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Paul N. Mirabelli, Esq

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Paul N. Mirabelli, Esq

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If you suspect your spouse is going to file for divorce, you should make copies of any financial documents, tax returns, bank statements, stock statements, retirement accounts, and credit card statements. You may also want to open up a separate bank account and deposit your money into an account to which your spouse does not have any access. If you have joint accounts, you may want to consider pulling some of that money out to protect it from being withdrawn by your spouse. If there is a prenuptial agreement it will control what happens in the divorce process, so you definitely want to take a look at the agreement if you have one.

Are There Any Advantages To Filing First For Divorce In New Jersey?

No, there really is no advantage to be the one that files first.

How Does The Process Of Divorce Work In New Jersey?

The divorce can be broken down into several parts. The first part is what’s called the cause of action, which is the reason for the divorce. By the time people come and see me they don’t really care what the reason is, they just know that they want to get divorced. Very few cases are ever fought over the grounds for divorce. Most people now file under what’s called “irreconcilable differences,” which means you haven’t gotten along for at least six months, there’s been a breakdown of the marriage, and there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.

The next part has to do with the children. The courts prefer for the parents to come up with a custody and visitation plan because they’re the ones who presumably know what’s in the best interests of the children. Typically, what happens is that the parties get to a certain point and then there a few sticking points here and there. In that situation, your case would get referred to custody and visitation mediation. This is a meeting with a social worker or a counselor who has experience in helping parents to come up with a custody and visitation arrangement that’s best for the kids and that fits with what the parents want. Your lawyers would not be present at that meeting. The court is always going to decide custody and visitation issues based on the best interests of the children. That’s paramount in any kind of custody case. If you can’t resolve it with custody and visitation mediation and you have to have a custody case, that gets very expensive. Experts are hired and it’s not really good for the kids. It’s really a last resort but it does happen and it is very expensive.

How Is The Amount Of Child Support Determined In A New Jersey Divorce Case?

New Jersey is a child support guidelines state which means that they only look at your income in determining the amount that you have to pay for child support. They do take into account if one parent is paying the cost of the healthcare for the children and they also take into account the number of overnights that you have as well as any work-related daycare. Other issues that arise include the cost of any extracurricular and school activities, and any unreimbursed medical expenses for the children that are not covered by insurance. Typically, the person that is receiving the child support is responsible for the first $250 of unreimbursed expenses per child per year. Another issue is sharing of the college expenses. Generally speaking, it’s based on your ability at the time that the expenses are incurred. Typically, whoever is paying child support would also have to provide some type of life insurance policy, and the other spouse would be the trustee of the policy for the benefit of the children.

How Is Spousal Support Or Alimony Awarded In A New Jersey Divorce Case?

Alimony or spousal support is based upon the disparity between the incomes of the two parties. It’s based on a number of factors but the most relevant ones are the disparity of income and the length of the marriage. The new alimony statute in New Jersey says the maximum time you can only pay alimony is equal to the amount of time that you were married. So, if you were married for 10 years, the maximum you would have to pay for is 10 years. The amount mainly has to do with the actual disparity or the difference in your incomes. At this point with the new IRS guidelines, alimony is no longer tax-deductible to the payor and taxable to whoever receives the alimony. So, the alimony awards are a little bit lower now because there’s no tax offset involved.

What Is Equitable Distribution In New Jersey?

All assets that were acquired during the marriage are subject to equitable distribution, regardless of whether they’re in the name of both parties or in either spouse’s name. A marital home would certainly be subject to equitable distribution, as would any retirement benefits, pensions, 401(k)s, and so on. However, it’s only the marital portion that is subject to equitable distribution – in other words, if you were paying into a pension plan before you got married then there would have to be an adjustment on what your spouse is entitled to. Debts are also supposed to be divided equally. With assets and liabilities, the court starts with a 50/50 split and then they look at a number of factors to determine whether they should shift that split in one direction or the other. In general, there would have to be a compelling reason for them to do anything other than 50%.

There are certain assets that would be exempt from equitable distribution. Any inheritance or any gifts are exempt from equitable distribution. Any premarital assets would also be exempt from equitable distribution unless you turned them into a marital asset. For example, if you added the other party’s name to a house or a stock account or something like that, it would become subject to equitable distribution.

How Much Does A Divorce Case Typically Cost In New Jersey?

It’s very hard to determine the cost upfront. I would say the retainer is typically between $3500 and $5000. Whether the retainer will cover the whole divorce case depends on whether the parties cooperate with each other in exchanging financial information and if they can come to an agreement. Once you get into the court system, the whole divorce process is geared toward trying to get you to come to some type of an agreement. There are a number of steps along the way that the court will make you go through before you can actually go to a trial. Only about 5% of cases are ever tried. It’s usually very expensive to try a case – anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000.

For more information on Spouse Filing For Divorce In New Jersey, a Personalized Case Evaluation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (732) 733-2830 today.

Attorney Paul Mirabelli

(732) 733-2830