Florham Park New Jersey Family Law Blog

What are the differences between adoption and KLG?

When parents in New Jersey are not able to take care of their children, on either a short-term, long-term or permanent basis, it often falls to relatives, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins, to step up and care for the child. There are several different legal arrangements through which this can take place, including adoption and kinship legal guardianship. The two may resemble each other in many ways, but according to the NJ Department of Children and Families, there are several significant differences that you should be aware of if you intend to take responsibility for the care of a young relative. 

Both adoptive parents and kinship legal guardians have decision-making authority over a child younger than 18 whom the state has placed into their care. The main difference between KLG and adoption is that the latter terminates the rights of the birth parents regarding the child, while the former does not.

Income, gender and divorce trends

Many people in New Jersey who get divorced or know someone who gets divorced may often wonder what type of factors contribute to a successful or a non-successful marriage. There may be no single, definitive answer to that but there are different surveys and research outcomes that provide some interesting insights about divorce trends.

As reported by MarketWatch, there is a body of information that suggests the earning capacity of each spouse in a traditional heterosexual marriage may contribute to the likelihood of a couple getting divorced or staying married. Data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that more than one in three wives earns more money than their husbands earn. This fact may not seem significant when it comes to the stability of a marriage but it just might well be very important.

What is the process for adopting a child?

If you want to adopt a child in New Jersey, the first step is understanding the requirements. You may need to complete training and obtain a license prior to entering the state's adoption system. Additionally, there may be eligibility criteria that apply to the prospective child. If you decide not to continue working through the process with the state, you may choose instead to become a foster parent or pursue adoption through a licensed private agency.

Within New Jersey's Department of Children and Families, the Foster and Adoptive Family Services branch manages the adoption process. You may find basic information on the process by contacting the FAFS staff. If you decide to continue toward adoption after gathering the initial facts from FAFS, you may have one or more meetings with a Child Protection & Permanency Local Office Resource Family Recruiter. The recruiter may provide details on the circumstances of children in need of adoption and describe the requirements you must meet to get your license.

A recent ruling may help you hold onto your unvested stocks

If you have unvested stock, a recent ruling from the New Jersey Appellate Division could have a big impact on your divorce.

New Jersey is an “equitable distribution” state. This means when a couple gets divorced, the courts try to divide all their marital assets as fairly and evenly as possible. However, the ruling called into question whether all stocks should be considered marital assets.

What are the different types of domestic abuse?

You may recognize that you are in a difficult relationship in New Jersey, but you may not see yourself as the victim of domestic abuse. This is because abuse does not always take the form of physical violence that causes observable injury. Any behavior that someone else uses to gain control over you through manipulation or fear constitutes abuse. The most insidious forms of domestic violence are often those that leave no outer mark or scar upon the body. They can be psychological, emotional or financial in nature. 

According to FindLaw, significant and persistent behavior intended to cause fear or intimidation is psychological abuse. The abuser may make threats of physical violence against you, with or without following through. Other forms that psychological abuse can take include forbidding or preventing you from leaving the house or not allowing you to talk to other people without permission from the abuser.

Do grandparents have visitation rights in New Jersey?

According to LiveAbout, prior to 1993, New Jersey's grandparent visitation statute only granted grandparents visitation rights when the parents were divorced, separated or deceased. However, that year the courts removed all three stipulations, thereby allowing grandparents to sue for visitation of children living in nuclear families. This was a win for grandparents but a short-lived one. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a fit parent who cut off the relationship between a child and grandparent is presumed to have acted in the best interests of the child. Since that decision, the courts have called into question the constitutionality of New Jersey's grandparent visitation laws on several occasions.  

Prior to the 2000 ruling, grandparents such as yourself who seek visitation rights needed only to prove by a preponderance of evidence that visitation was in the best interests of the child. To determine best interests, the courts would consider several factors, including but not limited to the following:

  •       The relationships between the child and the grandparent and the grandparent and each of the child's parents
  •       The time elapsed since the child's last contact with the grandparent
  •       How a grandparent's visitation rights might affect the relationship between the child and his or her parents
  •       The grandparent's "good faith" in filing the application
  •       Whether or not the grandparent was a full-time caretaker in the past

Statistics show divorce and marriage rates may be down

Many people who live in New Jersey may well have heard people spout off about the high rate of failure among marriages today. There can be a lot of reasons that such claims are made or believed but it is useful to look at some actual data to confirm or deny these assertions. Some research actually seems to indicate that the divorce rate in America is not as high as many people might claim or think.

As reported recently by Good Housekeeping, the divorce rate in America is actually lower than it has been in the past. In fact, one study conducted by a researcher at the University of Maryland shows a drop in divorces between 2008 and 2016 of eight percent after demographic adjustments have been made. Before those adjustments, the drop in the divorce rate per the data was 18 percent.

The FD Docket: The More Relaxed FM?

By: Lauren E. Sharp

The FD or "Non-Dissolution" Docket is considered by some to be the more "relaxed" version of the FM "Dissolution" docket. However, this characterization was denounced in a recently published New Jersey Appellate Division case, J.G. v. J.H. Specifically, in J.G., the Appellate Division found that the nature of a dispute, rather than the docket designation, should guide judges when determining the resources required to make a determination.

In J.G. v. J.H., the unmarried parents of John, a minor, entered into a consent order whereby they agreed to share joint legal custody of John with J.G. (Jane) having primary residential custody and J.H. (Joseph) given parenting time. Subsequently, the parties briefly reconciled and the consent order was vacated. After the parties' reconciliation ended, Jane began a new relationship and ultimately became engaged. Subsequent to her engagement, Joseph filed an Order to Show Cause requesting sole custody of John claiming that Jane's fiancé was a convicted felon and drug user and he was worried about John's safety.

Will you need an expert witness during divorce proceedings?

Every divorce is different. In some cases, contested divorces are settled relatively easily. In other cases, you might need to craft a strong case with careful evidence and expert testimony to give you the best chance for a satisfying settlement.

In New Jersey, expert testimony of scientific, technical or specialized knowledge can help to interpret evidence in a case. These experts’ opinions are usually respected and trustworthy. They could significantly help your case.

Is your spouse hiding assets?

New Jersey parents who are getting a divorce will have a lot of matters to hash out. Many of them will relate to finances, which can be especially crucial when it comes to figuring out things like spousal support or child support. But did you know that assets can be hidden, affecting the overall outcome of these matters?

Unfortunately, FindLaw states that a spouse may hide financial assets during the process of a divorce. They may do this for several reasons. One major one is to change the amount of child support they would otherwise have to pay.

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