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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.

Call to Schedule a Consultation

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.

Limited Divorce

What is a Limited Divorce or Pendente Lite?

‘Pendente lite’ is Latin for ‘temporary.’ Applied to family law, it grants temporary use of the family home, family vehicles and additional support to the plaintiff filing for divorce if they request it. Limited divorce is not a prerequisite to absolute divorce, but it is a useful vehicle for couples who seek immediate separation, but still require a court order regarding temporary division of property and use of shared items. If you share children with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, are a homemaker, or are suffering under the yoke of domestic abuse, limited divorce may provide some temporary relief to you. If you schedule a consultation, our lawyers at Eveland & Foster, LLC can provide additional guidance regarding your case.

Filing Process  

Parties may need to file for a limited divorce for several reasons. Most commonly, the marriage is on the rocks, one party may have constructively deserted or abandoned the other, or one party might be shielding financial assets, refusing to pay bills like the mortgage or insurance, or refusing to provide for the child’s needs. When one spouse effectively “checks out” of the marriage while the couple is still married, the other spouse needs to take action to maintain a safe and stable environment for themselves and their children. This is where limited divorce is critical. If you are a homemaker or do not have ready access to joint bank accounts and lines of credit, and your spouse has now refused to make timely payments, buy groceries or contribute in a meaningful way, you do not have to tolerate it.

Our attorneys can help you file for limited divorce in the county where jurisdiction is appropriate. NJ Rev. Stat. § 2A:34.23 (2019). This will depend on where you and your spouse reside or were married. Filing requires you serve the other party with notice and that your complaint is accompanied with a financial statement. Financial statements detail your financial picture, monthly income and expenses down to the letter. The judge will rely upon your financial statement and testimony to make a determination as to pendente lite relief. He or she may also order the other party to pay for legal and attorney’s fees. If abuse is present, the judge can also order the other spouse to stay away from you, relinquish weapons, attend therapy or counseling, and continue to financially contribute to monthly expenses and upkeep for the benefit of you and your shared children.

Temporary Relief

Pendente lite assists parties who are awaiting a trial date that is months away. Especially now, during the pandemic, multiple cases in family law and other disciplines are being postponed. Families simply cannot wait for a final order  nearly a year later. Bills need to be paid, some continuity must remain, and children need stability. The supported spouse is also not expected to go out the next day after the parties decide to separate and find a job that can substitute the supporting spouse’s income. When pendente lite, or temporary relief is ordered, the supporting spouse is required to  maintain family upkeep of the shared home, pay child tuition and expenses, utility bills, and all other expenses to maintain the standard of living to which the other spouse and shared children are accustomed.

When a final divorce hearing is held, the court will look at the limited divorce order and may order that the supporting spouse make alimony or child support payments. The final support order may be reduced or increased after financial statements and the parties’ income are verified and property distribution issues are settled. Entering into a new relationship or moving in with a new partner while your divorce is ongoing will negate all pendente lite payments received. If you are making payments to a supported spouse or have questions about modifying a limited divorce order, it is important you consult with experienced family law attorneys like our lawyers at Eveland & Foster. 

Schedule a Consultation Today

If you and your ex-spouse are in a contentious relationship, are unofficially separated and think there is no hope for reconciliation, you can file for absolute divorce under several grounds. If you need immediate assistance, require financial help to maintain your current living status, or need temporary child support, filing for limited divorce may be a more viable option. Our attorneys at Eveland & Foster can help you identify the best course of action for your situation. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

 

 

Grandparents’ Rights

Grandparents and Third Party Custody in New Jersey

Are you a grandparent or relative of a minor child who was recently orphaned or lives in an unsafe home? Are you seeking court ordered-visitation of your grandchild? Grandparents’ rights and third party custody are not guaranteed in New Jersey. Third parties are only awarded custody if they can establish that the biological parent(s) have abandoned the minor child, are unfit to care for the child, and that the third party is the psychological parent.

Challenging Custody

Biological parents have a fundamental right to raise their minor children. Courts can only remove a minor child from the custody of the parents when the child is found to be in an abusive home, is abandoned, or the parents are incarcerated or deceased. In addition, courts will only award visitation to grandparents if visitation does not cause material harm to the relationship between the birth parent and minor child, and grandparent visitation would be in the best interest of the child. In some cases, the grandparent or third party has served as the child’s parent due to unforeseen circumstances.

 New Jersey courts have found in similar third party custody battles that grandparents have a presumptive burden to overcome in seeking visitation or custody. The law grants rights to a natural parent who is not unfit or would not be a detriment to the welfare of the child. In addition, if the parties cannot agree to a visitation schedule on their own, the court is reluctant to interfere if doing so would cause material harm to the parent-child relationship. If granting grandparent visitation would undermine a parent’s authority and decision-making, or negatively affect the child’s relationship with their own parent, it is rare that the court would award visitation to the grandparent.  

Applying for Adoption and Visitation Rights

If the child is now unfortunately orphaned, and his or her parents did not name a legal guardian in their will, family members can petition the New Jersey courts for legal guardianship. Grandparents who wish to apply as adoptive parents have to apply through the state sponsored adoption agency or with the courts. This process is lengthy and intense, and it is highly recommended that you consult an attorney for assistance before applying for adoption.  Our lawyers at Eveland & Foster, LLC handle divorce, family law and adoption. We have concrete experience with adoption and guardianship cases and understand the nuances of the adoption process.

 New Jersey law is ambiguous about the parent’s authority in determining visitation for third parties. In some cases, grandparents do have limited rights to visitation with their minor grandchildren, if they can prove that material harm would come to the child for lack of visitation.  N.J. Stat. § 9:2-7.1 (2020). Prior to filing a petition, the grandparent would want to gather evidence, photographs and other tangible items or testimony to establish their unique, loving relationship with the child and why visitation is in the child’s best interest.

Contact Eveland & Foster, LLC Today

The attorneys of Eveland & Foster, LLC practice in Morristown, New Jersey and throughout Central New Jersey. They maintain a stellar family law practice and are also seasoned in specialized custody and visitation disputes, including grandparent rights. If you are in a unique quandary regarding your grandchildren, or are seeking to adopt your orphaned grandchild, call Eveland & Foster, LLC today for a consultation.

Your Credit Score and Divorce

How Divorce Affects Your Credit and Finances

Couples that have commingled finances, bank accounts, intangible assets, retirement funds, and additional intellectual property will have difficult decisions to make upon divorce. Property division is one of the most time-consuming and contentious issues during divorce settlement and in negotiations between parties. While couples are relieved to see the marriage dissolved, separating finances, debts owed, and closing bank and credit card accounts can have a negative effect on each party’s credit score, credit limit, and financial health. Our attorneys at Eveland & Foster, LLC can provide guidance to clients wishing to avoid severe financial strain during the divorce process.

Drafting a Case Information Statement

In New Jersey, couples seeking divorce are required to file a case information statement with the courts. A case information statement is one of the most crucial pieces of evidence in a divorce proceeding. It details all monthly income, expenses, and a meticulous list of assets and liabilities. This includes gifts and personal property like furniture, jewelry and furnishings. It also includes a list of intangible property, like details regarding IRA, 401K accounts, bank accounts, credit card accounts, loans, mortgages, life insurance accounts and other assets and liabilities. Take account of all finances and fiscal items that require valuation and equitable distribution when drafting your case information statement, and be sure to review the other party’s statement for discrepancies.

Divorced parents also want to consider how they will continue to fund joint savings accounts, health spending accounts or 529 college savings accounts for their shared children. Who will bear the cost of providing health and dental insurance to children? How long is the ex-spouse eligible for COBRA coverage? Who pays for school tuition and extracurricular expenses? Usually these items are identified in the marital settlement agreement or parenting agreement. If you are not at that stage in the divorce process yet, contemplate how much you can afford to contribute given your separation. Also remember that the court will determine child support and alimony awards based on the monetary and non-monetary contributions of both parties, taking into account whether a stay-at-home spouse has the requisite education and/or work experience to find gainful employment, or if they are eligible for indefinite alimony. NJ. Rev.  Stat. § 2A:34-23 (2020).

Determining Debt Owed and Property/Asset Division

The courts will evaluate debt based on the existing contract, loan agreement, or account statement, as well as how property is titled. For example, if a divorced couple has two joint checking accounts and one joint credit card account, they are required to visit each financial institution and either close the account entirely, splitting remaining balances or amount owed in principal and interest, or one party can assign all rights and interest in the interest-bearing, savings or checking account to the other party. Similarly, if both parties have individual IRA or 401K accounts with their respective employers, they may both choose to keep their individual retirement accounts in play. Regarding real property, parties can choose to rent jointly titled property, sell the property and equally divide proceeds, or the home can be re-titled and one party conveys right, title and interest in the home or rental property to the other.

Because the parties may be closing multiple bank accounts, lines of credit, or losing equity because of property division, their credit scores may suffer. Married couples who owned a business together and are now seeking divorce also want to consult with an attorney as soon as possible regarding implications and financial health of the jointly owned business. Some things you can do to prevent a hit to your credit is opening an individual credit card account and making on-time payments, agreeing to keep a joint account open in the interim, and being conservative about your spending habits or financing large purchases while your divorce hearing is pending. Also gather copies of financial documents, paystubs, bills, invoices and any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements you have regarding equitable division of jointly owned property.

Contact Eveland & Foster, LLC for Help

If you are contemplating divorce or in the middle of contentious proceedings, contact our attorneys at Eveland & Foster, LLC for assistance. We practice exclusively in family law and understand how to navigate the property division process. We can also provide guidance regarding your overall financial health and how to recover fiscally after divorce. We are conveniently located in Morristown, New Jersey, and serve clients throughout the North Central Jersey Region. Schedule a consultation today.

Parental Alienation

Parental Alienation: What is it and How Does it Affect Children of Divorce?

 

Many couples seeking divorce are dealing with severe emotional strain, arguing, and sometimes a barrage of emotional, mental, and physical abuse. Understandably, a spouse can be so frustrated with their ex that they speak negatively and disparage the ex in front of the child. They may even encourage the child to make negative comments about their other parent or foster an environment in which discussing the other parent or even acknowledging their existence is forbidden. This scenario is not uncommon. It is called parental alienation, and it sets a dangerous precedent.

 

When you are divorcing a spouse and you have children together, that spouse will never stop being that child’s father or mother, and your child is made up of half of you and half of the other parent. Making disparaging comments about the child’s mom or dad can cause a child to internalize the comments themselves. Try to approach divorce amicably and with an attitude of civility. If you believe your child is experiencing parental alienation or you need help navigating a contentious divorce process, contact the attorneys at Eveland & Foster, LLC.

How Parental Alienation Affects Minors and Adult Children

Disparaging comments about a child’s parents can be internalized by the child. The child may feel caught in the middle. Often minor children blame themselves for their parents’ separation even though they are not at fault at all. If you have a split physical custody arrangement, you and your ex are expected to communicate and cooperate for the benefit of the child, their safety, and their happiness. Children are not meant to act as a referee, a therapist or social worker. Even adult children of divorce should not be saddled with negative comments and feedback regarding one parent from the other parent. Young children need space to grow and explore, and they need to know that both parents love them and want to work together to provide a loving environment. If your child comes to you with comments that the other parent has made about you, or they seem depressed or withdrawn, you should take notice and take action.

Coping Strategies

Keep the lines of communication open. Encourage your child to speak freely about what is on their mind, even if it is negative or about the other parent. It is possible your ex is trying to manipulate your child or weaponize them to your detriment. This is abuse. Do not speak negatively about your ex-spouse in front of your child and do not tolerate the behavior from them either. Journal your thoughts, seek family counseling or offer to meet with your ex in a public place for a frank discussion.

Even if you or your ex still harbor feelings of angst against each other, understand that your child still loves both parents. Your child’s needs are paramount. If you know your child is exposed to negative feedback from the other parent or is being forced to choose sides, keep a log of this activity and contact our attorneys. Sometimes a simple phone call can help, but other times you might need assistance from a third party to get the message across. Do not tolerate an environment for your child that is not safe and encouraging.

Contact Eveland & Foster for Help

If you or a loved one need the services of a seasoned family law attorney, please do not hesitate to reach out to Eveland & Foster, LLC for help. We only practice family law and we can assist no matter where you are in the divorce process. Even if your divorce is finalized and you are seeking a modification, or if you believe your child is being abused by your ex-spouse, you do not have to suffer alone. Contact us today for a consultation.

Prenuptial Agreement

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is a written document outlining the terms between two betrothed parties. Essentially, the prenuptial agreement establishes parameters regarding assets should the marriage end in divorce. The attorneys at Eveland & Foster prepare both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements for clients seeking to marry or already married, whether it is their first or fourth marriage. Preparing a prenup now prevents unnecessary heartache and turbulence later.

Preparing for the Worst, Hoping for the Best

No one gets married expecting to get divorced, but statistics unfortunately indicate that more than half of all marriages end in divorce. Without a prenuptial agreement, the parties may delve into a contested dispute about all major assets, including financial accounts, pensions, personal property, furniture, vehicles and the home. Even gifts, which are considered separate from marital property under the law, may come into play during divorce proceedings. If one partner is wealthy, owns a business, or has children from a previous marriage, they may want to shield assets or items they wish to bequeath to relatives in the event of marriage dissolution. A prenuptial agreement is a logical solution to settling property division prior to marriage.

Sadly, prenuptial agreements are mired with negative stigma. Some people feel it is an insult to even broach the discussion, let alone ask their partner to sign an agreement. There is no reason for negative misconceptions to stop you from discussing the subject with your partner. Discussing the subject of finances, property, and the worst-case scenario of divorce allows parties to speak openly about their wishes, interests, and mutual understandings.

Drafting the Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement

When drafting a prenup, the parties make a list of all assets and liabilities, copies of existing wills, trust accounts, gifts, etc. If one party owns a business, it is also wise to provide copies of operating or partnership agreements in preparation of the prenup. Because these agreements concern the interests of two parties, it is usually suggested that each party hire counsel for the drafting process. Our firm can assist couples in obtaining advice from another attorney for the other party.

Couples who are already married also have the option of drafting postnuptial agreements. A postnuptial agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement in that the couple makes recitals about the joint property and sole property. However, a judge is much more likely to scrutinize a postnuptial agreement, as the longer a couple waits, the more likely finances, assets, and property are commingled.

On that note, while you can choose to draft your own agreement, understand that a judge is much more likely to scrutinize an agreement that was not drafted with advice from opposing counsel for both parties. This is because otherwise, it may appear that terms were included to the benefit of one party and detriment of another, or that coercion or undue influence factored into agreement terms. In any event, if you have children from a previous marriage or relationship, a trust fund, your income is disparate from your partner’s or you simply wish to have security regarding your individual assets, we strongly advise you consider drafting a prenuptial agreement.

Contact Our Attorneys at Eveland & Foster, LLC

If you are considering a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement and want to learn more about the process, call our attorneys at Eveland & Foster, LLC. We are available to discuss your needs and explain the property and asset allocation process.

Child Support Calculations

Child Support Calculations

Some couples contemplating separation and divorce worry if they can afford their current lifestyle after divorce. In addition, many couples worry that the court arbitrarily assigns a figure to their mandatory child support payments. This is not true. While some lifestyle and living arrangements will change after divorce, child support calculations are based on imputed income and contributions to the marriage. If you have shared children with a soon-to-be ex-spouse and are worried about child support, call our attorneys at Eveland & Foster.

Completing Financial Statements

 During the divorce process, while you are gathering important documents and drafting a marital settlement agreement, it is important you give some thought to preparing a financial statement. Both parties prepare their own financial statement even if the prepared forms are identical. This is one of the most integral exhibits you will enter as evidence. The presiding judge also relies heavily on the financial statement in determining child support awards. The financial statement allows the parties to detail a list of assets and liabilities along with contributing income and an itemized list of monthly expenses. Every item from the mortgage to monthly subscriptions is listed on the financial statement. It is important that you do not guess and that you use true figures from monthly bills when preparing your statement because it is submitted to the court and shared with the other party.

Child Support Calculator

 Prior to a scheduled hearing or settlement conference, you can use the New Jersey Child Support Calculator. It is a state-provided service that approximates your monthly child support calculation based on your monthly income and number of children. The calculator is a rough estimate of your contribution. The court will also use non-monetary contributions and the terms of your marital settlement agreement as well as custody arrangements to determine child support. If one parent has primary physical custody the other parent will generally contribute a proportion of support. If both parents have shared physical custody, the parent who contributes more income will likely be required to pay a portion of child support to the other parent accounting for physical time shared. The court will also look at factors like the age of the child, who carries the child on their health insurance plan, cost of education, special needs considerations, and other unique factors. No two child support orders are alike, and you should not make assumptions based on popular culture or the income disparity or equality between yourself and your ex-spouse.

 Modifications and Arrears

If a child reaches the age of majority, a parent becomes unemployed or another major life change occurs, a party can petition the court for modifications to the order, but they must also serve the other party. Only the court can grant modifications. Even if the other party falls behind in making timely payments, arrears( missed payments) cannot be waived or discharged in bankruptcy. In fact, if non-payment continues the owed party can petition the court and a writ of judgment can be ordered, or the court can order wages or benefits garnished until the arrears are paid off.

Call Our Attorneys Today

 Our attorneys at Eveland & Foster, LLC specialize in all aspects of family law including child custody and child support orders. If you have specific questions about what you may owe or are entitled to after divorce, call today to schedule a consultation. We can assist with filing modifications as well.

Equitable Distribution

Equitable Property Division: Modifying QDROs and Life Insurance

When parties are faced with divorce, they often wonder who will receive which possessions, personal property, and the home. Less thought is given to the division of intangible assets, including employee pensions, and life insurance policies. If you are divorcing a spouse, it is important that you understand all your options, preserve copies of all tax and accounting records, and consult an attorney before making any concrete decisions. Eveland & Foster, LLC divorce attorneys can provide crucial advice to potential clients regarding equitable distribution of assets in a divorce.

What is a QDRO, Anyway?

A QDRO is an acronym for Qualified Domestic Relations Order. It is issued by the Employee Pension Plan Administrator.  I.R.C. § 504 (2020). A QDRO is the only document that must be completed by the employer so that pension distributions can be made. If you are currently considering divorce or have already filed and do not have representation, and you or your spouse have an employer-sponsored pension plan or 401K, you should review your options with our lawyers. Only a court order can dictate how the plan participant(employee) will distribute plan assets with the non-participant (soon-to-be ex-spouse). QDROs only apply to 401K pension plans and some IRAs if the accounts are managed by the employer.

Modifications to Life Insurance Policies and Beneficiary Plans

Life insurance distribution and beneficiary plans also require review during divorce proceedings. Usually, the spouse is the de facto beneficiary when a life insurance policy is paid. If you want to change the beneficiary distribution or remove your ex-spouse as a beneficiary entirely, you should discuss it with our attorneys during your family law case consultation. If you and your spouse share children together, whether or not the policy is term life or whole life insurance, making necessary adjustments is critical for their financial protection. Prior to divorce hearings, both beneficiary and policy ownership documents require modification to remain effective.

In New Jersey, a family law judge can make life insurance benefits determinations unilaterally. If it is not explicitly clear in your marital settlement agreement that the parties have reached a compromise regarding beneficiary clauses, the judge will make a decision in the best interest of the child(ren). Kennedy v. Plan Administrator for DuPont Savings and Investment Plan, 129 S. Ct. 865 (2009). It is critical that you discuss changes you want to make with your attorney prior to calling your life insurance adjuster. The lawyers at Eveland & Foster, LLC can provide pertinent advice on these matters. Making changes without prior written consent or a divorce judgment can jeopardize your case and the marital settlement agreement you will draft or have drafted between the parties.

Schedule a Consultation Today

At Eveland & Foster, LLC., our attorneys work with divorce and family law clients during tumultuous times in their lives. Our attorneys are well-versed in all areas of family law including real property, personal property, and financial property distribution. Divorce can be messy and combative. it requires level-headed, strategic thinking, and decision making for a party’s needs and desires to be effectuated. Parties must consider all options, including distribution of intangible financial assets like pension plans and life insurance policies, when they are seeking counsel or drafting a marital settlement agreement. Contact our attorneys today for a consultation to learn about your potential options.

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