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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.

Establishing your paternity

If you and your child's mother are married and you are at the hospital when your baby is born, you are automatically recognized as your child's father under New Jersey law. If, however, you and your child's mother are not married and the two of you do not sign a Certificate of Parentage at the time of birth, you will have to take some extra steps to be legally acknowledged as the father of your son or daughter. 

As explained by the New Jersey Department of Human Services, the state has established what it calls the Paternity Opportunity Program to facilitate the legal establishment of parental rights for dads. This may be done by genetic testing but that is not always required. If you and the mother both sign a Certificate of Parentage even once the baby has been taken home, you can be seen as the legal father. However, this form may be disputed within 60 days of being signed.

What differentiates a legal separation from divorce?

In New Jersey, you can either get a divorce or a legal separation depending on what you're looking for. But how do you determine what suits your situation best? How exactly is legal separation different from a divorce, and how will you know which one serves your needs better?

In short, divorce is a procedure in which your marriage will legally be ended. You will need to determine spousal support payments, child support payments, and property division, among other things. If you decide to legally separate instead, you will still need to deal with plenty of those matters. The main difference, however, is that you will still be legally married to your spouse.

How can I prepare for back-to-school after a divorce?

With back-to-school season in New Jersey preparations in full swing now that the latter half of August has arrived, your children may be bemoaning the loss of sleeping in and lazy days while you may be nervous about other things. If you and your spouse have separated or divorced since the prior school year ended, this year's back-to-school experience is likely to be quite different from past ones. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prepare yourself and your children's other parent as well.

As explained by The Washington Post, school systems still seem very setup to accommodate the traditional nuclear family first and foremost. That leaves divorced families left trying to fit into something that does not always work for them. If you have been through the back-to-school time before, think about what you know you will need to provide the school and what events will be coming up. Then, make a plan with your former spouse.

Legal separations: Similar to, but not quite, a divorce

When New Jersey couples realize their marriage is not working out, divorce is not their only option. A legal separation may be a good alternative for many couples. People may wonder about the differences between these concepts and how they affect a couple.

When people to choose to get a legal separation instead of a divorce, their marriage is still legal. says that people who are legally separated no longer live together. Sometimes this arrangement gives couples time apart so they can attempt to resolve their differences. In some situations, people may prefer a legal separation if they cannot divorce for cultural or religious reasons.

How a forensic accountant might help your divorce

If you are one of the many people in New Jersey who owns a business with your spouse and is considering getting a divorce, you will no doubt be concerned about what to do with your business. Some couples are able to successfully continue running a company together even after their marriage has ended. Other couples find this is not possible for them and may therefore opt to sell the business outright to a third party or to allow one of the spouses to buy the other one out and run it alone. 

If you choose one of these latter two options, knowing and agreeing on the value of your business will be essential to you as it may likely play into your overall divorce settlement agreement and how you split any other assets or debts. This is a time when you may benefit from using a forensic accountant. As explained by the Forensic CPA Society, this special type of accountant not only understands how to conduct audits and perform other accounting functions but they also know how to investigate matters and provide data that is up to the level of scrutiny required by a court of law.

Divorce and online activity

Divorcing couples in New Jersey sometimes end up in situations where they do not fully trust the other person. One spouse might suspect that the other person is cheating on them or perhaps that they are trying to hide assets in an attempt to influence their final divorce decree in a financially more positive light for them. These are just some of the situations that may be able to be corroborated by a peek at a person's online activity.

Forbes explains that a social media account can be a virtual treasure trove of clues about a person's life. Posts bragging about lavish purchases or vacations may not help the case of a person who claims the complete inability to pay spousal support, for example. The accounts of friends may also be telling and since couples generally have joint friends online and offline, what they post may well be visible by the spouse who was not really intended to know something.

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