Florham Park New Jersey Family Law Blog

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. 

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.

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