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What is an Annulment?

An annulment, like a divorce, ends a marriage. Unlike a divorce, an annulment actually nullifies a marriage, just as it never existed. A divorce simply terminates an existing marriage. While you can get divorced under New Jersey law for any or no reason, however, a legal annulment is available only in a few circumstances. There are different reasons that you might seek an annulment as opposed to a divorce. Some religions may be more accepting of annulments than divorces, and there may be less social stigma to having your marriage annulled rather than getting divorced.  

Generally, there must be some type of misrepresentation or fraud concerning an essential part of the marital relationship in order to have the marriage annulled. For instance, bigamy is one circumstance in which you may be able to annul your marriage. If your spouse has another living spouse when you marry him or her, it is bigamy; if you weren’t aware of the fact that your spouse already was married, you will likely be able to get an annulment or a declaration that the marriage was invalid or void from the beginning.

Another reason for annulment is duress. If your spouse or another person threatened you with serious violence in order to compel you to get married, you may be eligible for an annulment under New Jersey law. Similarly, if an individual lacked the mental capacity to understand that he or she is getting married, then the marriage can be annulled. Other grounds for an annulment include nonage, in that one or both of the spouses was under the age of 18, impotence, or incest.

Finally, other types of fraud or misrepresentation that affects the marriage can be a ground for an annulment. The most common types of fraud concern one’s desire to have children, addiction to drugs or alcohol, immigration status, religious beliefs, and pregnancy by another person at the time of the marriage.

It should be noted that legal annulment and religious annulment are not the same thing.  Certain religions allow for religious annulments in the event of a legal dissolution of your marriage but a legal dissolution (divorce or annulment) does not necessarily equate to a religious annulment (and vice versa). 

Whether you ultimately seek a divorce or annulment, the break-up of a family relationship is not an easy task. During times like these, it is hard to ensure that you are making the decisions that are truly best for you and your family, especially when it comes to the demise of a marriage. 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.

Divorce and Taxes: What You Need to Know

Tax planning is an essential aspect of the divorce process, yet many individuals who are going through a divorce fail to adequately understand the tax consequences that may apply to them. The fact is that tax issues can have a significant impact on a divorce and even the strategy that each spouse uses during the divorce process. Furthermore, as our nation is on the brink of major changes to federal tax law, the outcome of certain tax-related situations may be uncertain in the context of a divorce. As always, you should be sure to get the most up-to-date advice from your tax professional if you have questions about how the new tax laws might affect your situation. However, there are some basic tax rules that you should be aware of as you go through your divorce.

First, there are certain aspects of federal tax law that apply to parties with minor children who are in the midst of the divorce process. Child support payments are neither deductible for the payor nor taxable income for the payee. Only one parent can claim the child for the purposes of the dependency exemption, who is typically the “custodial parent,” or the parent who provides more than half of the child’s support for the tax year. However, there are situations in which a custodial parent can be ordered to release the exemption to the non-custodial parent, if all other requirements are met. Only the parent who claims the child as a dependency exemption is eligible to claim the child tax credit, which has become much more valuable to taxpayers beginning in 2018. Although the new tax law eliminates personal deductions, it doubles the size of the basic child tax credit, from $1,000 for each eligible child to $2,000 for each eligible child. Additionally, the amount of money available as a refundable credit will rise, and the income levels at which the credit previously phased out will increase substantially.

For the past 75 years, alimony has been deductible to the payor to the extent that it is countable as gross income to the payee. However, the new tax law repeals the alimony deduction and the spouse receiving the alimony no longer is required to pay taxes on it. Some experts foresee this change as detrimental to an efficient and affordable resolution to many divorces. The concern is that the lack of a deduction for alimony will result in less money for the family in general, and, in particular, the spouse in need of support, which could make reaching a settlement in some cases more difficult. However, this provision of the tax law does not take effect immediately; the repeal of the alimony deduction will only affect divorces finalized after December 31, 2018. This change also may necessitate changes to provisions of existing prenuptial agreements, which assumed the existence of the tax deduction.

These are only a few examples of how taxes substantially impact divorce proceedings, as well as how the new tax law may result in changes to certain aspects of divorces. Taxes are only one aspect of the financial matters involved in New Jersey divorce cases. 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 Do I Know if I Should Get Divorced?

Deciding whether to file for divorce is an intensely personal determination that only you can make. While it can be helpful to solicit advice from family and friends, you ultimately must make the decision personally. What is right for your sibling or your best friend may not be right for you. This also is not a decision that you should make quickly. Give yourself some time to fully consider the various factors that you should take into account when making decisions about divorce.

First, consider whether your desire to get divorced is based on rational reasons or raw emotions. Are you simply angry or upset with your spouse, or have you been considering divorce for a long period of time? Have you already attempted to repair the problems with your marriage, or are you just reacting to something that your spouse has done or said that has hurt you? Take some time to determine whether you truly believe that you would better off on your own, or if you still have hope for your marriage.

Next, ask yourself whether you are staying in your marriage solely for the sake of your children. The reality is that your child is smarter than you think, and probably can tell that your relationship with your spouse is troubled. Listening to you and your spouse fight on a regular basis is not healthy for your child. It teaches your child that dysfunction in your marriage is part of a normal relationship, which is not exactly the healthiest of lessons. At the end of the day, your child will recover from divorce, and hopefully learn the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships.   Just because you do not have a functional marriage, doesn’t mean that you can’t have a functional and healthy coparenting relationship.

Determining whether to file for divorce can be a very complex decision to make, so you will need to consult a New Jersey family law attorney about your rights and obligations under New Jersey law. We are here to help you make the decisions in your case that will best benefit you and your family in your divorce or related legal matter. We are here to answer your questions, ease your mind, and help guide you through what is likely to be a difficult proceeding. At Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC, we handle many legal matters that relate to families and children. Contact our office today and see how we can assist you with your New Jersey divorce case.

Easing Your Child’s Transition From One Home to Two Homes

A divorce or separation results in a great deal of change for a child, but perhaps one of the biggest challenges is successfully transitioning a child from having one home to having two homes. Particularly in the early stages of divorce, making a child feel comfortable in each parent’s separate residence can be tough. However, with some simple steps, you can ease your child’s transition between homes and help him or her become accustomed to having two different places to call home.

First, whether only one parent is establishing a new residence, or both parents have moved to new places, you should allow your child to participate in furnishing and decorating his or her own space. Give your child the chance to pick out paint colors, bedding, and wall décor, even if it wouldn’t be your choice of colors or style. Permitting your child to decorate his or her own bedroom can go a long way toward making the child feel comfortable in a new residence.

Next, take the time to make your new space familiar to your child in some ways. Let your child bring a bag with a treasured stuff animal or blanket back and forth between the two homes. Get a nightlight or lamp that is similar to what the child has at his or her other home. Try to work with your child’s other parent to split up or share familiar belongings between households, such as your child’s cups and dinnerware, favorite bath towel, and sports memorabilia. This allows your child to customize his or her surroundings with a mix of new and familiar items.

Keep some common items in both homes so that it isn’t a disaster if your child forgets an essential item. Stock both houses with a toothbrush and toiletries for your child, as well as extra sets of pajamas, underwear, and socks. Make sure your child has clothes in both places, extra pairs of shoes, and an extra jacket on in both houses, if it is possible to do so. This step can avoid many situations that might cause your child to become upset.

Divorces and separations are never easy, particularly for children. Even in the best of circumstances, children are likely to feel the stress of the situation. During times like these, it is hard to make the decisions that are truly best for you and your family, especially when it comes to legal matters that affect your children. 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.

Can I Appeal the Judge’s Child Custody Decision?

New Jersey law gives judges a great deal of discretion in family law matters, including decisions related to child custody. In some cases, a judge’s custody and parenting time decision may be very easy to understand, but in other cases, a decision may seem biased or unfair to one or both parents. In that case, you do have recourse; when you receive a court decision that you disagree with, you do have the right to challenge the judge’s decision through the appeals process.

An appeal asks a court consisting of two or three appellate judges to review the trial judge’s child custody decision. The appellate court can affirm the trial court’s decision, which means that the appellate court agrees with the trial court’s decision and determines that it should remain in place. Alternatively, the appellate court has the authority to completely overturn a trial judge’s decision and issue its own decision on the matter, but this is a relatively rare occurrence. More commonly, however, if the appellate court disagrees with the trial court decision, it will remand, or send back, the decision to the trial court judge, along with instructions stating what the trial court did wrong in making its decision. In this case, the trial court judge is supposed to review the case again and issue a new decision according to the instructions given by the appellate court.

Appeals in the state of New Jersey, as is the case in many states, tend to be very long and expensive battles. You can expect that appeals (unless emergent) will last a year or more, and, in the meantime, the trial court’s Order on child custody will be in place (unless the Court determines to “stay” or hold the Order pending the appeal). That Order will remain in effect, unless the appellate court decides to overturn the trial court decision for some reason.

As a practical matter, very few child custody cases are appropriate for an appeal. The vast majority of family law decisions from trial courts are affirmed by the appellate court. Plus, in the small number of cases in which the appellate court overturns a decision, or determines that the decision is erroneous in some manner, the result may not be in your favor. Therefore, a decision to appeal of a child custody decision should be very carefully considered.

The attorneys of Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC , know how stressful, emotional, and complex legal proceedings can be, particularly when they involve custody or other matters related to your children. 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.