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New Jersey Family Law Blog

Choosing bankruptcy and divorce timing

People in New Jersey who are experiencing serious financial hardship often also experience marital or other relationship troubles at the same time. This is actually quite logical given the stress that can accompany being under a mound of debt. Couples who are considering getting divorced but who may also be thinking about bankruptcy will need to decide which one of these life events they tackle first.

When it comes to thinking about filing for bankruptcy before filing for divorce, The Balance indicates there are some situations in which this may be beneficial for both spouses. People who file a joint bankruptcy will enjoy greater levels of exemptions than people who file single bankruptcies. This may allow them to keep some of their assets that may otherwise be lost in a traditional Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Why do you need alimony?

After you get your divorce, you may be feeling so relieved that this stressful period in your life is over that it can be tempting not to think too much about what happens next, at least regarding legal matters. Finally, you can begin to move on. However, financial difficulties can make it difficult to rebuild your life. You and other New Jersey residents should understand why alimony exists, and how it might help you after your divorce.

Alimony, or spousal support, is a payment ordered by the court to support the spouse who earned less or did not work during the marriage, according to Forbes. If you were like many spouses during the course of your marriage, you might have stayed home to raise children and take care of the house, while your spouse worked. You might have emotionally supported your spouse during his or her college education and building his or her career, giving up your opportunities for a career and high earning potential.

How can I co-parent through the holiday craze?

The holiday season that starts in the month of November and lasts until the beginning of the following year can be some of the most looked-forward to but also some of the most stressful times for residents in New Jersey. If you are the parent of a minor child and you have recently gotten divorced from your child's other parent, you may be expecting this coming holiday season to be one of the hardest for you and for your child.

However, as Psychology Today suggests, there are ways that you and your former spouse can work together to help both your joint child and yourselves navigate this sometimes challenging season with grace despite the changes that will be inherent in the experience. Perhaps one of the most important things you can do is to plan ahead. Make your schedules now for where the kids will be on which day so everyone including extended family can prepare for events.

Researchers believe divorce could be genetic

Parents in New Jersey and across the country have their children's best interests at heart, which is why so many worry about the effect a divorce could have. Yet while it is true that children whose parents divorce are also more likely to divorce themselves, the reason could be surprising.

As Health.com reports, researchers used the Swedish national registry to study the marital history of 20,000 adults who were adopted as children and found that those who had biological parents who divorced were more likely to be divorced. Researchers were surprised to find that there was a stronger correlation between the biological parents, rather than the adoptive parents who raised the adoptees. Researchers believe that this could be due to a passing down of personality traits that can cause more strain in a marriage. Traits such as impulsiveness and neuroticism have been linked to genetics in previous studies, and research has also found that these can negatively impact a marriage.

Divorce statistics in the U.S. and New Jersey

People in New Jersey may well have heard or read reports over the years about marriage or divorce rates in the state and across the country. Some of these reports may claim that as many as half of all marriages will result in divorce while others may say that more couples are staying married longer. It can be hard to sort out what is truth and what is fiction in this arena. Sometimes, looking at the hard numbers may provide the best insight of all.

According to data from the 2016 American Community Survey, it is believed that 47.5 percent of all people in the nation who are at least 16 years old are currently married, or were when this survey was conducted last year. Almost 34 percent of people have never been married at all. The percent of people who were listed as divorced was actually 11 percent with another 5.8 percent being identified as widowed and two percent separated.

Let the QDRO help you split a 401K

If you are considering a divorce in New Jersey and either you or your spouse have savings in an employer-sponsored retirement account like a 401K, you will want to learn about the qualified domestic relations order. Beware of proceeding down the path of simply relying on your court-issued divorce decree when splitting these assets as part of your property division settlement. Doing so is likely to leave you paying out large sums of money in the way of taxes and early withdrawal penalties. A QDRO can help you avoid both of these things. 

The United States Department of Labor explains that because a 401K is intended to force long-term retirement savings, any early and non-retirement withdrawals will be subject to penalties and fees. These can eat up a lot of your savings. In addition, such withdrawals are subject to income tax. With a QDRO, your former spouse can be named as an authorized payee on your account so that if they are to receive some of the money in the account, that money can be paid directly to them. From a tax perspective, you have no liability as you have not received any money. If your spouse puts the money into another account, they may also avoid taxation.

New studies show co-parenting best for children

Many New Jersey families understand the difficulty of trying to split their children's time between parents who are going through a divorce. Not only is it hard for the children, who are going through stress and change to their family structure, it is difficult for the parents who love and support their kids and may be feeling lonely. But new studies show that parents sharing custody results in the best outcomes for their children.

As the Boston Herald reports, a new study out of Wake Forest University re-examined studies that focused on the role conflict plays on children of divorce. Traditionally, a custodial parent, which is the mother in 80 percent of divorce cases, is determined by the court to be the main parent in an effort to reduce the conflict a child will be party to when his or her parents divorce. Yet the study did not find that conflict between parents played a large part in determining outcomes of the child. In fact, the relationship between the part and child was the single-most important factor, and children who had strong relationships with both parents fared best. The researcher noted that even in an acrimonious divorce, the bitterness often fades in a few years, but the custody arrangement of the child rarely changes.

Failure to pay child support: parents' rights

For many individuals who go through a divorce, final paperwork can be a symbol of freedom and long awaited relief. Yet for those divorcing with children, matters can inevitably become more complicated, and issues can pursue long after legal procedures have ended. In New Jersey, the law protects children in divorces, including protection that enforces child support payments.

 

The benefits of legal separation

A legal separation can not only compromise an individual's emotional and physical wellbeing, but also potentially change the status of home ownership and other financial aspects. In New Jersey, a legal separation agreement entails a spousal agreement that covers the period between separation and divorce.

Similar to a divorce, a legal separation is a contract outlining child custody and asset division. The difference is that in a legal separation, a couple is still considered legally married. A legally separated couple may choose to follow through with the divorce at a later time. The reasons spouses choose to legally separate instead of divorce range from moral and religious reasons to financial and government benefits. Some individuals believe they may resolve existing issues before reaching the point of divorce.  

Defining the different types of alimony in New Jersey

Several of those that our team here at Melinda L. Singer, Esquire have worked with in the past have come to us with questions about alimony. Many are surprised to learn that those cases that call for it may have a different type of alimony assigned to them. If you have recently decided to end your marriage in Hackensack, it may behoove you to study the different forms of alimony the state recognizes for you to understand whether you might qualify to receive it or if you may be required to pay it.

The guidelines regulating spousal support can be found in Section 2A:34-23(b) of New Jersey’s Revised Statutes. Here, it lists the four types of alimony awarded by the state’s family courts as:

  •          Open durational alimony
  •          Limited duration alimony
  •          Rehabilitative alimony
  •          Reimbursement alimony

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