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Robin Jill Schneider Robin Jill Schneider
New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Matrimonial Attorney

Matawan Divorce Law Blog

Trends in divorce and marriage in America

People in New Jersey may well have heard for several years about how many marriages tend to end in divorce. In fact, most people likely have friends, neighbors, co-workers or family members who have been divorced even if they themselves have not experienced a divorce. Some new research conducted by a professor at the University of Maryland may indicate that the rate of divorce in America has actually dropped.

As explained by The Atlantic, the decline in the nation's divorce rate may not necessarily be the good news that some would like it to be. This drop in divorces appears at least in part to be related to a drop in marriages. When first looking at the data, a decline in divorces by as much as 18 percent appears to have happened between 2008 and 2016. Upon further look, however, that decline is actually closer to eight percent when accounting for the relative number of marriages.

When will alimony end?

If you are paying alimony to an ex-spouse in New Jersey, you may wonder when you will be allowed to stop paying. In some cases, the court order for payment may stipulate the ending date. However, sometimes it may not. There are specific circumstances under the law that stipulate how long you must pay alimony and what circumstances could lead to an order to stop alimony.

The Official Website for the State of New Jersey explains courts can only order that you pay alimony for as long as the number of years you were married. For example, if you were married for 17 years, then you will only pay alimony for up to 17 years. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. The court may order a longer period of payment based on factors such as how evenly the estate was split, the health of your spouse, the ages you were when you got married and tax considerations.

What if my child wants a new custody plan?

Once a New Jersey judge signs off on your custody arrangements, you may breathe a sigh of relief that such a painful and messy affair is over and done. Enjoy the relief while it lasts, because custody is likely to be an ongoing issue in the aftermath of a divorce, according to Psychology Today.

Many parents—and judges too—feel children should be heard in custody decisions if they are old enough to understand. Certainly, one of the benefits of shared custody is that children receive much-needed reassurance that both parents continue to love them. However, whether or not your children have input into the initial arrangement, you can expect their feelings to change as they grow older.

Balancing divorce and bankruptcy

If you and your spouse are contemplating a divorce in New Jersey, you may also be facing serious financial problems. This is not an unusual situation as it is commonly known that money can be a major contributor to marital strife and even to the irrevocable breakdown of many marriages. But, what are you supposed to do when it seems that bankruptcy may be the best way for you to handle your debt relief needs? 

My Horizon Today provides some insight into how couples might choose to address a bankruptcy and divorce when they seem to arise at the same time. One of the first things you will want to ascertain is the ability of you and your spouse to collaborate on a solution to your financial problems. If you feel you can communicate about this issue effectively, it may be possible for you to file for a joint bankruptcy prior to getting divorced. If, however, such collaboration is not an option, you may be better served by completing your divorce first.

Considerations for keeping home after divorce

It is not at all uncommon for a person in New Jersey to want to keep their home even after they get divorced from the person they may have bought the home with. This can be especially the case for families with young children as it may offer parents a way to give their kids some type of stability during an otherwise tumultuous period in their lives. For both spouses, there are special concerns before making the choice to do this.

As explained by Bankrate, the person who keeps the house will need to carefully evaluate their ability to not only make the mortgage payments but also keep up with taxes, insurance, maintenance and repairs. When applying for a solo mortgage, the receipt of alimony may help depending on the amount and duration that it will be paid for. The title to the house should also be transferred to the sole person financially responsible so they do not end up with all of the debt but still sharing the asset with an ex.

The importance of a QDRO

When getting divorced, one of the things that many people in New Jersey can find difficult to accept is the fact that they may have to split their 401K assets with their to-be former spouse. Especially for people who have saved for decades and for whom retirement may be near, this can feel like a major financial setback. While splitting the retirement funds may be unavoidable, there is one thing that can help them to avoid additional losses. That is the use of a qualified domestic relations order.

As explained by the United States Department of Labor, in most situations when a person withdraws money from a 401K or other employer-sponsored retirement account for reasons other than retirement, they may be subject to high taxes and early withdrawal fees. These assessments reduce the amount of money they get in the end. During a divorce, if one spouse is ordered to give the other person a percent of their 401K, that account holder could be in the same situation if they simply take a distribution and then hand it over to their ex. 

Detailing the different types of alimony in New Jersey

As you prepare for your divorce proceedings in Matawan, many may be telling you (if you were not the primary wage-earner in your marriage), that you should expect to receive alimony payments from your soon-to-be ex-spouse for an indefinite period of time. Many that our team here at Robin Jill Schneider have worked with come to us with this expectation. Like them, you might be disappointed to learn that is not always the case (in fact, an award of alimony should not even be assumed to be a given in a divorce case). 

Per Section 2A-34-23(b) of New Jersey's code of Administration of Civil and Criminal Justice, the state actually recognizes four different types of alimony: 

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

What is the goal of the fathers' rights movement?

With the growth of the fathers’ rights movement over the last several decades, public perceptions in New Jersey and throughout the U.S. are changing in regards to fathers and co-parenting after divorce. These changes are reflected more and more in family law courts as families and legislators realize that many fathers want to remain in their children’s lives and help them grow and develop into healthy adults.

Verywell Family explains that organizations who have championed fathers’ rights are not focused on fathers gaining full custody, but instead on having both parents equally share the responsibilities of raising a child. These organizations educate fathers on custody issues and can also help them develop co-parenting plans and schedules with the underlying purpose of encouraging men to maintain strong parent-child bonds.

What say do kids have in New Jersey custody matters?

Many things can impact child custody cases. What about a child’s thoughts on where they want to live? Do courts take kids’ preferences into account in custody matters?

Here in New Jersey, they generally do, as state custody law includes a child’s preferences among the factor courts are to consider when making custody decisions. However, there are a couple of caveats to note when it comes to this.