One Step at a Time

Your marriage is over.  You have decided to move forward with your life.  What is your next step? 

It is important to seek the advice of an experienced family lawyer who will analyze the specific facts of your matter.  Depending upon your circumstances, these may include alimony, also known as spousal support, child support, custody and parenting time and the equitable distribution of your assets and debts.  There should be a discussion regarding the range of outcomes including the best and worst case scenarios based upon the application of your specific facts to New Jersey law.  

The determination of an alimony award is based upon numerous factors including, but not limited to, the income of the parties, the marital standard of living, the length of the marriage, the income of the parties based upon their obligation to earn in accordance with their abilities, and other statutory factors set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.

The child support amount is calculated by completing the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet that takes into numerous factors, including, but not limited to, the parents’ combined income and the amount of time each parent spends with the children in accordance with their Custody and Parenting Time Agreement.  The calculation of a child support obligation, if any, is based upon the Child Support Guidelines Worksheet, unless the parties’ combined net income exceeds $187,200 per year.  In that instance, the calculation of child support in high income families is also based upon the statutory factors set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1.  Further if your child is a college student living on campus and both parents are contributing to tuition, room and board, the Child Support Guidelines Worksheets are not applicable. 

There are other deviations for “good cause,” although a rebuttable presumption exists that the child support award in accordance with the Child Support Guidelines is the appropriate amount to be paid.  Child support is paid until the children are deemed emancipated, either by the Court or pursuant to the terms of a Marital Settlement Agreement. 

The equitable distribution of assets and debts does not always translate to an “equal” division.  Numerous factors must be analyzed in reaching the determination as to what constitutes an “equitable” distribution in accordance with the factors set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23 and current case law.  These include, but are not limited to, the duration of the marriage, the age and physical and emotional health of the parties, the marital standard of living, income and earning capacity of the parties and the contribution by each party to the value of the marital assets. 

The issues of custody and parenting time are often capable of being amicably resolved by the parties with the assistance of a skilled mediator.  In contested matters, it may be necessary for one or both parties to retain a mental health professional to conduct a Best Interest Evaluation, which will include recommendations regarding custody and parenting time arrangements. 

The determination of whether you should resolve the issues in your divorce through mediation, arbitration or litigation is a significant decision that should be made after a careful analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of each of these processes.  To ensure you are taking the right step, contact the experienced family law team at Cohn Lifland, which includes mediators, arbitrators and litigators to assist you in deciding the future for you and your family.