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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.

Family Law Appeals NJ

 

Family Law Appeals NJ

 

In the event of an unfavorable outcome regarding divorce or child custody, parties do reserve a right to family law appeals the trial court’s decision. However, filing a family law appeal can be a long and arduous process, and it may not result in the outcome the appellant desires. That being said, if you want to contest the trial court’s custody decision, support award amount, or a property distribution, it is critical you obtain legal counsel with experience in appellate matters. Eveland & Foster, LLC is a team of seasoned divorce and family law attorneys who have represented many clients in appellate matters, seeking favorable outcomes on their behalf. Our attorneys can assist you in  appealing a trial court’s order.

 

Mistakes of Law and Mistakes of Fact

 

In New Jersey, the trial courts hear family law issues. Usually a judge with experience in family law matters presides over the family court docket, but that is not always the case. Many judges are appointed with experience as a state’s attorney in criminal matters, but they have limited breadth in civil cases, including family law matters. While it is rare, occasionally a judge does make a mistake of fact or a mistake of law. A mistake of law means the judge interpreted the statute or applicable rule incorrectly in regards to your case. This is extremely rare and usually only occurs if a new law applies or there is limited precedent regarding a unique facet of your case. More often, a mistake of fact occurs. A mistake of fact is unique to your case. Both parties (ex-spouses or ex-partners) prepare their side or case to the presiding judge. If a judge misinterprets a crucial fact that went into factoring his or her decision, that could completely alter the outcome to your detriment.

 

For example, in New Jersey, property is not considered marital property if it was a gift acquired prior to the marriage. If you were bequeathed a valuable family heirloom while still single, that item is not marital property and therefore would not be factored into equitable distribution. N.J. Title 2A:34-23.1 Equitable Distribution (2013). If the judge missed this crucial fact, he or she could mistakenly include that item in a financial statement interpretation when dividing assets. Similarly, if there is abuse in the home, that is a crucial element of determining child custody, and if the facts were misconstrued it could mean the difference between shared custody or only supervised visitation. While the appellate court does give deference to the trial court when reviewing the record for errors of fact, it is possible that a decision could be overturned.  Whatever your unique situation may be, it is critical that if you want to appeal a trial court’s decision, you preserve your right to seek an appeal.

 

Appellate Process

 

Filing a family law appeal NJ from a family court decision is a stymied process. It requires finesse and a strong understanding of the applicable laws. In New Jersey, a party has 45 calendar days from the entry of a judgment to appeal the lower court’s decision. N.J. Rule 2.8:1 Motions (2018).  Doing so requires a copy to be served with the clerk’s office and the other party. It is crucial to remember that filing an appeal is not an outlet for expressing your frustration or disagreement with the lower court judge’s decision. Rather, filing an appeal requires reflection upon the case and whether there was a substantial issue of fact or law that was overlooked or wrongfully applied. Remember that the trial court judge is given a wide berth and the appellate court will not allow the introduction of new evidence or new testimony when they review the trial court judge’s decision.

 

It is important to weigh your options when considering an appeal but also to ensure you do so properly if you want to move forward. The assistance of legal counsel can make a real difference in the appellate process and the outcome for your case. You can also file a Motion for Reconsideration within 20 days with the trial court judge, which is not a new trial but does give the presiding judge an opportunity to reconsider their decision and the possibility that they overlooked a fact when making their decision. N.J. Rule 4:49-1 (2019). Filing a Motion for Reconsideration is not a guarantee that a presiding judge will render a new judgment, and also does not prevent the party from later filing an appeal.

Call Eveland & Foster, LLC Today

The Law Offices of Eveland & Foster, LLC are experienced family law attorneys. They know how to prepare an appellate brief and guide their clients through the arduous and sometimes difficult appellate process. If you feel strongly about filing for an appeal, or believe there was a mistake of law or fact applied to your case, you must seek legal counsel. You only have 30  days to file an appeal after a trial court judge has rendered a decision in the State of New Jersey. If you need assistance with your appeal, call Eveland & Foster, LLC today for a consultation and discussion of your appellate case.

Divorced Couples, Their Families, and COVID-19: How to Navigate Returning to School

Divorced Couples, Their Families, and COVID-19: How to Navigate Returning to School

Now that the CDC recognizes a “second wave” of COVID-19 cases, many parents are asking if it is truly safe for their children to go back to school in person. Complicating that decision are conflicting wishes of divorced couples who must make collaborative decisions about their child’s education. If you are a parent of a school-aged child who disagrees with an ex-spouse regarding your child’s schooling, you need the advice of an experienced family law attorney. Eveland & Foster, LLC  are renowned divorce and family law attorneys in the Greater New Jersey area, and they can assist you in making parenting decisions with your ex-spouse in the era of COVID-19.

Between November 1, 2020 and November 5, 2020, the State of New Jersey reported more than 9,500 new cases. Cases are at their highest levels since Mid-June. While the New Jersey State Department of Education intended to open schools for in-person learning in early December, those plans are now being re-evaluated. In Morris County, New Jersey, plans were made to return students to in person learning in early January. Those students included children in middle and high school.

Now that those plans have been revised, children in grades K-5 will not return to in-person learning until at least January 15, 2021 and children in grades 6-12 will not return until the first week of February 2021. It will consist of hybrid learning (a mixture of virtual and in-person instruction) with alternating schedules and staggering of student arrivals and departures. This will further complicate schedules and coordination for divorced parents of minor children, but it is critical at this juncture for parents to recognize that flexibility and a desire to collaborate can assist children in a smooth transition.

Revisions to Parental Agreements and Physical Custody Arrangements

If you share joint physical custody of your child with your ex-spouse, you might have a split 4-3, or 3-2-3 weekly arrangement, in which both parents are responsible for ensuring the child is ready for school each day. This is compounded when virtually schooling takes place and the child requires adult supervision. In some cases, both parents are essential workers and have been unable to hire child care to supervise their children during virtual learning hours. If your spouse refuses to assist your child with schoolwork, getting logged on for virtual learning, and getting to school on time for in-person learning, they are violating the terms of your marital settlement agreement and/or parenting agreement. It is critical you seek the assistance of an experienced attorney to assist you in an amicable solution. Your child’s well-being is of utmost importance. Eveland & Foster, LLC can ensure that the best interests of your child are upheld during a dispute or settlement conference with your ex-spouse.

Resolving In-Person or Virtual Learning Disputes With Your Ex-Spouse

You can resolve educational disputes with your ex-spouse by meeting with an attorney for possible revisions or amendments to your parenting plan. If your ex-spouse has been exposed to Covid-19 or is not following protocol, it might be necessary for you to retain temporary full physical custody. Only a judge can make revisions to a parenting agreement, after a hearing between both parties. But remember, legal custody includes decisions about education, homeschooling vs. public or private school, and opting out of in-person learning in the Spring semester. Parents might want to consider revising a split week plan and alternating to one full calendar week for each parent, with drop-off/pick-up on the weekends. Also, both parents should ensure the child has an adequate workspace for virtual schooling, along with a laptop/tablet and reliable internet connection, and parental supervision for logging on and participating in virtual classes.

Call Eveland & Foster, LLC Today

The Law Offices of Eveland & Foster, LLC are experienced family law attorneys.  They produce proven results and outcomes for their clients and have assisted many clients in the new era of COVID-19. While the pandemic has brought many challenges, it does not change the law. Parents are required to seek a resolution that is in the best interest of the children, and that includes decisions regarding education. Now more than ever it is essential that children experience some sense of normalcy when everything else has changed. It is crucial that divorced parents try to collaborate and communicate openly when it pertains to following COVID-19 protocols and making choices about virtual or in person schooling. If you are faced with difficulty from your ex-spouse regarding your child’s education and school plans, and you need help, call Eveland & Foster, LLC today for a consultation and review of your potential options.

 

New Jersey Divorce

 

New Jersey Divorce

New Jersey follows an equitable division of property rule when two people go through a New Jersey divorce. As such, any assets acquired during the course of the marriage are subject to division. Any premarital asset you want to protect from being part of a divorce settlement must be kept separate from the marital estate, so it will not be subject to distribution. How do you keep premarital assets outside of the marital estate?

Prenuptial Agreements

 Prenuptial agreements are the best way to protect premarital assets. A good prenuptial agreement clearly describes the assets which will not become marital property and will therefore not be subject to equitable distribution. Premarital property is protected from equitable distribution under New Jersey law. However, it is not always this simple. How is property divided when there is no prenuptial agreement?

Assets Purchased in Contemplation of Marriage

Assets purchased in contemplation of marriage might be considered marital property if not carved out in a prenuptial agreement. To decide if an asset is marital property, the court will look at the behavior of the parties surrounding the acquisition of the property. So for example, if one spouse purchased a house before the marriage, the court will look at whether the other spouse had input into the purchase, invested resources into improving the property, and took an active role in maintaining the property. If the court decides that the house was purchased in contemplation of marriage, then it will be considered a marital asset.

Assets That Increase in Value During the Marriage

Sometimes an asset owned by one party prior to a marriage increases in value during the marriage. In such a case, the court will look at whether the asset was active or passive. Passive assets increase in value without any contribution from the non-owner spouse, and such assets will usually not be subject to equitable distribution. However, if the court decides an asset is active, and the non-owner spouse was involved in whatever caused the asset to increase in value, then the amount of the increase in value will be considered subject to equitable distribution.

What Happens When Premarital Assets are Commingled with Marital Assets?

 When parties commingle premarital assets with marital assets, it makes divorce and property division more complicated. Placing funds into a joint account, for example, can convert a premarital asset to a joint asset, as can selling pre-owned stock to buy a family home.

The Bottom Line for Protecting Premarital Assets

Whoever is in possession of a premarital asset and wishes to protect it should never commingle the asset with marital property. You should also not allow your spouse to invest time or effort into improving an asset you own or increase the value of your asset if you wish to keep it outside the marital estate. Do not add your spouse’s name to any account, title, or other ownership documents, if you wish to keep the asset separate. If you have received an inheritance, you should keep the funds in a separate account, and any inherited property outside of the home you live in with your spouse.

Do You Need a New Jersey Divorce Lawyer?

If you need advice on how to protect your assets, either before marrying or because you are considering a divorce, consult with the experienced divorce attorneys at Eveland & Foster. Our team will help guard your assets. Get in touch with an experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer today, and let us help you protect your assets.

 

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