The Law Office of Rick Silver, Esq. will be reopening in Woodbridge, NJ on March 3, 2014. Stay tuned for more details.
Well, should you? The short answer is, in most cases, no.
In New Jersey, there are three types of custody: sole custody, joint custody, and shared custody.
In sole custody, the child lives with one parent who is responsible for all of the day-to-day decisions of the child. This is the least common type of custody arrangement;
In joint custody, the child lives with one parent, the other parent has a visitation schedule, and while both parents should decide what is best for the child, the custodial parent (the parent with whom the child lives) generally has the last word in parenting decisions. This is, by far, the most common custody arrangement;
Finally, there is shared custody, in which the child spends half of his or her time with each parent, and both parents have an equal right to all decision making involving the child. This arrangement requires a great deal of on-hands cooperation between both parents and is fairly uncommon since most divorcing parents want nothing to do with each other.
Here’s the truth behind all this: the New Jersey courts expect parents to behave like adults about child custody. If you do not already have your custody situation sorted out before you file for divorce, one of the first things that will happen is that you and your ex-spouse will be forced to attend an education program hosted by the courts in which you will receive information like this. It will be drilled into your head that the New Jersey court system would rather not tell you how to manage your children, and furthermore, that if the court is forced to render a decision, it will do so based on what the judge believes is in the best interests of the child. Before that even happens, you will be sent to custody mediation, where a court clerk will tell you all of these very same things, and attempt to get you to agree to a reasonable custody arrangement that both parents can live with.
Child custody trials are expensive. The child protection and child welfare agency may get involved, especially if allegations of abuse or drug addiction are made. Experts in child psychology will have to be retained at your expense. Case law will need to be meticulously reviewed and argued by your attorney. Witnesses will be called. Your child, if the judge deems fit, may have to testify before the judge. All of this, as you can imagine, is extremely disruptive to both parents and the child. And sole custody is only granted in the most extreme cases.
What you’re really talking about, in the end, is whether it is worth several years, and tens of thousands of dollars, and years of stress and fragmented relationships with both your ex, with whom you still must raise the child, and your child, just to have a judge give you an order you may not want to follow. In my experience, the answer, in most cases, is a definitive NO.
Here are my recommendations:
1. This isn’t about you, it is about your child. Generally, the best thing for the child is to remain with the spouse who spent the most time raising him or her.
2. It doesn’t matter that your spouse cheated, or that they have a new lover, or what sex the lover may be, or what that lover does for a living. It just doesn’t. Get over it. Your ex does not belong to you.
3. Just because you make more money, that doesn’t mean you’re the best parent for the child. Maybe you are, but the money part is fairly inconsequential.
4. Before you decide to fight, sit down with an experienced custody mediator, like me, or any number of other competing attorneys. But it should be me.
5. In the end, if you fight, you’ll generally end up with Joint Custody with a reasonable visitation schedule. So why pay $20-30,000.00 to fight?
6. Finally, and I can’t emphasize this enough: THIS IS YOUR CHILD. CHILDREN LOOK TO YOU AS AN EXAMPLE. Don’t be a petty jerk. Kids know.
Of course, if you have any questions whatsoever, or want to discuss this or any other options you may have with me, I am available at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The short answer: a lot of information. Within 30 days of filing your complaint for divorce, you need to file what’s called a Case Information Statement (CIS). This is basically the most important document you are going to file with the court for the entirety of your divorce matter. It lists your personal information, the issues at stake in the divorce, your income, your spouse’s income, your tax information, your current income information, your monthly budget, your anticipated monthly budget post-divorce, and your assets and liabilities.
Like I said, a lot of information.
If you want to take a peek as to what lies ahead, I’ve uploaded a sample CIS form for your review here: CIS.
Generally gathering this information is the most difficult part of the divorce process. Oftentimes, one party will refuse to provide certain information. This is when lawyers become important to guide you through the process.
If you have any questions about this post, I am always available at email@example.com or at 973-584-5402.
Resolving issues concerning your divorce can be costly and difficult. While only a judge can actually grant a divorce, division of your property and your debts, alimony, child support, custody and parenting time are some of the other issues that may need to be resolved. A judge can decide all issues at trial. However, there are other ways to resolve many of the issues in your divorce. These alternate dispute resolution methods offer greater privacy than resolving the issues in a public trial. They also may be faster and less expensive, and may reduce the level of conflict between you and your spouse during your divorce. You are encouraged to discuss alternative dispute resolution with your lawyer to decide whether these alternate methods may help you and your spouse resolve as many of the issues relating to your divorce as possible before the matter is presented to the judge.
It is mandatory to familiarize yourself with these potential alternatives before retaining an attorney to handle your divorce matter. In fact, when you file your Complaint for Divorce, you must sign a sworn statement affirming that you are both aware of these alternatives and have nevertheless decided to proceed with litigation. The document your attorney will hand you will be very similar, if not identical, to the form I’ve linked to below.
Of course, I am always available to answer any and all questions you may have about these alternatives. I have presided over many, many successful divorce mediations in addition to my litigation practice. You can reach me at 973-584-5402 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those of you who have already been divorced or are considering getting divorced: Did you use mediation? Would you?
Divorce law isn’t for everyone, obviously; that’s why we have divorce lawyers.
For a lot of you out there in the unfortunate (or fortunate?) circumstance of contemplating divorce, the first or second thing that pops into your head is, hey, what the heck are my rights? Are there laws about this stuff? What are they?
The good news is I’m here to give you all of that information, right here, for free. Educating yourself in the law is the first step to a well-settled divorce, and I’m happy to help.
If you’re interested in looking at the New Jersey statutes pertaining to alimony, click here: Alimony. This should give you a general idea of how we calculate alimony in the state of New Jersey.
If you’re interested in checking out how property, both real property and personal property, gets divided in a New Jersey divorce, click here: Equitable Distribution.
Of course, I am always here to answer any questions you may have. Most people have lots of questions after reading it! Email me at email@example.com or call me at 973-584-5402.
In the next installment of this series, I will discuss some of the alternatives to a litigated (contested) divorce that is required reading – not only by me, but by Court Rule as well! Stay tuned.
Can I end child support if my kid is working full-time, going to school part-time and still living with his mother?
VERY interesting news coming out of the New Jersey Appellate Division: it is now possible to apply for a reduction or elimination of child support if the child is working full-time, going to school part-time, and still living with the parent receiving support. This is a big change – prior to today, going to school part-time and living at home meant child support continued.
The case is Gall v. Gall and you can read a synopsis here. (link opens in a new window)
In short, the relevant part is quoted below:
“A child over the age of eighteen, working full-time, and attending school only part-time, absent some unusual circumstances not evident in this record, is emancipated even if residing with a parent because his or her employment income is alleged to be insufficient to allow the child to live independently.”
If you or someone you know is in a situation like this, I may be able to help. Please call me at 973-584-5402 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every few weeks, someone comes to me unhappy about something that a collection agency has done. Over the weeks and months to come, I will be highlighting some of the more common issues debtors encounter when dealing with these firms.
This week, we will discuss the ever-popular “oh no, they just took money out of my bank account when I already worked out a payment plan and now I can’t pay my other bills.”
The short question is usually, “HOW CAN THEY DO THIS?!?!?!?” The short answer is, “because they’re allowed.”
Here’s the skinny: Once these guys have a judgment against you, they’re allowed to collect it in pretty much any way they see fit. The first thing most firms will do is ask you to volunteer information about your assets, at which point they may opt to simply take whatever they please from you through the use of a sheriff’s officer. This can happen WHETHER OR NOT YOU HAVE WORKED OUT A PAYMENT PLAN WITH THEM. I can’t tell you how many people come to me aghast at the fact that a collection agency took their monthly payment AND everything out of their bank account. If you volunteer this information, they will use it against you!
It is extremely important to deal with these debt issues before they get to the judgment stage. If you’re served with any notice that anyone is suing you for any kind of money you owe, you should immediately contact an attorney with experience in this area to help you deal with the problem before it becomes completely unreasonable. Furthermore, if it does get to the point of collection, when you first receive notice that a collection agency is planning to garnish anything from you, you’re best served dealing with them through an attorney. It is exceedingly difficult to get anything concrete from these people without using an attorney to negotiate on your behalf. Your attorney may be able to settle the debt for a lesser amount or work out a payment schedule that is mutually acceptable to all parties.
If you have any questions or are faced with any sort of situation where you think a collection agency is coming after you in an overly aggressive manner, call me. I may be able to help you.