Category: Divorce

10 Tips for Divorcing Parents

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10 Tips for Divorcing Parents

Divorce is hard on the couple, their children, and their family and friends. However, there are several things you can do to make the process go as smoothly as possible for your children. Living in two homes with happy, separated parents is better for children than living in one house filled with fighting and anger.

How Divorcing Parents Should Navigate Co-Parenting and Custody

Although divorce negotiations include many factors, the two most important factors for divorcing parents are working out a co-parenting plan and determining custody.

Follow these ten tips to help your children adjust to a new normal.

Photo Credit: depositphotos.com – Cute happy children sitting on sofa and learning together – null

1. Create a Parenting Plan

In New Jersey, the courts use the term parenting plan to describe a visitation schedule. These are an essential aspect of co-parenting as they determine when and for how long you will see your children, including a plan for holidays and visiting grandparents. They also often affect child support. You’ll want to work with a lawyer to ensure that your parenting plan follows New Jersey requirements.

2. Consider Mediation

Divorce often involves intense feelings, especially if one spouse feels betrayed. Mediation can help divorcing parents to cordially discuss challenging issues and eventually come to an agreement.

3. Choose the Best Custody Plan for the Children

Many divorced parents fight for full custody of their children because they can’t bear to be away from them. However, studies have found that joint custody is best for children’s mental health, barring abuse, or negligence.

4. Communicate Well

Although you may hate your soon-to-be ex with a passion, you must maintain a clear, calm line of communication. You will need to talk about any issues your children face, whether medical or social. The more cordial you can be, the easier it will be to co-parent in the future.

Photo Credits: depositphotos.com – Boyfriend and girlfriend standing and arguing in living room – null

5. Don’t Argue In Front of the Kids

You and your ex will not always see eye to eye, and that will inevitably cause arguments. Disagreeing in front of your kids is fine, as long as you can both keep your temper and refrain from insults. However, if your disagreements often become loud, it’s best to keep them private. You also should only discuss custody disagreements away from the children since they could cause them discomfort.

6. Consistency is Key

When co-parenting, you’ll need to check in with your ex about discipline and rules. It’s best that you both agree on a bedtime, use similar disciplinary measures, and have similar rules. While this isn’t always possible, try to work together so your kids have a sense of consistency.

7. Be Willing to Compromise

You both want what’s best for your children, and sometimes that may mean compromising your wants. Always put your children’s needs first, whether that means agreeing to an inconvenient custody schedule or upping your child support.

8. Let Your Kids Know This Isn’t Their Fault

Many children of divorce believe they caused their parents’ separation. Make it clear to them that you love them and they did not cause the divorce. You may want to consider family or individual therapy to help your children through this significant change.

9. Don’t Disparage Your Ex to Your Kids

Courts don’t appreciate parental alienation, which is when a parent puts down their ex to their children. If proven, it could negatively affect your custody.

10. Work with an Experienced Lawyer

At Lyons & Associates, P.C., we have extensive experience helping divorcing parents in New Jersey create parenting plans, custody schedules, and determining child support. Contact us online or call us today at (908) 575-9777 to arrange a free consultation.

How Long Does a Divorce Take?

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How Long Does a Divorce Take?

Although some couples may be tempted to speed up the divorce process and put the relationship behind them as soon as possible, it’s better to take your time and ensure you’re happy with all the agreements and that everything is done according to the law.

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How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

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How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

Planning a divorce can be stressful, emotional, and, unfortunately, expensive. You’ll need to pay for an attorney and court fees, possibly hire a child custody expert, consult with a tax advisor, and obtain a real estate appraisal. Costs can also increase if you need to rent an apartment or buy a second set of furniture and clothes for your children.

Fortunately, working with the right lawyer can help keep the costs down. Lyons & Associates, P.C. are experienced divorce attorneys who can help you determine the best type of divorce for your situation. Here’s what you need to know before you begin planning your divorce.

Planning for A Divorce: How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

Money and divorce go hand-in-hand. Arguments about finances are a top reason for divorce. Unfortunately, the divorce process can be expensive.

Several factors can increase the cost of your divorce. Is it uncontested? Does your lawyer charge per hour, or can you hire them on retainer? Do you have children?

Some of these factors are situational, and you won’t be able to influence their cost. However, others depend on your choice of lawyers and mediators and whether or not you and your spouse can agree.

Contested or Uncontested

If you and your spouse can agree to an uncontested divorce, your costs will decrease significantly. To ask the court for an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse will need to meet the following qualifications:

  • No pretrial proceedings, including discovery disputes
  • No major disagreements about child custody, alimony, property division, or visitation schedules
  • There is a signed property settlement agreement which discusses the terms of your divorce

An experienced divorce lawyer can help you determine if you are eligible for an uncontested divorce.

Child Custody

Outside of financial disagreements, child custody and visitation schedules are some of the most hotly contested aspects of divorce proceedings. If you and your spouse cannot agree on custody, you will need to work with child custody experts to determine legal and physical custody of your children.

Once you’ve worked out the details, usually in mediated sessions with your lawyers present, you’ll need to work out the child support costs.

Note that these agreements take time to form. If your divorce involves multiple children, and you and your spouse cannot agree on a custody arrangement, it’s likely you will have to pay your lawyer a retainer fee up front rather than by the hour as you go through the process. In New Jersey, it is not permissible to charge a flat fee for matrimonial matters, whatever the arrangement, the longer it takes to reach a conclusion, the more expensive it will be.

Property Division

Nothing combines divorce and money like property division in a contested divorce. Particularly if you share a mortgage or share multiple high-cost assets, your costs will rise to include a real estate appraisal.

An experienced divorce lawyer can help you find an appropriate, unbiased real estate appraiser and help you determine the best financial division of property between you and your spouse.

Arrange a Consultation With Lyons & Associates Today

Even in an uncontested divorce, a lawyer can help ensure you file your paperwork correctly and that your agreement is equitable.

In a contested divorce, you and your spouse must have separate representation. Lyons & Associates, P.C., is led by Terry Lyons, a talented divorce attorney who received her master’s degree in social work. The largest divorce firm in Somerset County, Lyons & Associates, P.C. boasts the most cases of any law firm in the Somerville courts.

Call Lyons & Associates, P.C. at (908) 575-9777 or contact us online to arrange your free consultation and learn more about all your options for your divorce.

3 Ways to Speed Up the Divorce Process

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3 Ways to Speed Up the Divorce Process

As matrimonial attorneys, we understand that a divorce takes a toll emotionally and psychologically on our clients. Our clients, who are often parents and caregivers, must juggle their jobs, home life and family responsibilities, and their children’s best interests, all while going through, what is usually, the most intense experience of their lives.

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Divorce and the Protection of Premarital Assets

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Divorce and the Protection of Premarital Assets

In New Jersey, upon divorce, most assets acquired during the marriage are subject to equitable distribution. That is to say the court will distribute the marital assets in a manner that is fair to both parties. Marital assets in NJ are assets that have been legally and beneficially acquired by them or either of them during the marriage, however there are some exceptions.

Is Your Child’s Inheritance a Premarital Asset?

Under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(h), premarital assets are not subject to equitable distribution. The general rule for a premarital asset is that an asset acquired prior to the marriage by one spouse remains his or hers upon dissolution of the marriage, as long as that asset has not been commingled with other marital assets. That is to say the asset has not been put into joint names, a joint account, or used to purchase a marital asset such as a house. The premarital asset must remain separate and apart from the marital assets throughout the marriage.

An effective method of protecting premarital assets is a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement will outline the separation of property and will discern what is actually martial property versus premarital property. It is essentially an agreement wherein you and your spouse decide what assets are premarital and what assets you each want to keep in the event of a divorce.

Issues arise when couples do not have the foresight to draft and sign a prenuptial agreement. In order to protect premarital assets, it is important to keep that asset separate, even in regard to the other spouse’s access to the account. For example, a premarital investment account may earn interest during the marriage. Is the interest then a marital asset? It depends. Did the spouse do anything to help with the investments, such as give advice or move the money with the consent of the other spouse? Did the spouse have direct access to the account? If the answers to these questions is yes, then these assets may not remain premarital.

Another issue that often arises is whose name is on the asset. One of the most common examples of this issue is real estate. For example, say you decide to buy a townhouse years before you are married and only your name is on the deed. The Court will then ask if the home was bought in contemplation of marriage. If the home was bought with the intention of you and your spouse living in the home as a married couple, then the asset may be marital. If it was bought before the two of you even met, it may be premarital. Upon marriage did the two of you live in the home together? If the answer is yes, then the court applies the factors listed under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(h), the New Jersey equitable distribution statute.

In New Jersey, equitable does not mean equal. In a case where only one spouse bought the home, but both spouses lived in it together, the Court may decide that a 70/30 split may be equitable. The Court may also decide a 60/40 split may be equitable. It will depend on the circumstances of the case, the amount of time and money each spouse put into the upkeep of the home and how much money each spouse put into the down payment. Remember, while the two of you were married, the spouse who is not on the deed contributed to the upkeep and maintenance of the home whether it may be in payment of mortgage or cutting the lawn each week. In situations such as this the Court attempts to preserve the premarital portion of the home by giving one spouse a larger percentage in terms of equitable distribution.

Another issue that often arises is inheritance. Generally speaking, inheritance is considered a premarital asset as long as it is kept separate from other marital assets. As soon as money from an inheritance is used to buy a marital asset such as a boat or shore home, then the premarital asset is converted into a marital asset. Any inheritance should be maintained as a separate asset, maintaining inherited funds in separate accounts and or maintaining inherited property separate and apart from marital property. It is also important to note that gifts and trust funds should be treated the same as an inheritance and be kept separate from marital property in case of a divorce.

Protect Your Premarital Assets With Lyons & Associates

If you or someone you know is concerned about the protection of your premarital assets, please contact the Law Offices of Lyons & Associates, P.C. Our skilled team of attorneys are here to help you. For a free consultation, please email us, visit our website, or call us at (908) 575-9777.

Allocating Credit Card Debt During Divorce

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Allocating Credit Card Debt During Divorce

When parties are in the midst of a divorce, one bone of contention can be credit card debt. The general rule is marital debt is any debt incurred during the marriage for the benefit of the marriage.

How to Navigate Credit Card Debt During Divorce

When it comes to credit card debt that could be almost anything, but examples include home repairs, furniture, clothes for either spouse and food. If one of the spouses incurs a debt through the misuse of funds for example, an extravagant vacation taken alone or the purchase of an expensive boat, then court may assign that debt to the party making the purchase. Such debt would be characterized as “separate” debt, belonging the spouse who misused marital funds.

Under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1, the state’s equitable distribution statute, the court considers the following sixteen factors when allocating debt:

  • The duration of the marriage or civil union.
  • The age and physical and emotional health of the parties;
  • The income or property brought to the marriage or civil union by each party;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage or civil union;
  • Any written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage or civil union concerning an arrangement of property distribution;
  • The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property becomes effective;
  • The income and earning capacity of each party, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children, and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage or civil union;
  • The contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other;
  • The contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, or the property acquired during the civil union as well as the contribution of a party as a homemaker;
  • The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party;
  • The present value of the property;
  • The need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence or residence shared by the partners in a civil union couple and to use or own the household effects;
  • The debts and liabilities of the parties;
  • The need for creation, now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse, partner in a civil union couple or children;
  • The extent to which a party deferred achieving their career goals; and
  • Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.

If you or someone you know is planning to separate and has questions regarding the family’s credit card debt during divorce, please contact the Law Offices of Lyons & Associates, P.C. Our skilled team of attorneys are here to help you. For a free consultation, please contact us online or call us at (908) 575-9777.

NEW GUIDELINES FOR HIGHER EDUCATION IN NJ; WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR STUDENTS OF DIVORCED PARENTS?

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How Will the Coronavirus Affect My Divorce?

Do you have children attending college this fall? If you do, the campus and students will look very different than it has in previous years. Recently, Governor Murphy said the State of New Jersey will be unveiling guidelines for higher education institutions to follow for reopening this fall.

While the official guidelines have not yet been released, below are some general guidelines all colleges must follow:

  • Require students and staff wear facing coverings indoors.
  • Strongly encourage — though not mandate — students and staff wear face coverings outdoors.
  • Observe 6 feet of social distancing in busy areas, like classrooms and dining halls.
  • Sanitize equipment and materials.
  • Set cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
  • Close common areas.
  • Allow students and faculty with elevated health risks to learn and teach remotely.
  • Accommodate those who test positive for COVID-19, including developing quarantine and isolation procedures.
  • Set up robust testing and contact tracing plans to identify and fight coronavirus spikes.

Practically speaking, most colleges and universities will have to offer a hybrid of in person and remote learning. The changes will also affect whether or not students are able to live on campus, most likely, forcing some to live at home and learn remotely.

So what does all this mean for college students of divorced parents? If a student, who previously lived on campus is forced to live at home, does child support change? Does who pays for college change? Which parent does the student live with? Should the student living at home have more parenting time with the parent he or she does not live with?

For divorced parents these are all very real questions and added stress to the college experience. First, parenting time is the decision of the child. Once a child turns 18, the Court does not enforce a parenting time schedule. Second, since a child is spending more time at home with one parent, child support may increase temporarily. However, any change would have to be by agreement of the parents or through a court order. The same holds true to any changes to the payment of college by the parents.

If you and your spouse are having issues regarding your college student, please contact the Law Offices of Lyons & Associates, P.C. Our skilled and compassionate legal team is focused on the best possible outcome for you and your family. Here, at Lyons we believe in personal attention for personal matters. For more information and/or a free consultation, please visit our website, e-mail us, or call us at (908) 575-9777.

Written by: Chris Ann Wright, Esq.

A Divorce on the Papers

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A Divorce on the Papers

During the COVID-19 crisis, the New Jersey Judiciary recently implemented statewide, the option of obtaining a Judgment of Divorce through the submission of papers only. In other words, a divorce can be obtained without ever appearing in court. This is not possible in every divorce case but if a case is a default case or uncontested case then a divorce can be obtained on the papers. A default divorce occurs when one spouse has filed for a divorce, properly notified the other spouse, and that other spouse has not filed any response with the court. An uncontested divorce occurs when both spouses agree on all the issues, subsequently sign and submit to the Court a signed Property Settlement Agreement, Affidavit stating he or she would like the court to grant the parties a divorce. Under New Jersey Judiciary Directive #18-20, when either of these two situations occur, spouses are entitled to receive a Judgment of Divorce without having to make a personal appearance in front of a Judge. The spouse who filed for the divorce can also resume using any name used before the marriage or change their name, consistent with New Jersey Law (N.J.S.A. 2A: 34-21).

It is important to note, if a judge deems it necessary, he or she does have discretion as to whether or not a divorce on the papers will be granted, or if an appearance by the parties is required. However, if an appearance is required, the parties will be notified by the court in advance.

Lyons & Associates, P.C. is here to assist you. We offer support during the COVID-19 pandemic and are here to help you navigate our changing court system. If you have any concerns pertaining to your divorce and for a private consultation please contact us by e-mail, visit our website, or call our office at (908) 575-9777.

Posted by Lyons & Associates, P.C.