- "My ex-wife and our two kids have moved in with her boyfriend. Do I still have to pay support?"
- "How can I be sure I'm getting the best possible settlement?"
- "What are my chances of getting custody of our children, or at least being able to see them half the time?"
You may be entitled to relief on alimony, but not on child support. Alimony is based on your ex-wife's need for support from you. If she no longer has a need, you may no longer have to pay.
In some states, the mere fact of residence with another man is enough. You would have to show the court that they are actually residing together, not just visiting. This could be demonstrated by proof that your ex has given up her prior residence, that she has registered the children in a new school district, or by documentation that she is receiving her mail at her boyfriend's home. Sometimes it's useful to hire an investigator to place her there at night over a period of weeks. Investigators can be expensive, so you will want to have the observation take place two days one week, two different days the following week, and two other days a third week.
In other states, you would have to show an economic relationship between your ex and her significant other to establish that she no longer needs support from you. This can be shown by a reduction in her rent expense, joint accounts, etc. Once you can show that they're living together, many states will require her to show that there is no economic relationship.
The bottom line is that it's not wise to just stop paying. You will need to file a motion and get a court order. Even if you're sure your ex doesn't need the money, it makes sense to pay the support into an escrow account until a judge decides the motion.
As for child support, no such luck. Your obligation to your kids comes from your status as their dad. Mr. Wonderful has no legal obligation to support them. Don't abandon your role, either emotionally or economically: they may need you more than ever!
You can never be sure. You can only be reasonably sure. As you go through your divorce process, you are entitled to obtain the information you and your divorce lawyer need to make informed decisions about divorce settlement. Whether you receive complete information is a function of many factors, including your knowledge of family finances, the knowledge and experience of your family law attorney, and the candor of your spouse. Your willingness to litigate, if necessary, may also contribute to your spouse’s willingness to cooperate.
Once you have gathered as much information as you can, it must be evaluated with a view toward New Jersey divorce law. Your divorce lawyer will help provide you with the reasonable parameters of a divorce settlement. You are then ready to engage in negotiations with your spouse and his/her family law attorney. In the give and take of compromise, you must always keep in mind what is most important to you and be willing to give in on secondary issues to achieve your highest priorities.
It is unrealistic for any divorce litigant to expect to obtain everything he/she wants. A good divorce settlement is one that both parties can live with that is accomplished in the shortest amount of time and at the least expense. As you can imagine, this is a very difficult balancing act.
Be reasonable, respect your spouse's perspective (even if you hate him/her), and follow the legal advice of the divorce professionals you hire. Only then will you be assured of a divorce settlement you can live with without regret.
"What are my chances of getting custody of our children, or at least being able to see them half the time?"
Children are not property. Therefore, it is not your rights or your spouse's rights that are most important. That is why the legal standard in deciding custody is the children's best interests.
Since the children's best interests govern the decision, just about any fact that is relevant to their best interests will be considered by the court in reaching a decision. This means that your chances of getting custody are going to be governed by the specific facts in your case. No two cases are alike. They are all unique.
You can enhance your changes by hiring a good, experienced lawyer who has successfully handled many custody cases. He/she will assess the facts in your particular case and will advise you how to best proceed. This may entail hiring experts to conduct evaluations. It may involve hiring private investigators. It may involve engaging in mediation.
Every case is different and the prospects of success vary widely. Carefully select an attorney. Tell him/her the whole story (good and bad parts). Follow his/her advice. In that way you can maximize your chances of getting custody.