Understanding New Jersey Family Law

The topic of New Jersey family law is a vast one – it comprises everything from divorce, to paternity, child support and even prenuptial agreements. Learning some background and basic terminology can help you feel more confident in pursuing your case and help you decide in hiring the right attorney for you.

The New Jersey Divorce Process

Before you file for a divorce, there are several requirements you should familiarize yourself with. First, you need to understand that parties must be living in the state for a certain period of time before they can file. They will also need to ensure they file the appropriate forms, which vary depending on whether or not the parties have children. Educate yourself on the various grounds for divorce that will need to be pled, and find out what a no-fault divorce is, too. Click here for our article that tells you What You Need to Know about the NJ Divorce Process.

Annulment in New Jersey

Many individuals want to understand the difference between a divorce and an annulment. An annulment is a legal process that essentially means the marriage never happened. There are different consequences about division of property than in divorce, and generally speaking, it is much more difficult to get than obtaining a divorce. If you have questions about getting an annulment in New Jersey, check out our article titled Annulment of a Marriage in New Jersey.

Prenuptial Agreements

With people getting married later in life, they tend to acquire more assets and wealth before tying the knot. A prenuptial agreement is a good way to set out how your property should be characterized and each person’s rights to the property before getting married. They are great tools to have if you find yourself in a New Jersey family law dispute. There are specific requirements that need to be met for an agreement to be enforceable, so you should always get an attorney to draft one up. If you need more information on getting a prenuptial agreement in New Jersey, keep reading here: What You Need to Know about Prenuptial Agreements in NJ.

Same-sex Divorce in New Jersey

Same-sex couples now enjoy all the same marital rights that heterosexual couples do – including the joy and pain of divorce. However, there are some different kinds of considerations for a same-sex couple when filing a divorce. Adoptions can be a tricky topic for couples, particularly if one parent is the child’s biological parent. A lawyer can help ensure that both parents have equal rights and duties to the child. And remember that same-sex marriage has only been around for a few years, even though many homosexual couples have been living together for decades. Unfortunately, the law will find that their long-term relationship is still a short-term marriage, meaning that this could affect their division of property and potential alimony rights. Check out article on Same-Sex Divorce in New Jersey to find out more.

New Jersey Custody Law

New Jersey has multiple kinds of custody that can be very confusing for parents who have decided to split up. There are physical and legal custody, which essentially are the rights of a parent to maintain a residence for the minor child and to make major life decisions on their behalf. These can be characterized as joint or sole custody. Joint custody means the parties have shared rights, whether it’s physical or legal, while sole custody means only one parent gets these rights. Custody can get a lot more complex, but check out our article titled Five Facts about NJ Custody Laws to give you a better idea of what to expect.

Child Support

Child support is probably one of the major sources of litigation under New Jersey family law. Understanding the philosophy and approach of the courts will help parties reduce disputes and reach an agreement concerning child support. Child support takes both parents’ incomes into consideration. Parents who receive child support are expected to use it to cover basic expenses, such as food, clothing, shelter, and even extracurricular activities. Additionally, some of the more affluent families in New Jersey (those earning more than $187,200.00 annually) may be subjected to a discretionary amount of child support ordered by the court, depending on each family’s facts and circumstances. Read the article entitled Understanding New Jersey Child Support Guidelines for more information.

Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders

When someone’s safety or well-being is threatened by their partner, a restraining order might be the best option. A victim under the domestic violence statute is anyone who is over the age of 18 or a domestic minor, unless the victim shares or will share a child with the other person. They must also have been subjected to domestic violence by someone they share a home with or had an intimate relationship with. A restraining order provides protection to the victim by preventing the other party from coming within proximity to the victim, including their home or workplace. Anytime domestic violence is an issue you should always consider hiring an attorney to protect your interests. To find out more options if you’ve suffered from domestic violence, check out the article titled NJ Domestic Violence and Getting a Permanent Restraining Order.

Grandparent Custody

Usually, a parent has the right to deny visitation by a grandparent. If this happens, grandparents have the right to petition the court to order some visitation. The court will first determine if the denial of said visitation would harm the child. Then the court will determine if said visitation is in the best interest of the child. The court will consider the child and the grandparent’s relationship, the passage of time since the last contact between the child and grandparent, and the impact visitation will have on the child and/or the child’s family. Grandparent cases can be complex, so it is best to seek out the assistance of counsel if grandparent rights ever become an issue you. The article titled Grandparent Visitation and Custody in NJ is a good overview of grandparent rights in New Jersey.

Paternity in New Jersey

Couples are having children more frequently outside the confines of marriage, so paternity cases are becoming more common. Children born to unmarried parents need to take certain steps to confirm the father's paternity and ensure he has the same rights and duties to his child that he would otherwise have as a married father. Only certain individuals can bring a paternity case at specific periods of time. A man will be presumed to have paternity of the child if the parents were married, or the man accepts and acknowledges the child as his own, among other things. Read the article titled Paternity in New Jersey for more information on paternity actions.

Palimony in New Jersey

In line with this trend of unmarried couples comes ‘palimony,' or spousal support between long-term, but unmarried, partners. In 2010, palimony laws changed, allowing it to be awarded in certain cases where the couple has signed a written agreement. For more information, read our article entitled Palimony in NJ.

Certified Matrimonial Attorneys in New Jersey

Once you’ve gotten some fundamental information about your New Jersey family law situation, and you’re ready to hire a lawyer, you should hire a certified matrimonial attorney. These professionals must be in good standing with the state bar and have been a member for at least 5 years. They will pass a written examination and also present favorable evaluations from their legal peers, including judges. These individuals show a proficiency and expertise in matrimonial law. Find out why hiring a certified matrimonial attorney is the best option by reading the article titled What is a certified Matrimonial Attorney in NJ.

Peter Van Aulen is a certified matrimonial law attorney and has been practicing family law for over twenty years in New Jersey. If you are ready to proceed with your New Jersey family law case, get in touch with Peter Van Aulen today, for a free, in-office consultation at 201-845-7400.

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