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FAQs: Family Law

There are so many issues that someone going through a New Jersey family law matter can face. The last installment of this section covers some of the more unusual situations that can arise in a family law dispute.

Can I Change my Child’s Last Name in New Jersey?

The easiest way to change your child’s name is for you and your ex-partner to come to an agreement. In most cases, this isn’t possible, and you will need to present your application to a court. There are two different standards under New Jersey family law if you wish to change your child’s name: one if you have been married, and one if you have not. If you have not been married, then there are several factors the court includes, such as the length of time the child has used that name, the choice of the child, any embarrassment or anxiety the child may feel, and the identification of the child as a particular member of a family. For unmarried parents, the courts will generally side with the person who has been the primary or exclusive caregiver of the child – often the mother. For married parents, there is no presumption in favor of either parent – no one gets a preference.

What are the Annulment Requirements in New Jersey?

Annulment nullifies a marriage as though it never happened. There is no residential requirement, but the grounds for an annulment are different from that of a divorce. Courts will grant an annulment if there is evidence of bigamy, incest, impotence at the time of the marriage, lack of capacity at the time of the marriage, fraud or duress, or minority age of the party, among other things. Because an annulment is a legal concept which essentially erases the marriage, there is no marital estate and therefore, no equitable distribution of assets.

Can a Grandparent Get Visitation Rights in New Jersey?

Under the New Jersey family law statute, grandparents can file an application in order to be given visitation of their grandchildren. The court will consider a number of factors, including the relationship between the child, the grandparents, and the parents of the child; the time period that has elapsed between the last point of contact between grandparent and child; if the application was filed in good faith; any criminal or abusive background of the grandparent; and any other factor the court decides is relevant in determining the best interest of the child. If the grandparent has had full-time possession or care of the child, this is strong evidence that the grandparent is entitled to visitation. However, case law in New Jersey makes it very difficult for grandparents to acquire visitation – there is an additional requirement that grandparent visitation is necessary to avoid harm to the child.

When can You Modify a Child Support Order in New Jersey?

A child support order can be modified if there is a change of circumstance such as a substantial decrease or increase in income. If you are looking to modify due to loss of income, the loss cannot be due to your own actions such as quitting your job. In contrast, a pay raise could result in increasing your support obligation. Also, a change in circumstance can also include an increase need for day care or if the child develops a disability.

Does Alimony Stop in New Jersey When You Live With Someone?

Alimony is always subject to modification if the circumstances change enough. Cohabitation might be one of these circumstances, particularly if there is no longer a financial need for alimony. Cohabitation requires an intimate, close and enduring relationship, and should have markers of living together like joint bank accounts, shared living expenses, and a recognition of the couple’s relationship within their social circles. Before modifying alimony, the court looks to see if the recipient spouse is benefiting financially from the cohabitation arrangement. If so, then the alimony will likely be modified.

Also, see New Jersey Family Law Part 1: Frequently Asked Questions About Child Custody Laws in NJ, New Jersey Family Law Part 2: Frequently Asked Questions about Child Custody Laws In NJ, and New Jersey Family Law Part 3: Frequently Asked Questions About How Assets Are Divided in A Divorce?. If you have questions about how to get started on your New Jersey family law matter, contact the law offices of Peter Van Aulen today, at 201-845-7400, for an initial consultation.

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Peter Van Aulen handled my case with great diligence and integrity. He is also a compassionate individual who realizes what a difficult time divorce can be emotionally. Peter works hard and doesn't take any shortcuts in preparing for a case… I highly recommend Mr. Van Aulen and his staff. Chuck Solomon
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