DIVORCE: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Is an annulment a possibility?
Annulment is the ending of a marriage by establishing that the marriage never truly existed. The courts rarely grant an annulment, because you are required to prove that the marriage was fraudulent from the beginning. If children have been born to the couple annulment is unlikely. There is no difference in the financial terms between the parties whether the marriage is ended by divorce or annulment. Most often a civil divorce is granted and a religious annulment is then sought.
Do I need a lawyer to be Divorced?
Under New Jersey Law, you have the right to represent yourself in all legal cases, including divorce. The legal term for representing yourself is “pro se,” It is important to understand that by representing yourself, you may not know that you are giving up important rights. If you do not ask for your share of the marital property during the divorce you will give it up forever.
Can the court order support for a spouse if they are simply separated?
Generally the answer is No. There is no such thing as a formal “Legal Separation” in New Jersey. Support can be ordered on a temporary basis during the litigation. The parties may also file an action requesting a “Divorce from bed and board” or a complaint in separate maintenance, but this is often as complicated as a full divorce and does not end the marriage.
What Assets are marital?
Usually everything acquired during the marriage is a marital asset. This includes each party’s pensions, retirement accounts, life insurance, real estate, etc whether titled in one spouses name alone or jointly. There are exceptions and it is essential that you consult with able counsel who can guide you through the process and explain the law.
How is child support calculated?
Child support is a mathematical calculation done by a computer program that takes into account the historical income of the parties and spousal support paid and received. It also includes the ongoing routine expenses for daycare, union dues and health insurance. Special needs and other factors may affect child support on a case by case basis. It is designed to be as fair as possible, but parents know it never really reflects the actual cost to raise the child.
What does the Judge look for when making Child custody determinations?
The most important issue for the Court is the duty to protect the child’s “best interests.” This standard ensures a child’s safety, happiness, physical, mental & moral welfare. Parental wishes will be rejected if inconsistent with the standard. A number of factors bear upon a determination of what is in a child’s best interest:
- Parents’ ability to agree, communicate & cooperate in child-related matters;
- Parents’ willingness to accept custody & any history of unwillingness to allow visitation
- Interactions & relationship of the child with its parents & siblings;
- History of domestic violence, if any;
- Safety of child & safety of either parent from physical abuse by another parent;
- Preference of child, when of sufficient age ( about 14) to be part of the discussion.
- Stability of the home environment offered by each parent;
- Quality and continuity of the child’s education;
- Fitness of parents
- The geographic proximity of parents’ homes;
- Extent & quality of time spent with a child prior to & subsequent to separation;
- Parents’ employment responsibilities; and
- Number & ages of children.
How expensive is a Divorce?
Because a divorce is litigation, the expense of a divorce is controlled by how much attorney time you use. If the proceedings entail little more than the preparation and filing of the complaint and the signed mediated agreement of the parties and an appearance in court on the day of the divorce, it could cost less than $2,000.00. If however your divorce attorney must advocate your position on specific issues in court it could cost thousands of dollars. The more you disagree the more expensive the divorce. You should expect a minimum of $5,000.00.
How long does a Divorce take?
If the parties have reached an agreement on the issues the divorce can often be finalized in 60 days. If however there is disagreement on the issues and the parties must go through a full trial on the issues it may take months or even years to divorce.