Termination or Modification of Alimony in New Jersey

Ways to Change or End an Alimony Order

Divorce from Bed and Board in New JerseyAlimony is still ordered in New Jersey divorce cases, though it’s granted far less often than it used to be. Alimony is often set up as a temporary means of support during a period when the recipient completes the training or education necessary to become self-sufficient. Alimony also can be permanent; however, there are ways to modify or even terminate a permanent order of alimony. Either party can ask the court for a change in alimony, but the request must be in writing, and the other party must have an opportunity to contest the proposed modification.

The Effect of Remarriage on a Spousal Support Order

The parties may agree in a divorce judgment that alimony ends when the receiving party remarries. If the order does not address remarriage, then under New Jersey state law, alimony terminates upon the remarriage of the recipient. The remarriage of the paying party rarely provides grounds for modification or termination of spousal support.

Cohabitation as a Basis for Reducing or Terminating Alimony

The parties to a divorce can stipulate in the divorce decree that alimony ceases if the recipient cohabitates or lives with a new partner. However, even if the divorce order is silent on the issue of cohabitation, a long-term romantic relationship, where the couple shares living space and finances, can be the basis for modification or termination of spousal support. That won’t happen automatically, though. The party seeking to change the alimony order must file a motion, and the court will hold a hearing and make a decision.

Contact an Experienced New Jersey Family Law Attorney

At the law office of David M. Lipshutz, we won’t take your case unless we know we can help. For a private meeting, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The Division of Marital Property in New Jersey

The Division of Marital Property in New JerseyIn a divorce proceeding, particularly when there are substantial marital debts and assets, one of the most challenging tasks to be completed is the determination of who receives certain property and how the debt is allocated. There are generally two approaches to the division of marital property—equitable distribution and community property laws. New Jersey follows the legal principle of equitable distribution.

The Factors Used to Distribute Marital Property in New Jersey

Under the concept of equitable distribution, if the parties cannot work out their own agreement regarding debts and assets, the court will establish the terms of the property division. Equitable distribution requires that the court divide assets “fairly,” but not necessarily equally. Among the many factors that the court can consider when allocating debts and assets are:

  • the length of time the parties have been married
  • the age of both parties
  • the physical and emotional health of the parties
  • the standard of living to which the parties were accustomed during the marriage
  • any prenuptial or other written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage 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
  • the contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other
  • the income or property brought to the marriage by each party
  • the contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, 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 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 or children
  • the extent to which a party deferred achieving their career goals
  • any other factors which the court may deem relevant.

Contact Attorney David M. Lipshutz

We will only take your case if we know we can help. For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, between 9 am and 5 pm.

Enforcing a Divorce Judgment in New Jersey

How to Take Steps to Ensure that Your Ex Complies with the Court Order

Enforcing a Divorce Judgment In the aftermath of a divorce proceeding, when the judge has signed your divorce decree, you hope and expect that both parties will honor the terms of the order, so that you can get on with your lives. Unfortunately, though, the relationship challenges that led to the divorce often don’t end just because the marriage has ended. Your former spouse may choose not to comply with court order, failing to pay child support as required or denying you access to your children at times of scheduled visitation. What can you do if your ex violates the terms of the divorce judgment?

File a Motion for Contempt of Court

Under the law, whenever a party to a court order fails to comply with the terms of that order—and a divorce decree is a court order—that’s “contempt of court,” which can result in some pretty serious actions by the court. As a general rule, though, the court won’t know that a court order has been violated unless someone puts the court on notice. Accordingly, if your ex refuses to honor the provisions of the divorce decree and you have tried, unsuccessfully, to get him or her to comply, you will have to put the court on notice. To do that, you must file a motion, asking the court to find your former spouse in contempt.

It is critical, though, before you file your motion, to attempt to resolve the dispute without the intervention of the court. In fact, New Jersey law mandates that you accompany your motion for contempt with a “certification,” stating that you or your legal counsel made a good faith attempt to work out the disagreement.

Your motion must include a list of the specific provisions of the court order that your ex has failed to honor, a request that your ex comply with the requirements of the divorce decree (a copy of the original divorce judgment should be attached), and a request that your ex pay your attorney fees.

Contact Attorney David M. Lipshutz

We will only take your case if we know we can help. For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, between 9 am and 5 pm.

The Legal Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey

Legal-Grounds-for-Divorce

Like all other states, New Jersey allows you to file for a “no-fault” divorce. Under the concept of a no-fault divorce, there’s no need to identify any cause of the marital breakdown, other than to state that there are “irreconcilable differences.” You can, however, file an “at fault” divorce, where the court makes a determination as to who brought about the dissolution of the marriage. Attributing fault can give you an advantage in the divorce proceedings, leading to a more favorable custody ruling or a better marital property settlement.

To obtain an “at fault” divorce in New Jersey, you must state legal grounds for the divorce. In New Jersey, proof of the following may be sufficient to allow the court to grant a divorce for cause:

  • You and your spouse have maintained separate residences for at least 18 months (technically, this is considered “no-fault”)
  • Your spouse forced you to participate in a “deviant sexual act”—unfortunately, the law is not very clear as to what qualifies as “deviant”
  • One spouse had an extra-marital affair
  • Your spouse has left the marital home and has been gone for at least 12 months
  • Your spouse has a substance abuse problem—drugs or alcohol—which has persisted for more than 12 months
  • Your spouse subjected you to a level of physical abuse and/or mental cruelty that made it unbearable to live with him or her. You may also seek an at-fault divorce if your spouse has endangered your life in any way.
  • Your spouse has been institutionalized for a mental health problem for a minimum of 24 months consecutively after you were married and before you filed for divorce
  • Your spouse has been incarcerated or has been sentenced to a term of 18 months or more after the date of your marriage.

Contact Attorney David M. Lipshutz

We will only take your case if we know we can help. For an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, between 9 am and 5 pm.

Allocation of Income Tax Exemptions For Children and Deductions For Real Estate – An Often Overlooked But Important Issue In Divorce and Separation Situations

calculator-385506_640Many people in divorce and separation proceedings simply assume (1) the primary custodial parent of a child receives the child’s income tax exemption and (2) the party living in a house or condo receives that property’s deductions (e.g., real estate taxes, mortgage interest).

Those are the general rules – but parties can negotiate a different result and courts can order a different result, if asked.

When exemptions and deductions are negotiated, they are often evenly divided.  If there are two children each parent takes one, or if there is one child the parties alternate taking the child every other year.  The real estate deductions can be divided similarly.

As your attorney, I can also use the exemptions and deductions to “trade off” for something else that’s important to you.

Contact Our Divorce and Family Law Practice

To set up an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you weekdays between 9 am and 5 pm. We won’t take your case unless we know we can help.

Grandparent Visitation Rights in New Jersey

for-reading-813666_640Grandparent visitation rights are extremely weak in New Jersey.  The courts have generally taken the position that parents have a constitutional right to raise children as they see fit, even if that means cutting off their children from their grandparents.

However, there is a major exception to this rule – if the grandparent can show that the child would suffer harm if deprived of contact with his or her grandparent(s).

Family Law Attorney in New Jersey

How does an attorney prove such “harm”?  Unfortunately, just stating, “Of course any child suffers harm from not seeing a grandparent!” is not enough.  In order to prove harm, a grandparent generally must show that he/she:
(1) has a close relationship with the grandchild;
(2) has spent significant time with the grandchild (actually having lived with the grandchild is extremely helpful); and
(3) has had significant responsibility for the grandchild’s care.

Disputes between grandparents and parents over seeing children are extremely emotional and sad.  However, an attorney experienced in this field can make all the difference in gaining visitation/blocking visitation.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you weekdays between 9 am and 5 pm. We won’t take your case unless we know we can help.

Do I Need An Attorney For My Court Proceeding?

The answer is yes. It’s similar to asking if you need a surgeon for your operation. You really don’t want to operate on yourself, and you really don’t want to represent yourself in court.

The legal system is complicated. No one helps you along the way. People give you advice, and they mean well, but they don’t always know what they’re talking about, and your friend’s divorce results don’t necessarily match yours. All families – parents, their children, their jobs, homes, bank accounts, retirement plans, whatever – are unique. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution in the legal system. The skill is crafting the best solution for your particular situation.

If you don’t handle things right, the consequences can be devastating– custody of a child with the wrong parent, or an unjustified restraining order keeping a person out of his or her home, or being wrongly placed on the State’s registry of domestic violence abusers, or paying too much child support or alimony, or receiving too little child support or alimony. Do NOT just expect “the system” to get  things right– tons of mistakes are made because a case was not presented properly. The legal system is a huge bureaucracy and you won’t get much sympathy from overwhelmed court personnel.

I went to law school for three full years, and then studied for the bar exam for another half year. I’ve been navigating the legal system for 35 years.

I’ve learned a lot along the way. There is no way you’ll handle your case nearly as well as me if you have no legal training. I’ve watched people trying to represent themselves in courtrooms for many years, and I almost always cringe because they have no idea what they’re doing.

There’s nothing wrong with meeting with two or three attorneys to see which one you’re most comfortable with. Attorneys also cost money, and I have no magic answer for that. My practice is also a business, and attorneys, including me, charge for their services. But you do need an attorney for your court proceeding.

Contact Our Office

To set up an appointment, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you weekdays between 9 am and 5 pm. We won’t take your case unless we know we can help.