Divorce, Annulment and Dissolution of Civil Unions
The decision to pursue a divorce marks a critical and often emotional time in any person’s life. The end of a marriage represents the closing of one chapter and the beginning of a new one. Further, a divorce can have far-reaching consequences for not only the individual litigants, but for their children and family as a whole.
At Eveland & Foster, LLC, our New Jersey divorce lawyers are not only experienced and knowledgeable in all facets of divorce, annulment and the dissolution of civil unions, we strive to provide each client with representation that is both zealous and compassionate, tailored to each individual’s unique needs and goals for their future. If you are considering seeking a divorce, we are ready to assist.
Marital Settlement Agreements
In New Jersey, the vast majority of divorce cases settle by way of agreement, consistent with New Jersey’s long-held public policy to encourage the settlement of all litigation. As set forth in the Appellate Division case of Tahan v. Duquette, 259 N.J. Super 328, 336 (App. Div. 1992), “no stranger in a judicial robe, however able and well motivated he or she may be, is equipped to make a decision as valid” as the parties working together to reach a resolution.
A good marital settlement agreement will address all issues touching the parties’ lives including, but not limited to, child custody and parenting time, financial support, and the division of assets and debts. At Eveland & Foster, LLC, our skilled and experienced attorneys are available to help you negotiate and memorialize the terms of an agreement to resolve your divorce and move on with the next chapter of your life.
Following divorce or separation, each parent has a continuing obligation to financially support their child(ren) until emancipation. The right to child support is considered to belong to the child(ren) as opposed to the custodial parent. As such, New Jersey has developed specific Child Support Guidelines to determine the appropriate amount of child support to be paid or received in each case.
The New Jersey Child Support Guidelines take the following factors into consideration (amongst others): each parent’s income (whether actual or imputed); the cost of providing health insurance for the child(ren); any work-related child care costs; the payment and/or receipt of alimony by either party; and the number of overnights each parent enjoys with the child(ren).
At Eveland & Foster, LLC, our New Jersey child support lawyers are experienced in the interpretation and application of the Child Support Guidelines and related statutory and case law. Contact us for an assessment of your specific circumstances.
Child Custody, Parenting Time & Paternity
The issues of child custody and parenting time are often the most sensitive and emotional for parties going through a divorce, and the most difficult for a court to decide. In every case, each parent has the right to a continuing relationship with their children. For the court, the guiding principle behind every child custody determination is the “best interest of the child”. Same has been described as “an expression of the court’s special responsibility to safeguard the interests of a child at the center of a custody dispute”. Kinsella v. Kinsella, 150 N.J. 276, 317 (1997).
In rendering a decision on custody, the courts of New Jersey are statutorily mandated to consider a host of factors including, but not limited to, the fitness of each parent, the needs of the child(ren), the relationship of the child or children with any siblings, any history of domestic violence, and the safety and stability of the home environment offered by each parent.
While it is extremely rare for a parent to be denied access to their child(ren) altogether, in some instances, a Court may direct for supervised parenting time where it finds same would be in the best interests of the child(ren). In some circumstances, grandparents, older siblings, stepparents and even third parties may be granted parenting time, or even be vested with custody, though a much higher standard is applied.
At Eveland & Foster, LLC, we are committed to helping our clients obtain the best outcomes for their families consistent with their needs and those of their children. Contact us if you need guidance through a custody and/or parenting time dispute.
Alimony, or support paid by one spouse to another upon divorce, is often one of the most contentious issues in a divorce. Four different forms of alimony exist in New Jersey: “open durational” (i.e., without a set end date); “limited duration” (for a specific term of years); “rehabilitative” (to afford a supported spouse time to gain financial independence) and “reimbursement” (to compensate a supported spouse for, by way of example, contributions made to the other party’s education or career).
Unlike child support, there is no established formula or rubric for the calculation of alimony in New Jersey and the courts are instead tasked with analyzing a host of statutory factors including, but not limited to, need and ability to pay, the length of the marriage, age and health of the parties, educational backgrounds and marital standard of living. A number of other factors can come into play as well including, but not limited to, a party’s need for a “savings component” as part of an alimony award, a supporting spouse’s retirement, and a supported spouse’s cohabitation. Accordingly, the determination of alimony in New Jersey is extremely fact-sensitive. No two cases are alike.
At Eveland & Foster, LLC, we frequently work closely with tax, estate, and financial service professionals to assist our clients in determining and protecting their financial needs in the divorce process. Whether you are in need of financial support from your spouse or are concerned about limiting your exposure, we are prepared to advocate for you and protect your interests.
New Jersey law permits any person who is at least 18 years of age to become an adoptive parent, provided that they are at least 10 years older than the individual they seek to adopt and meet certain other requirements to establish that they are fit and suitable parents for a child. A child may be adopted via private placement or through the assistance of an adoption agency. The adoption process can differ significantly depending on whether the child is being adopted from within or without the State of New Jersey, or from a foreign country.
The attorneys at Eveland & Foster, LLC can help guide you through the nuances of the adoption process in New Jersey. Contact a New Jersey adoption lawyer for further information if you are seeking to grow your family through adoption.
While the courts of New Jersey strive to do their best to render just and equitable decisions in family law matters, unfortunately, no system is perfect, and mistakes of law and/or fact can occur. As such, all litigants have the right to appeal final orders and judgments of the trial court to the Appellate Division. Where an order is interlocutory (provisional or temporary), a litigant must seek the Appellate Division’s permission to file an appeal. In extraordinary circumstances, the Appellate Division will entertain appeals on an emergent basis.
The pathway to the ultimate resolution of an appeal can be long and circuitous. At Eveland & Foster, LLC, our attorneys are experienced at navigating the complex New Jersey appellate system and can assist you in developing a strategy for a successful appeal.
Prenuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements
With many people marrying later in life nowadays, it has become increasingly common for couples, prior to marriage, to address what will occur with their assets and finances in the event of divorce by way of a “prenuptial” or “premarital” agreement. Having such an agreement in place can spare both parties costly and time-consuming litigation as well as significant stress in the event of a marriage’s unfortunate breakdown.
Couples may address a multitude of issues in a prenuptial agreement including, but not limited to, financial support, the division of property and debt, the treatment of each spouse’s income, the payment of marital expenses and estate rights upon a spouse’s death.
While it behooves all individuals contemplating marriage to consider a prenuptial agreement, it is particularly advisable where you:
- Were married before;
- Have children from a prior relationship or marriage;
- Stand to benefit from a trust;
- Expect to receive a monetary gift or inheritance;
- Own a business;
- Are marrying someone with substantial debt;
- Earn more than your future spouse; or
- Have more assets than your future spouse.
In contrast to a prenuptial agreement and far less common, a postnuptial agreement (sometimes referred to as a “mid-marriage agreement”) is made between spouses during the marriage to protect their rights and assets in the event of divorce. Due to the risk of manipulation with such agreements, same are subject to a higher level of scrutiny by the court upon divorce.
At Eveland & Foster, LLC, our attorneys can advise you as to the right type of agreement to best protect your interests.
In a divorce, the division of a couple’s assets and debts is referred to as equitable distribution, a process grounded in the theory that the marital relationship is a partnership. As such, the fact that one spouse may have taken on a “supportive” role in the marriage as a stay-at-home parent will not preclude that spouse from sharing in the marital estate. Notwithstanding, “equitable distribution” does not automatically translate to an “equal distribution” of assets between spouses and the court in evaluating a family’s assets and debts must consider a host of statutorily prescribed factors.
Certain assets are considered exempt from equitable distribution all together including property acquired prior to the marriage (“premarital” property), and property received by either party by way of gift from a third party, or inheritance. However, property originally classified as exempt from equitable distribution may lose its exempt categorization in the event one spouse makes an interspousal gift of the property to the other or otherwise “commingles” the property with marital assets.
As per the above, the process of equitable distribution upon divorce can be complex. The attorneys at Eveland & Foster, LLC are well versed in the nuances of same and can assist you in protecting your interest in the marital estate.
Assets Subject to Equitable Distribution:
- Real property, including marital home, vacation homes, rental properties, timeshares
- Business interests including professional practices, companies, etc.
- Bank accounts/Investment Accounts
- Retirement plans, pensions, 401K’s, 403B accounts, deferred compensation, IRA’s, etc.
- Stocks and Stock Options
- Personal property (i.e. collectibles)
Debts Subject to Equitable Distribution:
- Credit card debts
- Debts owed to third parties
The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act in New Jersey was promulgated to effectuate the Legislature’s intent “to assure the victims of domestic violence the maximum protection from abuse the law can provide”. See N.J.S.A. 2C:25-18. A victim of domestic violence as defined under the Act can seek protection on the grounds of a number of statutorily classified offenses including, but not limited to, assault, terroristic threats, false imprisonment, harassment, stalking, and many others.
To obtain protection under the Act, a victim of domestic violence must file a Complaint with either the Superior Court of New Jersey, Family Part or, alternatively, the appropriate municipal court. In the event permanent protection is granted under the Act, the court has the authority not only to restrain the defendant from further acts of domestic violence but to grant the victim exclusive possession of the parties’ residence and address issues of custody and parenting time as well as temporary support and even compensatory and/or punitive damages.
New Jersey’s domestic violence laws are considered to be some of the strongest in the country. If you need the protection of a restraining order or, conversely, if you believe an order has been wrongfully entered against you, make sure you consult a domestic violence lawyer New Jersey trusts immediately.