Family Law FAQ
Q. Do I Need An Attorney For My Divorce Or Custody Action?
A. While not every divorce or custody action requires representation by a family law lawyer, it would be wise to consult with such a professional so that you can adequately understand your legal rights and options. This is especially true when there are substantial marital assets and income or you anticipate difficulties when it comes to custody arrangements.
Very few individuals have sufficient knowledge of New Jersey family law to know what steps to take to represent oneself in a family law action or to know what options are available to ensure our rights receive protection. Knowledgeable family law lawyers understand the manner that courts operate and what strategy best ensures success.
It is especially important if you are unmarried and have children to understand your rights when it comes to raising your child. You are at risk of losing the right to participate in your child’s life if such issues are not handled carefully. It is also important to have an attorney available in the event a child custody or visitation order requires modification.
Most family law issues are too important to go it alone. Please contact a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney in order to best assure your wishes regarding divorce or child custody are carried out.
Q. How Is Child Support Determined In New Jersey?
A. Both parents are required under the law to contribute to the support of their children. Ideally, parents will stipulate regarding how much financial support each parent should provide. Unfortunately, not all parents are willing to pay their fair share and the court must order the appropriate level. Under such circumstances, the courts will look at the income of both parents, their financial circumstances and the ability to otherwise support the child. Most importantly, the court will examine the physical, mental, emotional and educational needs of the child. The court will order payments that best meet the needs of the child while accommodating the needs of both parents as well. Any intent of any such order is to make certain the child’s circumstances do not drastically change after the divorce takes place.
Q. I Have Primary Residential Custody Of My Children And I Wish To Move To Another State. What Steps Should I Take?
A. New Jersey requires parents to satisfy specific requirements before a custodial parent can relocate a child. It is therefore important that you consult with a family law attorney to discuss your options. It will be necessary to obtain a court order before this relocation can go forward. The court will ask for the input of both parents before making a determination. Since the noncustodial parent also has legal rights, it is always desirable for both parents to work out their issues and come to an agreement. This may entail allowing the noncustodial parent to have the children during an extended summer vacation or other such arrangement agreeable to both parents. A properly prepared consent order and agreement sometimes helps resolve disputes concerning the relocation. If such a consent order cannot be reached, then a motion seeking such relocation must be filed with the court, which must address numerous factors upon which the judge may make his or her decision. Failure to address these factors will almost certainly result in denial of your application, which is why it is critical to have legal counsel prepare such a motion on your behalf.
Q. Will I Receive Alimony Or Spousal Support Following My Divorce?
A. Alimony/spousal support is not automatically provided as part of a divorce proceeding. Such an order is left up to the discretion of the court. The court will examine a number of factors, including:
- The incomes of both spouses
- The earning capacity of the couple
- Length of the marriage
- Age of both parties
- Health of each party
- Whether there are child supports also being made
Each alimony determination is made on a case-by-case basis.
Q. When Is A Guardianship Appropriate For A Child?
A. Guardianships sometimes are allowable on a temporary or permanent basis. A temporary guardianship may be appropriate if a parent faces temporary disability or hospitalization. On the other hand, there are circumstances where a more permanent arrangement is necessary due to the loss of a parent or because a parent is mentally or physically unable to take care of the child. In any case, it is necessary for a court to appoint a guardian to make certain the child’s best interests are met.
Sometimes it is necessary to appoint a guardian ad litem as well. This occurs when a minor child or disabled adult child who is unable to take care of his or her own affairs finds himself or herself involved in a lawsuit. The guardian ad litem will then represent the interests of this individual during the legal proceedings.