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Englewood Cliffs Legal Blog

The benefits of child custody mediation

When parents in New Jersey or any other state get a divorce, they could be faced with a variety of stressful emotions. Unfortunately, it can be harder to come to a custody agreement when a person is stressed and trying to win a court case. Instead of going to court, parents can mediate a child custody case.

Doing so allows each person to think about the future as opposed to rehashing issues from the past. This can make it easier for parents to develop a good working relationship that benefits both them and the children. By talking about what they need from each other going forward, an adult will feel less stress. This can improve their mood when they are with their children, and it can also lead to a more productive life overall.

How people can make financial preparations for divorce

People in New Jersey who are considering divorce can take a number of steps to prepare financially. The first is to get all financial documents together and put them somewhere safe. This could be with family, friends or in a safe deposit box.

People should also begin to think about their credit and establishing an individual line of credit if one does not already exist. They should order copies of their credit reports and take a look at any joint accounts in case they are being misused. People might want to set up their own individual bank accounts and apply for a personal credit card. For people who do not have their own incomes, it may be possible to obtain a credit card based on household income.

Understanding child visitation schedules

When New Jersey parents split up or begin the divorce process, a child visitation schedule may be set so that the noncustodial parent gets to spend time with his or her children. In most cases, the child visitation schedule is ordered by the court and must be adhered to. If one or both parents violate the visitation order, there may be court penalties.

While the court usually encourages visitation time with the children, there are cases where agreeing to a visitation schedule can be difficult for parents. Some sets of parents might live too far apart to make a visitation schedule work feasibly, especially if one parent has to travel to see the children. The visitation schedule in this case could include the exact dates and times that the traveling parent can see the children. A visitation schedule may also be set for parents who have shared custody to make transitions between households easier for the children.

How to prepare for divorce

Signs that the end of a marriage is near often do not appear suddenly. Usually, there are symptoms such as emotional detachment, spousal absence or nonstop bickering. Many Bergen area couples who are getting ready to go through the separation process may find themselves ill-prepared for the financial aftermath. 

Here are some actions to take to keep the rug from being pulled from underneath you. 

Dividing retirement plans properly during a divorce

Couples in New Jersey who are getting a divorce can end up with unpleasant surprises if they divide their retirement assets in the wrong way. To avoid high penalties, unexpected tax bills and an ex-spouse receiving a higher share than intended, it is important that spouses are aware of how different retirement accounts should be treated.

For workplace retirement plans, like a conventional pension plan or a 401(k) account, a qualified domestic relations order is needed for the receiving party to gain access to their share. While the QDRO is based on what is stipulated in the divorce decree, it is a separate legal document. The administrator of the plan should be contacted to make sure that the proper steps are being taken and the transfer is executed without a glitch. Furthermore, the legal document should be carefully reviewed by a divorce attorney before being filed with the court.

Steps to take to obtain full custody of a child

There is a perception that mothers have better odds of obtaining custody of children in a divorce. However, fathers in New Jersey have the right to seek and obtain custody of their children as well. Those who are seeking custody may benefit from keeping good records related to how much time and money they spent to support the child.

When awarding custody, a judge will want to know the extent of the current relationship between the parent and child. Therefore, parents should be open to answering any questions in an open and honest manner. The goal is to convince the judge that awarding them custody is in the best interests of the child. During the legal decision process, it's important that a parent let the court do its job.

Collaboration helps reduce divorce acrimony

New Jersey parents headed for a marital breakup can avoid ugly courtroom battles if both parties are properly motivated and make use of available resources. In the wake of divorce, it can be tempting to seek revenge through the litigation process, but doing so puts child welfare at risk. Making the best of a painful situation often requires finding workable solutions that put children in the best position to prosper.

Generally, the best place begin for a negotiated solution to child custody is assuming an equal split of parenting time between the parties. Most jurisdictions lean toward this configuration whenever possible and have set aside assumptions based upon historical perceptions of gender roles in parenting. Equal parenting is merely a starting point. Parents must be honest with each other and themselves in considering individual parenting styles, logistical factors and the best interests of the children. The key is for all parties to make use of available information and processes to find solutions benefitting the family.

Divorce and custody modifications

The care of the children is one of the most important matters when parents divorce. Even the most well thought out custody arrangements may become old and out of date as the child becomes older.

In such cases, it is possible to seek custody modifications, but parents should understand what the process entails. There are a few key facts to keep in mind about these modifications.

How to co-parent effectively after divorce

New Jersey parents who are getting a divorce may be concerned about the welfare of their children. Even in a contentious divorce, there are many things they can do to ensure they are able to co-parent effectively.

First, parents may want to work with attorneys who will use alternate dispute resolution methods such as mediation rather than going straight to litigation. This may help them reach an agreement on custody with which they are both satisfied. Parents may be able to remove themselves from the immediate emotion of the situation by thinking of each other as a business partner. They can get the help of their attorneys in creating the parenting agreement if necessary. Part of this can include making a plan for conflict resolution. Parents could agree to return to mediation at any time if necessary.

Valuing a business during a divorce

Property division negotiations sometimes become contentious when New Jersey couples file for divorce, and this can be especially true when a family business is one of the assets being discussed. Such commercial ventures are often run by one of the spouses involved, and non-operating spouses frequently believe that the business is far more profitable than it actually is. Thorny matters generally include the value of the enterprise and how much income it generates each month.

One way of dealing with these issues is to call upon professionals with experience in this area. Certified public accountants who are Accredited in Business Valuation by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants or who are Certified Valuation Analysts may provide an expert opinion, but finding one that both spouses agree on can be a challenge as only about one in a hundred CPAs have completed the specialized training required to earn these qualifications. However, searching for a qualified accountant could be important as courts might not accept business valuations provided by unaccredited CPAs.