Melinda L. Singer, Esquire
Hackensack Family Lawyer
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New Jersey Family Law Blog

Pet custody can be trying in a divorce

Many families in New Jersey have cats, dogs or other pets. These animals often become treasured parts of a family and children as well as adults can feel deep emotional bonds with their pets. When a couple gets divorced, the decision about what to do with a pet can therefore become very challenging. Many people find themselves fighting with their spouse for custody of their pets. 

The New York Times notes that in 2014, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers conducted a survey and found that in the previous five years, the number of pet custody cases during divorces had risen by 27 percent. Just last year, nearby Rhode Island saw the introduction of a pet custody bill into the legislature. These facts highlight the importance of identifying pet ownership after a couple splits up.

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.

Child support guidelines in New Jersey

If you are one of the many parents in New Jersey who may be getting divorced, you might need to pay or receive child support. You may also be facing this issue if you were never married to your child's other parent. As explained by the New Jersey Courts, the state operates its program for allotting child support on the philosophy referred to as income shares approach.

This philosophy is based on a few key principles including the belief that children should not go without just because their parents were never married to each other or got divorced. In short, children deserve the same lifestyle regardless of their parents' marital status or relationship to each other. It also states that both parents have the ongoing responsibility to financially provide for their children and that kids have the right to share in both parents' income.

Divorce settlements may not focus on alimony much longer

Couples in New Jersey who have finally come to the decision that they will end their marriage understandably may feel overwhelmed by the emotional toll of the choice they have made. However, if they believe that one of the spouses might be deserving of spousal support, they will not want to wait long before taking steps to get their divorce underway. As difficult as this sounds, the reason for this is because by waiting, that person may end up with a lot less in alimony than if they can manage to get their divorce completed this calendar year.

As reported by CNBC, current alimony payments are tax deductible by the person who makes the payments and while that means the receipient has to pay the taxes it also means the paying spouse may be more willing to agree to making those payments. Under the new tax plan, any divorce completed as of January 1, 2019 or later will find the paying spouse also responsible for income taxes on alimony. As such, these spouses may not be so willing to agree to spousal support.


Melinda L. Singer, Esquire
3 University Plaza
Suite 207
Hackensack, New Jersey 07601

Phone: 201-870-0826
Fax: 201-678-9595
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