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Englewood Cliffs Legal Blog

Gathering the right paperwork for a child custody hearing

In some cases, a parent can win a child custody hearing by knowing what types of evidence to bring. When a case begins, each side will have the opportunity to state their position in writing. If the other parent initiates the case, an individual will have the right to see exactly what he or she is using as the basis to do so. Including as many documents as possible can be helpful in making a good first impression with a judge.

Ideally, an individual will include phone logs, a copy of the visitation schedule and medical records. This can show that a parent takes an active role in a child's upbringing. It can also be used to show that a child is frequently injured or otherwise in harm's way with the other parent. Bringing a child's report card to court may imply that a child does better in school when in that person's care.

Divorce and business assets

Getting a divorce is not something many married business owners in New Jersey want to think about. However, business owners should take the necessary steps to protect company interests in case a divorce does occur. They should consider it just as important as making sure that there are insurance policies in place for themselves and their loved ones in case the unexpected happens.

There is more than one way to establish the protections that can help avoid a combative situation between a business owner and their spouse regarding the business assets. There can be a formal mutually agreeable contract, or certain policies can be put in place that may help simplify any divorce negotiations.

Do you need a forensic accountant on your divorce team?

When involved in a divorce and either you or your partner has a high income or considerable assets, you may face complications that other couples typically will not. When your financial situation is especially complex, you probably want to do everything in your power to make sure you receive everything you deserve, and many people facing similar circumstances are frequently relying on forensic accountants to help make this happen.

Just what is a forensic accountant? Essentially, this type of accounting professional is well-versed in identifying, analyzing, interpreting and summarizing complex financial data, and forensic accountants often take a central role in complicated financial, family or business matters. So, how do you know if you need to add one to your divorce team? While divorcing parties at all income levels can potentially benefit from hiring a forensic accountant to help them, it may prove particularly advantageous to do so if you:

Getting back child visitation rights

It can be a very trying time for parents who have been denied child visitation. However, before making any decisions about which steps to take in response, New Jersey parents who are prohibited from seeing their children should first understand why the court has taken away their visitation rights. They should then explore all of their legal options.

The family courts do not regularly issue complete denials of child visitation, but will do so if there is a concern that visitation safety may be compromised. Child visitation may be denied if the visit may present an emotional or physical threat to the wellbeing of the children.

Planning a workable parenting schedule after a divorce

It's not uncommon for divorced parents in New Jersey to squabble. Still, there is often a need to put personal animosity aside when working out a post-divorce parenting schedule. Taking this step could make the transition to a different living arrangement easier for the kids. First of all, a suitable parenting schedule should always be focused on a child's best interests.

If child custody will be shared, logistics are often a consideration. It's usually best for both parents to stay in the same area, especially if children have already started another school year. Furthermore, the parents should keep the school schedule in mind by factoring in such things as after-school activities and holiday and summer breaks.

Tips for divorcing with a high-net worth

New Jersey residents may have heard that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie Bezos are divorcing. What wasn't heard after the announcement was any name calling or blaming. This is because the couple jointly broke the news and are making an effort to stay amicable. There are some tips for dissolving a marriage without contention when extensive assets are involved.

The divorce process can take the form of collaboration, mediation, or traditional litigation. In addition to the personal issues that may arise during a divorce, several financial, legal, and tax issues will need tending to. One may need professionals like a business valuation expert, therapist, CPA, forensic accountant, estate planning and family law attorneys, and a financial analyst.If one or both parties had significant assets before a marriage began, a prenuptial or post-marital agreement may be in place. However, one should not assume such a document is sufficient protection when a divorce happens as these documents can be challenged.

Handling retirement accounts during a divorce

When people in New Jersey decide to divorce, they may be concerned about the future of their retirement accounts. Many couples have saved a significant amount in their 401(k)s, IRAs and similar plans to the extent that these are often the largest assets held by a divorcing couple. As a result, the division of these funds can be a contentious issue; one survey of divorce attorneys found that retirement assets were one of the top three subjects of conflict during the end of a marriage.

The issue with dividing retirement funds in a divorce goes beyond reaching an agreement over property division, however. It is also important that the division takes place in accordance with existing law in order to avoid costly taxes and penalties that could significantly reduce the value of these accounts. In order to divide a 401(k) or other workplace fund such as a pension plan, a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO, must be approved by the court. The plan administrator cannot divide these accounts on the basis of the divorce decree alone; instead, a spouse's attorney must present a QDRO for approval to the court.

How does adultery affect divorce in New Jersey?

Adultery is one of the most common explanations for why couples divorce in the United States. According to recent surveys, men are more likely than women to cheat during a marriage. 

Many people assume adultery will affect the divorce proceedings to some capacity. In the past in New Jersey, couples needed to cite a clear reason why they wanted to divorce. Now, no such reason is necessary. For the most part, adultery will not impact divorce, but there are exceptions. 

Issues that commonly decide child custody cases

When parents in New Jersey or any other state choose to end their relationship, they must still take an active role in raising their children together. Parents may be granted custody based on their mental and financial stability as well as their ability to raise a child. In some cases, the children themselves will get a chance to voice their opinion in a custody hearing.

If a child has a sibling, a court may try to keep them together in the same home. However, this will only happen if it is in the best interests of the children. Otherwise, they could be placed in separate homes. In some cases, a judge will order that a representative of the court spend time with the parents. During this time, they will observe how he or she interacts with the children as well as take notes about how the parent lives.

Tips for divorced parents to enjoy the holiday season

Many divorced parents in New Jersey struggle with emotional distress related to the dissolution of a marriage, but the holidays can be especially difficult in shared child custody situations. Children often want to spend time with both parents and their extended family members over the holidays, but time is usually tight, and stress is already high. This creates anxiety for both parents and children, and it can also be difficult to explain to children that custody and visitation orders are still in effect during the holiday season.

A divorce attorney writing for WTOP states that it's best to prepare children for holiday plans to set clear expectations. Providing realistic expectations can help to minimize emotional turmoil as children of divorced parents generally tend to seek out stability. Additionally, the attorney goes on to state that parents need to be willing to listen to children talk about their holiday experiences without the need to speak out about how differently they would have done something. Attempting to outdo the other parent can create conflict and add stress, and the battle for a child's loyalty could breed confusion and resentment.