While it is true that society owes a debt of gratitude to first responders, too often we forget the every day happenings in those first responders’ personal lives. Families of first responders have special challenges and situations that are unique to them. And when those families break up, it is important that they have lawyers who understand those challenges and how they impact divorce. These are some issues that are particular to divorces for first responders:
- Custody and parenting time that consider the parents’ challenging work schedules: Many first responders work overnights, holidays, and other times that the rest of us don’t. Without their sacrifices, society would not remain safe, and so it seems unfair that a first responder’s work schedule could be used against him or her when it comes to custody. As a practical matter, however, judges and parents are commanded by statute to consider things like the stability of a parent’s home, the continuity of a child’s schooling, and other factors that could be impacted by a first responder’s irregular work schedule. Honestly, there may not always be a perfectly right answer on your child’s best interests, but it is important that your counsel at least know what questions to ask when trying to seek that answer.
- Retirement benefits. First responders have different types of retirement benefits than many other people. Depending upon a number of factors, those benefits may or may not be subject to division once you get divorce. If they are subject to division, then your lawyer is going to have to make sure that the legal documents match not just the requirements of the local family law judge, but also the legal requirements of the governmental agency that employs the first responder.
- Income for purposes of Alimony and Child Support. Sometimes first responders receive extra types of income that other people don’t. A couple of examples are things like special assignment pay and certain allowances. Should those items be included when calculating alimony and child support? And if so, to what degree and for how long? A good divorce lawyer will help walk you through the analysis.
If you or someone you know is a first responder that may be going through a divorce, then contact one of the skilled divorce lawyers in New Jersey at Lyons & Associates at 908-575-9777. You can also fill out our online intake form.