Alimony. Child support. Custody. Equitable distribution. Most everyone has heard these terms before – but until you find yourself contemplating divorce, or in the process of getting divorced, you may not have considered exactly what they mean. This article will provide you with background information on four of the most common issues present in New Jersey divorces.
Custody: In New Jersey, the concept of custody is two-fold. The first component of custody is legal custody. Legal custody determines who has the authority to make major decisions for a child. These decisions, which must be made in consideration of a child’s best interests, include determinations as to a child’s education, health, and welfare. In most cases, although not all cases, parents share joint legal custody of their child(ren), which means that both parents have the ability to make these important decisions. The second component of custody is physical custody. Physical custody, in the simplest terms, is whom your child lives with on a day-to-day basis. Most cases see one parent designated the parent of primary residence, with the other parent – the parent of alternate residence – given the ability to exercise parenting time in accordance with a particular schedule. Courts recognize that it is important for children, under most circumstances, to maintain close relationships with both parents. More often than not, parents share this same understanding, and therefore, most custody issues are settled by the parties without the need for trial. Read more here: Custody.
Child Support: Child support is generally paid to the parent of primary residence by the parent of alternate residence for the support of the parties’ shared children. In a large majority of cases, the amount of child support to be paid is determined by inputting certain information into the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. This information includes, but is not limited to, the number of children, each party’s income, the number of overnights the children share with each parent, and the costs of the children’s health insurance, unreimbursed medical expenses, and work-related child care. The Guidelines formula considers all of the provided information in order to calculate the appropriate amount of support. It is important to know that New Jersey law allows for the imputation of income where a person is unemployed or underemployed, so a person’s actual earnings are not necessarily indicative of the income which will be used to calculate child support. You should also note that child support awards may be subject to modification upon a showing of a significant change in circumstances. Learn more here: Child Support.
Alimony: Alimony is a payment made by one spouse to the other for the recipient’s support and maintenance. Importantly, alimony is not appropriate in every case, most notably (although not always) where a marriage is of short duration. In cases where alimony is paid, payment is most frequently made on a weekly or monthly basis, although it can also be paid on any other schedule agreed upon by the parties or in a lump sum. There are four kinds of alimony in New Jersey: open durational alimony, rehabilitative alimony, limited duration alimony, and reimbursement alimony. A number of elements are considered in whether alimony is appropriate and in determining the type, amount, and duration of an alimony award, including, but not limited to, ability to pay, the need for alimony, the length of the parties’ marriage, the parties’ earning capacities, the marital standard of living, and a party’s length of absence from the job market. While alimony is currently deductible by the payor and taxable to the recipient, the tax laws relating to alimony will be changing as a result of the new tax bill. Like child support, alimony may be subject to modification. Read more here: Alimony.
Equitable Distribution: In New Jersey, the process of dividing property is known as equitable distribution. In most (although not all) cases, unless property was received as a gift, is inherited, or is exempt from distribution as a result of a prenuptial agreement, all property acquired during the marriage is subject to distribution, regardless of whose name the property is in. This may include real estate, cars, bank accounts, businesses, retirement funds, stocks and investment accounts, jewelry, and collectibles. Debts are also subject to distribution. It is important to remember that “equitable” does not necessarily mean equal; rather, the goal is to ensure a fair division of marital property. Learn more here: Equitable Distribution.
Here at Paras, Apy & Reiss, P.C., all of our lawyers have many years of experience in resolving issues related to custody, child support, alimony, and equitable distribution, and are here to assist you in any way we can.
The information in this article is not intended as legal advice. For legal advice, you should consult your attorney.