Florham Park New Jersey Family Law Blog

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.

What should I know when raising grandchildren?

Many grandparents in New Jersey find themselves caring for their grandkids full-time. While the reasons vary, the fact remains that it can be difficult for someone to jump back into the parenting role after so many years, which makes child-rearing a challenge. The following are a few pieces of advice that can help both grandparents as well as their grandchildren.

According to Creating a Family, communication is key. This can be especially hard when communicating with the birth parents, who may be experiencing drug addiction or other interpersonal issues that prevent them from parenting their own children. However, communicating honestly and setting boundaries is a must, both for your mental well-being as well as the well-being of the children in your care.

Can a prenuptial agreement strengthen a marriage?

As you plan for your wedding in New Jersey, you should also think about crafting and signing a prenuptial agreement. A prenup is a contract that you and your spouse enter into before the marriage to make decisions about what happens in the event of a divorce. There are limitations involved in crafting such an agreement; it cannot address issues related to child support or parental responsibility, for example. Most commonly, a prenuptial agreement includes provisions for the division of assets and spousal support in the event of a divorce. 

According to Forbes, prenups have a poor reputation, and people seem to think of a prenuptial agreement as a strike against the marriage before it even begins, a vote of no-confidence that the couple can remain together. This is a rather outdated way of thinking. Instead, think of it this way: you never intend to have a car accident or a disaster that destroys your home, nor do you expect to die a premature death, but you still purchase insurance policies to protect you and your loved ones if events such as these should occur because you know that they are possible. You should think of a prenuptial agreement in the same way, as an insurance policy to protect you if your marriage should eventually end in divorce despite the efforts and intentions of you and your future spouse.

Support for a child with special needs

While a parent's child support obligation does not come to an end automatically when the child becomes an adult, a parent can apply for termination of child support responsibilities once the child has attained a predetermined age. The benchmark varies from state to state; in New Jersey, a parent can expect to pay child support at least until the child is 19 years old. 

However, because every situation is different and each family has its own unique situation, there are exceptions to this rule. According to FindLaw, if the child in question has a disability, and the custodial parent requires support in order to adequately care for the child, the court may order the child support obligation to extend past the age of majority.

How do you choose a divorce mediator?

At some point during the process of your divorce in New Jersey, you and your spouse will have to engage the services of a divorce mediator. This is because state law mandates mediation for child custody and economic issues. However, mediation can benefit you in other aspects of your divorce. In fact, according to the Huffington Post, divorce mediation can save you stress both emotionally and financially as opposed to litigating your divorce case in court. 

Another advantage that mediation has over divorce litigation is that while the court assigns a judge to preside over your case, you and your spouse have the option to choose your own mediator. Recognizing objective qualities that make for a good divorce mediator may help you and your spouse make this important first decision in the process.

Remedies to consider for the new tax changes to alimony

If your divorce is not already finalized, you will probably be affected by the new laws which will change how alimony is taxed. Alimony, which is sometimes called spousal support, is a payment one spouse is sometimes ordered to pay the other spouse after divorce. Starting in 2019, alimony will no longer be tax-deductible for the payer or taxable for the receiver.

This tax change has caused many couples to rush to have their divorces finalized before the end of 2018, so the new laws will not apply. However, it will not be possible for every divorcing couple to meet this deadline, though this may not be a bad thing. A recent news article noted that the new tax laws do not have to have a negative effect on your divorce if you incorporate some clever planning on other areas of your finances.

Gray divorce, health and finances

Divorce is not generally one of the things that people in New Jersey want to focus on during the holiday season but it does often end up being something that rears its head during the stress of this time of year. For people who are over the age of 50 and who are considering a divorce, it is important to understand the many ways that this experience might impact their lives.

Psychology Today explains that divorces at later stages in life have increased in number over the past couple of decades. Part of that increase includes a big jump in the number of people getting divorced after being married for at least two times. In fact, a person who is in a remarriage is 2.5 times more likely to get divorced than their first marriage counterparts. For remarriages that have lasted less than one decade, the risk of divorce is ten times greater than it is for marriages that have endured for at least four decades.

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