1. “Fault” Isn’t That Important – Prospective clients are usually shocked to learn that “marital fault” isn’t that important in terms of dividing marital assets or even with regard to issues of parenting time. For instance, if one party had an affair, it’s not going to make much of a difference in the divorce negotiations or to a family court judge, provided that the affair doesn’t in some way negatively impact the children.
2. The Laws are (Essentially) Gender Neutral – If the breadwinner of the family is the woman, then she will (provided the laws are properly followed) likely be paying alimony. As for parenting time, the biggest factors should be things like who has been raising the children and what is in the children’s best interests. In today’s modern world, this gender neutrality is becoming more the norm—not just in theory but in practice.
3. There’s Probably Not a Conspiracy – I’ve had a lot of clients tell me that their ex is “well connected so they are probably getting special treatment from the court,” or that they think a “certain judge favors [men] or [women] or [etc],” but in reality, such issues are rare or completely non-existent based upon my own experiences. It doesn’t mean people are always treated fairly or that the proper decisions are always rendered—-but it does mean that the reasons behind such issues are almost certainly not nefarious.
4. The Judges (Probably) Won’t Speak With Young Children – If there is a custody issue and a child is under 13 years old, few if any judges will be willing to hear the child’s custody preferences. This issue is up to the discretion of the judge– and once a child is 14-15 more judge’s will allow such a meeting—but most judges prefer to keep the children out of the courtroom.
5. In Domestic Violence Matters, You Can be Found Guilty Even if It’s Just a “He said/She said,” case. – The truth is, most domestic violence cases are matters of two parties giving conflicting testimony. The standard of review is not “beyond a reasonable doubt” like in criminal matters and the credibility of each witness will be weighed heavily. Accordingly, it is possible for the court to enter a final restraining order against someone even if there isn’t much (or any) physical proof. The judge’s basic charge is to make a decision based upon credibility in such cases.
6. Children are not Automatically Emancipated at Age 18 (or even 21) – The basic emancipation standard in New Jersey is whether a “child” has moved beyond the “sphere and influence” of his or her parents. Unlike in Pennsylvania, parents might be required to pay for college (or even graduate school) for their children, along with basic child support and other expenses. This is a fact-sensitive inquiry.
7. Most Lawyers Will Not “Represent” Both Parties- Sometimes a prospective client will call me up and ask if I will draft a settlement agreement for a divorce. They want me to codify what both parties’ wish for their divorce or to have both parties come in to meet with me. To me, this presents a conflict of interest and I won’t do it. That’s why I will only represent one party and recommend that each party have their own, independent legal advice.
8. Grandparents Often will have no Right to “Grandparent Visitation” – Without a court order (and even that will be difficult to obtain), a parent’s right to parent their children will supersede any right a grandparent thinks they have to visitation.
9. Divorces Can Take 1+ Years – Particularly in complicated or contested divorces, one or more years is the rule, not the exception.
10. Prenuptial Agreements are Becoming More Common – Today, I see a lot of clients inquiring about prenuptial agreements. And no, I’m not talking about movie stars or celebrities or even in many instances, people with six figure plus incomes. Prenuptial agreements are, and (I believe) will continue to become more the purview of the everyday couple contemplating marriage.
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.