The Little White Christmas Tree

Biggest brother putting ornaments on the tree at age 5.

The last time I packed our Christmas tree into the box I didn’t know it was the last time.  We split in June that year.  I picked out some ornaments when we separated our things, but for the most part, I said goodbye to the shiny little trinkets I had picked out for our family.

That was a few years ago.  The first Christmas after that was pretty brutal.  I didn’t even take out the ornaments I had brought with me.  I made a fun arts and crafts type of tree for our then 2 year olds to play with, and when they went to her house to celebrate I turned to Lifetime movies and pie.  It was pretty cliche.

The next year I had a tiny 2 foot tree I bought on a whim at Target.  The kids had a blast making tiny ornaments and I didn’t worry about them knocking anything down too much.  I had a less sad Christmas that year.  It’s amazing what effect those colorful little lights have on a room.

Fast forward a bit and the scene unfolds in a way I never expected.

Youngest brother putting ornaments on the same tree at age 5.

This year my ex, her spouse, and I, along with our kids, pulled out that same old tree.  We put on ornaments from all over the place.  We redefined our traditions in our own unique way.  We successfully blended what we had once worked so tediously to separate.

An ornament broke.  The kids stayed up too late.  We made a huge mess.

It was pretty perfect.

Day 12…

Today is day 12 of entirely solo parenting.

Today I am so thankful for my coparents.

When we first split, I took the kids and moved.  I moved far enough away to not bump into each other in the grocery store.  To not worry about who hears and says and sees what.  I moved far enough away to give myself the time and space I needed to be mad and hurt and to process in my own way.

About a year later I moved back closer.   I had had my space.   I had felt my feelings.   I had healed some of what needed to be healed.   And I was SO sick of traffic during visits.

 

Another two years after that we moved even closer together.  My coparent and I, along with the new spouse had worked together to get things where and how they needed to be for the kids.  And quite frankly, for ourselves.

We stopped calling each other exes and started calling each other coparents.  We stopped worrying about parenting time lost and started focusing on how to better spend our time now.  And now we truly are a team.  A team that works so well, that we don’t even realize it sometimes.

So now that they have been away for TWELVE days, I can confidently say that as much as I am a single parent, I am also NOT a single parent.  Nor do I wish to be.  My kids do better when they have all of us.  We do better when we have all of us.  And while everyone survived this adventure, and even had fun, I’m happy that the other two-thirds of my team will be home tonight.

¿Cuáles son los diferentes tipos de custodia?

Cuando piensas en la palabra “custodia”, muchas personas asumen que simplemente significa dónde vive un niño. La ley de Nueva Jersey establece diferentes tipos de custodia, dependiendo de la situación de la familia.

La custodia legal se refiere al derecho de cada padre a tomar decisiones importantes sobre la vida del niño, como las relacionadas con la atención médica, la educación y la educación religiosa. En muchos casos, uno de los padres tiene la custodia física primaria de un niño, o sirve como el padre de la residencia principal (PPR). En otros casos, los padres pueden haber compartido la custodia física, lo que significa que un niño pasa más o menos la misma cantidad de tiempo con cada padre. 

 No es raro que uno de los padres sea el custodio físico o el padre de un menor con residencia, mientras que el otro padre tiene derecho a pasar tiempo con el menor. Mientras que el arreglo tradicional solía ser para el padre sin custodia o no residente para ejercer visitas con el niño en fines de semana alternos y un día durante la semana, un padre sin custodia puede desear pasar más tiempo con el niño y esta es una resolución que es cada vez más común . En ese caso, las partes podrían tener lo que está más cerca de un acuerdo de custodia compartida. La custodia compartida, sin embargo, no siempre significa que el tiempo del niño se divide perfectamente entre los dos padres. Simplemente significa que los padres tienen un tiempo de crianza más cercano a un horario igualmente compartido y ambos participan activamente en las actividades regulares de un niño. 

 Los padres comúnmente comparten la custodia legal conjunta de su hijo después de la disolución de un matrimonio o relación. Beck v. Beck, 86 N.J. 480 (1981). Esto significa que los padres deben cooperar para tomar decisiones importantes en conjunto sobre su hijo. Si bien la custodia legal conjunta es una gran manera para que los padres sean padres de sus hijos de una manera positiva, también puede ser muy gravoso cuando los padres simplemente no se llevan bien. Si los padres no pueden ponerse de acuerdo sobre las decisiones más básicas sobre el niño, como a qué escuela asistirá el niño, entonces es probable que aumenten las tensiones, aumenten las disputas legales y finalmente el niño sufrirá las consecuencias. En caso de que las partes no puedan llegar a un acuerdo sobre la decisión en cuestión, las partes pueden tener que involucrar al Tribunal en la toma de decisiones. 

Los casos de custodia a menudo son complicados, largos, emocionales y estresantes. No importa cuán complejos sean los problemas en su caso, estamos aquí para ayudarlo. Los abogados de Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC, han manejado casos que involucran todos los aspectos del divorcio, la custodia de los hijos y el derecho de familia, así como casos que involucran otros asuntos relacionados con las familias y los niños. Comuníquese con la familia experimentada de Nueva Jersey y con los abogados de menores en nuestra oficina si tiene alguna pregunta legal sobre los niños y su familia. 

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. 

Exceptional circumstances lead to open durational alimony!

On August 31, 2018, the Appellate Division issued an unpublished decision in B.G. v. E.G.  This was a Union County case where after a 23 day trial, the court issued an 83 page letter opinion and Final Judgment of Divorce.  Defendant appealed from several portions of the Final Judgment of Divorce.  Plaintiff cross-appealed.

One of the most contested aspects of the case was the trial court’s decision to order open durational alimony following the parties’ 14 year marriage despite of the statutory alimony changes in 2017 wherein the standard for open durational alimony became 20+ years or “exceptional circumstances.”  In this case, the parties began dating in 1988, began living together between 1992 and 1994, had their first child in 1994, and got married in 2000.  The parties had three more children during the marriage.  Plaintiff filed her Complaint for Divorce on April 1, 2014.

At the time of trial, Plaintiff was a stay-at-home parent, as she had been for the duration of the marriage.  Defendant was unemployed but had a 5 year income average of approximately $132,000.  The parties and their four (4) children and lived a middle-class lifestyle.   Plaintiff sought open durational alimony.

The oldest child was emancipated by the time the trial concluded.  Defendant was designated as PPR (Parent of Primary Residence) of the second child and Plaintiff as PPR of the parties’ third and fourth child.  The court noted that the parties’ third child (who was 11 at the time of trial) had special needs.  The court recognized that the child is on the autism spectrum, has pervasive developmental delays and attends a special school.   The court further recognized that it was expected that this child would require continued care in the future beyond the age of 21.

While the parties had been married for 14 years, the court commented that they were a “monogamous couple” for 20 years.  The court also noted that the parties lived together in an “economically exclusive and supportive relationship” since 1992 and therefore the trial court did not rely solely on the date of marriage to determine the length of the married but considered the parties’ marriage to be “equivalent to a long-term marriage of over 20 years” and in light of this, the court awarded Plaintiff open durational alimony.

Defendant appealed several provisions of the Final Judgment of Divorce, including the portion regarding open durational alimony.  Defendant argued that N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(c) limits the duration of alimony to the length of the marriage unless there are “exceptional circumstances”

While the Appellate Court did not agree that the prenuptial circumstances were independently the basis for “exceptional circumstances”, they found that there was other substantial credible evidence in the record to support a finding of “exceptional circumstances” that, when combined with the prenuptial circumstances, warranted open durational alimony for a marriage of 14 years.  The Appellate Court specifically outlined the fact that Plaintiff did not maintain career readiness as she was caring for the children and the parties’ home; highlighted the extensive responsibilities Plaintiff has had and will continue to have relative to being the primary caretaker for the parties’ child with special needs and reasoned how those responsibilities limit Plaintiff’s job availability.

The lesson to be learned from B.G. is that here is that “exceptional circumstances” may create an opportunity in the law that, at first glance, you might not have thought existed.