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Are Postnuptial Agreements Enforceable Under New Jersey Law?

Young mom with her daugher at psychologist consultation

Everyone has heard of prenuptial agreements, or “prenups”. Spouses often enter into these legal contracts before they get married so that some issues are predetermined if they later divorce. For instance, a common subject of a prenuptial agreement is property division. If one individual anticipates receiving a substantial inheritance or valuable work of art during the marriage, he or she may want a prenuptial agreement stating that the item belong solely to him or her if the parties should divorce in the future. If the couple then divorces, a legally valid and proper prenuptial agreement should protect that individual’s right to maintain sole ownership of the art piece or inheritance, despite the fact that he or she received it during the marriage.

New Jersey has a specific statute that guides the specific requirements for a valid prenuptial agreement. In any case, in order to be legally valid, a postnup must be in writing, notarized, and executed only after there has been fair disclosure of assets by both spouses. Additionally, both spouses must have signed the postnup without duress or coercion.

On other hand, a far less common type of agreement is the postnuptial agreement. This contract may be similar to a prenuptial agreement in terms of its subject matter, but the parties enter into postnup after they already are married. Like a prenup, a postnup typically involves financial matters; you cannot decide issues like child custody in either type of agreement. If one spouse is set to receive a large inheritance in the near future, for example, then he or she may want a postnup to prevent the other spouse from having any right to any portion of the inheritance if they end up getting divorced. A postnup may modify or replace an existing prenup, or it may be a stand-alone agreement, usually created if there has been a substantial financial change or marital troubles. Postnups are viewed critically because of the circumstances which surround their entry.

At Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC , we know how to handle all of the different issues that New Jersey cases involve with respect to families and children, including issues related to property and debt division. We pride ourselves on always being up-to-date and knowledgeable of any legal developments involving New Jersey family law. We are here to help guide your through your legal proceedings, because we know just how stressful and emotional these kinds of cases can be.

Can My Child Talk to the Judge During Our Family Law Case?

Young mom with her daugher at psychologist consultation

Under New Jersey Court Rule 5:8-6, a judge may speak with a child privately during a child custody dispute. This is commonly referred to as an in camera interview. If the judge decides to conduct this interview, the attorneys for both parents may submit written questions ahead of the interview for the judge to ask the child. Following the interview, the parents are entitled to a written transcript of the interview, but neither parent may talk to the child about the interview unless the court grants permission for him or her to do so. Therefore, while a judge has the discretion to speak with a child during a child custody case, he or she must do so according to strict rules; the parties also are held to these rules.

The purpose of these detailed rules for an in camera interview is for the child to speak openly and honestly about certain aspects of the custody case. Testifying in open court in front of his or her parents may be frightening to a child, and because the parents are present, the child may not tell the entire truth for fear of disappointing or angering a parent. As a result, the child may make conflicting statements to each parent, in an attempt to tell the parent what he or she wants to hear.

In camera interviews do not occur in most custody cases. The court is more likely to appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL), who is a neutral third party with expertise in children and family law cases. The GAL typically interviews all parties, including the children, and must make recommendations that he or she believes is in the children’s best interests. It is the GAL’s job to speak on behalf of the children and let all parties know about any important things that the children have said about their parents or other relevant issues. 

The family law attorneys at Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC, know how to handle all aspects of Washington child custody and family law cases, no matter the complexity of the issues involved. Our attorneys are involved in these types of cases as attorneys, mediators, or as guardians ad litem. 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.

What is the Right of First Refusal or Right of First Care?

The “right of first refusal” or “right of first care” is a common provision in child custody and parenting agreements. In its most basic form, the right of first refusal means that when one parent needs child care, he or she must offer the other parent the opportunity to care for the child before contacting a babysitter or another family member to provide the care. While this seems like a reasonable provision in most cases, it may not be appropriate in some cases for a number of different reasons.

Although many parents agree to include the right of first refusal in their custody and parenting plans, other parents do not. In a case where parents cannot agree on the right of first refusal, a judge must decide whether including the right of first refusal in a parenting plan is in a child’s best interest. For instance, if the parents do not have a good relationship and have little contact with one another, a court might find that imposing the right of first refusal against one parent’s will is not in the child’s best interests. In other cases, if a parent is only may be called into work for two hours at a time during his or her time with the children, but only for an hour or two, it may be impractical to contact the other parent and request him or her to provide child care.

Therefore, having the right of first refusal is far from automatic. Not every parent has this right, and the court will not always grant a parent this right over the objection of the other parent. Courts may tend to favor the inclusion of the right of first refusal in parenting plans, particularly for extended periods of time, but they will not always require the parties to exercise it. A good example of a decision regarding the right of first refusal is found in the case of Ferrer v. Durkin, N.J. Super. App. Div., Docket No. A-4880-15T1, June 26, 2017. Although the parents had shared custody of their children, they also had a difficult relationship in which Father often argued and refused to compromise with Mother over minor aspects of their parenting agreement. The trial court declined to implement the right of first refusal as Father requested, and Father appealed. On appeal, the appellate court found that the trial judge did not abuse his discretion in finding that imposing the right of first refusal in this particular case was not in the best interests of the children.

The experienced child custody and parenting time lawyers at Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC, are eager to answer your questions and help you understand how the right of first refusal works under New Jersey law. As your attorneys, our focus is on how to best represent you in your case and work toward your desired goals. We have handled countless child custody, divorce, and family law proceedings over the years, and we know how to assist you in reaching the best possible outcome in your case. Call our offices today at (973) 868-0958 and learn how we can help you with your New Jersey custody and parenting time case.

Special Concerns in Your “Gray” Divorce

family, relations, age and people concept – senior couple sitting on sofa at home

Over the past several years, there has been an increasing trend of divorces among couples over the age of 50, many of whom have been married several years. This trend may be attributable, at least in part, to individuals living longer, less societal stigma associated with divorce, and a simple unwillingness to remain in an unhappy marriage. While every divorce involves different issues, so-called “gray divorces” raise some special concerns that are unique to older individuals.

First, when a “gray divorce” occurs, the individuals are closer to retirement than many divorcing couples. Divorce can have a significant impact on an individual’s finances, especially when one spouse has been out of the workforce for an extended period or has few job-related skills. From this perspective, an older individual who divorces may find himself or herself having a more difficult time recovering from the financial fallout of the divorce. This can cause one or both spouses to have to work well beyond their anticipated retirement age and live a much different lifestyle. If you find yourself in this situation, you will need to carefully consider your financial situation and determine whether you need continuing support from your spouse or additional assets to adequately support yourself.

Legal fees, negative tax consequences, and early withdrawal penalties on retirement accounts all can negatively impact the existing marital assets, which result is not beneficial to either spouse. Maintaining the bills and taxes on the marital home may no longer be a possibility for either spouse; the fact is that when one household splits into two separate households, there is simply not as much money to go around. Since the parties have been married for a longer period of time, they are more likely to have accrued assets that then must be divided in the divorce. This can lead to lengthy and contested divorce proceedings, additional attorney’s fees, and serious tax consequences.

“Gray divorce” raises a number of issues and concerns that are not as likely to be present during divorces involving younger spouses. If you are in this situation, you need to be aware of these issues. At Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC, we understand that every case is unique, so we pride ourselves in crafting an individual approach for every family whose interests we represent. Our family law attorneys are skilled in handling family law, divorce, and other cases involving children. Contact our experienced team of attorneys today so that we can assess your case, answer your questions, and present the options that are available to you. We will provide you with the information that you need to make the best decisions for you and your family.

How Breastfeeding May Affect Parenting Time

young mother breast feeding her infant over white background

Arranging a parenting time schedule is rarely an easy task, and when a young child is still breastfeeding, scheduling sufficient time with each parent becomes even more difficult. This situation is becoming more and more common, as more mothers are choosing to exclusively breastfeed for the first months and even years of their children’s lives, simply due to the superior health benefits that result from breastfeeding. Exclusive breastfeeding, however, can make overnight parenting difficult, if not impossible, but also can have a significant impact on daytime parenting, as well. This is particularly the case with mothers who practice “attachment parenting,” which can involve breastfeeding the child on demand, rather than on a set schedule, and continuing to breastfeed the child until the child decides to wean himself or herself.

Infants who are exclusively breastfed often reject a bottle, even if it contains breast milk. Due to the frequency with which infants must be fed, a child refusing a bottle during the other parent’s parenting time can result in frustration for both parent and child. At the same time, it is essential that the non-breastfeeding parent have the opportunity to feed and bond with the child at the earliest age possible. With no current guidance from New Jersey court rulings or statutes on the issue of breastfeeding, child custody, and parenting time, it can be difficult for a court considering the matter to decide what parenting arrangements are in the child’s best interests. While parents who live in the same geographical area may have an easier time working these issues out, it becomes even more difficult when the parents live farther apart and longer periods of parenting time are necessary. It is essential for parents of very young children to work towards keeping lines of communication and contact open to ensure the most beneficial situation possible for their child.

No matter what type of issues your family law case involves, our New Jersey family law attorneys are here to accompany you through every step of the legal proceedings in your case. We can answer your questions, evaluate your case, and go through all of the potential options for resolving your case. At Argentino Family Law & Advocacy, LLC, we have provided experienced legal representation for families, parents, and children throughout many different family law proceedings. Contact our office today at (973) 868-0958 or e-mail us at info@argentinolaw.com and schedule an appointment to talk with us about your case.