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Category: Divorce and Family Law

Removing Children Out of State: Law in New Jersey

A parent of primary residence receives great news: after a difficult job search, he orshe has been offered a dream job. There’s just one potential problem–the job would require moving out to California.  Removing Children out of State, or “removal” law, is one of the trickier and most emotionally charged aspects of New Jersey family law.

Litigant’s or potential litigant’s may be surprised to learn that the legal procedure is often the same whether one is moving all the way out to California, or simply to Delaware, Pennsylvania or New York.   In fact, there can be situations where no notice need be given to move 250 away within New Jersey, but it would not be acceptable to move 55 miles away to a town just over the border in New York.

In this post, I will briefly lay out some of the major issues and concepts involved in New Jersey removal law.

Generally speaking, under N.J.S.A. 9:2-2, children who are “natives” of New Jersey or who

have resided in New Jersey for five (5) years prior to the removal action, may not be removed out of the jurisdiction without: (1) The Consent of both parents, or (2) A valid Court Order.

Parental Consent to Removal

If you need the consent of the parent who does not possess primary residential custody, then perhaps now might be a good time to start buttering him or her up to try and obtain that consent.   In all seriousness, however, moving out of state can be a hotly contested issue.  The parent of alternate residence has a right to see their child(ren), and it is understandable that he or she might contest having their children taken out of state.  The further the move, the harder it will likely be to obtain the consent of the other parent–and also the Court.

Meanwhile, more often than not the parent of primary residence is requesting the move not to alienate the other parent from the children, but rather to pursue a new opportunity.  Conversely, if consent is not obtained, the parent of primary residence may begin to feel trapped in New Jersey or even agitated with the parent withholding consent to the move–particularly because the parent of alternate residence does not need to obtain approval prior to moving out of state.

Court Order for Removal

If removal is contested or consent withheld, then the parent of primary residence will likely be forced to file a Motion to move out of New Jersey.  It should be noted that the Criminal Code of New Jersey may/will impose sanctions for removing a child from the State without consent or Court approval.  Such an act would likely be seen as, at the very least, interference with parenting time/custody.  If the child is removed from the country then the potential charges will likely become even more serious.  This potential crime can possibly carry with it severe sanctions.

A Court will likely weigh several factors in determining whether to grant a removal outside of New Jersey.  The best interests of the child will be the  overarching focus of this inquiry, as it is with almost every decision affecting children in New Jersey Family Courts.

The basic initial burden, however, of a parent of primary residence, is to prove that: (1) There is a good faith reason for the move; and (2) The child(ren) will not suffer from the move outside the state of New Jersey.

Thereafter, the burden generally shifts to the parent withholding consent, who must then attempt to prove that the move is not in the child(ren)’s best interests.  The Court will weigh several factors in reaching a final determination as to this issue.  Among those factors will likely be an analysis with respect to:

  • The educational and other opportunities available to the child(ren) following the move (versus the present opportunities);
  • The child’s preference (if the child is of an appropriate age to seek such information);
  • The ability for the other parent to continue parenting time and a meaningful relationship with the child(ren).
  • Any special needs of the child(ren).
  • The reasons provided for relocating.
  •  The reasons provided for opposing/contesting the relocation.
  • Other factors relating to the best interests of the parties’ child(ren).

Often times, a plenary hearing will be required following the filing of a Motion to determine the proper outcome of the request to remove the children from the State.  Plenary hearings can take months to be scheduled and resolved.

Conclusion

As is always the case with this website/blog, please remember that the above is merely a cursory overview of a specific issue in the law.  Every case is fact specific–and laws are always in flux.  Accordingly, please seek the advice of an appropriate attorney or other professional before making any decision with respect to your own case or potential case.

Your New Jersey Divorce Lawyer:

If you’re considering a New Jersey divorce or Family Law action contact me to discuss your options.  You can schedule an initial consultation by calling my office at 908-237-3096 or by scheduling your own divorce consultation online by clicking here.

Annulments in New Jersey

The end result of a divorce and an annulment is, in many ways, the same:  the parties are no longer married.  The difference therefore is in the means rather than the ends.  As is so often the case with law (and life), the “devil is in the details.”

Although this is an oversimplification, a divorce ends a valid marriage.  Conversely, an annulment voids a marriage entirely.  There is no “end” of a marriage in an annulment, because there is no valid beginning.  New Jersey law treats the annulled marriage as though it never existed in the first place.

But now for a caveat: some marriages are void by annulment, whereas other are merely voidable.  Even if both parties wish to remain married, a void marriage will never be valid in the eyes of the State.  A voidable marriage merely presents an opportunity to have a marriage annulled.  For instance, if you got married while intoxicated–your marriage may be voidable.  If you give consent–implied or otherwise–by remaining married for a validating period of time following the marriage, then you can no longer seek an annulment under those grounds.

New Jersey Annulment Law  

When I use the term “annulment law” in this post, I am not referring to religious annulments.  I am rather discussing the concept of annulment law in New Jersey, or “legal annulment.”

Under N.J.S.A 2A: 34-1, Judgments of annulment (or the “nullity of marriage”) may be rendered in cases when:

  • Either party has another wife, husband, civil union partner, or domestic partner living at the time of the marriage.  (polygamy).
  • The parties are within the “degrees” of consanguinity.  (incest).
  • Impotency (in some cases, if unknown by the other party at the time of the marriage).
  • Lack of capacity (mental capacity, drunkenness, etc).  As noted above, a lack of capacity is, in many instances voidable rather than automatically void.
  • One or both parties are under the legal age to consent to marriage.
  • Fraud (possible examples: failing to disclose intimacy, intent to have children, only agreeing to marriage to gain citizenship, etc.)  Fraud is particularly case-sensitive.
It should be noted that these same annulment laws apply almost universally to marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships.
Conclusion 
Annulments in New Jersey are generally a rare occurrence.  Annulments are only granted in narrowly defined instances.  Merely regretting your marriage generally leads to a divorce rather than an annulment.
As these issues are fact and case-specific, it is best to review these matters with an appropriate expert such as a New Jersey family law attorney.

Your New Jersey Divorce Lawyer:

If you’re considering a New Jersey divorce or Family Law action contact me to discuss your options.  You can schedule an initial consultation by calling my office at 908-237-3096 or by scheduling your own divorce consultation online by clicking here.

 

Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey

In my last blog post, I noted that “fault” is less important in New Jersey divorces than most people would expect.  Today, I am going to briefly review the major grounds for divorce in New Jersey.

#1: Irreconcilable Differences 

By far the most popular grounds for divorce in New Jersey–despite the fact that it was only recently recognized by the state–irreconcilable differences is essentially an expedited form of “No Fault” Divorce.  The major statutory requirement is that “irreconcilable differences” have occurred, causing the breakdown of the marriage, that there is no prospect of reconciliation, and that these irreconcilable differences have been ongoing for at least six months.

Only one party need seek a divorce in New Jersey–agreement to a divorce is not required.  In other words, you’re spouse can’t deny your filing a divorce complaint in New Jersey.  Of course, they can tie up the divorce process forcing a trial.

#2: No Fault Divorce 

Although irreconcilable differences complaints are essentially used as a form of no fault divorce, New Jersey does offer a purer form of “No Fault Divorce”.  The statute for No Fault Divorce in New Jersey requires eighteen or more consecutive months of a husband and wife living separate and apart, “in different habitations”, and with no reasonable prospect for reconciliation.  As the requirements of a no fault divorce are difficult to obtain; today this form of divorce is rarely utilized in New Jersey divorce courts.

#3: Extreme Mental or Physical Cruelty

The rest of the grounds for divorce are “fault-based.”  A claim of extreme mental or physical cruelty requires proof of “any physical or mental cruelty which endangers the safety or health of the plaintiff or makes it improper or unreasonable to expect the Plaintiff to continue to cohabit with the Defendant.”

#4: Adultery 

Clients often ask about using adultery as a grounds for divorce.  The problem is then establishing the adultery through circumstantial or other evidence.  Moreover, the suspected “partner” in the alleged infidelity must then be named in the Complaint–and served as a co-respondend to the divorce.  Using adultery as a grounds for divorce in New Jersey is often so time-consuming and financially draining as to not be worth the effort.  Furthermore, the benefits of an adultery claim are, in most cases, minimal.

#5: Other Grounds for Divorce

Other New Jersey grounds for divorce are available, although in practice they are exceedingly rare.  Some examples of these “other” New Jersey grounds for divorce include:

  • Desertion
  • Deviant Sexual Behavior
  • Imprisonment
  • Institutionalization
  • Habitual Drunkenness or Drug Habituation
  • And more.
Of course, one need not be constrained to just one divorce count when filing a Complaint for Divorce in New Jersey.  In some instances several counts for divorce will be included in a divorce complaint.

Conclusion 

Every case is fact-sensative, so you should review all of the available grounds for divorce with your attorney to ensure you select the proper grounds for YOUR case.

 

Your New Jersey Divorce Lawyer:

If you’re considering a New Jersey divorce or Family Law action contact me to discuss your options.  You can schedule an initial consultation by calling my office at 908-237-3096 or by scheduling your own divorce consultation online by clicking here.

"Fault" Less Important in New Jersey Divorces Than One Might Think (New Jersey No-Fault Divorce)

By: Carl A. Taylor III

I write this post as Hurricane Irene batters the northeast, and tries to flood my basement.  My night has consisted of my Wife and I taking shifts taking pales of water to our utility sink, aiding a sump pump that’s quite literally “in over its head.” I am thankful this is the worst we have had to endure from Irene. But perhaps it’s only natural, given these conditions, to write about the idea of “fault”–and how sometimes assigning blame is a less rewarding enterprise than one might first believe.

“Fault” Is Less Important in a New Jersey Divorce Than One Might First Believe

During an inital consultation, many clients wish to focus on the “fault” of the other party.  “My Husband is a no-good drunken louse.”  Or:  “My Wife is having an affair and emotionally checked out of our marriage years ago.”

While it is understandable why so many New Jersey Divorce clients wish to focus on blame or fault for the breakdown of their marriage leading to divorce, notions of blame or fault often plays a smaller role in the outcome of the divorce than the clients or those unfamiliar with divorce in New Jersey would think.

New Jersey No-Fault Divorce

Although this was not always the case, today, New Jersey is a no-fault divorce state.  This means that, practically speaking, it is possible to seek and be granted a divorce in New Jersey without having to prove fault.  Although “fault” based grounds such as extreme cruelty and adultery are available, most New Jersey Divorce Complaints are filed as “irreconcilable differences.”

“Fault” and  New Jersey Divorce

This “no-fault” philosophy also permeates the disposition of a New Jersey divorce case.  Therefore oftentimes, there may be little or no benefit to filing a fault-based divorce rather than a no-fault divorce/irreconcilable differences divorce complaint.

New Jersey law is written so that “fault” will not generally play a role in determining alimony or equitable distribution.  The example I always use is this: one party could have been the best spouse in the world.  Someone who is unquestionably moral and wonderful in every way.  Meanwhile, the other party could have been a philandering alcoholic, with a bad temper and an all-around poor disposition.  And yet, when it comes time to determine each party’s share of equitable distribution, none of that would likely matter.

With a no-fault mentality (yes, even when fault can be proven) prevelent throughout New Jersey divorce law, there is often little benefit to trying to paint the other party as a “bad” guy or girl.  Of course, in limited circumstances–such as when custody is in issue–notions of “fault” and “character” may be of supreme importance.

Also, please note that every case is fact-specific, so never assume “fault” or “character” will not be important in your case.  Whether these concepts/issues will be of significant legal importance or not, it is  important to review the reasons for the divorce, and any “fault/character” issues (for either party) with your attorney.  Personality and the marital dynamic will likely be important in crafting a case-specific legal and/or negotiation strategy.

Conclusion

It is often impossible to separate the emotional from the legal in a New Jersey divorce case.  All such issues should be reviewed with your attorney.  Just note that fault will often play less of a role i

Your New Jersey Divorce Lawyer:

If you’re considering a New Jersey divorce or Family Law action contact me to discuss your options.  You can schedule an initial consultation by calling my office at 908-237-3096 or by scheduling your own divorce consultation online by clicking here.

n the outcome of a New Jersey divorce than one might initially believe.

 

New Jersey Divorce Lawyers – Legal Writing – The MadMan, the Architect, the Carpenter, and the Judge

By: Carl A. Taylor III

A lawyer’s writing ability is one of the most versatile tools he or she will carry in their arsenal.  It’s one of those wonderful skills that is transferable regardless of the area of law being practiced.  For New Jersey Divorce Lawyers, the writing-intensive nature of their job is almost taken for granted.

Perhaps because I am a former English major, I am drawn to the idea of constantly attempting to refine and improve my writing.   Recently, I have been reading Bryan A. Garner’s “Legal Writing in Plain English”–which referenced an interesting and effective writing process I had never before heard of. It’s called the Madman, the Architect, the Carpenter and the Judge, and according to Garner, this process was first created by Dr. Betty Sue Flowers, an English Professor.

Much of this post paraphrases the ideas I read in Mr. Garner’s book, which in turn perhaps paraphrased Dr. Flower’s. But this system is so simple and yet profound, that I just had to share it with you.

Whether you are an active New Jersey Divorce Lawyer, a client thinking about filing a Motion pro se, or simply someone interested in improving their writing abilities, the Madman, the Architect, the Carpenter, and the Judge should provide a great system to help you achieve your goals.

The basic concept is this: four stages need to be completed to produce effective legal writing. Each stage requires a different personality, and you can’t allow the personalities to interfere with each other. These four personalities are defined as the “Madman”, the “Architect”, the “Carpenter”, and the “Judge.”

Writing Stage 1: The Madman

The Madman is the creative spirit inside all of us. The madman (or madwoman) is all about ideas. Some of his or her ideas are good, some are bad, and some are simply….mad as a Lewis Carroll character.

These ideas, however, are the lifeblood of the writing process. Without ideas, why are you writing in the first place? The key is to let the madman be as crazy as he or she wants to be. You shouldn’t try to reign in the ideas, just simply write out every idea the inner “Madman” has to offer.

Writing Stage 2: The Architect

Again–according to Garner referencing Dr. Flower’s–the Architect requires a different mindset, because he or she has a different set of skills. Accordingly, the job of the Architect is to take the Madman’s work and develop it into a cohesive written outline. The Architect will throw many of the Madman’s ideas out, and elaborate or revise others. When the Architect is finished, there should be a detailed outline for the Carpenter to follow, just like the plans for building a new house.

Writing Stage 3: The Carpenter

The Carpenter’s job is to follow the Architect’s outline and to actually write. Assuming the architect provided an effective outline, and the Madman had some good ideas, then the writing should be quite easy.  Apparently a big key here is to keep “The Judge” at bay until it is his turn to act. His judgmental approach may kill ideas or slow the outlining or writing process.

Writing Stage 4: The Judge

Finally it’s our inner-Judge’s turn to take center stage. This is when you edit and revise, and that includes everything from simple grammar mistakes to rewriting sections of your document.

Conclusion

The above framework provides actionable steps and the specific mindsets necessary to thoroughly and effectively take your writing to the next level. As Garner notes, if your problem is minor details and grammar issues—then you need to improve your “Judge.” Conversely, if creativity is an issue–then you need to more fully embrace the inner madness of the Madman.

Since I read this section of Garner’s book, I’ve implemented this strategy into brief or other extensive legal writing.  Thus far, I have been satisfied with the results. The biggest improvement I have noticed is cutting down the time it takes to start and complete a polished final product.

Best of luck to you if you attempt to implement this method into your own writing, legal or otherwise.

Your New Jersey Divorce Lawyer:

If you’re considering a New Jersey divorce or Family Law action contact me to discuss your options.  You can schedule an initial consultation by calling my office at 908-237-3096 or by scheduling your own divorce consultation online by clicking here.

Initial Consultation: Eight Good Questions to Ask Your Prospective New Jersey Divorce Attorney

In matters of family and divorce law, initial consultations are often very important.  This is where you will likely meet your Divorce Attorney for the first time.  In advance of the meeting, the attorney or his or her staff likely advised you of some basic documentation to bring, such as your most recent W-2’s and tax returns.  Now the initial consultation day has arrived, and you are ready to discuss your case, have your questions answered, and determine the appropriate next steps to take.  Most attorneys do not offer free consultations for divorce matters, so make sure you ask some or all of the following eight questions to make sure you get the most out of your initial consultation.*

  1. Overall Firm Strategy – What is the overarching firm strategy, philosophy or personality.  Some firms like to be known as aggressive.  Other divorce attorneys pride themselves on their negotiation skills.  Does the attorney suggest mediation or litigation as a first move?  Mediation is the less-aggressive and often times less expensive method.  Many attorneys will suggest trying mediation first, with litigation as a fall-back option.  Likewise, many clients have their own thoughts as to the proper disposition of their case.  As the rapport between a client and their attorney is more important in family law than in most types of practice, the alignment of you and your prospective attorney’s ideals may prove quite important as the case moves on.
  2. Divorce Attorney’s Rate – For most clients, knowing the divorce attorney’s billable hour will also be an important factor when choosing an attorney.
  3. Cost – Likewise, a client may want to review the estimated/anticipated overall cost of the divorce.  One caveat: in divorce cases, the legal costs are largely dependent upon how quickly the parties can reach and finalize an Agreement.  Accordingly, an estimate will often-times be just that–and the actual cost may be significantly lower or higher depending upon a number of factors.
  4. Who Will Be Working on the Case? – In a solo law practice, it’s pretty clear who will be handling your case.  Other times, however, two or more attorneys may be handling your case.   Some clients will see multiple attorneys as a plus and others as a negative.  Others still won’t care either way, provided that the work product is good.   If this is an issue for you, then it’s worth clarifying just who will be handling your case.
  5. Experience of the Attorney – You’ll likely be curious as to the attorney’s experience with your type of matter.  If so, you should feel comfortable discussing this issue with your attorney prior to retaining him or her.
  6. Areas of Practice – Likewise, you’d be well served to ask the attorney his or her basic areas of practice.  Some clients favor retaining attorneys who limit their practice to one or a few areas of law.  Experience goes beyond age and the amount of years in practice, it also relates to how long an individual attorney has been practicing in a specific area of law, and what percentage of their practice is devoted to that type of law.
  7. Retainer Amount and Retainer Agreement – The vast majority of divorce attorneys will require a retainer agreement. The retainer amount will depend on the nature of the matter, the firm’s billing practices, and other additional factors.  This can be a stumbling block for many clients.  If so, it is often-times better to recognize this early on, so the potential client can find another attorney with a retainer agreement more in line with his or her available income/assets.
  8. Range of Outcomes – Just as an estimate of cost is quite preliminary, a discussion of a case’s likely outcome is also somewhat premature at an initial consultation.  That said, many attorneys will discuss a range of likely outcomes.  For instance, the attorney may review a range of alimony or child support amounts, or discuss the likelihood of success should you file a certain type of Motion.

Conclusion 

Your initial consultation is an important meeting, and will often set the tone for the rest of your case.  With these questions in mind, you should be prepared to have a productive initial consultation with your prospective New Jersey divorce attorney.

*These questions form a baseline of the types of questions that should be addressed during a productive initial consultation with a New Jersey divorce attorney.

Contact the Law Office of Carl A. Taylor III

If you are the Plaintiff or Defendant in a domestic violence matter, Carl Taylor Law, LLC stands ready to meet with you, answer any questions you may have, and assist you through the process.

Your New Jersey Divorce Lawyer:

If you’re considering a New Jersey divorce or Family Law action contact me to discuss your options.  You can schedule an initial consultation by calling my office at 908-237-3096 or by scheduling your own divorce consultation online by clicking here.

 

New Jersey Child Custody

Child Custody Law in New Jersey: Overview 

It perhaps goes without saying that custody disputes can be both expensive and emotionally draining.  In 1992, the Appellate Division Court even hinted at the judiciary feeling somewhat uncomfortable with deciding custody disputes.  Specifically, in Tahan v. Duquette, 259 N.J. Super 328, 336 (App. Div. 1992), the Court wrote the following regularly cited opinion:

We urge the parties to understand that courts in any jurisdiction are poor places to resolve such fundamental relational problems as child custody. Rules of law and procedural strictures are no substitute for personal choices in so intensely personal an issue. Parents who have divorced are frequently unable to communicate constructively on issues of importance; so they look to the legal system to resolve their problems. But no stranger in a judicial robe, however able and well motivated he or she may be, is equipped to make a decision as valid as the parents working together might make.

But be that as it may, there are few if any elements of a divorce that are more important than protecting the best interests of the parties’ children.

Best Interest’s of the Children Standard

The analysis of most child custody disputes in New Jersey starts and ends with a simple but hard to define standard: “The Best Interests of the Children.”

The best interests of the parties’ children standard may involve some of the following arguments:

  • Where will the child receive the best education?
  • Where will the child be safest?
  • Which party can provide the “better” living conditions?
  • Which party is more nurturing?
  • Where will the child have the best chance to excel?
New Jersey child custody decisions should be made with the “best interests of the parties’ children” in mind.  But let’s backtrack for just a second.  By now you may be wondering, how is custody defined in New Jersey, anyway?
Custody Types
Under New Jersey Law, there are two basic types of child custody:
1) Legal Custody; and
2) Physical Custody.

New Jersey law favors joint “legal custody”, whereas joint “physical custody” is exceedingly rare.   See: Pascale v. Pascale, 140 N.J. 583  (1995).

Legal custody includes the right to make important decisions regarding the child, such as those decisions involving health and education.

As its name implies, physical custody assigns which parent will have the child the majority of the time.

Often times, however, the non-custodial party will still be granted a significant amount of parenting time.   The amount of overnight parenting time also plays a role in determining New Jersey child support awards.

Gender and Custody

New Jersey has largely become gender blind when determining custody (except perhaps when a child is very young).  That said, for a variety of reasons, women are still granted physical custody of the children the majority of the time.  It should be noted, however, that the amount of father’s being granted primary physical custody of their children appears to be increasing.

Modification 

New Jersey Child Custody Decisions are Always Subject to Review and Modification, in the best interests of the child (if a change in circumstances is first demonstrated).*

Often times, custody decisions are consented to by the parties as part of the divorce or as a separate Custody Agreement in conjunction with their divorce proceedings.  Until a child is an adult, however, custody issues may persist and/or be revisited upon either party’s request.

Litigation 

If the parties cannot resolve their custody issues, then the issue will likely have to be litigated.  As part of a child support litigation, there will likely be outside experts called in to assist the Court in determining which living arrangements are in the best interest of the parties’ children.  Issues of parental fitness will play a larger role than the preference of the child, particularly if the child is younger.

As the block quote above about the “stranger in the black robe” demonstrates, the Court will likely push parties’ toward mediation.  New Jersey Child Custody cases are very fact sensitive.  In most instances, our firm will recommend mediation efforts to our clients, while viewing litigation as a last resort should mediation or other attempts at an amicable resolution fail.

Conclusion 

In future posts, I will explore New Jersey Child Custody disputes in even greater detail.

 

*This analysis is not the same if a Judge finds a “De Facto” Change in Custody.

Your New Jersey Divorce Lawyer:

If you’re considering a New Jersey divorce or Family Law action contact me to discuss your options.  You can schedule an initial consultation by calling my office at 908-237-3096 or by scheduling your own divorce consultation online by clicking here.

Child Support Law in New Jersey

By: Carl A. Taylor III, Esq.

Payment of support  is an obligation that runs from parent to child rather than from parent to parent.  When viewed through this prism, Child Support Law in New Jersey becomes more easily understood.

Determining Child Support in New Jersey

In most instances, the child support amount will be determined by the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines.  These guidelines take the form of a complicated equation.  Some of the factors taken into consideration by the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines include:

  • Both parties’ income from all sources, (both earned and unearned, including alimony).
  • The amount of overnight parenting time exercised by each parent.
  • The children’s ages.
  • The number of children.
  • Health Care and Child Care costs.
  • Support Paid for Children from another relationship.

As the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines are an equation, most disputes involve data input.  For instance, a party may argue that their ex-spouse earns a substantial but unreported sum of money from tips.  This would affect that spouses’ income–and therefore the child support amount.

Please Keep in Mind…

In the past, I have had some clients misunderstand the nature of each party’s child support obligation.

For instance, many parents of alternate residence believe that they are paying for all of the children’s support.  In most instances, however, this simply is not so.

A parent of primary residence may not have a probation account, but they are still paying for all of the children’s expenses not covered by the child support payments.  In fact, except in very rare instances, neither party has a 100% obligation to support their children.  It is a shared obligation–or at least that is the objective of the child support guidelines.

Likewise, many parent’s of primary residence expect the child support to cover all of the children’s expenses.  Again, the goal is shared expenses for the children.

Deviation from the Child Support Guidelines 

There are some instances where child support guidelines will not be used, or the final support obligation will deviate from the child support amount.  Two such instances are:

  • Child Support Guidelines are not used when an adult child resides away from home during college.
  • When the net income of the parties’ (from all sources) exceeds $187,200, then a deviation from the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines may be necessary.  *$187,200 in net income is the current income threshold under the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines.

Modification 

When a child support account is set-up through Family Support Services/Probation, there will often be periodic increases in support (cost of living adjustments, i.e. COLA).  Likewise, the parties may agree to revisit child support at certain set intervals.

Child support may also be modified, however, at any time–should there be a change in circumstances.  Some common examples of what may be considered a change in circumstances include:

  • Modification of custody or parenting time.
  • Changes in the incomes of the parties (positive or negative).
  • Job loss, serious illness, and/or disability.

Termination 

Unlike some other states, New Jersey does not assume the emancipation of a child or the termination of child support upon a child’s eighteenth birthday.

Parent’s of Alternate Residence may be thinking: “I guess I’ll just have to enter into an Agreement with the Parent of Primary Residence.”  But again, it’s not that simple.

Let’s revisit the important concept that the right to child support belongs to the child rather than either party, (See: Pascale v. Pascale, 140 N.J. 583 (1995)).  For that reason, under New Jersey law, neither party can effectively waive a child’s right to ongoing support.  

Therefore, both parents have an ongoing duty to care for their children, and if applicable, pay child support, until the child is emancipated (emancipation will be covered in a subsequent post).  Thus while the parties could Consent to emancipation and/or the termination of child support, in theory that Agreement could be subject to an attack by the adult child or a child’s guardian.

The basic legal threshold for emancipation in New Jersey is commonly referred to as when a child has moved beyond the “sphere and influence” of his or her parents.  It is rare for a Court to find that a student attending college full-time, directly after high school, has moved beyond the “sphere and influence” of his or her parents.

Your New Jersey Divorce Lawyer:

If you’re considering a New Jersey divorce or Family Law action contact me to discuss your options.  You can schedule an initial consultation by calling my office at 908-237-3096 or by scheduling your own divorce consultation online by clicking here.