Family Law


The End of a marriage
Divorce, Custody, Alimony & Support, Property Distribution

Marriage is a private contract that evolves into a status between parties. If the marital relationship deteriorates to the point where the partiesí differences cannot be reconciled through mediation or marriage counseling, one or both of the parties may seek to have the marriage dissolved through a divorce proceeding.

A few of the grounds upon which a divorce may be granted under New Jersey law are: (a) separation for a period of at least 18 consecutive months with no prospect of reconciliation, (b) conduct by one party which makes it improper or unreasonable to expect the other party to continue to cohabit with that party, (c) willful and continued physical or sexual desertion for 12 or more months, and (d) adultery.

Custody Of The Children

Custody should be thought of as a two-part concept. The first is setting the responsibilities of the parents. Often called ìlegal custodyî it usually takes one of two forms ó joint legal custody or sole legal custody. Joint legal custody requires both parents to confer and agree upon major decisions concerning the childís health, education, welfare, and safety. Sole legal custody confers upon one parent that decision making process without any input from the other parent.

The second concept of custody is physical custody of the child. In many instances, one parent usually receives the primary residential custody of the child. The important understanding is that neither parent is automatically entitled to custody of any child.

New Jersey statutory law provides criteria which the Court must consider in awarding the legal and physical custody of a child. The Court is required at all times to consider what is in the best interests of the child. If there is a genuine dispute as to the custody of a child or children, it is essential to have experienced counsel represent your interest in obtaining or retaining physical custody of your child or children.

Alimony And/Or Child Support

In all divorce actions, the Court may award rehabilitative or permanent alimony, or both, to either party. A few of the factors the Courts must consider when determining an award of alimony is: (a) the actual need and ability of the parties to pay, (b) the duration of the marriage, (c) the age, physical and emotional health of the parties, (d) the standard of living established during the marriage, and (e) the earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties. Both parents must contribute to the support of their children. New Jersey has established guidelines for determining the amount of child support. The Court may modify the guidelines or disregard them only when good cause is shown.

Property Distribution

Marital property is to be divided fairly in New Jersey ó the term in law is ìequitable distribution.î All property is not marital property. What is included for equitable distribution, how much it is worth, and how it is to be distributed are three questions that require a great deal of consideration. Talk to us about these issues if they affect you or those close to you.

Costs of Divorce

Cost is a question of major concern that is difficult to answer. A fixed fee cannot be quoted, except in the most simple case, due to the many factors that come into play during the divorce process. A verbal ìagreementî before speaking with counsel is not binding. Sometimes you find that your spouseís counsel has advised him or her against settling on such terms. On the other hand, after consultation with your lawyer, you may be advised that a proposed agreement is not in your best interests. Fees are often based on time involved. Time is effected by what is at stake, the attitude of the other party and the outlook and experience of the lawyer representing that party, as well as the reasonableness of both parties. In a complex case experts in the account-ing or other fields may need to be hired. If a genuine dispute as to child custody arises, the legal fees and other costs, such as the hiring of social investigators or psychiatrists to evaluate the parties and the children, will increase considerably the costs of the divorce action.

Conclusion

These are just a few of the issues involved in a divorce action. Some are simple while others are more complex. But all are too important for you not to obtain the legal advice necessary to protect your interests.

We invite you to contact Roth Law Offices for a confidential consultation to discuss the particulars of your situation.