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How Is Mental Health Related to Alimony and Property Distribution in a Divorce Case?

In a New Jersey divorce, the mental health of each party is relevant in a number of different ways. For example, a party’s mental health can impact whether there is an alimony award in a divorce case. Mental health also may be a factor in property distribution that occurs during a New Jersey divorce.

Whether a court will order a spouse to pay alimony to the other spouse, as well as the amount and duration of any alimony award, depends on a number of different factors set forth under New Jersey law. According to N.J. Stat. 2A:34-23(b)(3), one of the criteria that the court must consider in ordering alimony includes “the age, physical and emotional health of the parties.” This means that if a spouse is emotionally or mentally incapacitated to the extent that he or she cannot work, then the court may decide that the spouse must receive alimony in order to support himself or herself. On the other hand, if the spouse is mentally incapacitated, he or she also may not be ordered to pay alimony to the other spouse, simply because he or she is unable to work or earn a sufficient income in order to do so. The mental incapacity of a spouse also may constitute exceptional circumstances that justify an adjustment of the duration of support. N.J. Stat. 2A:34-23(c)(3).

In a New Jersey divorce, the parties are entitled to an equitable division of their assets. Keep in mind that “equitable” does not necessarily mean “equal.” In other words, a court may find that based on the parties’ circumstances, one spouse should receive more than half of the marital property. For instance, a court can consider the parties’ physical and emotional health in making a property distribution. N.J. Stat. 2A:34-23.1. The court could award more of the assets to a mentally ill spouse if the assets are necessary to providing for that spouse’s basic needs.

Mental health issues are never easy, and when combined with the stress of a divorce case, you quickly can feel overwhelmed. During times like these, it is hard to make the decisions that are truly best for you and your family, particularly when it comes to emotionally-charged issues like mental health and divorce. It is in these kinds of cases that a New Jersey family lawyer can be most useful to you and truly make a difference in the outcome of your case. Visit our website at http://argentinolaw.com. You also can email us at info@argentinolaw.com, and one of our staff members will get back to you right away.

Is Drug Addiction a Ground for Divorce?

New Jersey law provides for both no-fault divorce and fault-based divorce. In a no-fault divorce, the reason for the divorce is often referred to as “irreconcilable differences.” This means that the parties simply can no longer live together and don’t want to continue their marriage, for whatever reason. On the other hand, there are specific grounds or reasons that form the basis for the “fault” divorce. The spouse who has filed for divorce based on a certain ground must produce evidence proving that ground. One such ground is drug and/or alcohol addiction. N.J.Stat.2A: 34-2.

In order to get divorced in the state of New Jersey due to drug addiction, you must prove that your spouse’s drug addiction has lasted for at least one year or more. The addiction must be continuous and significant enough to damage the marriage beyond repair. The only proof necessary for this divorce ground is that your spouse’s addiction actually existed. Even if your spouse seeks treatment at some point during your marriage, you may still be able to get divorced based on the ground of drug addiction.

In addition to providing evidence of drug addiction, you must meet the other requirements for getting divorced in the state of New Jersey. For example, one spouse must have lived in New Jersey for at least one year before filing for divorce. N.J.Stat.2A:34-10. If neither you nor your spouse meets this requirement, then you either will have to wait until one of you does meet the residency requirement, or look into getting divorced in another state, where the residency requirements may differ.

The attorneys of Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC , know how stressful, emotional, and complex legal proceedings can be, from divorce and child custody to parentage and adoption. If you are looking for help with a legal matter involving families or children, you need the advice and guidance of one of our attorneys. Contact our office today to set up a meeting with an experienced lawyer at Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC, and learn how we can help you with your legal case.

Residency Requirements for a New Jersey Divorce

In order to get divorced in the state of New Jersey, the court must have authority over you to hear and make decisions about your case. This is called jurisdiction, and it includes certain residency requirements that you must meet in order to get divorced in the state. N.J. Stat. 2A:34-10. At least one spouse must have been a bona fide resident of the state of New Jersey for one year immediately prior to the divorce being filed. Until one of you meets this requirement, you cannot get divorced in New Jersey.

The only exception is if you are filing for divorce on the basis of adultery, or that your spouse had an affair with another person. In this case, neither you nor your spouse must be a resident of New Jersey for one year immediately prior to filing for divorce but at least one of you has to reside in the state at the time of filing. For any other grounds for divorce, however, whether it is a fault or no-fault ground, you or your spouse must meet the residency requirement.

If you don’t meet the residency requirements, then you will simply have to wait to file for divorce until one of you has met the residency requirement. If you recently moved to New Jersey, you might look at filing for divorce in the state from which you moved, if you can meet that state’s residency requirements. Every state has different residency requirements that you must meet in order to file for divorce. It also may be burdensome if you have to travel to the other state regularly in order to meet with your lawyer and attend court hearings.

We know how difficult, complicated, and emotionally draining divorce cases can be. Contact Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC, today and we will show you how we can help with your New Jersey divorce case. Our attorneys focus their practice primarily on family law and issues related to children, so we are sure to have the skills that you need for proper representation in your divorce case. We are here to answer your questions, settle your concerns, and assist you through the often difficult process of contested divorce and family law cases.

How Mediation May Be a Useful Alternative Dispute Resolution Tool

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in which a neutral third-party mediator hears evidence about both sides of the dispute, facilitates a discussion between the parties, and guide the parties through negotiations outside of the courtroom. As mediation is often a less expensive and time-consuming means of settling family law cases, such as divorces, New Jersey Courts not only encourage the use of mediation, but actually require it in divorces. Mediation is useful in almost all type of family and child-related legal matters. Divorces, child custody and parenting time modifications or disputes, and alimony, equitable distribution and child support cases all are suitable subjects for mediation. From an emotional and personal perspective, it is usually better for spouses and/or parents to reach an agreement to resolve their legal disputes rather than go to court and have the judge make a decision.

As stated above, a mediator is a neutral party who does not take either side of the dispute. He or she does not make decisions in your case, even if mediation fails and the parties reach no agreement. The only role of the mediator is to help the parties communicate in a meaningful and calm manner so that they can work through disputed issues and reach a mutually acceptable resolution. Mediation proceedings are much more informal than court proceedings, which can allow the parties to relax and work on their problems in a friendly rather than hostile environment. If the parties reach an agreement, the mediator then places that agreement in writing and submits it to the court for approval.

At Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC , Jodi Argentino is a Court-approved mediator.  We also will participate in mediation as attorneys for either party.  We handle all of the different issues that New Jersey cases involve with respect to families and children whether it involves litigation, mediation, or another form of alternative dispute resolution. We understand how emotional and stressful these types of cases can be, which is why we are here to help guide you through your legal proceedings as simply and efficiently as possible. Contact our offices today to set up an appointment with one of our highly experienced lawyers and see what we can do to help with your case.

 

What Happens if I Don’t Follow a Child Support or Alimony Order?

If you don’t pay your child support and/or alimony as ordered, you could be guilty of a crime in the state of New Jersey. Willful non-support of a spouse or child is a fourth degree offense under New Jersey law. N.J. Stat. 2C:24-5. While a non-support violation can result in incarceration, the court also has the option of ordering the parent to perform community service for part or all of the parent’s term of incarceration. N.J. Stat. 2A: 34-23e.

New Jersey law also provides for different types of remedies when a parent or spouse has violated a child support and/or alimony order. N.J.R. 5:3-7B. These remedies include:

  • Entering the arrearage amount as a judgment and assessing interest against that judgment
  • Requiring the parent or spouse to make additional payments toward the arrearage amount
  • Suspending an individual’s occupational license or driver’s license
  • Imposing economic sanctions
  • Ordering participation in a community service program
  • Ordering the parent or spouse to serve a period of incarceration, with or without work release
  • Issuing a warrant if the violations of the support and/or alimony order continue

If the Probation Division of Child Support Enforcement (a/k/a NJ Family Support Services) is handling your child support case, that office has the power to use administrative enforcement tools, including the following:

  • Credit reporting when a parent’s arrearage is $1,000 or more
  • Intercepting a parent’s state and/or federal income tax refunds
  • Intercepting lottery winnings of $600 or more when a parent’s arrearage is $1,000 or more
  • Denying a passport when a parent’s arrearage is $2,500 or more
  • Seizing assets, such as the proceeds of an insurance claim
  • Suspending recreational licenses when support has not been paid for six months or more

The family law attorneys at Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC, know how to handle all aspects of New Jersey family law cases, whether they involve the enforcement of child support or alimony orders, or other issues altogether. We are here to help and give you the advice that you need. Contact our office by e-mailing us at info@argentinolaw.com or call us at (973) 868-0958 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced family law attorneys today.