By: Brian Kincaid and James E. Shepard
There are many issues commonly confronted by people in family law disputes that our attorneys at Fein Such confront in divorce and family law cases. With these common issues come many misconceptions as to where the Courts of the State of New Jersey stand on various problems that a person may confront during their divorce or family law case. These various misconceptions may seem harmless upon first glance, but if you approach your New Jersey family law situation believing the myths you hear from friends, family, and colleagues, you are in for a rude awakening. A divorce or a family law problem is never easy. However, if you are armed with the right information, your ordeal can be made easier. At Fein, Such, Kahn & Shepard, P.C. our New Jersey divorce and family law attorneys stand ready to provide representation on all issues that you may confront in your family law case.
1. RELOCATION OF A CHILD FROM THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
We live in an age where relocation due to career opportunities, from state to state, is common. In addition to employment opportunities and job relocation requirements, it is common for a person to have extended family members who are spread out, from state to state. Such situations present many difficulties for a parent with custody of a child seeking to move with a child from the State of New Jersey for employment opportunities or to be with family.
In August 2017 the New Jersey Supreme Court changed the standard to relocate a child from the State of New Jersey. The Court’s primary consideration is now whether the relocation is in “the best interest of the child”. Now, regardless of the residential arrangement and the amount of parenting time the non-custodial parent has with the child, New Jersey Courts when confronted with a child’s proposed relocation out of state, will treat both parents as though they share joint equal custody of the child and the entire existing custody arrangement will be up for review by the Court. The parent wishing to move with the child must now demonstrate the move is “in the best interest of the child”. Accordingly, the New Jersey Supreme Court’s recent ruling raises the bar for a primary custodial parent to leave the State of New Jersey with a child. Absent consent of the non-moving parent, the Court now must conduct an analysis as to whether the move is in the best interest of the child and the court will reconsider the entire custody arrangement again.
2. YOU NEED NOT BE SEPARATED FOR EIGHTEEN (18) MONTHS TO FILE A COMPLAINT FOR DIVORCE IN NEW JERSEY
There is a misconception that a person must be separated from their spouse for a period of eighteen months prior to filing a complaint for divorce in New Jersey. This is untrue. An eighteen month separation is but one of the many causes of action for divorce that the New Jersey State Legislature has adopted. You need not be separated for eighteen months in order to file a Complaint for Divorce under grounds of “extremely cruelty”, “irreconcilable differences” and “adultery” do not require an eighteen month separation. The most common grounds for divorce utilized in New Jersey is “irreconcilable differences” which had to have existed for at least six months prior to the filing of the complaint for divorce. “Irreconcilable Differences” can be defined as just about any dispute or disagreement that a married couple may have.
3. EVEN IF PARENTS SHARE EQUAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR A CHILD, PAYMENT FOR CHILD SUPPORT MAY STILL BE REQUIRED
Often, parenting arrangements are made in which a child spends exactly an equal amount
of time with each parent. Such an arrangement, however, does not preclude a parent from being responsible for payment of child support to the other parent if their incomes differ. New Jersey child support is determined by “Child Support Guidelines” set by the New Jersey Supreme Court. Should one parent have a significantly higher income than the other, the child support guidelines may require that parent to pay the other parent child support even though the child spends an equal amount of time with each parent. There are a number of factors to consider when computing child support under the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines and an attorney should be consulted to ensure that an accurate analysis be conducted as to responsibility for child support.
4. NEW JERSEY COURTS DO NOT RECOGNIZE “LEGAL SEPARATION”
The term “legal separation” is utilized in many states, in New York State in particular. However, New Jersey courts do not recognize “legal separation” and a New Jersey attorney cannot file a complaint for “legal separation” in the Courts of the State of New Jersey. If a couple is separated and have not filed a complaint for divorce, it is possible to file an action in the Courts for child support if one parent is not supporting their children. New Jersey recognizes a limited divorce “for bed and board” where couples divide all their property and settle all aspects of their case but are not legally divorced. Typically, this type of limited divorce has been done for health insurance purposes. However, many health insurance carriers are now treating a judgment for divorce for “bed and board” the same as a “Final Judgment of Divorce” and terminating health insurance coverage upon entry of a judgment of divorce for bed and board.
5. SUPPORT FOR THE CHILD OVER THE AGE OF EIGHTEEN, COLLEGE, AND EMANCIPATION
In New Jersey support neither necessarily nor automatically terminates for a child when the child has reached the age of eighteen. The Courts of New Jersey have traditionally required parents to contribute to the college education of their children. While New Jersey state law generally provides for the emancipation of a child who has reached the age of eighteen that emancipation is a rebuttable presumption if the child is attending college or has special needs. Accordingly, child support does not necessarily stop when a child has reached the age of eighteen or has graduated from high school in New Jersey. New Jersey courts look at a number of different reasons why a child should or should not be emancipated and a number of factors in determining a parent’s responsibility for payment of college. Accordingly, a consultation with an attorney when faced with such issues is absolutely critical.
CONTACT AND SPEAK WITH A NEW JERSEY FAMILY LAW LAWYER
There are countless misconceptions surrounding New Jersey family and divorce law which may set you up for a major disappointment. It is important that you do not file for divorce with unrealistic expectations and that you know your rights under New Jersey family law. Consult with the New Jersey family law attorneys at Fein, Such, Kahn & Shepard, P.C. Call to schedule your consultation.
For more information please contact via email James E. Shepard or by phone at 973-538-4700 ext. 120.
Fein, Such, Kahn & Shepard, P.C. is general practice law firm of more than 50+ attorneys serving clients in New Jersey and New York. For over 25 years the firm has offered innovative solutions to businesses and individuals in the areas of asset protection business planning, civil litigation, creditor representation in the areas of foreclosure, bankruptcy and collections, elder law, family law, personal injury, tax, and trusts and estates. For more information, go to http://www.feinsuch.com
This Article does not constitute legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship.
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