodial preference. A child’s testimony is usually procured on this subject in one of two ways. First, the child may be questioned by the judge in chambers, with only the attorneys and the court reporter present. This is sometimes called an in-camera interview. The attorneys are generally not permitted to share a child’s testimony from that interview with the parents. Alternatively, a child may testify in open court as a witness. No matter what form the testimony takes, the child must be competent for any testimony to be considered.
The courts have wide discretion in determining the competency of a witness. Judges experienced with young children will often spend a significant amount of time discussing with a child the concept of the truth and whether the child can differentiate between a truth and a lie. Judges will also sometimes spend a significant amount of time discussing mundane topics with the child. In addition to setting the child at ease, a certain amount of “small talk” may help the judge to determine whether the child’s vocabulary is sufficient to accurately express himself. In some cases, the attorneys will be permitted to ask the child questions.
What are the practical considerations?
The first practical consideration is whether having your child testify or participate in an in-camera interview will have a negative emotional effect on them. Imagine how anxious you, as an adult, would be testifying at your trial. You may be concerned about ensuring that your testimony is truthful and clear. You might be afraid that your statements will be twisted by the other side and taken out of context by the judge. You may be anxious that you do not forget anything when you are speaking in court.
Your child has all these concerns and then some. He/She may be afraid to appear as if sides are being taken. Concerns about making anyone mad or disappointing either parent is also anxiety-provoking. It is essential that parents demonstrate great care and sensitivity when a child is faced with testifying in this circumstance.
The second practical consideration you should contemplate is the unpredictability of your child’s testimony. Do not assume your child will make the same statements to the judge that he has previously made to you. Often, a child’s testimony will be markedly different than you expect. A child’s statements may be inconsistent for a plethora of reasons. Maybe he is being pressured or enticed with material rewards by the other parent. Perhaps his understanding of the world, including his perception of time, is not the same as yours. You should not rely on your child’s testimony to remain the same over the course of your litigation.
How Do I Decide?
There is no right or wrong answer. Every family is different and what is most important is that you do not place your possible desire to get back at your spouse by taking away the children to get in the way of a true consideration of what is best for them. Once you have consulted with your attorney to determine whether your child’s testimony will be permitted in some form then you must make personal and strategic decisions. Child testimony should ultimately be whether you want your child to freely express his opinion to the Court, regardless of the weight the Court will give the testimony and regardless of whether the testimony will be favorable to you.
Consult a Child Custody Proceedings Attorney in Monmouth and Ocean County Today
At the law office of Peter J. Bronzino in Brick, MJ, we understand how important your children are to you and we are ready to work with you to pursue the best plan for your changing family. We will collaborate with your spouse to peaceably reach a child custody agreement while defending your needs and rights. Please contact us online or at our Brick, NJ office at (732) 812-3102.
Forensic Accountant and Divorce Attorney in Brick and Sea Girt NJ
A forensic accountant specializes in reviewing a spouse’s business and personal financial records.
The sad fact is that almost 50% of all marriages end in divorce. It’s also a fact that most marriages that end in divorce are in trouble long before the divorce petition is filed. This fact provides ample opportunity for either spouse to hide assets and income. The more animosity there is between the couple, the greater the chance that one or both is hiding income and assets.
Many spouses have significant experience hiding income or disguising nondeductible expenses for income tax purposes. It is a simple matter for them to apply these skills to their pending divorce problems. Typically, there will be little direct evidence that the income ever existed. If the client’s spouse suspects or knows that the other is engaging in these practices, a forensic accounting investigation is often necessary to provide supporting evidence of the hidden income.
What Skills Does a Forensic Accountant Possess?
- Analytical skills and industry experience necessary to investigate a wide variety of financial documentation.
- Classic skills of a CPA coupled with financial investigation tools.
- Ability to testify as an expert witness.
- Advisor to the attorney in finance, tax, and business practices
A forensic accountant specializes in reviewing a spouse’s business and personal financial records. Armed with this information, they detect the existence of hidden assets, the undervaluation of assets, or the underreported and/or understatement of income, and the overstatement/validity of liabilities. Some of the documents these financial experts analyze include bank accounts, credit card statements, and tax returns to determine the existence of marital assets and liabilities and their true fair market value. Based on the findings, the financial expert makes recommendations on how to best buy out the spouse, split any retirement assets, and, going forward, analyzes the cash flow for maintaining defined comparable lifestyles.
What Does a Forensic Account Do?
Here are some of the most common things that forensic accountants do:
- Determine each of the party’s income available for paying support;
- Calculate child and spousal support owed from one person to the other;
- Identify and assign a value to the couple’s assets and liabilities;
- Prepare a plan of how to divide the assets and liabilities between the couple;
- Assess the value of one (or both) of the spouse’s businesses (ex: car wash, dental practice);
- Account for how joint funds have been spent by each party since separation;
- Trace any pre-marital property to its current location and value.
- Identify any hidden accounts or cryptocurrency.
- Identify major hidden expenditures.
Often, both spouses will have his/her own forensic accountant, and the two can meet in the context of settlement negotiations with attorneys from each side. In the settlement process, calculations of the value of the parties’ assets, the child and spousal support payments that should be due from one party to the other (if any), and other financial issues are typically discussed. This process can take anywhere from months to years, depending (in part) on the size of the estate, the income of the parties, and the complexity of the legal issues involved. If the divorce is very contentious, and one or both of the spouses are very quarrelsome, the process slows down considerably and is sometimes completely unmoved.
When a spouse owns his or her own business, the other party may need investigative accounting to understand the value since it is not something that can be determined from reviewing tax returns. This business owner’s cash flow can be computed by a forensic accountant who will determine what should be included in the entrepreneur’s income. The complexities of this warrant a level of sophistication a forensic accountant can provide. The components to determine who gets what and how much are abysmally more complicated than a divorce with few assets. When was the business acquired? How much effort did the opposing spouse put into the business? Were there any individual investments made by a spouse into the business? These and a plethora more questions need to be answered to ensure a fair and equitable settlement.
Are There Other Situations in which a Forensic Accountant Is Needed?
Individuals with significant income such as highly paid executives and professionals such as doctors, attorneys, and accountants often have significant discretionary cash. Even if the opposing spouse’s primary income is from salary and wages, there will be plenty of cash available for investing and diverting from the marital unit.
A forensic accounting investigation may reveal previously unknown bank accounts, investments, and other assets. Often the client spouse has observed activity by the opposing spouse that indicates a forensic accounting investigation is appropriate.
A forensic accounting investigation is warranted when the assets listed in the prenuptial agreement may have been transmuted or commingled with the marital assets. If the agreement called for specific income allocation of the premarital assets, a forensic accounting investigation is usually called for to determine compliance with the terms of the agreement. Often, a forensic accounting investigation is needed to trace the assets listed in the premarital agreement to establish whether the assets remained as separate property, whether they were transmuted or commingled with marital property, and whether any incremental appreciation was created during the marriage that must be considered in the divorce.
Do You Want To Learn More? Contact a Monmouth and Ocean County Divorce Attorney
Matters of divorce and family law require the attention and skill of an experienced attorney who will fight for your future. Not only is your financial well-being at stake, but in a divorce, your emotional well-being is at risk as well. If you need a divorce attorney in Ocean County, New Jersey, please do not hesitate to contact Bronzino Law Firm at 732-812-3102 or fill out our online contact form.
Domestic Violence and COVID-19 Attorneys Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
At the height of the first surge of Covid-19 in April, the New York Times reported that the rate of domestic violence around the world was rising, triggered by economic stress and increased isolation.
In a pandemic, the facets of domestic abuse are the same as at any other time: the perpetrator enforces isolation from family and friends, practices constant surveillance, dictates increasingly impossible standards of acceptable behavior, and limits access to necessities like food and clothing.
Lockdowns during the pandemic feed into these controlling behaviors because surveillance and control are easier to do in close quarters. In the pandemic, victims of domestic violence may have increasingly found that access to help in the form of friends and family, or the police and the courts, was reduced or completely cut off.
Two investigators were concerned that the same thing might be happening in New Jersey. They researched how such factors as home confinement and court closures have impacted domestic violence rates in this state.
They found that victims have faced intensified difficulties over the past several months. When they studied arrest data from the Newark Department of Public Safety and restraining data provided by the New Jersey Superior Court, they discovered that:
- Calls to police about domestic violence dropped statewide right after the lockdown began. Experts believe the sudden drop in calls to police was a key sign that unreported domestic violence was rising. Victims may not have had enough privacy to call for help, or did not know how to access help because of court closures, or had difficulty leaving home or knowing whether shelters were open.
- Arrests began to increase in late March of this year through July 2020. The Newark Department of Public Safety, in its own analysis, reported 188 domestic violence incidents from the end of March through April, an 18% increase over the same period in 2019.
- There was a relatively low number of applications statewide for temporary restraining orders (TROs) in March and April. In that time, most TROs were issued by the police, and very few issued by the courts because courts were closed. Victims may not have known where to go or were reluctant or unable to go to their local police station. As courts reopened, the number of TRO requests rapidly increased. Compared to pre-March levels, total TRO requests rose sharply from late July to mid-September.
These findings are a serious wake-up call.
Domestic Violence Usually Gets Worse
With the pandemic rising and continuing into the winter, families face heightened stress in possible renewed lockdown measures.
There is help available. You can get a restraining order even when courts are closed. Victims also need to know that shelters and agencies are open, even if they’re working within the constraints of social distancing.
Call us today with your Domestic Violence related issues in NJ
Do you, or someone you love and care about, need help with domestic violence but aren’t sure how to access help?
This link will provide you with the NJ Domestic Violence Hotline
You can also talk with one of our attorneys, by video conference or phone call, to learn about the legal options you have that will help you be safe. These include filing for a TRO, filing for child support or spousal support for the abused partner, emergency custody of children, and how to file for divorce.
Divorce Settlement Attorneys Advising on Planning and Preparedness Brick NJ
Each case is unique and choosing the right attorney for your family can be the most important decision you make during the divorce process.
If you or someone you know are considering or currently going through a divorce, legal separation, or civil union dissolution, you probably have lots of concerns like “what is the divorce process?”, “how much will my divorce cost?” and “how long will it take to be finalized?” The amount of time it takes to reach a divorce settlement agreement varies on things like child support, child custody, division of assets, marital debt, and alimony and spousal support, as well as the time necessary for your lawyer to collect financial documents and other information (also known as discovery), not to mention, to prepare motions and requests temporary alimony or temporary child support.
Most couples starting the divorce process are unprepared and are often not even on the same page, and this lack of preparedness can result in a destructive, contentious, and competitive contest. Although divorce can take a serious toll on your mental, emotional, and financial health, the more prepared and ready a couple is to face these challenges the sooner they can make positive inroads that can help them stay grounded as they make a mentally healthy transition forward into their new life.
Before filing for divorce choose an experienced attorney who will negotiate, mediate, and when necessary, argue your position to make sure the result is fair. At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, our qualified divorce and family law legal team has the expertise representing clients from across Wall, Toms River, Point Pleasant, Sea Girt, Manasquan, Asbury Park, and across all of Ocean and Monmouth Counties to help you through this difficult time.
Minimizing the Costs of Your Point Pleasant, NJ Divorce
Although controlling the costs of your divorce may be a priority, selecting the best options for your individual needs is critical. Going it alone to save money in the short term doesn’t compare to the long term benefits of hiring an experienced and efficient Ocean County family law and divorce attorney. Each case is unique and choosing the right attorney for your family can be the most important decision you make during the divorce process.
Whether you file an uncontested divorce, no-fault divorce, or choose a less adversarial collaborative divorce with your spouse outside the courtroom, it is important to consider the immediate and long-term impact your divorce agreement can have on the lives of yourself, your children, and your family as a whole.
Mediation Can Mean: Compromise, Conversation, & Mutually Beneficial Collaboration
Divorce proceedings do not have to be contentious. If children are involved, it is to their benefit that an agreement is reached in a calm, mutually beneficial way. Misbehaving spouses are rarely of concern for judged who prefer to look at the facts and determine what’s in the best interest of any children from that relationship. As alternate dispute resolution method (ADR), mediation and arbitration are often considered quick and favorable methods for parents or couples to resolve their divorce, marital asset division, alimony, child support, and child custody and parenting time matters.
With more control, a collaborative divorce can help achieve a more positive and equitable outcome by considering the children’s best interests, personal privacy, preserving family assets, and possibly providing closure to move on.
Since future parental and financial rights are being decided on, shouldn’t think they are saving money by not seeking legal counsel. All too often, this “savings” is lost in light of poorly designed financial agreements, appeals, and post-divorce modifications.
Preparing the Case Information Statement: the Backbone of NJ Divorce Litigation & Child Support Matters
If you are involved in an NJ divorce with custody or financial issues, you will be asked to fill out a Case Information Statement (CIS) or financial disclosure document. This sworn and the signed document provides a crucial snapshot of your income sources, monthly expenditure needs, assets, debts, and the amount of money you need to live on each month. Undeniably the most important document in your divorce litigation it will help determine equitable distribution of marital property, alimony and spousal support child custody and visitation, and child support.
Rather detailed, a complete CIS will make it simpler for your attorney to finalize your case and for the Court to understand the specifics of your financial situation and settle economic issues on a non-emotional, informed basis. Not being truthful, omitting or hiding assets can be problematic and extremely contentious if it seems a party seeks to maintain a larger portion than they may be entitled to, and could result in delays and serious consequences such as fines or sanctions.
At The Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, we have extensive experience working with clients across Ocean and Monmouth County to fairly and effectively resolve even the most complex high-conflict custody matters, and high-net-worth divorces involving complex assets such as properties, businesses, investment portfolios, and more.
Call our Sea Girt or Brick office today at (732) 812-3102 to discuss any concerns you may have regarding the full disclosure and fair division of your marriage’s assets in a free and confidential consultation with our legal team.
Contact an Ocean and Monmouth County Divorce Attorney Today
As you can see, there are a great many issues to decide, and if necessary, fight for when settling a divorce. Even in an uncontentious divorce, the sheer amount of paperwork, court document filings, and procedures to follow can be overwhelming, especially if you are already working full-time, homeschooling your children, and trying to maintain your household as well as your mental health.
Family Law attorney Peter J. Bronzino has extensive experience helping clients with all divorce-related matters across Ocean County, NJ including Brick, Jackson, Toms River, and Point Pleasant. We get to know the people we represent, help them determine what is most important to them in the divorce, then work with them to develop a strategy designed to meet their individual goals, needs, and protect their rights.
How to combat Parental Alienation in a NJ Custody Dispute
The challenge for a family following separation is to transition from an intact family structure to a separated family structure that is now united by the children and by the continuing parental roles and shared bonds of affection with the child.
Sometimes the emotional reactions and psychological functioning of one parent in response to divorce prevent this transition. When this occurs children can be exposed to that parent’s continuing anger and sadness.
What Is Parental Alienation?
Parental Alienation is the outcome of a process of one parent (the alienating parent) influencing a child (alienated or targeted child) to turn against and reject their other parent (alienated or targeted parent) without legitimate justification. The alienating parent can also be a grandparent, a stepparent, and even a non-family member.
Parental alienation can occur even when the relationship between the targeted child and the targeted parent was once a very positive one. It occurs when a child is forced to choose one parent’s side over the other after family separation and during parenting disputes.
What Does Parent Alienation Look Like?
The alienator might divulge unnecessary relational details — for example, instances of affairs — to a child. This can certainly make the child feel alienated themselves, as well as angry at (and feeling personally hurt by) something that was really between adults.
An alienator may prevent a child from seeing or talking to the other parent while saying that the alienated is busy/occupied/uninterested in the child.
An alienator may insist on the child’s personal items all be kept at the alienator’s house, regardless of how much time the kid spends with the other parent.
An alienator might plan tempting activities during the other parent’s custody. For example, “You’re supposed to be at your dad’s this weekend, but I was thinking it’s the perfect weekend to invite your friends to a sleepover here for your birthday this month. What would you like to do?”
Related to the above, an alienator might frequently bend or break custody guidelines, arranged inside or outside of court. On the flip side, an alienator may also refuse to compromise on a custody agreement. For example, if mom’s birthday falls on a day when dad has custody and dad is an alienator, he may rigidly refuse to let the kid go to mom’s birthday dinner when mom asks.
The alienator may ask the child about the alienated parent’s personal life and more. This can then become a subject of gossip. Oh, your dad has a new girlfriend? What’s she like? Wonder how long it will last. He had four girlfriends the year you were in kindergarten and we were still married, you know.
The alienator may become controlling when it comes to the child’s relationship with the other parent. For example, the alienator could try to monitor all phone calls, text messages, or interactions.
The alienator may actively compare the other parent to a new partner. This could take the form of the child hearing that their stepmom loves them more than their mom. A child might even be told that their stepparent will adopt them and give them a new last name
What Are the Consequences of Parental Alienation?
The consequences of parental alienation on children are serious and long-lasting. Some of these consequences include:
- Conflict with Parents
- Sleep problems
- Substance Abuse
- Speech Problems
- Sexual Promiscuity
- Poor Body Image
- Poor Eating Habits
- Eating Disorders
- Weight Loss/Weight Gain
- Disheveled Living Space
- Poor Executive Function (Disorganization)
- Diminished Activity
- Psycho-Somatic Distortions
- Feelings of Isolation
- Increased Use of Technology as an Escape
- Lack of Friends
- Sibling Conflict (Including Violence)
- Heightened Fantasy Life
- Diminished Attention Span
- Social Identity Problem
- Regressive Behaviors
- Conflicts in Peer Relationships
- School Dysfunction
- Memory Loss
What can I do to Combat Parental Alienation?
Create a plan and develop your resources.
Dealing with parental alienation is not easy. It can be exceedingly painful when your children resist your attempts to connect or view you as the “bad” parent, which is often the case. In your hurt, or out of a wish to do what is best for your children, you might wonder if it is better to give up the fight. But this could mean giving up custody, your right to parent your own children, or even see them as much as you would like.
Utilize all available resources.
Develop a plan, with the help of your therapist and attorney, to address and face any allegations that may be made against you. Do you have proof to counterclaims you know to be lies? Track down proof. Keep a record of any incidents or contradictory statements, without engaging or participating in conflict with your co-parent. Arrange to have a friend or trusted family member when you meet your co-parent to pick up or drop off your children. This can be a good idea for your own well-being and safety, but a witness may also be useful in the event of a legal battle.
Do not delay action.
Delay is the number one mistake that gets made and is the number one tactic of the aligned parent and their attorneys. Working with an understanding and knowledgeable attorney who understands that a mere allegation does not make something true is very important. You need someone who can help you defend yourself and your children from the abuse of parental alienation. It may act as grounds to modify a child custody order. There are no set answers, as the process can be extensive and arduous, but you are by no means alone. The sooner you contact a legal representative to assist you, the more expeditious the process will be.
Do You Want To Discuss further? Do not hesitate to contact a Monmouth and Ocean County Custody Attorney
At the Bronzino Law Firm, LLC, we are prepared to help you recover a working relationship with your former spouse by stopping parental alienation in its tracks and creating a safer environment for you and your children. Our top-notch team is well-practiced in all facets of family law from mediations to trials. Contact us today through our online form or call us at (732) 812-3102. Your family’s well-being is of utmost importance.
Identify Signs of Financial Abuse with Monmouth and Ocean County NJ Lawyers
Financial abuse can most often be found in romantic relationships and marriages.
The abuse often happens gradually, making it hard to identify and even harder to escape. Women are the most vulnerable, but anyone can be at risk. Many people do not recognize financial abuse as a form of domestic violence. But in fact, nearly all victims of physical domestic abuse report that their partner also uses financial control as a weapon. In fact, financial dependence is one of the main reasons many victims do not leave an abusive relationship.
Financial abuse can take many forms but is generally when someone maintains control over the couple’s financial resources. An abuser may use subtle tactics or more overtones. The abuser might spend money without permission, withhold access to money, or prevent someone from working. The abuser might block a person from accessing bank accounts or force them to cosign on a loan. Since the loan is cosigned, both the abuser and the victim suffer the consequences of late or missed payments including damage to their credit score and any legal action for not paying the debt off.
What Are The Signs of Financial Abuse?
In many cases, financial abuse occurs gradually. It can happen without someone realizing — no matter the relationship. That is why it is important to know the signs of financial abuse. The sooner you are able to recognize it, the quicker you can guard against it.
Here are some of the signs to watch out for:
- You are not included in financial information or decisions. You don’t know what accounts you have, the compensation structure for a spouse, or where the money is located or spent.
- You are on a budget that your partner decided. A partner puts you on a budget or and gives you an “allowance.” Maybe you are regulated to a certain amount of cash every month or your credit card purchases are under a watchful eye.
- You sign documents without knowing what they are. You might sign business forms, tax returns, and loan requests without knowing what they entail or even having a chance to read them. Sometimes you may know what the paperwork is for and are forced to sign them under duress.
- Your partner is using your money or property without your permission. They are stealing from you, spending your money on something you didn’t authorize. They may demand to use your credit card or force you to obtain a loan. They may change passcodes or close accounts that you previously had access to, opening new ones in either of your names.
- Your partner does not contribute to the partnership as agreed upon. You pay for all of the utilities, rent, and groceries. They don’t contribute to the household and are making no effort to do so.
- Your partner makes your career decisions telling you what your salary must be and when you can and cannot work. They frequently ask you for evidence of your income and demand that your salary be deposited directly into a “joint account” that they control.
What Are the Effects of Financial Abuse?
Financial abuse can have detrimental physical, emotional, and financial impacts, even years after the abuse has stopped. Victims of financial abuse may have difficulty keeping a job or finding a job due to their spotty employment history. This is often due to an abuser limiting them from attending work or school, or interfering with their job, and causing job loss. Because of the abuser’s psychological tactics, a victim may feel less confident in their ability to secure a job, save money, and make a solid life for themselves.
From a financial health perspective, if someone defaults on payments or takes out personal loans in your name, your credit score could be affected. When credit scores are harmed, it can take years to rebuild — making it difficult to buy things like a home or vehicle.
For most victims of financial and domestic abuse, leaving the relationship is the healthiest and safest option for the long-term. Many abusers make it hard to leave the relationship. They might track your activity or prevent you from accessing your bank account. Still, there are ways to remove yourself from a difficult situation and rebuild yourself as a financially independent person.
- Be aware of and involved with financial decisions. If you are asked to sign the paperwork, understand what it is that you’re signing. If something seems out of the ordinary, ask questions, and pay close attention. Don’t make excuses for an abuser or obligate yourself to pay their loans, debts, or late fees.
- Ensure your personal information is safe. Change your passwords, bank pins, access codes, and credit card login information. Freeze your credit to make sure no one else can apply for credit or a loan under your name.
- Set aside some savings. If you can safely save money without your abuser knowing, sock away cash for your future life. Consider hiding cash and valuable items or opening a new bank account your abuser doesn’t know about.
- Work toward supporting yourself. Brainstorm different jobs you could do and develop the necessary skills. Don’t worry if you don’t have the means to support yourself yet. With time and the right resources, you will get there.
- Keep your credit safe. Every year, you can get one free credit report from each of the major credit bureaus. Dispute any errors or fraudulent activity on your report as soon as possible — ideally within six months of the occurrence.
Where Can You Get Help as a Victim of Financial Abuse?
The impact of financial abuse can be long-lasting, impacting credit scores, and the ability to secure steady employment. But there is hope. There are ways to break away from an abuser and rebuild your livelihood. There are also good money habits you can put into place to build your overall financial strength. If you suspect someone you know may be a victim of financial abuse, there are ways to get help.
Consult an Ocean County Family and Domestic Violence Lawyer Today
If you are suffering from economic abuse and would like to talk to someone about your legal options, the Bronzino Law Firm, with our offices in Ocean and Monmouth Counties, is prepared to provide you with the information and assistance you need to stop your abuser from continuing to control your finances.
Our legal team of top-notch attorneys wants to help you return to a peaceful and secure state of mind. please visit our online form or call us at (732) 812-3102 to learn more about your legal options.
Eligibility of a Final Restraining Attorney Monmouth and Ocean County NJ
Read on to learn more about how a New Jersey appellate court recently affirmed who can be granted a Final Restraining Order under domestic violence law.
The New Jersey Prevention Against Domestic Violence Act states that a person can get a final restraining order (FRO) against someone that has committed an act of domestic violence against them. Domestic violence is defined as “a pattern of physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse, which includes, but is not limited to, threats, intimidation, isolation, and/or financial control” by the New Jersey State Police. New Jersey law outlines specific acts that constitute acts of violence specifically punishable under domestic abuse law and who can constitute as a victim of domestic violence.
Who is protected under domestic violence law?
The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act determines that a person can be considered a victim of domestic violence based on their relationship with the offender. Those who are protected by the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act are over the age of 18 or are an emancipated minor, and they have been harmed in one of the 19 forms of domestic violence (outlined below) by
- a spouse,
- a former spouse,
- a present or former household member,
- someone with whom they share a child or are pregnant, or
- someone with whom they are “dating,” according to the legal definition of dating outlined in the courts.
Recently, a New Jersey appellate court affirmed the above, particularly in the case of “householder.” The appellate court reversed the issuance of a FRO for harassment under domestic violence law because the plaintiff and the defendant had never lived in the same home at the same time, and therefore did not meet the legal requirements outlined in the Prevention Against Domestic Violence Act.
What is legally considered domestic violence under New Jersey law?
The Act names the following as forms of domestic violence that are punishable as such by law:
- Assault – This is defined as making unwanted physical contact with a person, whether or not it causes pain; as well as the threat to touch someone without their permission or do them harm
- Sexual assault – Sexual assault involves sexual harassment such as abusive or unwanted comments, insistence, or threats.
- Criminal sexual contact – This is forcing a person to have sexual contact.
- Criminal restraint – Criminal restraint is the forceful withholding of a person’s physical being against their will. It may go hand-in-hand with a criminal sexual contact charge.
- Harassment – Harassment is having continued communication with someone when they have asked for it to stop; it intends to force some response or action or cause stress.
- Cyber harassment – This is harassment that occurs online and may or may not include physical follow-up or public shaming, or harm. It is intended to or does cause emotional harm.
- Stalking – Stalking is following someone against their will and maybe in person or through technology. It is different from harassment because it is the presence more than the action that is bothersome and threatening.
- Threats – A threat is a verbal expression that one will harm another. This does not need to be followed up to be considered an act of domestic violence under the law.
- Robbery – This is removing or taking someone’s property without having their permission.
- Burglary – Burglary is entering into someone’s private property without their permission, whether or not something is removed.
- False Imprisonment – False imprisonment is detaining someone, either physically, financially, or psychologically.
- Kidnapping – Kidnapping is the physical removal of someone from their home environment without their permission. If it is someone who qualifies as a victim of domestic violence, this carries a domestic violence charge; yet it also carries its own charge.
- Criminal mischief – Criminal mischief is damaging or vandalizing someone’s property.
- Lewdness – Showing your private parts to someone without their permission carries a lewdness charge.
- Contempt of a restraining order – Going against the terms of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) or a Final Restraining Order (FRO) can result in further domestic violence charges.
- Crimes involving risk – Those protected by the New Jersey Domestic Violence Prevention Act of 1991 are protected from any act that could threaten their physical safety.
- Homicide – In addition to carrying its own charge, someone who kills a spouse, ex-spouse, the parent of their child, or a householder is subject to additional charges under domestic violence law.
Contact our skilled Domestic Violence Attorney in Monmouth and Ocean County Today
At Bronzino Law Firm, our experienced team of domestic violence lawyers supports clients across New Jersey, including Ocean and Monmouth counties, in all matters regarding Final Restraining Orders and other domestic violence case issues.
To schedule a consultation with a team member today to discuss your case, 7328123102 today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your individual needs and concerns.