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The value of a postnup in the division of assets and property

Many marriages in New Jersey are between people who may have already been married before, and they enter into new unions with significant assets already accumulated. If the spouses do not sign prenuptial agreements, the division of assets and property in the event of another divorce could become a contentious affair. Under some circumstances, a postnuptial agreement is recommended to avoid this,

A postnuptial agreement is a legal contract that a married couple signs after the date of their wedding. Although postnups typically deal with financial issues, they can include issues like household chore responsibilities, expectations of faithfulness and more. Postnups are most effective for couples where one or both spouses entered the marriage with significant assets or when one of them expects an inheritance.

FYI: Divorce is about parents -- child custody is about children

In most divorce cases that involve couples with children in New Jersey, the courts prefer to award both parents as the caretakers and guardians of the children. The court can distinguish between legal and physical child custody. Shared legal custody allows both parents equal roles in matters relating to the child's religion, academics and activities. Parents who share physical custody must work together in establishing a schedule that will divide the time the child spends with each parent.

Working out the logistics and coordinating schedules could be challenging, especially when those who are collaborating got divorced because they could not stand each other. Advisers provide some tips to achieve this without too much contention. They remind parents that joint custody is not about them but about the children -- the divorce is all about the parents. They all agree that parents should never speak poorly about each other with the children.

Division of assets and property when unmarried couples split

Common law marriages are not legal in New Jersey, although many couples in long-term relationships choose not to get married. These relationships can work well, but if unmarried couples split after years of acquiring assets and having children together, the division of assets and property could be a challenging process. There are no rules or legal requirements for ending a cohabitation arrangement, making it less costly and time-consuming -- but not always less traumatic. Contention may arise because of the lack of laws to govern the fair division of property.

Couples in cohabitation relationships do not have any obligations when it comes to supporting each other after splitting, and that could bring hardship if one partner became used to being supported by the other. One way to prevent that is for the couple to draft a cohabitation agreement. Another disadvantage of not tying the knot is the fact that, absent a formal authoritzation, one partner will have no rights to make decisions on behalf of the other partner in the event of an illness or if he or she becomes debilitated. Such matters will be the responsibility of the the individual's immediate family members.

Social media matters to custody and parental rights

You’ve probably heard news stories about people whose personal social media activity has negatively affected their public and professional lives. Probably, you seen them through your own social media accounts. But what you post, tweet, like and text can also be admissible as evidence during custody and parental rights hearings.

In family law court, the judge considers what’s best for the child. The judge looks at information that can help the court decide if one or the other member of the couple, as custodial parent, could provide a stable home life and if the parent has the financial means and emotional maturity to provide a supportive and caring environment.

Child custody when father's name is not on birth certificate

Many children are born to unmarried parents in New Jersey and across the country. This could lead to questions about child custody. If paternity is formally established, the fact that the child's parents are not married makes no difference under the law. However, if both parents did not sign an acknowledgment of paternity, the father's name will not be on the child's birth certificate, and the mother will have no right to child support without first proving paternity.

Does that mean the mother has automatic sole custody of the child? It is essential to understand that the father has the right to take steps to prove paternity at any time after the child's birth. The father can petition the court to order a paternity test. The DNA of the mother, the possible father and the child will then be tested at an approved facility to determine paternity.

Beware of inaccurate information about child support

Google and other search engines have become go to places for answers to just about any questions people in New Jersey and elsewhere might have. Unfortunately, not all online information is fact-checked. Child support is one subject about which online articles often contain myths that could cause problems for those who use the information without confirming its validity.

One myth suggests that child support is the responsibility of only one parent. While the person obligated to make the support payments might believe this, it is not correct. Family courts base child support orders on the income of both parents. The day-to-day care provided by the custodial parents must not be overlooked because that is a significant responsibility, and it indeed features in the court's calculations to determine the amount of support the noncustodial parent must pay.

Child support obligations of the unmarried father

Fathers in New Jersey who are not married to the mothers of their children might not realize that the law expects them to pay child support. There are exceptions, but a father typically has an obligation to provide financial assistance to the mother of his child. This is not linked to child custody and alimony, and although the courts prefer to see fathers sharing custody, it is not a legal obligation. Proof of paternity or being named as the father on the birth certificate could be enough to enforce child support payments.

The court can order child support payments, or the parents may reach a private arrangement, which, in some jurisdictions, will still need the court's approval. When the court awards child support, the need for support, and the ability to pay are typically considered along with several other factors. A father who stops paying child support can face serious repercussions, even if it was an informal arrangement.

That old prenup could hold up in New Jersey

Maybe it wasn’t pleasant and took some delicate maneuvering, but the two of you signed that old prenup back before you were married. Maybe it feels like a very long time ago or you two weren’t even living in New Jersey back then. Is that contract going to hold up here and now?

Say you want to want to break the back of a prenuptial agreement so you can strike a fresh divorce settlement from scratch. Or say you want to make sure a prenuptial agreement is ironclad, so you can count on it no matter what happens. What are your chances in New Jersey?

Prenups can take the sting out of division of assets in divorce

There is an expression that says criminal court brings out the best in bad people, and divorce court brings out the worst in good people. Divorces are typically challenging and traumatizing, but prenups can ease the process. Although many people in New Jersey might believe that prenuptial agreements are only for the rich and famous, these marital contracts can simplify the division of assets in the divorces of the rest of the community. While prenups require full disclosure of debts and assets, they can also address additional matters.

The issues that a well-drafted marital contract can tackle include guidelines for the division of assets accumulated during the marriage, how the couple would deal with debts, spousal support and any other matters unique to the couple. Disputes over finances cause many problems in marriages, and disclosure of assets and liabilities of each spouse is required in a divorce. However, dealing with it at the start of the marriage, with annual updates, might actually support a stronger bond for the couple.

Remarrying after division of assets in a previous marriage?

Anyone in New Jersey who is considering a second or subsequent wedding after a divorce will likely have many concerns. Most people expect the best from a subsequent marriage, but plan appropriately for the possibility of another divorce. It is crucial to avoid previous mistakes, especially those that only became evident during the division of assets in the divorce.

Communication and financial transparency are essential from the onset, even before saying, "I do." Disclose all information about debts, assets, financial support for a child with special needs, spousal and child support, retirement plans and more. Discuss assets that will be brought into the marriage by both spouses, and whether some or all of those will be kept separate or joined. Will earnings be pooled, or will both spouses keep their separate bank accounts and establish a joint account for household expenses?

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