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Helping kids thrive when parents divorce

When New Jersey parents decide to divorce, they may be concerned about how to best help their children navigate this transition. Divorce can stir up a lot of complicated emotions for children. Some may fear that their parents will abandon them or stop loving them. Others may struggle with the practical changes, like moving from one parent's home to the other on a regular basis. Divorce will almost certainly cause a significant amount of change and disruption in a child's life. However, parents can take action to help make the divorce process less traumatic and healthier for their children.

Kids may feel as if they are forced to choose sides between their parents in a divorce. They may worry that they should not mention positive things about their relationship with one parent to the other parent. This can lead to a significant amount of emotional pain and confusion. Parents can help to avoid this situation of divided loyalties by working to build a more collaborative co-parenting agreement. Children should be encouraged to have a positive relationship with the other parent, and parents should not complain or vent about their former partners to the kids.

Tips for protecting money in a divorce

While New Jersey is an equitable property state, this does not mean that all seemingly "personal" property will be safe from division in a divorce. Some spouses think that maintaining their own separate accounts provides financial protection if their marriages end, but the reality is more complex.

Under equitable property laws, money earned by each spouse is considered the property of each spouse in case of divorce. However, attorneys may sometimes successfully argue for a different type of settlement. People who are genuinely concerned about keeping assets separate in a divorce may want to consider a prenuptial agreement. In a survey from the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers, attorneys reported a rise in the number of prenuptial agreements, particularly among millennials. These agreements may be changed or even nullified later if the couple wants to do so. For couples who do not want to use a prenuptial agreement, printing out account statements for the month prior to the marriage can show what they are bringing into the marriage.

How to structure a financially sound divorce settlement

It is important for individuals in New Jersey and elsewhere to consider the financial ramifications of a divorce settlement. For instance, it may not be smart to keep the marital home as it can be expensive to maintain. Furthermore, property and mortgage interest deduction caps may limit the tax benefits of owning a home. It is also worth noting that capital gains exceptions are higher for married couples as opposed to single individuals.

Therefore, it may be best to sell the home prior to the divorce and split the proceeds. It can also be a good idea to buy long-term care or life insurance policies before a divorce is final. This is because individuals can buy them at lower rates and retain those rates after the marriage officially comes to an end. In many cases, it is necessary to review and make changes to an estate plan after a divorce.

Should you join a divorce support group?

There is a lot you will ask yourself if you ever go through a divorce. You will have questions related to child custody and how you will divide your retirement savings. However, there are some questions you may not immediately ask yourself but are nonetheless important. One such question could be, "Should I go to a divorce support group?"

Separating from a spouse is an emotionally draining time. Even if you know for a fact you cannot spend the rest of your life with this person, you will still feel upset going through the divorce process. It will upend your life substantially, and you may not know what to do next once everything is final. Divorce support groups exist to help people sort out their emotions and talk to other people who have gone through the same thing. You can find them in almost any city around New Jersey, and even if you need to drive a ways to go to the meetings, it is still often worth it. 

Co-parenting and sharing child custody in the summer

Two-household summers can be stressful for children with divorced parents in New Jersey. This is also a time when there's no longer the structure of school and other routines that normally fit neatly into a prearranged scheduled. However, summers can still be relaxing and enjoyable for children sharing time with both parents who take the right approach to co-parenting.

Parents looking to make shared child custody or co-parenting arrangements work during the summer months are typically encouraged to cooperate and communicate by planning things in advance whenever possible, being reasonably flexible, and working with a mediator or counselor if there are points of disagreement that can't be worked out. Parents are also advised to avoid negatively speaking about each other in front of the children and acknowledge that the other parent is also doing their best given the circumstances involved.

What to consider before taking a child overseas

New Jersey parents who are divorced are usually allowed to spend time with their kids without their former spouses present. In some cases, this involves taking a child to another country. Ideally, exes will include the terms of such travel in their parenting plan. At a minimum, both parents should know where their kids are going to be at all times. This can be done by providing an itinerary before leaving on the trip.

The itinerary should list where the children will be staying, who they will be staying with and any other pertinent information. If a child does not yet have a passport, both parents may have to agree that he or she can have it before going through the application process. However, if a child is over the age of 16, it's possible to apply for a passport without such permission.

Dealing with insurance in a divorce

Soon-to-be ex-spouses who are getting divorced in New Jersey may need to consider purchasing both life and health insurance. Life insurance could be especially useful if one ex is ordered to pay spousal support to the other.

Some couples also include a requirement to purchase life insurance in their divorce settlements. Otherwise, support could be abruptly cut off for the recipient spouse if the alimony-paying spouse dies. With a life insurance policy, the surviving spouse might still have access to some means of support. It may be best for the recipient spouse to hold the policy and make the premium payments to ensure that the policy does not lapse. Furthermore, the policy should be put into place before the divorce is final. If the spouse is uninsurable, the couple can then modify the divorce agreement.

Consider long-term finances when going through a divorce

As couples in New Jersey go through the divorce process, they have to work out a lot of issues, including who will get the marital home and how custody of the children will be arranged. It can be easy for couples to focus on what needs to be taken care of in the short term. However, they should not overlook how their divorce will affect them in the future, especially when it comes to how their retirement could be affected by divorce.

A person may quickly assume that a pension will automatically go to the individual who earned it at their job. However, it is important for individuals who are going through the divorce process to know that pensions are considered to be marital assets. The portion of the pension that was earned during the marriage is likely subject to be divided during the divorce. Laws in each state differ, so it is good to know if it will be necessary to offset this loss with other assets in order to keep a pension intact.

The effects of divorce on children from wealthy families

In many cases, divorce has the biggest impact on children. They usually do not understand the reasoning for the end of their parents' marriage. Children go through scheduling changes as they have to be a part of two households. They often miss the parent they are not with, and some children may even choose sides. Divorce is a significant life change, no matter how necessary.

Although divorce has an effect on all children, some studies show that wealthy children become more upset than their less well-off peers, particularly with education and behavior.

Moms and dads are more likely to share custody these days

When parents of younger children get divorced in New Jersey, custody decisions have to be made. At one time, mothers were far more likely to be favored in custody-related matters. Moms still tend to get more custody time, but there has been a noticeable shift over the years toward shared parenting arrangements. In fact, one study covering this topic shows that mothers were granted sole custody roughly 80% of the time in the early 1980s. Nearly 30 years later, mothers assumed full parenting duties about 40% of the time.

It's increasingly common for courts to begin with a presumption of legal custody when addressing such matters. Physical custody, on the other hand, still favors mothers. This is largely because of a desire to maintain consistency with daily routines, such as where a child goes to school. Still, it's rare for involved fathers to be completely kept out of the parenting loop today. Changes in attitudes about a father's role in parenting, the liberalization of divorce laws, and more women joining the workforce are among the societal shifts that may have contributed to an increased preference for co-parenting arrangements.