Johnson & Johnson, Attorneys At Law

Florham Park Legal Blog

Child Custody issues can be a sticking point in a divorce

Divorce in New Jersey is seldom entered into lightly and can be further complicated if children are involved. Child custody issues can hold up proceedings and cause what can be a lengthy process to be even longer. While couples may come to an agreement on custody issues on their own, there can be advantages to having a legal custody order.

In a contentious divorce, having a judge assist in child custody decisions can help ensure that any agreement will be adhered to. In one prominent example, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie filed for divorce after separating two years ago. The proceedings have been held up by the pair's inability to agree on the issue of child custody regarding their six children. The court exercised the option of employing a custody evaluator, a third party who can offer guidance on custody based on what is best for the children.

Estate planning and information sharing

Dying without a will or trust in place has gotten a lot of attention in recent months and years as several prominent people have died without a will or a trust. Estate planning is vital to ensuring that one's final wishes regarding health care directives, burial plans and so forth are carried out according to one's instructions. It is also important that the people entrusted with carrying out those wishes are aware of the existence and location of the documents in New Jersey.

In the absence of severe illness, few people anticipate an early or sudden death. As unpleasant as it may be to consider, it is a possibility people face every day. As families gather for the holidays, it's a good time to take a few moments to ensure that loved ones are familiar with the existence of such information and its location.

Estate planning can be vital if a person owns a business

Having a will or trust in place can be important for anyone living in New Jersey. Most people have assets or other property they would wish to protect. Estate planning can be particularly important if one is a business owner and has other family members involved in the business.

If a person dies without a valid will, he or she is said to have died intestate. This means that the property of the deceased will be distributed according to the laws of the state. If the person was married, the estate would pass to the surviving spouse unless there are children from a previous marriage or relationship. In that instance, the assets would be split between the children and surviving spouse.

Why talking to parents about estate planning early is critical

Some of the biggest news stories about estate planning are about celebrities with a significant amount of assets that did not sit down with an attorney to discuss who inherits their property. It can become a financial and legal nightmare when the heirs are left to deal with the decedent’s mistakes.

However, it does also serve as a reminder that estate planning must begin at a younger age. You may not have a lot to give right now, but most are not able to predict when they will die. Before you begin planning out potential asset division, you may want to talk to your parents if they are still alive and can think clearly. It could potentially give you some ideas on the direction you want your plan to take while preparing you for your parents’ future in the process.

Divorce and alimony: Is a lump-sum payment possible?

Ending a marriage can be an expensive undertaking in New Jersey. In addition to the legal fees incurred during the divorce negotiations, there may be additional expenses of alimony and child support. These are typically paid out over time on a monthly basis and can go on for many years. Is there an option for a lump-sum payment where alimony is concerned?

New Jersey has a means for calculating child support payments; however, there is no such method for calculating alimony. Many different factors go into calculating that amount. Included in these are the financial needs of both people, the lifestyle they've become accustomed to and the duration of the marriage. The remaining earning potential of the individuals may also be taken into consideration.

Pros and cons of arbitration in a divorce

The decision to end a marriage is seldom entered into lightly in New Jersey. When a couple decides to divorce, there are different options that can be exercised as to how divorce negotiations will proceed and to what extent the courts will be involved. Arbitration is one such option that reduces the role of the court and has an added benefit of taking place privately rather than in a public courtroom.

When a couple makes the decision to enter into arbitration, it is often to aid in the resolution of issues that they cannot agree on. The arbitrator listens to each side and can then make a ruling. If both parties agree to the ruling, the issue is considered to be resolved. Divorce negotiations can be completed with the arbitrator.

Estate planning a gift of the season

It's October and the holiday season will soon be here. It is often said, by people young and old in New Jersey, that they just have too much stuff. There has been a move of late to give to charitable contributions in lieu of gifts to loved ones. Another option would be to get the young adults in one's life started on a long term savings and retirement plan or other aspects of estate planning.

A $5,500 contribution can be made to a Roth IRA and a traditional IRA -- to one or the other or to a combination of the two. The total of the two accounts cannot exceed $5,500. Be sure to verify that the recipient's income falls within the guidelines. A single person earning $118,000 or less is eligible for the full contribution amount.

Estate planning should be reviewed in the event of remarriage

Divorce and remarriage in New Jersey are very common in this day and age. Complex family structures are often one result of this phenomenon. One result of all of this is more complex estate planning. When both partners have offspring from prior marriages and possibly children together from the new marriage, they may want to ensure that children are provided for fairly after their deaths.

Estate plans occasionally need to be updated and a new marriage would be one of those occasions. If one spouse wants to ensure that part of one's estate goes to the children of a previous marriage and not everything to the surviving spouse there are options. The simplest is that one spouse designates part of an estate to the children and part to the surviving spouse. Another option involves creating a trust for the surviving spouse that would provide a distribution to the surviving spouse for the duration of his or her life and the balance would then pass to the children.

Plan for your kid’s college tuition in your divorce settlement

In recent years, a New Jersey teen sued her divorced parents for tuition support payments and won. The case gained international news as it raised questions over whether parents —divorced or not — should be legally required to provide financial support for their children through college.

If you are separated from your spouse or anticipating a divorce, college may be far from your mind — especially if your children are young. However, as a college degree becomes increasingly standard for job entry and overall financial success, it’s an important topic to discuss with your ex.

Collaborative divorce: The middle method

With the increasing amount of divorcing marriages in the country, the states have incorporated more ways for couples to separate depending on the condition of their marriage and their properties. Litigation can be costly and leads to intense arguments in the courtroom, but it might be the best option for couples who cannot agree at all in the settlement. Mediation is known as a more peaceful option, but some divorcees are unsatisfied with how one person gets to determine everything.

So what happens if you and your spouse find yourselves in between? You want to settle the divorce peacefully, but there are still several assets you have disagreements on where a mediator might not be the best option. Thankfully, New Jersey established the Family Collaborative Law Act a couple of years ago, allowing couples to have a more peaceful option than litigation while still settling with some difficult areas of your marital assets.

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Johnson & Johnson, Attorneys At Law

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Florham Park, NJ 07932

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