Florham Park New Jersey Family Law Blog

Will I be financially ruined if I get divorced?

When you and your spouse in New Jersey have discussed the potential for getting a divorce, the topic of money most likely came up in some manner. Talking about money is never easy, especially between spouses who are experiencing significant marital challenges, often brought on or exacerbated by money. If you are worried that a divorce will leave you in financial ruin, you should get the facts about your financial situation today and use that to guide your divorce negotiations and your planning for your post-divorce life. 

USA Today explains that many people do not fully understand just how much it really costs them to live. You should look beyond just your mortgage and utility payments when assessing housing costs, for example. Make sure to calculate in taxes, insurance, maintenance and repairs as well. Health care costs should be tracked by any employment pay deductions, copay costs and general out-of-pocket expenses.

Do you qualify for special-needs adoption assistance?

Adopting a child in New Jersey involves a lot of expenses and fees. Under certain circumstances, however, you can receive assistance when adopting a child with special needs. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, these are typically older children whose prospects of adoption are otherwise unlikely. If the child qualifies, you can receive a subsidy of up to $2,000 per child to assist with legal fees, etc. 

Eligibility for adoption assistance depends less on you and more on the child you are trying to adopt. A number of different criteria go to determine whether or not the child qualifies, including the following: 

  • Out-of-home placement due to neglect or abuse
  • Diagnosed psychiatric disorder, mental health problem or serious intellectual incapacity
  • Substantial disfigurement
  • Incapacitating physical handicap

How can you recognize passive-aggressive behavior?

If you are the victim of emotional abuse in New Jersey, it can be hard to recognize. An emotional abuser will not become physically violent with you but rather hurt you with words and actions. One particular type of emotional abuse that can often fly under the radar is passive-aggressiveness. Your partner may not display any overt signs of hostility or anger. Rather, he or she will manipulate you covertly, frustrating you by preventing you from achieving your objectives. 

According to Psych Central, mental health professionals recognize a relationship between passive-aggressiveness and personality disorders such as narcissism. The American Psychiatric Association classified it as a personality disorder of its own until the release of the DSM-IV in 1994. It may also stem from substance abuse and/or negative childhood experiences. 

Divorce mediation -- because divorce doesn't have to be hostile

You are beyond ready to move on with your life, so you have decided to file for divorce. On the one hand, you feel a sense of freedom. However, on the other hand, you feel worried about the hostility and conflict that may be around the corner for you.

The good news is that, even though you are getting divorced, this does not mean that animosity has to surround the process. Here is a look at how you can make your divorce proceeding in New Jersey easier on both you and your future ex-spouse through divorce mediation.

Women, gray divorce and poverty

Most people in New Jersey know someone who has gotten divorced and struggled to get back on their feet financially. Some people have an easier time doing this than others and there may be many factors that contribute to this. One of these factors may be age. Gray divorce, the term used to describe a divorce when the couple is in their 50s or later, can be especially hard on people financially as they have fewer years left to recoup any losses as they will not work as long as someone in their 30s or 40s. 

Yahoo Finance recently reported on the results of some research by sociologists at Bowling Green State University that found women in particularly were negatively impacted by a gray divorce. In fact, the research seems to indicate that women who have experienced a gray divorce and who never got remarried again have a startling high rate of poverty by the time they are 63 or older compared to others in their same age group.

Protecting money in a divorce not always simple

People in New Jersey who are getting divorced or who are contemplating a divorce may understandably worry about their financial futures. The process of splitting a marital estate can leave both spouses with less money for retirement as well as less money on which to live every month, even though New Jersey is not a community property state.

According to a recent report by CNBC, it seems that many married couples today are opting to keep their individual earnings separate rather than comingling everything into a joint pool of assets. This is happening in part as an attempt to prevent asset loss in the event of an unforeseen divorce. This approach appears to be especially popular among millennials. However, separate bank accounts may not be able to protect every dollar in them.

Divorce and your health

People in New Jersey who make the choice to separate from or divorce their spouse know that they will have many new concerns to contend with and decisions to make. In the midst of navigating complex negotiations about asset and debt division, child support, parenting time schedules and more, divorcing spouses should also take the time to focus on their health. There is a body of research that indicates a person's physical and emotional health is subject to a dip during this time, and perhaps even after.

MarketWatch indicates that a study of more than 5,700 people, the results of which were published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, found that participants who were separated or divorced had a 46% greater chance of death during the study period. The study did calibrate to factor in ages, genders, beginning health status and more. In general, it found that people who were married reported a higher satisfaction with their lives overall.

Can you withdraw your share of your ex-spouse's 401k?

Divorce can bring with a great deal of uncertainty. You may have no idea where you will live in Florham Park or how you will be able to support yourself. Alimony may be an option (especially if you were not the primary income earner in your marital home), yet such a benefit is not awarded automatically. Plus, monthly alimony payments may not be able to help you if you need immediate funds to put down on a house or apartment, or pay to go back to school or receive vocational training. 

If you are entitled to a portion of you ex-spouse's 401k (or more specifically, the contributions made to their 401k during your marriage), that could turn out to be the source of the money you need. In most cases, people are discouraged from withdrawing from their 401k prior to reaching the age of retirement. Doing so could force you to pay an early withdrawal penalty of up to 10 percent of the fund's total value. Fortunately for you, CNBC.com reports that having a Qualified Domestic Relations Order authorizing payment from a 401k account to an alternate payee (in this case, you) allows you to receive a funds disbursement without having to pay the penalty. 

Why is child support important?

Financial security is important for children, especially if their parents are divorced. Living and moving between two different households can be hard for kids, but child support can make things easier by providing relatively similar standards of life. This is why it is extremely important that parents not only pay child support, but that judges order the correct amount.

The idea of paying child support can sometimes be uncomfortable. You might feel worried about paying your ex-spouse and wonder whether he or she will use the money exclusively for things pertaining to your child. Here are a few things you should know about child support that might make you feel better about having to pay.

Is it easier to obtain custody as a stay-at-home father?

Ideally, family courts in New Jersey should make custody decisions on the basis of what is in your child's best interest. According to this principle you, as a father, should not have difficulty obtaining joint custody of your child because the law generally presumes that that is in the child's best interest unless there is particular evidence to the contrary.

Unfortunately, according to Fatherly, some family court judges retain antiquated notions of mothers being caretakers who stay at home to nurture the children and fathers being breadwinners who get out of the house and work to support the family. When it comes to decisions regarding custody during a divorce, these judges may decide that working outside the home limits your availability to care for your children and award your former spouse sole custody instead. 

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