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Cherry Hill Family Legal Blog

Separation does not always lead to an immediate divorce

When entering into a marriage in New Jersey it is almost always with the thought that it will be a marriage that lasts. While this holds true in many cases, separation and divorce are still a common occurrence in today's society. Depending on the situation, a couple may decide to separate, but they may not plan to divorce right away. There are many reasons for this.

If there are children involved they may decide to co-parent and not see the need to immediately divorce. Some even continue to live under the same roof. There can also be financial reasons for deciding against an immediate divorce.

Help for addiction need not result in loss of child custody

The opioid crisis in this country continues to threaten lives and jeopardize families. Parents seeking help for their opioid addiction are frequently confronted with the prospect of losing custody of their children. In actuality, this can deter a person from seeking help due to the fear of losing his or her child. New Jersey is a state that does not equate drug use with child abuse and so losing child custody is not necessarily a deterrent to seeking help.

When children are taken from their families for their protection, they are placed in the foster care system. In some instances, there is a possible benefit to allowing a child to remain with his or her parent while the parent struggles to gain recovery. The child/parent bond can be very strong and can serve as an incentive to a parent to stay clean and sober. It is known that the best place for a child, as long as the child is safe, is with a parent. Some states are working to allow children to join their parents in recovery as a way to aid the parent's recovery and lessen the chance of relapse.

Economic fairness and child support

Child support can be one of the most difficult hurdles to conquer when a couple decides to divorce in New Jersey. The balance needs to be made between providing for the child's needs but also acknowledging the economic realities of both the custodial and noncustodial parents. In most cases, the noncustodial parent will pay child support to the custodial parent.

Providing child support is viewed as one way of preventing a child in a single parent home from slipping into poverty. In some cases, divorcing parents will try to reach child support agreements on their own or will not include a settlement in the divorce agreement. The U.S. Census shows that the number of agreements in place over the past decade has decreased. The deficit amount between what is owed in existing orders and what had been paid was $13.5 billion in 2015.

Couple loses custody of son after giving him marijuana

A Georgia couple who says they gave their son marijuana to treat his seizures, is fighting to regain custody of him. The state took custody of Matthew and Suzeanna Brill's15-year-old son, David, in April when he tested positive for marijuana. They are charged with reckless conduct and facing jail time.  Increasingly marijuana is being decriminalized.  Despite this trend, however, marijuana is still considered an illegal drug.  Is it ever justfied to give a child an illegal drug to treat a debilitating illness?

Parenting plans can make child custody cases easier

You and your spouse have decided to get a divorce. Although you are ready to move on with your own individual lives, you are concerned about how the divorce will affect the time you have with your children.

The good news is that most parents going through divorce in New Jersey and elsewhere resolve their child custody cases outside of court by creating parenting plans. Here is a glimpse at what these types of agreements entail.

Child custody and alimony in the 21st century

Gender equality is a current buzzword in New Jersey that most people are becoming more and more familiar with. Along with gender equality is the term stay-at-home dad. More and more women are becoming the main breadwinners in the home as it becomes more acceptable for dads to stay home with the children. This can have unintended ramifications in the eventuality that the marriage ends in divorce. More women are paying child support and even alimony.

A recent survey of attorneys by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that 54 percent of the lawyers reported an increase in mothers paying child support and 45 percent reported an increase in women paying alimony. In one instance, the alimony paid to an ex-husband went to supporting his online pornography habit. While the woman in this case protested this use of the alimony payment, the court sided with the ex-husband and said that it was part of his entertainment expenses.

Including future assets in property division

Divorce is a complicated undertaking, particularly where division of property and assets are concerned. What a couple holds jointly at the time of a divorce in New Jersey may be relatively easy to ascertain. However, what about future assets such as pensions that are not yet being collected? Future assets also need to be considered as a part of property division.

When the pension goes into effect, the person designated to receive a share should automatically begin receiving those benefits. This would hold true as long as proper allowances were made for this to occur at the time of the divorce settlement. What if proper allowances were not made for the future pension?

Child custody in post Cleaver era

Fifty years ago, a typical family may have resembled the popular television family, the Cleavers, from "Leave it to Beaver." There was a mom, a dad and a couple of children. Today's idea of a family may look very different but the care and well-being of children is still a primary concern in New Jersey. As such, child custody arrangements should be constructed with the best interest of the child in mind.

Another aspect of family life that has changed from 50 years ago is the likelihood of divorce and also the number of couples living together, having children but not marrying. Couples who live together and have children without marrying are also likely to separate while the children are still young. In both cases, the stability of a child's life can be drastically changed.

How a court will rule on a relocation case

When parents end a relationship with someone they have a child with (whether it is a divorce or romantic break-up), moving away to start a new life is a common occurrence. For the parent that is potentially being left behind, this can lead to a bevy of hard feelings. After all, having a child taken from a parent’s life can be emotionally devastating. Not to mention that a parent’s legal rights may be violated as well.

Because of this possibility, New Jersey law requires a custodial parent to seek the court’s permission before moving with the child to another jurisdiction. Family court judges have an interest in preserving relationships between non-custodial parents and their children.

This is not your father's custody plan

When you were a child, you may have had school friends whose divorced parents struggled with strained and inequitable custody orders. Your friends may have had only weekends or summers with their fathers or struggled to keep themselves organized between two different households. Maybe you were one of those children.

Fortunately, family advocates and the courts are seeing more clearly how important it is for parents to share the duties and blessings of raising their children, providing as much stability as possible for their families following a divorce. Because of this positive shift, more creative versions of child custody are available to families who are willing to try.

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