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Cherry Hill Family Legal Blog

Divorce and children's feelings

People in New Jersey get married, start a family and plan to live happily ever after. Sadly, in about 50% of cases this may not happen. At some point divorce may enter the picture and cause major disruption and anguish within the family. This is particularly true when young children are involved.

Children are very perceptive beings where their parents are concerned. A family is a unit and has a cultural rhythm all its own. Children can pick up on interruptions or changes to that culture that can be brought on by an impending divorce. They may suffer distress without understanding where it's coming from. Such distress may result in stomach aches or unexplained crying jags.

Should parents who stay home get more during divorce?

While small pockets of individuals may disagree, the consensus in New Jersey and across the United States is that the contributions of a mother have great value. The work of a mother does not bring extra income to a family, which is why the decision for the woman to stay home with the children is often a difficult one that takes planning and sacrifice. However, no matter how much value society places on motherhood, when parents divorce, it may not be easy for a mom who leaves the workforce to obtain a fair share of marital assets.

Over 25% of U.S. mothers opt to stay home -- compared to 7% of men -- including nearly 10% of all women with advanced degrees. When a mom leaves the workforce to raise children, she may also quietly contribute to her spouse's ability to advance his career. However, a recent survey showed that men tend to believe divorcing fathers who work are entitled to a larger portion during asset division than their stay-at-home spouses.

Designing a parenting plan to help your family thrive

Despite your divorce, you and your future former spouse remain parents forever. As such, you may want to make sure that you do everything in your power to help your family thrive in the future.

The first step for many New Jersey families is creating a good parenting plan. What you include in it could create a foundation for the future you envision for your children and your family.

Financial implications of divorce can be complex

The outcome of a marriage breaking up has an impact on every aspect of one's life in New Jersey. The largest impact may be a financial one. There are steps that can be taken to prepare for the financial effects of a divorce. The more one plans for life after divorce the better prepared one may be to handle any surprises that may arise.

One step that a person can take is to do some long-term planning. What are one's goals for life following divorce? Is a career change part of the picture? That can be a scary undertaking, but approaching it with a plan and a definite goal in mind can ease the process. Consider the financial implications of going back to school or other required training as this can become a consideration in the divorce settlement.

Relocation with children after divorce can be complex

Divorce itself can be difficult and complicated, and this is typically made more so when children are involved. Parents may work out custody agreements independent of the court, but if they cannot decide the court will step in. and make the decision for them. Once a custody agreement is established in New Jersey that is not necessarily the last word. While one parent may have primary or even full custody, there are implications if that parent needs or wishes to relocate. Potential issues with relocation are not necessarily limited to a move out of state.

A move out of town or out of state that will significantly impact the current custody arrangements will most likely require the agreement of the noncustodial parent and the court and should be settled well ahead of any planned move. If a parent desires to relocate for a job, it may be a good idea to settle any issues regarding a custody order before any final plans are made. Otherwise, the other parent or the court could potentially throw a wrench in one's plans.

Divorce, property division and retirement

Divorce rates have been on the decline for most age groups in New Jersey and elsewhere around the country with the exception of one group, those over 50 years old. Among older Americans divorce has actually seen an increase. Of course, it comes with property division issues at any age, but these concerns can be particularly tricky for older Americans.

Retirement planning is one area of concern. There are several different kinds of accounts that can be used for retirement, and it is important to understand the options when considering divorce. An IRA account is in only one name but is still typically considered marital property. Pensions and other retirement and investment accounts are also generally considered marital property. In addition, Social Security payments can also be impacted depending on how long one was married and whether or not one's spouse worked during the marriage.

When aggressive litigation is the answer to your divorce problems

You perhaps didn't expect to be among those in New Jersey who are filing for divorce this year. Maybe you were hoping that you and your spouse would be able to work things out. If you're reading this blog, it's likely because you've either already filed for divorce, are considering doing so, or your spouse has informed you that it's what he or she wants. Divorce is emotionally challenging for most people, especially those who have children.

It's also often particularly upsetting for spouses who have been married a long time. Whether your relationship withered over time or a specific event occurred that you determined was irreparable, your highest priority right now is to achieve a settlement that protects your assets and your children's best interests. If you suspect that your spouse isn't going to play fair in court, you'll want to know how to aggressively litigate any issue that places your assets or family well-being at risk.

Credit card points may count as an asset in divorce

Dividing property and assets in a divorce can be a difficult process. Typically, one thinks of insurance policies, retirement accounts, investment portfolios and real estate as property to be divided up in the divorce proceedings. One asset people may forget about in New Jersey is all of those accumulated credit card points.

Credit card points have value and can therefore be considered marital property. How the points are valued or divided up can vary. If a person had a credit card before getting married and can show that the points accumulated were accumulated by only one person, those points may not need to be included as marital property. If they need to have a value assigned to them, one may wish to base the value on that for which they are redeemable. A card that accepts 25,000 points for $250 worth of merchandise would mean that each point is worth one penny.

Prison is possible if one fails to pay child support

There was a time when debtor's prison was a fairly common term. If a person failed to pay his or her debts in New Jersey, he or she would likely have been sentenced to spend time in debtor's prison. Being jailed for failure to pay is a less common occurrence in today's world. But repeated failure to pay child support has landed a person in jail in another state.

A man recently admitted to a probation violation involving failure to pay child support. He had been convicted of first-degree non child support last fall. As part of his probation, he had been mandated to pay a minimum amount of support. Failure to comply resulted in a sentence of one to three years in prison.

Positive communication can help in child custody decisions

Divorce where children are involved can be an ugly process in New Jersey. Alternatively, a divorce involving children can be carried out in an atmosphere of cooperation and open communication that focuses on the importance of maintaining a semblance of family structure following a divorce. Regardless of how parents feel about each other, they typically share concern for the well-being of their children. How well children fair in a divorce depends largely on the structure of child custody and the continued relationship between the children and both parents.

Contentious child custody battles seldom have positive outcomes for anyone, particularly children. If one parent gets sole or primary custody, the relationship with the other parent will almost inevitably suffer. Some of the negative consequences of this situation are an increase in the likelihood of the child to experiment with drugs or alcohol or to get in trouble with the law.

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