Frequently Asked Questions About Family Law / Divorce in NJ

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) about the process of divorce in New Jersey:

What are the grounds for divorce in New Jersey?
New Jersey has both fault and no-fault grounds. However, in most cases, fault has no bearing on the outcome of the divorce or how the marital assets will be divided. Under exceptional circumstances, a court may consider the grounds for the divorce as a factor in determining spousal support. Below are some of the common grounds for divorce in New Jersey:

  • Irreconcilable differences
  • Separation for 18 consecutive months (this is "no fault" and the parties must live in separate residences during this time)
  • Extreme Cruelty (physical and/or mental)
  • Adultery
  • Willful desertion for at least one year
  • Habitual drunkenness or addiction for at least 12 consecutive months
  • Institutionalization for mental illness for at least 24 consecutive months
  • Imprisonment for at least 18 consecutive months
  • Deviant sexual conduct

What documentation will my attorney need in order to proceed with my divorce?

  • Your attorney will need the following documentation/records to proceed with your divorce
  • Full addresses, social-security numbers, and phone numbers for you and your spouse
  • Full names, birth dates, addresses, social security numbers of all children of the marriage
  • Information about any prior marriage of either spouse as well as, information about any children of any prior marriage, including a certified copy of the divorce decree
  • A copy of a prenuptial agreement or any other existing agreements, if applicable
  • Copies of income taxes for the past 5 years, and/or any other related data from the IRS
  • Copies of 3 most current pay stubs
  • A list of assets and liabilities of both spouses
  • Information about any and all pensions of both spouses
  • Information related to any business interests of either spouse
  • Bank account statements, credit card statements and financial statements
  • Loan applications, broker's statements, stock certificates and insurance information
  • Information about any previous legal proceedings between the spouses and/or any children
  • Dates of previous separations and/or marriage counseling

I would like to have custody of my children half the time. How can I accomplish this?
Children are not property, thus it is not your or your spouses' rights that are most important in a case involving a custody dispute. The legal standard in deciding custody of a child is that child's best interest. The court will want to consider any fact that is relevant to the best interests of your children in reaching a decision on how you and your spouse will share custody of your children in the future. This means that your custody will be governed by the specific facts of your case. This may also entail hiring experts to conduct evaluations. It may also involve engaging in custody mediation with your spouse. Each case is different and will most likely turn on its own facts.

After the divorce is finalized, will my spouse be entitled to any portion of my pension?
Generally, pensions are considered property and part of the marital estate. Therefore, this asset will be subject to division. Here at the Levine Law Firm we will sit down with you, determine what your needs are and, make a determination as to the best way to treat the pension asset in your divorce. Moreover, it may be necessary to retain an expert that specializes in valuation of your or your spouse's pension.

How can I keep the cost of my legal bills under control during my divorce process?
The best way to keep your legal bills under control is to be reasonable and organized during the process of your divorce. If you have a list of issues to discuss with your attorney, schedule a meeting or a telephone conference during which, all of your issues can be addressed, as opposed to communicating them in a scattered manner over time. Moreover, the more concise and specific the information you provide to your divorce attorney, the less time he/she will need to properly prepare your case and protect your interests. Organize your records and produce them to your divorce attorney in a chronological manner. An organized and proactive client saves fees in his/her divorce case.

I want a divorce but I don't think that I can afford to hire an attorney what can I do?
You may actually have more money than you think you do. If an asset is jointly held, you may be able to take a portion or even a half of that asset to use towards your counsel fees without your spouses' permission. Income tax refunds and loans borrowing against pensions/similar assets can be used to hire an attorney. Here at the Levine Law Firm, we may be able to help your I tap into sources of funds which may not be obvious.

My spouse owns a business and property, how to I make sure that I will get my fair share at the conclusion of my divorce process?
The best way to insure that you will be getting your fair share at the end of your divorce is to hire a forensic accountant/business evaluator who, regularly works on matrimonial cases. This professional will assist you and your attorney in valuing the business for equitable distribution purposes and establishing the true economic cash flow/income derived from your spouses' business for purposes of determining fair and adequate support. This will usually entail an engagement letter as an "expert" or "consultant" and a retainer for the professional that you choose to be brought on board.

Are alimony and child support taxable?
Alimony is while, child support is not. In New Jersey child support is prescribed by state-mandated guidelines unless, the case involves for example, a special needs child whose living expenses may be significant. Alimony is typically negotiated. Your tax implications should be strategically addressed by your divorce attorney during the negotiations phase of your divorce.

I live in a common law marriage. What type of support and property am I entitled to?
You may be entitled to palimony depending on the particular facts of your case and whether or not, your cohabitant has made promises to support you. It is important to note however, that the principles of equitable distribution and counsel fees do not apply to you. The law in New Jersey does not provide the same protections to people who reside together and those who are legally married. However, case law in New Jersey does provide provisions for cohabitants. Depending on the specific facts of your case, the court may find that you and your cohabitant have a contractual relationship based on which the court may justify financial support.