Monmouth County Contested Divorce Lawyer
Couples who decide to divorce often do so because they have significant disagreements. It should be no surprise that some couples are still in the midst of conflict about essential issues when they file for divorce.
Anytime a couple initiates the marriage dissolution process before resolving all outstanding issues in a written marital settlement agreement, they are pursuing a contested divorce. The term does not mean that one party wants a divorce and the other does not; it just means that the spouses have not finalized agreements on property division, alimony, and issues related to the children.
Contact a Monmouth County contested divorce lawyer if you are ready to proceed with dissolving your marriage, but still have outstanding issues to resolve. A seasoned divorce attorney can help negotiate a fair settlement and, if necessary, advocate on your behalf in the courtroom.
Spouses Must Divide Their Marital Property Equitably
Couples often disagree on matters related to property division. The law requires an equitable distribution of marital property, which means a split that is fair under the circumstances, but not necessarily equal.
Marital property is generally everything the couple acquired individually and as a couple during the marriage. Marital property does not include anything either spouse owned before marriage or gifts and inheritances meant for one spouse received during the marriage, except for certain exceptions. These exceptions usually arise from the way a spouse treated their separate property during their marriage could lead to that property being deemed marital at the time of divorce.
When a spouse files for divorce, they must make complete financial disclosures to each other. Their divorce attorneys will verify the disclosures and try to negotiate a fair settlement. A couple could also resolve outstanding issues through mediation, which provides more control and privacy than going to trial. Otherwise, a judge makes the final decision on property division after holding a trial. Arbitration with a retired judge is also a less common option.
N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23 allows the award of ongoing financial support to one spouse from the other. Spousal support or alimony is not mandatory, and if a court awards it, it is often temporary until the recipient spouse can become financially independent. However, if a marriage has lasted 20 years or more, a judge could order open durational alimony. Open durational alimony is alimony without a fixed end date and can only be terminated upon certain events, such as the spouse receiving the alimony remarrying or cohabitating with a romantic partner, or the spouse paying the alimony retiring at full Social Security retirement age. Even if the spouse paying the alimony retires, the Court may still only reduce the amount of alimony payments instead of terminating alimony altogether. A family law attorney is familiar with all the issues relevant to contested divorces and can represent a spouse’s best interests throughout legal proceedings.
Parents Must Develop a Detailed Parenting Plan
The law favors both parents having meaningful time with their children and sharing parental responsibilities. To this end, divorcing parents must each submit a detailed parenting plan to the judge, proposing where the children will live, where they will be enrolled in school, how much time they will spend with the other parent, whether the parents will share decision-making responsibilities, and how they will resolve parental disputes.
When parents cannot agree on arrangements for their children, a court will usually refer them to mediation. Courts strongly prefer that parents develop the parenting plan together because the parents know their children best, as well as each other’s strengths and weaknesses, putting them in the best decision to prepare a plan that is workable for their family.
If the couple cannot agree, the judge will decide whose parenting plan is best for the children or create a new plan based on their judgment of the children’s best interests. Having the help of an experienced Monmouth County contested divorce attorney is critical for developing a plan that meets the parent’s goals while clearly serving the children’s best interests.
Sharing financial support for the children is also mandatory under New Jersey law. The parties will have to come to an agreement on child support based on their incomes, time sharing under the custody plan, and the needs of the children. If the parties cannot agree on financial support for the children, the court will have to make a determination. Having the help of an experienced Monmouth County contested divorce attorney is critical for ensuring a fair financial support arrangement that provides for the needs of the children.
Rely On a Monmouth County Contested Divorce Attorney
If you are involved in a contested divorce, legal guidance is essential for reaching fair agreements with your spouse. A Monmouth County contested divorce lawyer has the skills to ensure you negotiate from a strong position and achieve your divorce goals.