Our New Jersey Divorce Lawyers Are Here for You
Our Bergen County Divorce Lawyers Can Help with All Divorce Issues
Divorce is one of life’s most stressful, emotionally draining experiences, involving major decisions about assets and debts, determining who will stay in the family home and, most important, arranging for child custody, visitation and support. The divorce lawyers at Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC can deal with all legal hurdles and provide guidance to prevent mistakes that will affect your future and that of your family for years. We will be at your side and fight for your rights throughout the entire divorce process.
Our family law attorneys handle every aspect of divorce, including:
- Divorce proceedings
- Divorce mediation
- Prenuptial agreements and mid-marriage (postnuptial) agreements
- Child custody
- Visitation and parenting time
- Child support
- Alimony and spousal support
- Cohabitation agreements
- Equitable distribution of the marital estate
- Domestic violence
- Parents’ and grandparents’ rights
- Child abduction (United States and international)
- Restraining orders/Qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs)
- Child abuse matters (DCPP, formerly known as DYFS)
- Removal/relocation of parent and child
Our Bergen County and New Jersey divorce attorneys take the time to listen to your concerns before suggesting an approach to navigate the New Jersey divorce process. Our goal is to resolve all of the issues you and your spouse cannot agree upon in a way that that allows you to move forward with your life. We advocate for men’s legal rights and strive to anticipate and settle the details of your divorce in a way that reduces stress during the process and lessens the likelihood of contention after the divorce is finalized. We also handle complex and high net-worth divorce cases. You can rest assured that we offer sound legal advice and are your trusted advisors to help guide you through from start to finish.
We offer an initial consultation to discuss the circumstances of your individual situation and determine the best way to proceed. If you are thinking of starting a divorce or have been served with divorce papers, call us today at 201-880-9770.
Our Divorce Lawyer Explains Relevant New Jersey Divorce Laws
New Jersey has complicated laws that govern divorce, and the outcome will affect you and your family for years, so this is something you should not attempt to go through on your own. Our divorce lawyers can help you understand the issues and what they will mean for you and your family. We do everything we can to get you the best outcome possible.
Some of the issues you should know is whether a divorce is contested, the grounds for getting a divorce, and whether showing fault is necessary. If you have questions about how these laws may apply to your divorce, talk to our Bergen County divorce lawyers.
Will Your Divorce Be a Contested or an Uncontested Divorce?
Divorces can be either contested or uncontested in the State of New Jersey. If you can resolve all of the issues with your spouse — such as the division of assets, child custody, visitation and support obligations — it is considered an uncontested divorce.
However, seemingly uncontested divorces often turn into contested ones. Even if you reached a settlement agreement by negotiating directly with your spouse, we urge you to consult our divorce lawyers in Bergen County to review the proposed agreement and ensure that your rights are one hundred percent protected. We can also help if you and your spouse have an idea of what you want to agree on but need some help expressing and communicating those requests. We can help you through the negotiation process and provide the advice you need to ensure fair results.
If the divorce remains contested, that means you cannot work out an agreement you’re your spouse as to things like child custody, visitation rights, child support, spousal support, or dividing assets and debts. You should seriously think about obtaining legal representation to make sure all of your rights are protected and that you are not giving up too much or taking too little; or vice versa. At Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC, we help settle many divorce issues outside of court, but we are also experienced trial attorneys ready to go and fully prepared to fight for you and your children in court if need be.
If You Have Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey, Call Our Divorce Lawyers
According to New Jersey law, you can file for divorce based on fault or no fault. Most couples choose to file a “no-fault divorce” by citing irreconcilable differences. This is helpful for several reasons, including avoiding having to prove the other spouse did anything wrong and not having to air out your dirty laundry in public. It removes blame from the situation and can make the legal process move along a little faster and be less emotionally charged.
In rare cases, after speaking with an experienced divorce attorney, you may choose to file for divorce based on a specific type of fault allowed by law. NJ Rev Stat § 2A:34-2 allows you to file for divorce on the grounds of:
- Extreme cruelty
- Drug or alcohol addiction
- Institutionalization for mental illness
- Deviant sexual conduct
- Separation lasting over 18 months
If you choose one of the above reasons to file for divorce, you should be forewarned that it could make the divorce more emotionally contentious. That said, there may be very good strategic or legal reasons to do so, which you should speak with your attorney about more. In some situations, especially if you are looking to get full legal or residential custody of your children, you may want to consider this avenue. Our Hackensack divorce lawyers can review the facts of your particular situation and help decide what options are best for you.
New Jersey also has residency requirements for filing for divorce. To file for grounds other than adultery, either party must be a resident of New Jersey for at least one year prior to commencement of the action. If the grounds are adultery, the residency requirement is a minimum of six months.
How Will the Property You Acquired During Your Marriage Be Divided in a Divorce?
New Jersey is an equitable distribution state. This means the court may award assets and divide debt, in addition to alimony or maintenance, in an equitable manner. Dividing assets equitably does not mean that these things are automatically split 50-50, but instead in a manner that is fair and in alignment with New Jersey law.
Property which was acquired during the marriage by either party through gift or inheritance specifically to one spouse and not the other generally belongs to the receiving spouse and is not part of equitable distribution. Of course, there are several exceptions to this rule, so you should speak with us about that before taking any legal position.
In determining equitable distribution of property, according to N.J.S.A. 2A: 34-23.1 , the court considers the following factors:
- The duration of the marriage or civil union
- The age and physical and emotional health of the parties
- The income or property brought to the marriage or civil union by each party
- The standard of living established during the marriage or civil union
- Any written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage or civil union concerning an arrangement of property distribution
- The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property becomes effective
- The income and earning capacity of each party, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children, and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage or civil union
- The contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other
- The contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property or the property acquired during the civil union, as well as the contribution of a party as a homemaker
- The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party
- The present value of the property
- The need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence or residence shared by the partners in a civil union couple and to use or own the household effects
- The debts and liabilities of the parties
- The need for creation, now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse, partner in a civil union couple or children
- The extent to which a party deferred achieving their career goals
- Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.
At Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC, our Hackensack divorce attorneys will help you tackle issues like how to handle the family home, credit card debt, student loan debt, retirement accounts, investment accounts, art, vehicles, and other types of assets and debts. We can also help you navigate complicated issues like inherited property, family businesses, suspected hidden assets or purposeful dissipation of marital assets by one spouse.
Determining Child Custody, Visitation, and Support in Your Divorce
If you have children, issues that affect their well-being are of primary importance. In New Jersey, the general policy of the law is to assure children frequent and continuing contact with both parents, especially during a separation or divorce. Parents are encouraged to share the rights and responsibilities of child rearing and to protect the best interests of the child.
The law views the custody rights of both parents as equal, regardless of gender.
There are two main aspects of custody:
- Physical or Residential Custody: The parent with whom the child will spend a majority of their time; and
- Legal Custody: the parent responsible for major decision-making on behalf of the children—a major decision includes the health, education, and general welfare of the children.
Just a few examples of arrangements for custody and visitation include:
- Joint legal custody and joint residential custody- This means that both parents will have equal input and decision-making authority on major decisions affecting the children. It also means that a parenting time or visitation schedule will be established for both parents to see the children based upon the best interest of the children.
- Joint legal custody and one parent being designated the primary parent- this means joint decision making, but the children spend more time out of the year with one parent than the other.
- Sole Legal and sole residential custody- this means that only one parent has the sole authority to make major decisions on behalf of the children and the children reside with that parent 100% of the time throughout the year— in these circumstances, the other parent has very minimal to no visitation with the children.
Parenting Time (Visitation)
If you and your spouse are unable to come up with a parenting plan, then you should definitely seek the help of an attorney to understand your rights and have the attorney help you negotiation. You can also take the impasse to the court. Ultimately, a judge may have to decide the arrangement in accordance with the best interest of the child, not necessarily what either you or the other parent ideally want. Taking these kinds of issues to a Judge is risky so make sure you understand all the pro’s and con’s before you rush to have a Judge decide the issues.
The children’s wishes may also be considered under very limited circumstances and upon a request by one party to the court; this comes with it a lot of procedural requirements that must be met before a judge will speak with a child.
Grandparents may seek visitation rights independently of the parent(s), but there are very specific requirements that also must be met to even have a chance at success. Oftentimes, the grandparents get to visit with the children during one parent’s time, simultaneously with that parent.
Generally, child support is calculated using the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines and the Worksheet that is included. To explain it simply, the Worksheet is like an algorithm. An essential thing to understand about using the New Jersey Child Support Guideline Worksheet is that it is very important to fill it in with the accurate information. Calculating child support based upon inaccurate information or guessing certain figures could cause a significant overpayment or underpayment, as the case may be. One main area in which we see errors is the listed incomes of the parents and the visitation schedule, as well as exclusion of a credit if there are children from a different relationship. The support amount should be based on the income (actual income or imputed income) of the parents, as well as the overnight (or 12-hour consecutive shift) visitation arrangement, among other variables such as health insurance costs for the children, daycare (as appropriate), and union dues.
However, if the parents’ combined incomes are over a certain level (a joint net income of $187,200), then the New Jersey Child Support Guideline Worksheet cannot be used , and the analysis is a bit more complicated. In these circumstances, a New Jersey court will look to the statutory factors to determine the child support payments and will calculate additional payments based on the reasonable needs of the children. . This, after the parents have to submit a comprehensive budget for the children showing what their “needs” are. The Court will then determine the appropriate amount.
One thing to bear in mind is that your child turns nineteen (19) and you currently have child support being paid through the Child Support Probation Department, the Probation Department will automatically stop taking child support payments unless the parent receiving the child support files a request or application (along with whatever proof) to have the child support obligation continue . Of course, the other parent may oppose this request in due course. We have helped many clients continue or stop child support depending on the situation.
The child support guidelines are complicated and can be found in Appendix IX-A of the New Jersey Court Rules. Our Hackensack divorce attorneys can help you decipher how they apply to you and help you navigate the child support laws.
Our Bergen County Divorce Lawyers Explain How Alimony and Spousal Maintenance Are Determined
After considering many factors, a New Jersey court may award one or more of the following types of alimony: Limited Duration Alimony (LDA), Open Durational Alimony, Rehabilitative Alimony, or Reimbursement Alimony to either party.
The length of term in which alimony is awarded relates to the length of the marriage. Under New Jersey alimony reform law, in marriages lasting less than 20 years, the maximum duration alimony can be ordered is the length of the marriage. . In marriages 20 years or more, alimony can be considered open-durational, without a fixed end point but for some other triggering events like retirement of the obligor, or cohabitation or remarriage of the supported spouse.
Rehabilitative alimony is generally awarded so that the recipient is able to pay for training and associated living costs for entry or re-entry into the job market or to advance to a higher-paying position. Reimbursement alimony may be awarded when one party supported the other through an advanced education, in anticipation of that spouse eventually receiving a increased earnings to which the marriage would enjoy.
Limited Duration Alimony (the most common) is generally set at a certain dollar figure for a fixed number of years.
The Hackensack divorce attorneys at Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC will discuss all of these issues with you and address your questions and concerns. Call us today at 201-880-9770 to make sure everything is done properly from the start.
Our New Jersey Divorce Attorneys Will Guide You Through the Process of Divorce
Filing for a Divorce in New Jersey
If you are ready to file for divorce, our Hackensack divorce attorneys will determine if and in what county you should file for divorce in New Jersey. To file, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least one (1) year and file in the county where you or your spouse resides. We represent individuals filing for divorce in Bergen County as well as many of the surrounding counties, including Passaic county, Morris County, Hudson County, Essex County, and Middlesex County.
Service of Process
Once you file, we will ensure that your spouse, or the attorney, is properly served. At this point the court will accept your request for divorce so that your court case can begin. There are plenty of things we can do and talk about prior to that, so don’t think that you have to formally file for divorce to start a divorce matter.
Appearance/Answer and Counterclaim
After one spouse has filed a valid Divorce Complaint, the other spouse will want to file an Answer or an Answer and Counterclaim to that Divorce Complaint. This should be filed within thirty-five (35) days of when the non-requesting spouse was officially served in order to participate in the legal process. If no responding papers are filed, then the spouse who requested the divorce may proceed to getting the divorce without your participation. This becomes problematic if the spouse who filed for divorce also asked for affirmative relief (requests) for custody, visitation, dividing assets and debts, or even alimony. If a spouse fails to participate in the legal proceedings, the court may award the requesting spouse everything he/she wants, so long as it is reasonably fair. Once that happens, you will want to speak to an attorney to see if you can undo the court’s Order, or at least to change some things. To prevent all of this, it’s better to respond to the Divorce Complaint in a timely manner and get to know your rights upfront.
Conference Between the Parties
After the case starts, you and your divorce attorney will work closely together to identify all the issues that need to be discussed in your matter (custody, visitation, dividing of assets and debts, child support, and alimony). Once that is finalized, you and your divorce attorney will begin negotiations with your spouse and their attorney to try to find a solution to all of the issues. If you and your spouse can agree to a comprises that you both can live with, the attorneys will draft a document called a “Marital Settlement Agreement” for you and your spouse to sign.
However, if you and your spouse cannot come to a compromise on some or all of the outstanding issues, , then various forms of mediation would likely be appropriate tohelp bridge the gap. . One of these forms is an Early Settlement Panel and this is free through the courthouse. This usually happens toward the end of a case. But, you do not have to wait to the end of the case to engage in mediation. We can discuss the timing of all of this and what specific mediators would be best for you and your situation based upon the issues that are not able to be resolved. In any event, before attending the Early Settlement Panel, you or your attorney must submit a settlement offer to the panelists. if you do not settle at the Early Settlement Panel, then the court will order you to private mediation (this is not free). If that fails, the court will schedule your matter for a trial (this is very time consuming and expensive, but necessary in some cases).
Divorce Mediation in New Jersey
As set forth above, you and your spouse do not need to wait for the Early Settlement Panel to try to resolve your issues. You always have the option of going to a private mediator and engaging in private mediation sessions where a neutral third party, the mediator, guides your conversations to make sure they are productive. The private mediator will make recommendations on how to best resolve the issues. These are just recommendations and are not binding. At the end of the mediation session, the mediator may write on a sheet of paper what you and your spouse tentatively agreed to. This is called a “term sheet.” The mediator should also advise you and your spouse to bring the term sheet to any attorney that each of you chooses (but an attorney separate from one another). You should have your attorney review the provisions to make sure you understand the impact and implications of what you tentatively agreed to. Each of your attorneys should also make sure you both truly believe the term sheet is fair under all of the circumstances. Our office handles this process as well. If you or your spouse do not take the term sheet to an attorney before signing it, it may be very difficult to undo some of the provisions included. So, having a conversation with an attorney before you sign anything is a good idea to protect your interests.
If you cannot agree on a settlement agreement, then the only way to resolve outstanding issues between you and your spouse is for the judge to decide. This is called a trial. The decision is binding unless you appeal the decision to a higher court. There is a lot of preparation required in advance of the actual trial date, and the trial itself before the judge could be conducted over weeks, months, or even years! Also, you do not usually get a decision on the last day of trial. A judge will write their decision and send it out, which normally takes a significant period of time after the trial has ended.
The New Jersey divorce attorneys at Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC have vast experience with trials, and there are plenty of cases where a trial is needed. However, we do understand the emotional and financial impact a trial can have and will discuss that with you before considering this option.
If you have already been through the New Jersey divorce process and had to go to Trial where the Judge decided the outstanding issues because you and your spouse could not agree, but you feel the Court’s decision was made in a legal error, you may want to consider filing an appeal of that decision. However, there are certain legal requirements to do so. Our attorneys can assist and guide you as to whether you have a case that can be appealed and your likelihood of winning that appeal.
Length of the Divorce Process
The amount of time your divorce will take depends on the complexity of your case and the time you and your spouse need to ultimately agree and resolve all of the issues between you. Most divorces are concluded in less than year. There are some divorce cases that end within a couple of months, but that is usually where there is very little fighting over children or property and both parties are very reasonable with one another. Otherwise, the average divorce matter ranges from 7 to 11 months. On the other side of the coin, if there are hotly contested issues, such as custody, visitation, relocation, or business valuations, a divorce could certainly take longer than a year.
The New Jersey divorce attorneys at Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC, understand that the faster you get divorced, the faster everyone can move on to a better place in their lives. We do our best with what is within our control to make this process as efficient and streamlined as possible for you and your family. We use offensive strategies that move the needle forward.
Call Our New Jersey Divorce Attorneys for Help
Getting a divorce is not simple or easy. Every divorce is different, as you can imagine, because the people involved are different, the issues to resolve are different, and circumstances of the marriage and family are different. There are some divorces that are amicable (friendly uncoupling) and there are others where you think you are watching the movie War of the Roses 2.0. Most divorces fall in the middle of those two spectrums, however.
The Bergen County divorce attorneys at Men’s & Fathers’ Rights Divorce Lawyers by Schultz & Associates, LLC can handle all legal hurdles to help you get through the process as smoothly as possible. We will educate you about your legal rights and what you should do to protect yourself from getting railroaded by your spouse or the legal system. If your situation is complicated, we are tough litigators who have built a strong reputation for handling difficult and fact-specific cases. We thrive on untangling complicated matters.
Call us today at 201-880-9770 for your confidential consultation to see how we can help you and your family through this process so everyone can begin to heal and rebuild for a better future.