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Marlton Family Law Blog

Creating a valid prenuptial agreement

Though most couples do not get married expecting to get a divorce, that is the case for several parties. Therefore, having a prenuptial agreement in place can be quite beneficial.

A proper prenuptial agreement can aid in making the divorce process smoother. To ensure this, there are a few important aspects to consider in the creation of the agreement.

Reasons why the length of alimony may be adjusted

Regardless of which side of the fence you stand on during an alimony dispute, there can be a lot at stake. For an individual who is seeking spousal support, the outcome of these matters can shape his or her standard of living for years, perhaps even decades to come. For an individual who is being asked to pay alimony, the resolution of such a dispute can dictate how big of a financial hit he or she will take, which can have a ripple effect on his or her monetary well-being.

Although the law dictates that marriages that last less than 20 years can only see alimony payments that last as long as the marriage was in place, this can be a significant period of time. The law also provides for an extension of the alimony payment period under certain circumstances. To determine whether an adjustment the length of alimony is warranted the court will look at a number of factors. For example, the age of the parties at the time of the marriage and the time of the alimony award may help a court determine if a modification is needed.

High-asset divorce and the benefits of forensic accounting

When it comes to high-asset divorces, there is a lot on the line. A poorly negotiated or litigated divorce can be extremely costly, leaving an individual with less financial resources than he or she deserves. This is why it is critical that those who are going through a high-asset divorce fully understand the process and how to utilize it to their advantage.

Property that is deemed marital in nature, meaning that it was acquired during the course of marriage or was brought into the marriage and comingled with marital assets, is generally divided equitably in New Jersey. However, reaching a fair result in the property division process requires an accurate assessment of the assets in play. Far too often individuals in high-asset divorces try to hide money and other assets so that they won't be subjected to property division. This is wholly unfair, and it's one reason why parties who suspect a spouse of hiding assets may want to consider pursuing forensic accounting.

Child support modification may be within reach

As the posts on this blog often point out, divorce can have very significant financial ramifications for New Jersey residents. Those who are crafty in their legal dealing regarding marriage dissolution can find themselves exiting marriage on firm financial footing. Those who fail to do so, though, can end up on hard times living a lifestyle that is far below that which they enjoyed during their marriage.

One divorce legal issue that can have a profound, long-lasting financial impact is child support. We have discussed the basics of child support determination previously on the blog, but the matter is not put to rest once an initial child support order is entered. Instead, child support can be subject to modification over time when life changes warrant it. Though many think of these modifications as decreasing a noncustodial parent's financial obligation, they can also seek to increase the amount of child support owed.

Child custody and the best interests standard

Child custody is one of the most highly contested divorce legal issues. It is not limited to those who are dissolving their marriages, as parents of children born out of wedlock can also face child custody disputes. Oftentimes in these situations each parent believes they know what is best for their child, but their visions don't always align. When this occurs, the matter can be challenging to negotiate and may be left in the hands of a judge.

When making a child custody or visitation determination, a New Jersey judge will focus on the best interests of the child involved. Many factors play into this best interests determination, including the child's relationship with each parent, the educational opportunities afforded to the child in each household, the presence of any drug or alcohol abuse in each parent's household, and the financial stability of each parent. But that's not all. A court may also consider a child's wishes, if he or she is old enough, and pertinent religious and cultural factors.

Does wealth protect you from divorce?

The most common reasons for divorce seem to be financial worries, infidelity and lack of communication. It may seem natural to assume that having the opposite of those trends would equal a stronger marriage.

But does having more money really protect you from divorce? The answer is both yes and no.

Will mediation work if I have a high conflict case?

While divorce mediation is not right for every New Jersey couple going through a split, people who are in a high conflict separation should not get scared off from the process automatically. Through no fault of their own, many people do wind up in high conflict divorces. In many cases, neither person, individually, is especially difficult to get along with. However, as a couple, the two parties have both come to the point where they almost by reflex contradict what the other person says or wants.

Unfortunately, taking family law matters to a judge in such situations can make the problem only worse. Particularly in high asset cases, taking a litigation-only approach to the issues can mean several costly and stressful trips to the courtroom. The end result is often new or renewed resentments between the two parties who will have to learn to get along. Otherwise, they will continue to have to spend time and money on legal fights.

Putting a value on investment real estate

Many couples in New Jersey own additional properties, such as homes or even commercial buildings, that they use to make additional income. In some cases, a real estate investment business can be so lucrative that the couple can devote their energy to it full time and make a very nice living from their rental income Also, the couple can make even more money by buying real estate when prices are low and selling the property during a hot real estate market, that is, when prices are high.

Even happily married couples need to have some idea of what these investment properties are worth, as knowing this information is simply good business practice. In the event of a high asset divorce, however, knowing these values can be critical, as it can mean the difference between receiving a fair share of marital property and winding up in dire financial straits.

Coming to terms with "fairness" and alimony in a divorce case

Many people in New Jersey get divorced for a very simple reason: they no longer want to have any type of relationship with their ex-spouse. So, when spousal support - commonly known as "alimony" - is an issue in a divorce case, it can be hard for a spouse to see this type of order as "fair." But, there are many cases in which a family law judge will determine that alimony is necessary.

Unlike other issues in a divorce case, it can be hard for two soon-to-be ex-spouses to come to an out-of-court agreement on alimony. Why? Well, too often either one of the spouses simply doesn't want to be ordered to pay any amount of alimony, or the other spouse doesn't believe that the amount being offered is enough. The result can be contentious courtroom battles over this issue.

Working through a checklist of assets in property division

When some people think about the property division part of a divorce case, they think of splitting everything they own "50/50" with their soon-to-be ex-spouse. However, in New Jersey, that isn't always exactly how things end up. In family courts in New Jersey, the standard for property division is an "equitable distribution" of assets, as well as debts. That means that the court will be look for a fair result, not necessarily an even split.

As a result, it is important to work through a checklist of assets in the property division process, as well as a list of debts. Many couples going through a divorce find that, by doing so, they discover they have even more assets than they previously realized.

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