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New Jersey Family Law Blog

Why people might want to consider prenuptial agreements

When New Jersey residents are planning to get married, they may be worried when their fiancés say that they want to sign prenuptial agreements. Doing so does not mean that the couple is necessarily planning for their marriage to end in the future, however. It may instead be used as a vehicle to help to reduce potential conflict and enrich the marriage.

When people work on drafting prenuptial agreements, the process forces them to have frank discussions about their finances. This can help the parties to get clear pictures about the assets and debts held by each other and to plan about how they will be handled. Couples often use prenuptial agreements to plan who will be responsible for different financial roles during the marriage, which can help reduce conflict. They may use their agreements to plan for savings contributions, bill payments and other financial plans that can help them to build their future together.

Keeping a home or buying a new one after divorce

Some people in New Jersey who are getting a divorce might want to buy a house or keep the home they are living in. They may need to apply for a mortgage or might need to refinance the home. However, the post-divorce financial situation might make this difficult.

One reason is that people may be unable to qualify for a mortgage on a single income. This could mean it is necessary to have a cosigner. A person's credit rating may have suffered during the divorce. There are also a number of questions people should consider. These include whether they are getting or paying alimony and child support, what their income is, and what the house could be appraised at.

Health care concerns may delay some divorces

Some New Jersey couples whose marriages are failing may decide to postpone a divorce until they have a better idea of what health care options may be available to them. The Affordable Care Act helps protect people who lose their health insurance by making it more widely available. This can be particularly important for people who have preexisting conditions or for those who are in the middle of treatment. However, Congress may repeal the ACA, and it is not yet clear what will replace it.

Some couples may have finalized paperwork that they have yet to submit. Other couples are opting to create postnuptial agreements that separate assets and detail property division for when they are able to divorce. In the past, couples might opt for a legal separation in order to maintain health insurance, but many companies now no longer cover spouses who are legally separated.

Some military professions have high divorce rates

Based on an analysis of the Census Bureau's Public Use Microdata Sample, the career website Zippia found that people in some professions are more likely to divorce compared to others. Of the top 10 career fields with the greatest number of divorces, three of them were military. Certain aspects of military careers such as long deployments can create a great deal of strain in a marriage. Military workers had the highest likelihood of divorce by age 30. Among all careers, divorces were most common for first-line enlisted military supervisors.

Other professions with high divorce rates were mechanics, automotive service technicians, logisticians, and military personnel involved in air weapons and tactical operations. Among the four branches of the military, divorce rates were highest in the Air Force. Dentists, speech language pathologists and religious workers tended to have the lowest divorce rates.

Divorce myth causes financial woes, damaged credit

New Jersey couples who are ending their marriages often rely on friends and family for advice regarding the divorce process. Unfortunately, this may mean getting professional assistance too late or not at all and suffering the consequences. A number of beliefs about division of property during divorce can set one or both partners up for serious losses in the final agreement.

One of the more common assets to come up for negotiation during a divorce is the family home. Other property used as collateral to secure a loan, such as cars, are also common. In these cases, one partner may transfer ownership by removing their name from the title. However, that is not the end of it. If the sole owner now makes late payments, the other party may be held liable for fees and can suffer hits to the credit score.

Immigrant families seek help with custody issues

Child custody issues can weigh heavily on the minds of many New Jersey families. Among the parents dealing with thorny issues of custody and child care in unexpected situations are undocumented immigrants concerned about their status. Legal clinics are helping these families to prepare custody paperwork in the event that the parents face detention or deportation.

Undocumented families in the United States have been impacted by increased enforcement of immigration laws. In particular, these parents are concerned about the futures of their children. Many undocumented parents have U.S. citizen children who have lived their entire lives here and have the right to remain in the country.

Shared parenting as a custody solution

New Jersey parents who are separating or divorcing will need to negotiate a custody agreement that defines the amount of time each parent will spend with the children. One solution to consider is shared parenting, which means the children spend about the same amount of time in each household.

Parenting time is very important to the relationship between the parent and child. When parents share custody, a supportive, stable relationship can continue to develop. A variety of studies indicate that shared parenting is in the best interest of the children, even when kids are very young. For the adults, shared parenting can also mean a less combative and less expensive divorce. This type of parenting plan assumes both parents are equals and will have equal roles in the lives of the children. Ex-spouses who choose to negotiate this type of plan should be prepared to compromise. This will lower the likelihood of a long, expensive court battle.

Modifying a child support order

Child support is an obligation, even if the parents are separated or divorced. Once a child support order is established, the paying parent is responsible for the monthly amount. However, as New Jersey parents know, life is full of changes and there might come a time when there is a need to modify a support order.

Either parent can seek a child support order modification for specific reasons, but it should be done as soon as the change that necessitates it takes place, since the modification will not be retroactive. Until the modification is approved by the court, the paying parent will be legally responsible for the established amount, even if the parents have agreed to a verbal change. A modification can be temporary or permanent, but it must always center around the needs and best interests of the child.

Custody and visitation in non-divorce settings

In New Jersey, a child custody case does not always necessarily mean that a divorce is taking place. Child custody is an issue that may need to be resolved if the parents are unmarried or if another family member wants custody or visitation rights.

In a case where parents are unmarried, a mother generally has primary custody rights unless a father tries to get rights as well. If the mother is a fit parent, it is unlikely that the father can get sole custody. However, the father may also be awarded some custody or visitation rights. Just as would be the case with parents who were getting a divorce, custody and visitation rights may be negotiated between the parents or decided by a judge.

Reasons to consider nesting after a divorce

New Jersey parents who are considering ending their marriages and for whom joint custody might be a good solution may want to consider an arrangement called "nesting'. In such a scenario, parents still share physical custody, but the children remain in their home while parents take turns staying in the house for an agreed-upon length of time.

For example, one couple decided that they would spend one week at a time in the house and that Sunday would be the day they switched. They rented an apartment nearby that they shared and continued the arrangement for about 18 months. Although they switched to a more conventional joint custody arrangement when one found a new partner, they said their experience gave them a better idea of what their children faced in going back and forth between households. Furthermore, they felt their children were better adjusted after a year and a half in the family home.

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