Articles Tagged with divorce

The New Jersey family courts make it very simple for a wife to resume her maiden name at the conclusion of her divorce case. In order to take advantage of the opportunity for a name change the wife should make the name change request in her complaint or counterclaim for divorce. Once she makes the request in her initial pleading the wife does not have to address the name change issue again until the day that the final divorce is entered.

On the day of the divorce the court will require the name that the wife is intending to resume, her social security number (last 4 digits), and her date of birth. Either the court or the wife’s attorney will ask the wife a series of questions related to the reasons why she is requesting the name change. The questions are generally along the following lines:

1. Do you have any civil judgments or pending civil judgments against you in your married name?

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The Purpose of the Divorce Complaint

The divorce complaint is the initial document filed and served in the divorce process. It is filed with the court and then served on your spouse. The primary purpose of the complaint is to let the defendant (your spouse) and the court know why you want the divorce, i.e., what grounds or basis you have for the divorce.

Traditionally there were 9 bases for filing for divorce in New Jersey:

1.         Adultery

2.         Willful and Continued Desertion for 12 or more months

3.         Extreme Cruelty

4.         18 Months Separation

5.         Desertion

6.         Voluntarily induced addiction or habituation to any narcotic drug as defined in the New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act. or habitual drunkenness for a period of 12 or more consecutive months Continue reading →

A divorce or separation rarely starts off in a clean, orderly fashion. Once the relationship begins to deteriorate there is often a messy period where the parties rights and options are sorted out. Who stays and who goes, and on what timeline? Who pays for what expenses? Who keeps what? These are the basic questions that have to be answered.

The law in this area is straightforward. The parties are supposed to maintain the financial status quo as their case progresses and they attempt to settle their issues.

Housing-Related Expenses

One of the biggest questions to be resolved is how are the housing expenses shared during the break up. Generally speaking, if you were contributing 25% of the mortgage or rent expense on a monthly basis before the separation or divorce began, you will be responsible to continue to contribute 25% during the separation or divorce process. Unless the parties agree, one party cannot move out and say to the other party, “I’ve got my own rent and utilities now, so you’re on your own to figure out how you pay your housing expenses.” Even though you are in the middle of a break up, housing expenses have to be paid as they were before the break up. Practically speaking this is a tough position to be in for the person moving out of the home.

For example, let’s say husband moves out of the house during the divorce and does not return. When he goes out and tries to rent an apartment he has to come up with the security deposit, first month’s rent, and broker fee. Then he has moving expenses. Assuming that he settles into an apartment he has rent, utilities, and all of his other individual bills to pay. However, according to the law he still has to contribute his portion to the housing expenses at the home where wife is residing. Unless his cash flow situation is very favorable he will be stretched to the financial breaking point as he is paying a housing expense at two separate residences. Unfortunately for him the courts generally hold him responsible to contribute to his marital expenses ahead of his own personal living expenses. Continue reading →

The overwhelming majority of New Jersey divorce cases end up settling on or before the trial date assigned by the Court. There is no set date for settlement. Some couples work out their issues very early on (before they even file divorce papers). Other couples spend a year (or more in some counties) battling in court before they settle their issues. A tiny minority of couples actually begin a trial of their cases, and a smaller minority try their cases to conclusion – at which time the Judge decides the unresolved issues in the case.

An Interspousal Child Custody, Child Support, and Marital Settlement Agreement, commonly referred to as an MSA or Property Settlement Agreement (PSA) is a written agreement that covers all of the issues that should be dealt with in a divorce. The language of the Agreement is crucial as the words used define the parties’ rights moving forward after the divorce. The New Jersey courts allow the parties to a divorce to fashion their own written settlement agreement, and if both parties sign it, the court will literally attach it to the Judgment of Divorce so that the agreement becomes part of the Judgment of Divorce. In future blog posts I will discuss the individual sections of a standard MSA in detail.

The Court’s Involvement When There Are No Children

If there are no children, the courts will not do an in-depth review of the details of the agreement. However, if there is a waiver of alimony the court will question whether the person waiving alimony understands that the waiver is final, and whether the person waiving can maintain a lifestyle comparable to the marital lifestyle post-divorce without alimony. The court’s focus will be on getting testimony from the parties that

  • Both parties think that the agreement is fair and reasonable.
  •  Both parties feel that the Marital Settlement Agreement was voluntarily executed by both parties, without threats or any form of coercion being exerted on either party.

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