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Marlton Family Law Blog

Is it best to settle a divorce in or out of court?

Experts says the best scenario for a couple who is parting ways is to try to end things amicably. Sometimes, however, New Jersey couples who are in the throes of divorce may have trouble agreeing on things. The question then is, should they try to settle things on their own or through mediation, or should they let the court decide? There are some things to consider before making that final decision.

Those looking for a divorce to become final quickly will want to stay away from letting a judge decide on major issues. Litigation can be time-consuming and costly. Even just waiting to get a case heard could take months. But for some couples, court seems to be the only choice after all else has failed in reaching a settlement. Pockets better be deep, though, since going to court can be costly.

How many marriages actually end in divorce?

The common notion for quite some time now is that about 50% of all marriages don't last. But is that really a true picture of marriage and divorce? Divorce rates -- including those in New Jersey -- peaked in the 1970s and '80s, but recent statistics show that more couples are staying married and the divorce rate hovers at around 40%, and some experts believe it's because more people are waiting to get married and are being more mindful when choosing their life mates. 

Since people are waiting until they're older to marry, about 70% of couples who tied the knot in the 1990s are still going strong. Many other couples are choosing not to marry at all and live together in domestic partnerships instead. Social standards have changed over the decades and there are many more single parents as well. However, stats also show that second and third marriages are more apt to end in divorce than first ones.

As a husband, could you get alimony in a divorce?

It is common for money to be a sticking point in divorce cases. For many New Jersey residents going through this process, concerns about alimony and child support exist. Though these types of support are often in marriage dissolution cases, it is often a given that the ex-wife will receive the funds. However, is that always the case?

As a soon-to-be ex-husband, you may wonder whether you could obtain spousal support after your divorce. You may already have financial concerns, and you do not believe that your spouse needs support from you. However, you feel that support from her could help your current situation, especially when you will live on a single income.

What happens to the engagement ring in a divorce situation?

An engagement of marriage is usually sealed with a ring. An engagement ring is meant to be a symbol of a couple's intention to marry, but what happens to the ring when the marriage has fizzled and a couple decides to divorce? It's not always a clear-cut answer and much depends upon the circumstances, the actual ring and the state in which the couple resides. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state in which a court will divide marital assets in a way it sees as fair and reasonable, which might not mean a 50/50 split, but marital property in the state excludes gifts, so what about that ring?

If a soon-to-be former couple can decide on what should happen to the ring, so much the better. But if the ring is a family heirloom and in a family for generations, it may be handled the way inheritances are handled -- separate from marital assets, in which case it might be ordered to return the ring to the family the person who gifted it. But for the most part, an engagement ring is considered a gift in New Jersey, meaning it's separate property. The laws of equitable division only apply to marital property, not separate property, so an engagement ring usually remains with the person who it was originally given to if the couple should divorce.

Divorce can be costly, but it could be more costly not to divorce

A couple who is ending a marriage has many things to think about and one of those concerns finances. Divorce in New Jersey can often mean a significant financial outlay. In fact, the average cost for divorce in the United States is about $15,000 per person, but in some cases can be a lot higher due to several factors, including whether children are involved, where a couple lives, the value of their assets and whether the divorce is a contentious one. 

There is no cookie-cutter cost for divorce or separation and much depends on a couple's individual circumstances. However, a recent survey brought to light some interesting facts regarding the cost of divorce. When figuring the financial cost of divorce, a couple must take into consideration fees for attorneys, the amount it costs to file in court, any mediation fees, costs for parent education classes and even costs for things like counseling or psychiatric evaluations if necessary. 

Divorce involving a child presents unique challenges

Breaking up with a spouse is never an easy process in New Jersey. This is particularly the case when the two people getting divorced have a young child who is stuck in the middle. Fortunately, some tips might make the process of getting a divorce as positive of an experience as possible for both the parents and the child.

For starters, when parents are getting divorced and share a child, it would behoove them to keep their relationships with each other strong. For instance, they should ideally speak positively about each other versus badmouthing one another. This is especially critical when the child is in the parents' presence. In addition, small steps like being on time for child pick-ups and drop-offs can have an extremely positive influence on the children.

Helpful advice to make divorce less stressful

It goes without saying that no couple gets married with the intent of someday ending the marriage. However, this is exactly what happens to nearly half of all marriages in New Jersey and across the United States. Divorce is not only very complicated, but it can also be one of the most stressful things a person can experience in life. Here are a few tips that can make divorce less stressful.

Ending a marriage involves many big decisions that can affect a person for the rest of his or her life. One big mistake most people make is going through this experience without identifying what is most important to them. For those amid divorce, this is the perfect time to figure out what they want in their new life. It is very helpful to write these goals down, prioritize them and focus on the most important things.

What could a parallel parenting plan do for your family?

To some extent, every divorce comes with emotional fallout. The question is whether you and your future former spouse can put it aside in order to co-parent. If the answer is no, it does not automatically mean you are headed to court to fight it out to get time with your children.

You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse may not agree on much, but you may agree that your children shouldn't suffer because the two of you can't get along anymore. You may not like your ex, but you have to admit, albeit begrudgingly, that he or she is a good parent and your children love him or her.

Who is responsible for credit card debt in a divorce?

When a couple parts ways, not only are their assets on the table, but so are their debts. Frankly, creditors don't care who pays the debt as long as it gets paid. Couples thinking about divorce need to understand who is responsible for credit card debt when a marriage is over. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, which dictates issues around the division of debt in a divorce situation and means a divorce court will divide marital assets and debts in a fair manner between spouses, although not necessarily equally.

The person in whose name the credit card is issued is legally responsible for paying the balance on the card, even when there is an authorized user attached to it which is likely to be a spouse. But that doesn't necessarily mean that person will be solely responsible for the debt in divorce proceedings. If both names are on a credit card account, both parties will be responsible to creditors and may be jointly responsible when it comes to divorce. If a family court judge is asked to rule on the division of debt, he or she will likely rule based on individual circumstances; that is, the judge will try and come up with a fair division of financial responsibilities.  

Safeguarding your assets in the divorce process in New Jersey

Being financially stable is a goal to which everyone aspires. So, those who find themselves in a divorce situation, should think about protecting their assets. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state and as such when couples  divorce, marital property is not automatically split 50-50, but in a manner that is fair, though not necessarily equal. When divorce is imminent, each person needs to think about how to protect his and her finances.

Each person should have a firm grasp of their assets and what is in whose name. Both need to have an understanding of such things like mortgages on properties, cash in any joint accounts and any investments. Getting copies of financial statements is also necessary, especially if a case heads to court since a judge will want to see what's on the table financially. Getting some cash out of a joint account also might be wise, especially when spouses don't trust each other not to drain an account.

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