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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.

The Importance of Confirmatory Adoption or Order of Parentage

Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S., 135 S. Ct. 2584, 192 L. Ed. 2d 609 (2015), a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, firmly established marriage equality for same-sex marriages. However, legal issues still remain regarding same-sex parentage as state laws struggle to keep up with constantly evolving reproductive technology and the different configurations of families. This is why we strongly advise same-sex female couples who have conceived a child through Assisted Reproductive Technology, even with co-maternity, or ovum sharing, to take the precautionary step of establishing a confirmatory adoption or order of parentage in the partner who did not give birth.

New Jersey law recognizes the parent that gives birth to the child as a legal parent.   New Jersey law also establishes a rebuttable presumption that the spouse of a married woman who gives birth is the second parent of the child. N.J.Stat.9:17-43.  This is called the marital presumption. When a child is born to a same-sex married couple in New Jersey, then, both mothers are listed as parents on the child’s birth certificate based upon that presumption of parentage. However, a birth certificate is only an administrative record and is NOT a declaration of, or proof of, parentage that is universally enforceable.   Thus, we still would recommend documenting the situation in a court order of adoption so that a child is protected with regard to all federal benefits and so that the parentage based upon marital presumption is beyond dispute regardless of location around the world.

In a co-maternity situation, both women in a same-sex relationship are able to biologically participate in the reproduction process. Typically, a doctor will extract eggs from one mother and fertilize them with anonymous donor sperm in order to create pre-embryos. The doctor then implants the pre-embryos in the uterus of the second mother, who carries the child(ren) to term and gives birth.   In this situation, the genetic mother is biologically related to the child so an action to confirm parentage under New Jersey statute may be possible.

The New Jersey parentage lawyers at Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC, are eager to answer your questions and help you understand the procedures and benefits of filing for a confirmatory adoption or an order of parentage. As your attorneys, we will focus on how best to represent your interests and achieve your desired goals. We have handled countless adoption, parentage, and family law proceedings over the years, and we will work with you to create the best strategy possible in your case. Call our offices today at (973) 868-0958 and learn how we can help you with your New Jersey family law case.

 

What Are the Different Types of Custody?

When you think of the word “custody,” many individuals assume that it simply means where a child lives. New Jersey law provides for different types of custody, depending on the family’s situation. Legal custody refers to the right of each parent to make important decisions about the child’s life, such as those involving medical care, education, and religious upbringing. In many cases, one parent has primary physical custody of a child, or serves as the parent of primary residence (PPR). In other cases, parents may have shared physical custody, which means that a child spends roughly the same amount of time with each parent.

It is not uncommon for one parent to be the physical custodian or residential parent of a child, with the other parent being entitled to parenting time with the child. While the traditional arrangement used to be for the noncustodial or nonresidential parent to exercise visitation with the child on alternate weekends and one day during the week, a noncustodial parent may wish to spend more time with the child and this is a resolution which is increasingly common. In that case, the parties might have what is closer to shared custody arrangement. Shared custody, however, does not always mean that the child’s time is divided perfectly evenly between the two parents. It just means that the parents have parenting time that is closer to an equally shared schedule and both actively participate in a child’s regular activities.

Parents commonly share joint legal custody of their child following the dissolution of a marriage or relationship. Beck v. Beck, 86 N.J. 480 (1981). This means that the parents must cooperate in order to jointly make important decisions about their child. While joint legal custody is a great way for parents to co-parent their child in a positive manner, it also can be very burdensome when parents simply don’t get along. If the parents cannot agree on the most basic of decisions about the child, such as what school the child will attend, then it is likely that tensions will rise, legal disputes will increase, and the child ultimately will suffer the consequences. In the event that the parties cannot agree on the decision at issue, the parties may have to involve the Court in their decision making.

Custody cases are often complicated, lengthy, emotional, and stressful. No matter how complex the issues in your case may be, we are here to help. The attorneys of Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC, have handled cases involving all aspects of divorce, child custody, and family law, as well as cases involving other matters related to families and children. Please contact the experienced New Jersey family and child lawyers at our office if you have any legal questions about children and your family.