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Does Proof of Adultery Make a Spouse Ineligible for Alimony in New Jersey?

 

Does Proof of Adultery Make a Spouse Ineligible for Alimony in New Jersey?

A couple is married for 12 years with two kids. One spouse works full-time and is away on business half of the year, the other spouse is a stay-at-home parent. The supported spouse gets involved in an extramarital affair and conceals it for a few months, until the supporting spouse catches them in the act. Understandably frustrated and betrayed, the supporting spouse contacts an attorney to file a divorce. She is surprised to learn that even though her spouse cheated, he may still be eligible for alimony because of his non-monetary contributions to the marriage, and inability to support himself, at least temporarily. Are spouses eligible for alimony if they cheated? Does adultery affect the outcome of a divorce?

 Eligibility for Spousal Support

Courts determine eligibility for spousal support in New Jersey using several factors. This includes both spouses’ contributions to the marriage, a spouse’s education level, income, the need and ability of either party to pay alimony, the length of the marriage, as well as the age, and physical health of both parties. If one spouse is disabled, has not worked in over 15 years, has no formal education and no professional networking contacts, they may be eligible for indefinite alimony. If another spouse has a doctorate degree but has not practiced in over a year, the court might award them temporary alimony until they find full-time employment. Our attorneys at Eveland & Foster are available to answer your questions.

While courts used to weigh adultery as a determining factor when determining a spouse’s eligibility for spousal support, this is no longer standard practice. This is especially true if a plaintiff files for no-fault divorce. Unless the plaintiff files for divorce under the fault grounds of adultery, and proves the grounds in court, the judge cannot unilaterally weigh their testimony about an affair when deciding if the cheating spouse should receive alimony, and in what amount. This might seem fundamentally unfair. After all, your spouse cheated, why should they be rewarded with spousal support indefinitely? If you feel strongly about this, have hard evidence to prove your spouse committed adultery, and want to proceed on those grounds, that is your option. But understand that even then, your ex may still be eligible for temporary spousal support in the interim.

Adultery and Legal Recourse

You can file for divorce under the grounds of adultery, but there is a catch. You have to prove disposition and opportunity. In other words, you must prove that your spouse had both the inclination or drive to cheat, and the opportunity to act on his desires. This might be proven through evidence like phone records, bank statements showing your spouse spent large amounts on a new lover, evidence of frequent hotel stays, or surveillance of your spouse caught in the act or being intimate with their new beau. Because adultery is difficult to prove, and doing so may have no impact on the adulterous spouse’s eligibility for alimony, it often makes sense to simply file a complaint under no-fault grounds. This streamlines the process, minimizes cost and aggravation and can save you a lot of emotional stress. While it might feel good to put the blame on your spouse, or call them out in a public forum, if you do not adequately prove the grounds for adultery, you might have to appeal a divorce judgment.

What about your ex’s new lover? Can you sue them for alienation of affection, or breaking up the marriage? The short answer is No. There are only six states left in the U.S. that allow a scorned spouse to sue the person their spouse cheated on them with for breaking up the marriage. In New Jersey, the Heart Balm Act, passed in 1935, prevents a plaintiff from suing a mistress/mister in a personal injury action for causing detrimental damage to their marriage.

Call Our Attorneys at Eveland & Foster, LLC

Whether you just found out about a spouse’s affair, or have finally decided you will no longer tolerate your infidelity, know that you are not alone. Coming to terms with the end of your marriage or partnership is painful, emotionally wrenching, and private. Our attorneys at Eveland and Foster understand the sensitive nature of divorce and adultery. We only represent clients facing a family law issue, and we pride ourselves in providing our clients tailored advice for their specific dilemma. If retained, we will advocate for your interests and counsel you toward the best solution. While it may feel isolating, know that you are not alone. Our attorneys are standing by to help you. Call today to schedule a consultation and discuss your options.

 

 

 

Emotional Infidelity

 

Is Emotional Infidelity Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey?

An emotional affair can be difficult to describe, and even harder to prove, but it is infidelity nonetheless. While no physical contact may have occurred between a married partner and their love interest, often an emotional affair escalates to physical infidelity. In addition, often sharing one’s innermost and personal feelings with someone other than a life partner or spouse can feel more invalidating and betraying to the other spouse. Physical attraction to another person is a natural response, but many married couples consider acting on that spark of chemistry to be a violation of the sanctity of the marriage and the trust one has with their life partner.

Defining Adultery

New Jersey statutes define adultery as sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than their spouse. Most cases of adultery are not proven with physical evidence, as the other spouse would literally have to be caught in the act. However, a spouse can still use circumstantial evidence to prove that the cheating spouse is engaged in infidelity.

To do this, the plaintiff spouse must show that the cheating spouse has the disposition to commit adultery and opportunity to commit adultery. Disposition could be established if the plaintiff sees her spouse holding hands, flirting, or kissing another person. Or, perhaps one spouse finds explicit text messages or video clips shared between a spouse and another person, or a months-long text message or chat thread discussing highly emotional or sexual conversations. In that case, emotional infidelity could be used to prove disposition. Opportunity can be proven if the plaintiff spouse or a witness sees the defendant spouse leaving a stranger’s house in the middle of night.

Filing for Divorce

If you feel that counseling is no longer an option, you can file for a limited divorce or absolute divorce. Limited divorce, or pendente lite, provides the plaintiff temporary financial support from the defendant before a final divorce hearing. Pendente lite support allows the plaintiff spouse to maintain the family home and support themselves before a final trial date is assigned. Some parties choose to file for absolute divorce immediately, which will trigger a scheduling order for discovery to take place, and a hearing date. Remember that when you file a complaint, you must also file a writ of summons to serve the defendant and your financial statement.

 

While a plaintiff spouse may be dead set on proving that adultery occurred in the court of law, it is not necessary to file for divorce under the grounds of adultery. Because New Jersey is a no-fault divorce state, simply filing under the grounds of no fault is enough to meet the burden without having to hire a private investigator or snooping around the defendant spouse to prove the elements of adultery, but it does require an 18 month separation period. In addition, while emotional infidelity has destroyed marriages, courts are unwilling to recognize it as an independent ground from physical acts of adultery. If you have questions about how to file or when to file, contact our attorneys at Eveland & Foster.

 

Schedule a Consultation with our New Jersey Divorce Attorneys Today

If you are unhappy with your marriage, your partner’s infidelity, or suspect your partner has committed adultery, you do not have to put up with it. No one enters a marriage expecting to get divorced, but there is no shame in the “D” word. You deserve to be happy, and you deserve a partner who appreciates you. Our attorneys at Eveland & Foster, LLC understand the sensitivity of these issues, and if hired, will zealously represent you and your interests. With decades of combined experience serving clients throughout Morristown and Central New Jersey, we are the right attorneys for you. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

Child Tax Credit Updates

The American Rescue Plan and Child Tax Credit Updates

The American Rescue Plan Act sent direct stimulus payments in the amount of $1,400 to Americans with a single adjusted gross income of $75,000 or less, and married couples with adjusted gross income of $150,000 or less, as well as their dependents. It also increased funding for COVID-19 relief and expanded the special enrollment period for healthcare. In addition to direct stimulus payments and an extension on unemployment benefits, the Act also increases child tax credits for families with children. Depending on the age and number of children a family has, they could expect to gain at least $600 extra a month for six months, starting in July 2021 from the IRS. How will the new tax credit affect divorced parents?

New Child Tax Credit Updates

The new child tax credit increases from $2,000 per child dependent to $3,600 per child under 5, for this year only. It increases to $3,000 for children ages 6 to 17. Even if you have already received your tax refund for 2020 taxes, if you have child dependents, you should expect to see an additional $600 monthly payment per child, starting in July of 2021. The payments, via direct deposit or paper check, will occur monthly through December 2021, amounting to $1,800 or $1,500, depending on the child’s age. Then, when parents file 2021 taxes in 2022, they will receive an additional $1,800 (or $1,500) lump sum child tax credit. The IRS states that parents can opt out of monthly payments and elect for one lump sum payment in July. To select this option, parents must notify the IRS in advance using a user portal that the IRS expects to be complete before July 2021. Payments are reduced or eliminated for married couples making more than $150,000 per year in adjusted gross income (AGI), and parents filing as head of household or single with an AGI of more than $75,000 per year.

Tax Implications on Divorced Families and Co-Parents

Divorcing couples should have completed a Parenting Agreement or incorporated parenting provisions into a Marital Settlement Agreement. These documents should contain provisions regarding tax implications, and which parent claims the child as a dependent each year. If both parents share legal and physical custody (50/50 overnights), they are both entitled to claim the child as a dependent on state and federal taxes. This means if the parents share one child, one parent might claim the child on odd years, and the other on even years. If parents share two children, they might agree that one parent claims one child every year, and the other parent claims the other child every year. More children on a return requires a strategy to determine what child is claimed by which parent each year. This should be discussed before either parent files their taxes.

 These provisions are only applicable to co-parents who share physical custody including overnight custody with their children during the previous calendar year. If one parent has visitation twice a month, they do not qualify for a child tax credit and cannot claim the child as a dependent, even if they pay child support. If a previously divorced party has recently sought a modification to custody or support, this might impact future tax implications. However, the IRS will look back on the previous calendar year (2020) to make determinations for the new increased child tax credit. Also remember that the child tax credit increase is only for the year 2021, it has not been extended for future years. If you have a child on the way or were divorced in the last few months, you can also update your filing status on the portal the IRS hopes to make accessible to filers by July.

Call Our Morristown Family Law Attorneys at Eveland & Foster, LLC Today

If your ex has wrongfully claimed your shared children as dependents on their taxes, demands their “share” of your economic stimulus payments, or is threatening additional actions against you, you need legal counsel. While there are economic and criminal repercussions for defrauding the IRS and the New Jersey Comptroller, a direct impact is felt on children of divorce and the primary caretaker. If you have primary custody of your children, your ex-spouse should not be claiming them to receive the additional child tax credit and is likely in direct violation of a court order. Our attorneys at Eveland and Foster possess decades of combined experience handling all sorts of family law cases, including post-divorce modification issues and drafting of parental agreements. We also understand the interwoven nature of tax issues in family law cases. We will fight for what is fair and equitable for you and your children. Call today to schedule a consultation.

Divorce and Student Loan Debt

 

Divorce and Student Loan Debt

Divorce is messy. Dividing assets and equitable distribution of property is often the most tedious and time-consuming part of divorce. While division of hard-earned assets can be painful, what happens to joint debt when couples go their separate ways? Joint credit card debt is one thing, but what about student loans? What if one spouse borrowed money for the other to attend college, only for that spouse to drop out of school? Is that spouse still on the hook for student loan payments?

Joint Marital Debt

 New Jersey laws require parties seeking divorce to undergo equitable distribution of assets and liabilities. This process entails a complete inventory of all personal and real property, gifts, vehicles, investment accounts, intellectual property, bank accounts, retirement and 401k accounts, and debt accounts such as credit cards, personal, installment or car loans, and student loans. Each party is required to submit a financial statement to the court detailing their monthly income and expenses. The court uses the financial statement and additional evidence to make awards of spousal support and child support, if requested.

When it comes to debt, the courts will look at the source of the debt and when it was acquired to determine if it is joint marital debt or the sole debt of each party. If the debt is joint, the court will work with the parties and their attorneys to determine an equitable division of that joint debt. Contrary to popular opinion, equitable does not always mean a true 50/50 split. If a debt account was opened prior to the marriage, the court views that debt as the responsibility of the sole debtor/party. Conversely, a joint mortgage or a car loan co-signed by one spouse for the other spouse would qualify as joint debt. Sometimes the parties will submit evidence indicating that they or the other party was already making payments out of their own bank accounts or with their income. But even a prior financial arrangement is sometimes not enough to defeat the fact that the debt was taken out jointly with both parties’ informed consent.

 

Next Steps for Student Loan Debt

Student loan debt is complicated for several reasons. Firstly, often student loans were acquired prior to the marriage when both parties were still in college. Second, the U.S. Department of Education will combine joint student loan debt for married couples if the borrower chooses an income based repayment option, and make financial aid awards based on the joint income and fiscal need of married couples as well. So, if both parties have student loan debt, how is it divided? If the student loan is a private loan obtained through a bank using only one party’s income prior to the marriage, that student loan is not joint debt. If a federal student loan is obtained during the marriage, both spouses are listed as borrowers and rates/amount was determined using the parties’ joint income at the time, it is considered joint marital debt, and therefore must be equitably divided between the parties. Sometimes the courts will view a college degree as a marital asset if both spouses made a collective decision for one spouse to obtain the degree after marriage, and doing so increased the spouse’s earning potential and the standard of living for the couple.

Dividing student loan debt can be fact-intensive and is not cut and dry. If you questions about your joint debt, student loan debt or your spouse’s student loan debt, contact our attorneys at Eveland & Foster. Remember that after divorce, it is important you update your loan servicers and account management or financial advisors about your new marital status, or if one borrower needs to be removed from an account. It is also possible to request deferment of a federal student loan or recalculate an income-based repayment plan accounting for your sole income after divorce.

Call Eveland & Foster, LLC Today

If you or a loved one is facing a divorce and dealing with division of joint debt, including student loan debt, you need assistance. Our attorneys at Eveland & Foster, LLC specialize in family law including equitable division of joint assets and liabilities. If retained, we will assist you to arrive at a desirable outcome and protect your interests. Do not settle for less than what is rightfully yours, and do not take on debt that does not belong to you, just to expedite the divorce process. Call us today to schedule a consultation and review your options.

Visitation Dispute

Ex-Spouse Preventing Visitation? You Have Options

The divorce is final, and your ex was granted sole physical custody of your child. You were granted visitation every Saturday for eight hours, in a location you choose (your home or an outing). Two months have gone by, and your ex repeatedly cancels, claims your shared child is sick, or simply does not show up at the agreed upon pick-up/drop-off location. You have not seen your child in months, have not been able to speak to them on the phone, and are understandably distraught. Is there anything you can do? After all, you have the right to see your child and have been complying with the court order. Shouldn’t your ex do the same?

File a Motion to Compel

 Track your visitation schedule immediately after it goes into effect. This includes days where your ex is late to drop-offs or refuses to release the children to you. The visitation log can be used in court. The Parenting Plan you and your spouse created is intended to govern custody facilitation, including logistical issues. Your ex is required to adhere to its provisions, including providing for your visitation with shared children. After you have documented multiple attempts to contact your ex-spouse and no progress or communication has been made, our attorneys at Eveland & Foster can file a motion to compel visitation against your ex in family court. The motion will outline the current situation, specific clauses from the custody order and parenting plan,  and incidents in which your spouse has prevented your legal visitation with your shared child from occurring. If the court grants your motion to compel, your ex will be under court order to comply with this new motion along with the provisions of the custody order. Courts do not look favorably upon parents attempting to deny the other parent’s right to see their children.

 

Schedule a Consultation Today

If you or a loved one need help with a post-divorce custody or visitation dispute, contact our attorneys at Eveland and Foster,LLC. We practice exclusively in family law, including post- divorce modifications. You have the right to see your child, and your ex does not have the right to keep them from you without court intervention. If retained, our family law attorneys will advocate on your behalf to seek a resolution. With offices located in Morristown, we serve clients throughout central New Jersey. Call today to schedule a consultation.

 

 

Implications on Divorce and Custody if an Ex-Spouse/Partner is in Jail

 

Implications on Divorce and Custody if an Ex-Spouse/Partner is in Jail

 

Consider this scenario: A married couple or domestic partners have mutually decided they no longer work as a couple. The plaintiff  is prepared to file a complaint and start the divorce process, when she learns that her ex was arrested. Not only was he arrested, he cannot post bail and will be remanded for months. What does this mean for the plaintiff’s custody or divorce case? Can she proceed with filing if the other party is incarcerated? If the scenario is all too familiar or if you know someone facing a similar dilemma, contact our attorneys at Eveland & Foster to learn about your options.

 

Contested Custody Disputes

 

If your spouse or partner was arrested for a domestic violence or child abuse charge, and you or your children are the victims, you can file an emergency protective order against him or her. The protective order will grant you exclusive access to the family home, vehicle, and monetary assets, and it will also order the respondent to pay utilities, mortgage, and upkeep, remain away from you and your children, and surrender all firearms. The court can also ask the respondent to attend counseling or other rehabilitative treatment.

 

The repercussions of a criminal domestic abuse charge on an ongoing custody dispute can be dire for the defendant. The court will examine the defendant’s criminal history, culpability, and likelihood to commit an offense against you or your children. Most importantly, the family court judge will make his or her determination based on what is in the best interest of the children. If the children are in danger, are emotionally, physically or mentally abused or are otherwise unsafe with the defendant due to a history of violence, drug abuse or other incapacity, the court may award the plaintiff with primary legal and physical custody. In that case, the court would grant supervised visitation the defendant provided he or she is no longer incarcerated.

 

Proceeding if the Other Party is Incarcerated

 

If incarcerated, the defendant still has the right to speak at a court hearing for custody or divorce issues. He or she would need to arrange for a video or teleconference with his detention or prison board so that they could attend the hearing. They are not entitled to a lawyer for a family law issue, but are entitled to representation for criminal defense matters. In addition, if the parties are already divorced and the plaintiff learns the defendant has been arrested, the plaintiff can file a motion for an emergency hearing to modify custody if the parties previously shared joint custody or a modified 50/50 plan. If this is the case, it is important you act urgently to protect your child’s safety and interests.

 

Even if the other party is still in jail, you can proceed with a divorce filing. You must ensure that the defendant is served with a writ of summons and a copy of all pleadings filed with the court. This might require contacting the detention center or jail where the defendant is jailed to determine his or her mailing address and confirming receipt to certify service of process. Also keep in mind that in New Jersey, the plaintiff or party to a suit cannot serve the defendant personally or mail pleadings directly. The plaintiff can hire a private process server or hire an attorney who would handle all aspects of the divorce and custody case. Ultimately, the presiding judge will want to ensure that the defendant was notified of a potential hearing date, and the nature of the suit. If you are contemplating divorce or are already divorced and need to request a modification to custody or support arrangements, contact our lawyers as soon as possible.

 

Call Eveland & Foster Family Law Today

If you or someone you know is contemplating divorce, but your partner has a criminal record, or you recently learned they were arrested, you may be wondering what your options are. Because advice will be narrowly tailored to your unique circumstances, it is critical that you speak to a family law attorney as soon as possible. Our lawyers at Eveland & Foster possess decades of combined experience handling all family law matters. We are a small, local law firm practicing in Morristown, New Jersey with a focus on providing our clients with personalized and driven results. Even the most contentious cases are not too much for our firm to handle. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.

Navigating a Divorce with Infants and Toddlers

Navigating a Divorce with Infants and Toddlers

 

Divorce can be a challenge when it is limited to a couple with no children. Divorcing with older children or adult children can put undue burdens on them. But divorcing with young children, infants, or toddlers can seem insurmountable. Toddlers and infants thrive on routine and consistency. They need a safe, loving environment to learn and grow. This can be difficult to maintain as a young child’s parents are dealing with animosity, disagreement, and dispute. How do you navigate child custody when your child is still an infant? How do you explain to a young toddler why they are transported back and forth multiple times a week, or why their parents do not love each other anymore? The most important item you can remember is to be civil, be respectful, and do not argue in front of your kids.

 

Tips for Divorcing with Young Children

Divorce is not easy for anyone, but it can be extremely tumultuous when young children are involved. Young toddlers thrive on consistency, regular schedules, sleeping in the same crib or bed each night, and seeing a familiar face in the morning. It can be difficult to explain to a toddler why one parent will be living in another place, why they suddenly have two rooms, or why some toys are at mommy’s house and other toys are at daddy’s home. Similarly, infants may need constant access to their mother if they are breastfed, making shared physical custody virtually impossible. Infants need a highchair, diapers, a crib, a safe place to play and crawl, along with a car seat. Divorced parents will need to find room in the budget to purchase duplicates of all the child’s items or decide which parent will have primary custody. At the same time, infant bonding requires meaningful time to be spent with the baby, and that can be difficult to come by if one parent has primary custody and the other parent has visitation. Remember that the court will seek a resolution that is in the best interest of the child, no matter the age. Also keep in mind that one party can seek a modification to a child support or child custody order if circumstances have significantly changed.

 

Maintaining a Safe, Stable, Loving Home

If you are legally separated and want to move forward with a divorce, speak to your children candidly, at their level, in words they will understand. Explain that even though mommy and daddy are no longer a couple, you are still your child’s parents, and always will be, and that your love for your child is unconditional. Also explain that even though logistically things may change, you are still a family. However, if your ex is being combative, physically or emotionally abusive towards you or your child, or refuses to communicate or compromise, you may need to involve the courts. If abuse is ongoing or escalating, you can seek a protective order. If your ex refuses to compromise, litigation gives you several options. Our lawyers at Eveland & Foster can use discovery measures and request a pre-trial mediation or settlement conference to discuss issues in the presence of a judge or magistrate. We can also work on your behalf to achieve mutually attainable goals and find a solution in the best interest of your child.

 

Schedule a Consultation Today

 

If your soon-to-be ex spouse is unstable, combative, abusive, or threatening, it is important that you seek refuge for yourself and your child(ren). If you are already legally separated, your ex may become obstinate, irate, or demanding regarding child custody arrangements. Even if you have a handshake agreement with them, nothing can substitute a court-ordered child custody and child support agreement. Our attorneys at Eveland & Foster will help you navigate the divorce process, protect your rights, and advocate for the best interest of your child. Schedule a consultation today.

Tax Considerations for Divorced Couples

Tax Considerations for Divorced Couples

 

If you are considering divorce, or already received a final divorce judgment, you may have questions about your tax filing status, what deductions you can claim, or which parent claims the child as a dependent for tax purposes. Fortunately, most tax considerations are contemplated and agreed upon in a marital settlement agreement. But, not all parties adhere to those terms even if all provisions were incorporated into a final divorce judgment. If you have questions about filing post-divorce, or if your ex-spouse/co-parent is not honoring those terms, call the family law attorneys of Eveland & Foster, LLC for guidance.

 

Filing Status Questions

 

If your divorce is finalized within the same calendar year, for example by December 31, 2020, then you cannot file joint tax returns for the year 2020. But if your divorce is still ongoing throughout 2021, you can file jointly for 2020, but would file as single or head of household in 2022 for 2021 taxes. You can only file as head of household status if you and your spouse agree to designate you because you both share children. But you must have custody of the child for more than half of the year and contribute to most of the household upkeep expenses to qualify.

 

If you sold real property during the divorce, such as the marital home or an investment property, you may have to pay additional taxes or capital gains on rental property, but consult with your accountant or real estate agent to be sure. Keep copies of all W-4s, paystubs, 1099s, and income statements from interest-bearing accounts or retirement accounts. Also keep a copy of your marital settlement agreement handy when you start the filing process, and consult our attorneys if you have any lingering questions.

 

Claiming Dependents

 

Usually co-parents who share more than one child together will choose one child each to claim on their taxes each year. If parents have an odd number of children, some parents choose to alternate between odd and even years in claiming the third or fifth child. Similarly, if you share one child together, you might alternate odd or even years when claiming the child dependent tax credit. However, this only applies if the parents share joint physical custody with overnights.

 

If one parent strictly has visitation every weekend, every other weekend or a similar arrangement, they can almost never claim the child as a dependent for year-end tax filing purposes. This is because they do not meet qualifications, even if they contribute to the child’s expenses via monthly child support payments. Also, if you have stepchildren and file jointly with your spouse, you, your spouse and your spouse’s ex-spouse/co-parent need to decide who is filing what years for which dependent. A stepparent can claim a stepchild as a dependent because they are related by marriage, as long as the child lives with the stepparent for more than half of the calendar year.  

 

Schedule a Consultation Today

 

Whether you have simple or complex questions about tax implications after divorce, our lawyers at Eveland & Foster are prepared to answer them. We specialize in family law and can assist you no matter how difficult or trying the problem may be. If necessary, we can also provide referrals to tax attorney specialists in the event you are audited or investigated by the Internal Revenue Service. But, if you have not filed yet, or if your ex-spouse wrongfully claimed your shared children as dependents when he or she does not have primary or joint custody, you need to take action as soon as possible. Our attorneys are conveniently located in Morristown, New Jersey and are ready to assist you. Call today to review your options.

 

Absentee Parent

My Ex-Spouse/Partner is an Absentee Parent

 

Even after you and your child’s other parent have a final custody order in place, including parenting plan details for drop-off/pick-ups of shared children, issues may still arise. Just because a final judgment has been issued, does not mean both parties will adhere to it. What do you do if your child’s other parent is not using the visitation they have been allotted? What if they are habitually late or blow off drop-off and pick-ups, or decide they will choose when they want to see their kids? Unfortunately, this situation is not unfamiliar to our attorneys, but we can assist families dealing with post-judgment issues or parental absenteeism. If you are experiencing communication issues, obstinate behavior, or simply cannot convince your ex to see his or her children, contact our family law attorneys at Eveland & Foster, LLC.

Determining Why Visitation is Missed

 Before requesting a modification with the court, determine if missed visits are an issue of time or communication. Do established pick-up and drop-offs present a conflict with work? Is your ex no longer able to transport the children between school and each residence due to financial strain? Is your ex dating a new partner or living in a new state without prior notification? Starting a new relationship is not an excuse for missing scheduled visitation time. And, co-parents cannot move out of state without notifying the other parent, gaining approval, and notifying the family court. This is because long distance custody orders can be difficult to enforce or carry out. The distance is cumbersome for both parties and the children and can make it logistically impossible to share physical custody.

Modifying Custody, Visitation, and Support Orders

 If your ex-spouse refuses to communicate with you, continues to miss visitation and custody drop-offs, is no longer communicating with your child, or is failing to pay child support without request for a modification, you can request an emergency custody or support modification hearing with a family law judge. You can also file a motion for contempt against the other party for failing to adhere to terms of the custody order, parenting agreement, or divorce judgment delineating split custody or visitation schedules. Assistance is available from the New Jersey Department of Human Services. Tolerating an absentee ex who picks and chooses when they choose to be present for your shared children is not necessary. Inconsistent presence in a child’s life is confusing and unfair. The court may order the other party to attend supervised visitation at an agreed upon location, compel the other party to pay child support arrears, or adjust the child custody arrangement to primary physical custody for you. Modifying custody would most likely change current child support calculations for both parties.

Schedule a Consultation Today

 If you are divorced and share children, you understand the challenges that come with coparenting. Even with an existing parenting plan agreement and a court order, some parties refuse to adhere to the terms of the agreement. If your ex-spouse or ex-partner is no longer taking visitation with shared children, picks and chooses when they decide to see their children or refuses to pay child support, you can file for contempt in court. Your children deserve a constant parental presence in their lives. If their other parent refuses to compromise and does not prioritize time spent with their kids, then the court order should reflect that. Contact Eveland & Foster, LLC. today for a consultation.

Pet Custody in New Jersey

Pre-Pups and Pet Custody in New Jersey

In New Jersey, pets are no longer considered personal property when it comes to equitable distribution in divorce. Most pet lovers would agree that pets are family, not property, so it makes sense for pet valuation to be akin to custody. Parties are now drafting custodial agreements for pet custody similar to child custody and support orders. In many states, dogs are assigned a monetary value based on property valuation. The party seeking to retain the dog would indicate what monthly expenses and upkeep are for the pet in the financial statement. The court would also consider who brought the dog into the marriage and who cares for the dog on a daily basis. Now, some couples are seeking a “pre-pup” or prenuptial agreement that indicates who will retain custody of the pet if they should divorce or break-up. If you have questions about pet custody due to a divorce, contact our family law attorneys at Eveland & Foster.

“Best Interest of the Pet” Standard

 Because pets are still considered property in many states, they are usually assigned a monetary value similar to real property or tangible personal property. This is inaccurate because pets have sentimental value and they are living animals with emotional attachment and feelings. Also because a pet cannot be replaced, it seems unfair to classify him or her as personal property. Because of this, some courts arbitrarily determine ownership of the pet without considering all relevant factors, such as who cares for the pet on a daily basis, who purchased or adopted the pet, or who has more of an affinity for the pet. In some jurisdictions, courts are now recognizing pet custody agreements, pet prenups, and pet “parenting plans.” As long as the parties can agree amicably about terms, courts are willing to incorporate these terms into final judgments.

 What if Pet Custody is Disputed?

If you and your soon-to-be ex partner cannot decide who should care for the dog post-divorce, the courts are reluctant to get involved at the same level  they would for a child. However, the court will determine who cares for the dog(or other pet) on a daily basis, takes the dog to veterinarian appointments, and who is most equipped to provide the dog with the love and care it requires in the future.

Although these cases are relatively new and may seem unorthodox, some judges in other jurisdictions are also granting visitation rights to the other party if they desire to see the dog after a divorce is final. Again, most jurisdictions do not recognize pets as anything more than personal property, but there have been a few cases in the United States in which judges have granted leniency and heard arguments regarding pet custody. Because these cases are so novel, it is important to hire a family law attorney you can trust. Our attorneys at Eveland & Foster understand the nuances of family law and can sympathize with pet parents regarding their pets’ welfare after divorce. If retained, we will do everything in our power to ensure you retain custody of your pet.

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If you are caught in a contentious divorce and are fighting over custody of the family pets, you do not have to settle with accepting the loss of your pet. You also do not have to agree to your ex-spouse taking the dog or cat that you owned and loved prior to entering into the relationship. New Jersey law now recognizes that pets are not tangible personal property, but family. Pets have intrinsic and sentimental value and cannot simply be replaced. If you need help arranging a pet pre-pup or with any other family law issues, contact our lawyers at Eveland & Foster. We are conveniently located in Morristown, New Jersey serving the needs of clients throughout the state. Schedule a consultation today.

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