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Child custody: The benefits of grandparents seeking guardianship

Statistics show that grandparents in New Jersey and other states take care of as many as one in every ten children. This could be a significant challenge to grandparents who have not taken steps to formalize their statuses as care providers. Several legal options are available, including adoption and petitioning the court for child custody or guardianship. The latter is said to give the grandparents the legal rights they need to care for the child without going through the adoption process.

Guardianship is only awarded when it is in the best interests of the child, and although it does not typically terminate parental rights, court-ordered guardianship can prevent the parents from taking back the child without going to court. Depending on the circumstances, the court might award parental visitation rights, and, in many cases, the court holds parents responsible for financial support to be paid to the grandparents who are the appointed guardians. However, if the parents are incarcerated or if a child was removed due to substance abuse, the parents might not have the means to pay child support.

Postnuptial agreement might ease division of assets and property

Some couples in New Jersey choose not to sign prenuptial agreements because both parties have limited assets at the start of their marriage. However, once one or both spouses acquire assets during the marriage, they might need a way to secure the ownership of their respective holdings if their marriage should end in divorce. The solution comes in the form of a postnuptial agreement that will protect each spouse's interests during the division of assets and property.

The difference between a prenuptial and postnuptial agreement is that the one is signed before the marriage and the other is a contract established after the wedding date. Although state laws may vary, legal requirements for valid postnups include the rule that the agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. The court will require it to be fair to both spouses and a voluntary agreement by both. Furthermore, all the relevant information must have been fully disclosed by both parties at the time of establishing the contract.

Does a single mother automatically have sole child custody?

More and more people nationwide, including in New Jersey, choose not to marry. A significant percentage of children are born out of wedlock, and while many couples parent those children in the same way that married parents would do, there are cases in which there are absent fathers. If a child is born and the birth certificate indicates no father, the mother might have questions about her legal child custody rights.

Does the fact that there is no father indicated give the mother sole custody of the child? Does she have to apply for legal custody rights as the single parent? What will happen if the father chooses to claim custody rights in the future? While the child custody laws vary from state to state, all the courts base their decisions about these matters on the best interests of the child.

Do I need a prenuptial agreement?

The conversation around prenuptial agreements is changing, thanks in part to the younger generation. What used to be a sometimes-hurtful subject and one people would avoid talking about is becoming more commonplace in conversation.

Also known as a prenup, a prenuptial agreement is a legal document to outline how an engaged couple would split their assets in the event of a divorce.

Establishing paternity is not only about child support

Sometimes, single mothers prefer to keep their pregnancies secret. Regardless of the reason for such a decision, it can prevent a mother and her child from gaining certain legal benefits. If not for child support, why would a single mother in New Jersey want to establish paternity formally?

Establishing paternity puts the burden of a monthly child support payment on the father until the child reaches the age of majority. It also opens the avenues for the father to be a part of the child's life. Furthermore, a child has legal rights to Social Security, veteran's benefits or any other death benefits in the event of the biological father's death. There might even be an inheritance for the child.

Beware of social media if you are in the throes of divorce

For many years, people in New Jersey and elsewhere kept private diaries in which they recorded their daily activities, their dreams and even to vent their anger and frustrations. Reading another person's diary was just not acceptable. Social media has replaced journals, and in contrast, the new goal is to share every thought and activity with the world. Once it is posted, it cannot be undone regardless of whether it was on Facebook or any other platform. However, those in the throes of divorce might be wise to restrain themselves and steer clear of social media for a while.

Legal ramifications of social media posts could be self-incriminating, and lawyers have come to rely on these platforms to provide them with ammunition to use in the divorce court. Imagine their reaction to a request for modification of spousal or child support that is no longer affordable if the same person posted luxury vacation pictures. The danger of being tagged in the posts of others at a party is also real, and it could cause questions about that person's fitness to be a parent.

Jolie and Pitt sign child custody agreement after 2-year battle

Divorce is typically an unpleasant, and usually a traumatic experience for all concerned, even more so if there are children involved. Courts nationwide, including New Jersey, base child custody decisions on the best interests of the children, and negotiating agreements with that in mind is often an emotional and time-consuming process. Former power couple Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt finally came to a child custody agreement after two years of litigation.

Reportedly, the agreement was reached in time to scrap the private custody trial that was scheduled to commence on Dec. 4. Jolie cited irreconcilable differences when she filed for the divorce back in Sept. 2016. That set in motion a process that became public and extremely contentious at times. Jolie and Pitt were together for 12 years, and they share seven children with ages ranging from 10 to 17 -- the youngest being a set of twins.

Changing child custody to fit holiday schedules

One of the biggest problems around the holidays for divorced parents is custody agreements. Even if grandma is flying in for the first time in years or if dad is making his famous holiday chili, if your custody agreement says your little one will be with their other parent on the day of your family get together, then that’s how it will be. Or is it?

Modifying your child custody agreement is possible in New Jersey. Depending on what changes you and the other parent choose to make, it could mean bringing your child to share in the holiday festivities. We will get into the ways custody can be modified, but let’s start by saying that you should not expect an informal agreement between you and your ex to do the job.

Can I get the ring back?

If you and your significant other are calling it quits, you may be wondering if recalling your marriage also means recalling the engagement ring you purchased. Many states and cases have handled this issue differently.

In New Jersey, your chances of getting a wedding ring back may largely depend on whether the marriage happened.

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