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West Caldwell Family Law Blog

Child custody: Understand various types before heading to court

A decision to divorce typically prompts many family life changes. Child custody issues often are a central focus of New Jersey divorce proceedings. There are numerous types of custody, and the more a parent understands the legal implications of each type, the easier it will be for him or her to navigate the family justice system.

Most people are familiar with physical custody. This basically refers to where children will live, and more specifically, with whom they will live after a divorce is finalized. When one parent is granted full-time custody, the other parent is usually assigned a visitation schedule. In certain circumstances, such visitation might be supervised or restricted in some way.

Divorce: Ex-wife of millionaire wants spousal support to end

When a New Jersey couple decides to end their marriage, it is not uncommon for financial issues to be a central focus of proceedings. In many cases, the court orders child or spousal support in divorce -- sometimes, both. A woman who has been paying spousal support to her ex-husband thinks his recent cash windfall is reason to end her court-ordered payments.

The woman says she was always the primary breadwinner in her marriage. She went to work while her husband stayed home to take care of their dog. When they divorced, the judge ordered her to pay spousal support for five years.

Divorce: How to protect assets re business partner's breakup

Many businesses operate under partnerships. If one of the partners is getting a divorce, it can negatively impact the other partner's business assets. Especially in equitable distribution states like New Jersey, where property is not always divided 50/50, it is critical that the non-divorcing business partner takes steps to protect his or her rights.

One way to avoid problems is to require partners who will be getting married to sign prenuptial agreements ahead of time to maintain the business as a separately owned property. This requirement can be incorporated into the bylaws of a company. If that step was not taken during business formation, then perhaps postnuptial agreements for partners who are already married may still be an option. Buyout insurance, as well, often enables a nondivorcing business partner to buy out the interests of the divorcing partner.

Child custody: What prompts a judge to rule a parent unfit?

If a New Jersey parent petitions the court for sole custody of his or her children, the judge overseeing the case is going to ask what types of issues have prompted the request. In most child custody cases, the court believes children are better off parents agree to shared custody plans. If one or the other seeks sole legal or physical custody, he or she must show the court evidence that it is in the children's best interest to do so.

Relationships between divorced parents can be quite combative. One parent's assertion that the other parent is unfit does not necessarily mean the situation will meet the legal definition of the term. A parent who has an alcohol or drug problem may be someone the court would deem unfit for custody, depending on the circumstances. 

Shared parenting time in divorce: How to avoid problems

The New Jersey court typically believes it is best for children to continue to have active, healthy relationships with both parents after divorce. It's tough on kids to get used to their parents living in separate households, however. If shared parenting time is possible, it is often the best option to help children cope and retain a sense of normalcy in their daily lives.

Parents who agree to shared custody plans will want to present themselves as team players for their kids' sake. One of the easiest ways to do this is to abstain from speaking negatively about each other. Children tend to internalize negative comments. Think about it: What happens if a child is told he or she is so much like his or her parent, then the other parent says awful things about that person. The child may think his mother or father feels the same way about him or her.

Amazon shares at stake in Jeff Bezos divorce

There are currently business owners in New Jersey who are preparing to navigate the family justice system. Many have filed for divorce and are in need of guidance and legal support regarding financial, business ownership and property division issues. In addition to these topics, many business owners are also parents who must negotiate a settlement regarding child support and custody of their children.

Jeff Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon.com. He is reportedly the wealthiest man in the world. He is currently said to own 16 percent of the shares in his company; he also happens to live in a state that operates under community property laws in divorce, which means marital assets are typically split 50/50. He and his wife have four children together, so custody and visitation will likely be a main concern in their negotiations.

When New Jersey parents disagree about child custody

New Jersey parents who divorce typically face numerous issues regarding future co-parenting plans. In a perfect world, all parents would be willing to cooperate and compromise for their children's sake, making it easy to devise plans in an amicable fashion. In reality, that may not be possible if parents disagree about what is best for their kids. In fact, such disagreements often lead litigation, where parents seek the court's intervention to make child custody decisions.

Most judges believe shared custody is best when it comes to helping children transition from living with both parents to adapting to a post-divorce lifestyle. There are certain circumstances under which a judge may determine that such an arrangement would be a detriment to the children involved. For instance, if one parent shows the court evidence that the other parent has a substance abuse problem, the judge overseeing the case may be prompted to order supervised visitation or to prohibit the parent in question from seeing his or her children unless and until he or she seeks rehabilitation for his or her addiction.

Important parenting issues to address in mediation

Mediation is an ideal form of alternative dispute resolution for couples with children. It gives you more control over the outcome and helps you work out compromises to the most pressing issues facing your family.

Even during your marriage, you and your ex probably had trouble agreeing on aspects of your job as parents. Whether one of you had a more lenient attitude than the other or you come from different cultural backgrounds, those discrepancies in parenting attitudes can become much more glaring and problematic after a divorce. Even couples with very different approaches to rearing children can find a way to make things work while everyone lives together.

Divorce is becoming increasingly common among older couples

Since the 1990s, an increasing number of married couples in New Jersey and across the country have decided to end their spousal relationships. There are numerous factors cited as reasons for divorce among spouses age 50 and beyond. Such situations often include financial implications and other complex issues that younger spouses do not necessarily experience when they decide to divorce.

Many older spouses say they spent decades being caught up in the day-to-day business of their lives, especially with regard to raising children. Once children are grown and move out on their own, parents may suddenly realize they have nothing left in common with each other. The empty nest syndrome often prompts divorce when spouses determine they are no longer compatible and merely stayed married because they had children at home.

An attorney can help protect you from mediation mistakes

Divorcing couples, particularly in New Jersey, are increasingly aware that mediation is a viable alternative to a contentious, litigated divorce. Mediation involves both parties sitting down with a neutral third-party mediator and their own individual attorneys to set the terms for their divorce.

Once both parties have agreed on terms, they can then file an uncontested divorce in the New Jersey courts. However, as with any skilled service, mediation is often only as valuable as the professionals that divorcing couples work with during the divorce. Mistakes in paperwork, inadequate counsel and other issues can impact the viability of your mediation agreement.

  • Best Readers Choice Awards Of Essex | 2018
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  • 10 Best 2016 | Client Satisfaction | 10 Best Female Attorney
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Melissa Cipriano: Honored as a "Best of New Jersey Among our Most Distinguished Americans of Italian Descent" and conferred the "Stivale D'Italia Award of Excellence" by the Italian Tribune for her "honesty, integrity and dedication to fair and ethical business practices" and her "outstanding reputation as a Woman Whose Word is Her Bond".

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