Divorce is rarely straightforward. Many men and women, anxious to get on with their lives, unfortunately try to handle their divorces themselves. In doing so, they ultimately cost themselves money and lose out on important rights.
At Petrelli Previtera, LLC, we have represented many clients in divorce proceedings. We have protected their rights to child custody, child support, alimony, and equitable distribution of marital property. Let us help you get the divorce you want so that you can start the rest of your life on the right foot.
“When it comes to responsiveness, our firm goes above and beyond for our client. Find out how we balance compassionate and dedicated advocacy with aggressive legal representation.”
Melinda Previtera, Partner at Petrelli Previtera, LLC.
Common Divorce Issues in Dispute
Believe it or not, whether to get divorced is rarely in dispute. Even if one spouse is opposed, New Jersey’s laws allow one spouse to claim “irreconcilable differences,” which means the spouse believes the marriage has broken down for a minimum of six months and cannot be salvaged.
Instead, the most common issues in dispute are:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Division of marital property
- Division of marital debt
It is vital that men and women contemplating divorce understand their rights in each area of law, so consultation with a divorce lawyer in Linwood, New Jersey is highly advisable.
Confusion Regarding Child Custody
Child custody is rarely an “either/or” thing. The law in New Jersey starts with the presumption that both parents should be involved in their children’s lives.
However, the precise level of involvement might be in dispute. Parents can have legal custody, which gives them a say in important issues like medical care and education. They can also have physical custody, which allows them to determine where the child is physically present. Parents can jointly share custody, or one parent will get sole custody, and the other parent has a right to visitation each year.
We work closely with clients to defend their right to custody. Many judges will award joint custody unless there is a history of abuse or abandonment, but we strive to come up with a parenting plan that works for all.
Understanding Child Support
Child support is not a windfall to the parent with custody. Instead, both parents are obligated to support their children. If one parent has much more physical custody of the child, the court assumes that this parent is already contributing their share in the form of housing, food, clothes, etc. The non-custodial parent will need to send a monthly check to the custodial parent for their contribution.
New Jersey’s guidelines have taken a lot of confusion out of child support. A child support award calculated according to the guidelines is assumed to be correct, so judges usually hew to the guidelines. Still, there are areas that are not covered by the guidelines, such as a child with extraordinary educational or medical needs.
If you are a high-income individual, then judges often depart from the guidelines to determine how much a parent should pay. Some child support awards for high net-worth individuals are shocking. If you are high earner, you definitely need legal representation, so you are not ordered to pay too much support.
Issues Involving Division of Marital Assets
Marriage is definitely an economic union, and any divorce must unwind the couple’s finances. This is often harder than many people realize, and legal disputes often erupt over who can leave the marriage with what property.
Many misconceptions abound involving the division of marital property. We have heard people say that the law requires a 50/50 division of marital assets and others who have claimed they will get the house because it is in their name.
First, we must look at what qualifies as marital property. In reality, it doesn’t matter whose name is on the deed or title. An asset is considered marital if it was acquired after marriage, but before the divorce petition was filed. Exceptions are for gifts or inheritances. Assets can include:
- Wages earned
- Retirement accounts
- Investment accounts
- Real estate
- Business interests, including small businesses
Some people are shocked to realize that the business they started and worked to grow is considered marital, even though their spouse did not contribute to it at all. Nevertheless, this is the reality in many Linwood divorces.
Next, marital assets are valued. Valuation issues often arise when dealing with business assets since there are many ways to value a business.
Third, marital assets are divided “equitably” under New Jersey law. Equitable distribution might mean a 50/50 split, although that is not required. Instead, judges look at many factors, such as each spouse’s relative economic condition, the standard of living, and each spouse’s physical and mental health. Our divorce lawyers in Linwood will fight to ensure our clients get a fair share of assets.
A spouse can request continuing support after divorce by requesting alimony. Typically, alimony is a monthly payment a higher-earning spouse makes to his or her ex after divorce. Judges can award alimony for many reasons, such as:
- To rehabilitate the lower-earning spouse, who might need more education or work experience before become self-sufficient.
- To reimburse one spouse for making contributions to the other’s career or education.
- To help one spouse maintain the marital standard of living.
No spouse has a right to alimony in the way a child is entitled to child support. Instead, a judge needs to consider whether the circumstances warrant an alimony award, for how much, and for what duration. Because this is a vague area of law, the right Linwood divorce attorney can make a big difference.
Like other states, New Jersey has tried to eliminate biases in its laws. Nevertheless, these can continue to creep in, especially regarding child custody and alimony. For example, some judges continue to assume young children should be with their mothers, regardless of the realities of the mother-child relationship. When it comes to alimony, some judges assume a lower-earning man should not qualify for alimony, or that is impossible for ex-wives to obtain an education to support themselves.
We understand how the playing field can sometimes be slanted against men. Our divorce lawyers in Linwood will make sure that your rights are protected and your voice is heard.
Speak with a Divorce Lawyer in Linwood, New Jersey Today
Petrelli Previtera, LLC, has handled many divorces for a variety of clients, and it’s in your best interest to consult with an attorney as soon as you realize that a divorce may be in your immediate future. Please contact us today to schedule your initial, confidential consultation.