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New Jersey Family Law Blog

Try a threefold strategy in divorce negotiations

New Jersey couples who are ending their marriages might want some tips for smoothing the difficult legal road ahead in order to avoid some of the most common divorce traps. Many couples try to negotiate a settlement, but there are some things to look out for in this regard.

Having a solid picture of finances is crucial for engaging effectively in divorce negotiations. Property division, alimony and child support will often be at issue. Not knowing what is in the bank and what one can afford to commit to financially could make setting the right parameters to frame negotiations difficult, if not possible.

Why January is a popular month for divorce

Couples in New Jersey and throughout the country may not want to get divorced during the holidays. This may be especially true if they have kids and want to spend one more Christmas as a single family unit. Those without children may also loathe the idea of spending the holidays by themselves. In some cases, people may be less likely to divorce during the holidays because the Christmas season inspires hope that a marriage can be salvaged.

However, once the new year gets started, the issues that plagued the relationship may come back. It is also possible that issues that may have been below the surface prior to the holidays get exposed during what can be a stressful time of year. The start of a new year may also prompt individuals to reflect on their lives and their relationships. This may be the motivation or inspiration that a person may need to start the divorce process.

Credit tips for people headed to divorce court

The short-term financial effects of separation and divorce are obvious. Spouses must learn to pay their bills with less income and may have to make sacrifices to make ends meet. However, there are long-term effects divorcing couples in New Jersey may not consider as they plan to live their futures apart.

A person's credit score determines their ability to access credit and how much it will cost if they get it. Although divorce itself doesn't affect spouses' credit scores, some things they do before, during and after the divorce can. For example, refinancing the family home to put it in only one spouse's name could have a dramatic effect on both of their' credit scores. The one who gets the house in their own name may see their score drop significantly while the other could see an increase when the mortgage is removed from their credit report.

Studies find expanding stepfamilies after divorce

In many cases, divorce may eventually lead to bigger families. As people divorce and remarry, families might expand through the addition of stepchildren, stepsiblings and stepparents. A study carried out by researchers at the University of Massachusetts found that in households with an adult younger than 55 at the head, nearly a third have a stepparent. Around one-third of couples older than 55 who have adult children have a stepchild.

With the divorce rate on the rise for older Americans, stepchildren and others may continue to lead to family growth. One issue that these stepfamilies raise is what kind of obligations stepfamilies have to one another. Bonds may be weaker in these families. According to one study, couples with adult stepchildren are 10 percent less likely to get attention from those adult children or to give them attention.

Dealing with parental alienation

Some New Jersey parents who are divorced from a person with a narcissistic or borderline personality disorder might need to watch for signs of parental alienation. This can happen in any kind of custody arrangement, and it involves one parent influencing how a child behaves toward the other parent.

It might begin in small ways. For example, one parent might try to change the child's visitation schedule with the excuse that the child is sick or has too much homework. The other parent might see a behavioral change in the child such as becoming argumentative or even explosive rages. The parent might hear the same language used in denigration that the ex-spouse used, but the child may deny any influence from that parent.

Holidays, divorce and children

After a divorce, holidays can present challenges for both parents and children in New Jersey. However, the adults should put the children first as moving back and forth between households can be quite hard for them. Divorce is a difficult time for everyone, but over time, the pain of a marriage ending will dissipate. Parents can help lessen that pain for children with these tips.

Parents should resist the temptation to try to appease their children with expensive gifts. They should focus on spending time together as well as on helping the children create new traditions.

Some deadbeat parents are hiding income through gig work

Many New Jersey residents use gig work as their sole sources of income, and others perform this type of work to supplement their incomes. While the availability of gig work has been a financial boon to people, some parents have used the gig economy as a way to avoid their child support obligations.

Currently, the past-due child support balance in the U.S. is around $114 billion, which is an amount that increases with each year. Up to 70 percent of child support orders are enforced through wage withholding orders. The employers must withhold the child support amounts from their employees' paychecks and submit them to the state. However, gig workers who work on online platforms are not statutory employees. Many of the online platforms do not report that they have employed the workers for contract work, making it difficult for the states to discover where they are working.

The effects of divorcing after age 50

While divorce rates in New Jersey and across the U.S. have fallen since 1987, separations for couples older than age 50 have steadily increased. Known as gray divorces, these separations present special issues with which younger people don't have to contend. It is important for older spouses to understand the special problems that they might face so that they can make well-informed decisions.

When older adults divorce, they may be near to retirement or have already retired. This may cause retirement-related issues. People who are already retired no longer have incomes coming in. When couples are forced to divide their retirement accounts and other assets, both spouses may be left with little on which to live. If they have not yet retired and are forced to divide their retirement accounts, they will not have much time to replenish their savings and therefore be forced to continue working.

Divorce for business owners

People in New Jersey who are getting a divorce and who own a business will need to make some hard decisions about the future of their company. The options may be for one spouse to buy out the other, for the two to sell the business or for them to keep the business. One spouse might also give the other an asset that is the worth of that spouse's share of the business.

The first step is to have a professional give an accurate valuation of the business. This may include assessing the value of computers and other equipment as well as whether the firm's name and other intangibles have value. Records could be spotty for a family-run business, and it is important to make sure that a spouse is not concealing assets.

When to leave or stay in a marriage

New Jersey parents who are considering getting a divorce may be reluctant to do so because of their children. Before they make a decision regarding staying in the marriage or leaving to go their separate ways, there are some issues to which they should give serious thought.

Some people may hesitate to leave their marriage because they still have hope that the marriage can be repaired. However, they have to keep in mind that rebuilding a marriage is a process that will take time and involve intensive self-reflection and effort.

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