If your marriage isn’t working, the typical response is to legally end it by filing for divorce. There may, however, be reasons why you might want to file for legal separation without officially terminating the marriage.

What is Legal Separation?

A legal separation is often a precursor to divorce, allowing the parties to resolve all potential issues, such as custody and visitation, support, and property distribution, without officially ending the marriage. With a legal separation, the parties enter into a binding agreement that sets forth the terms of the separation. The agreement must generally be in writing, signed by both parties and witnessed by a licensed notary. Though most separation agreements simply address issues of custody, support and property, you can include provisions related to day care, insurance, mortgage and car payments and even tax returns. With a legal separation, there is no need to involve the court in any proceedings, unless one of the parties fails to honor the terms of the agreement.

Why Legal Separation Instead of Divorce?

Among the reasons you may want to consider legal separation instead of divorce are:

  • You or your spouse may be able to keep health insurance benefits (which are always terminated in the event of a divorce) through an employer’s plan
  • You can have the tax advantages of married filing jointly
  • You can become eligible for certain Social Security benefits if you remain married for at least 10 years
  • If you (and/or your spouse) are in the military, there can be benefits available under the Uniform Services Former Spouse Protection Act, provided you are married at least 10 years
  • Separation can give you time to reconcile without the permanency of divorce
  • If your faith prohibits divorce, you can stay true to your religious beliefs

Contact Us

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured people throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.

January 14, 2016 By Leave a Comment

If your marriage is over, you can always file for divorce. But what about an annulment? What is an annulment and when is it an option?

What is an Annulment?

Technically, an annulment is a process that takes the parties back to before the marriage ostensibly took place—an annulment effectively cancels the marriage, legally concluding that there was no marriage. If the parties have any property, it goes first to the person who had legal title to the property. For jointly owned property, or for property which carries no title and which cannot be determined to be owned by one or the other, the property will be equally divided. If there are children, both parents retain parental rights.

When Can a Marriage be Annulled?

In New Jersey, there are a number of legitimate grounds for an annulment:

  • Age—If one or both of the parties were under the age of 18 at the time the marriage ceremony took place, either party can annul the marriage
  • Duress—If either one of the parties entered into the marriage as a result of a threat of physical violence, that party threatened may seek an annulment
  • Mental incapacity—If either lacks the ability to understand that he or she was married, or what marriage is, it can be annulled
  • Bigamy—If either one of the parties was already married at the time the ceremony took place, it is not legally binding
  • Impotence or infertility—If either party knew that he/she was impotent or infertile, and did not disclose that knowledge, the other party may seek an annulment

Familial relationship of parties—If the parties are too closely related, as defined in New Jersey law, they cannot get married and any attempt to do so will be annulled

Fraud or misrepresentation—If one of the parties misrepresents or lies about a material element of the marriage—the desire to have children, status as an illegal immigrant, addiction, religious affiliation or belief, pregnancy—that can be the basis for an annulment

Contact Taylor & Boguski

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured people throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.

November 5, 2015 By Leave a Comment

Divorce Mediation – How It Works

If you have concluded that it’s time to end your marriage, but you don’t perceive the need for a lengthy battle over custody, support or property, or you just want to amicably terminate the relationship, you may be a good candidate for divorce mediation. Here’s how the process works.

The first step is to identify and hire a neutral third party. Often, that will be an attorney who has been trained in mediation. It’s important to understand that the attorney does not represent either party to the mediation, but is tasked with helping both parties identify and implement mutually beneficial solutions to disagreements about custody and visitation, support and property matters.

The mediator is not a judge, either. Accordingly, the mediator won’t take testimony from witnesses, won’t consider evidence, and won’t issue any type of ruling as to who should “win” or “lose.” Though the mediator will want to hear a detailed version of the facts from both parties, the reason for doing so is to help the mediator identify what the parties need and what they might be willing to concede, so that a resolution can be crafted that both parties can accept.

The divorce mediation process typically takes far less time than litigation. First, there’s no need for an extensive “discovery” period, where the parties seek to gather and assess as much evidence as possible. The mediator will be more focused on how the parties can move forward than on what happened in the past. Additionally, you won’t have to wait months to get on the court’s docket. In most instances, mediation can be scheduled within weeks or a couple months. Furthermore, because the mediator doesn’t take testimony, the actual process is fairly short. Most divorce mediation can be completed in a day or two.

Because there’s far less time involved in the process, mediation is usually significantly less expensive than litigation. Though you can (and often will) be represented by counsel in mediation, the preparation is less time-consuming, reducing legal costs.

A final advantage to divorce mediation—it gives you a greater involvement and say in the outcome. As you work through the mediation process, you can always reject a proposal from your soon-to-be ex-spouse, and can always counter with a proposal of your own. With a good mediator, you won’t have to worry about intimidation or duress from your spouse—the mediator should perceive what’s going on and protect your interests.

Contact Us

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured people throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.

October 20, 2015 By Leave a Comment

Frequently Asked Questions about Divorce Mediation

Q: Will I have to represent myself or can I have my attorney present at mediation?

A: You always have the right to have your attorney present during mediation. In fact, it’s generally in your best interests to work closely with a lawyer throughout the process, so that you understand what your rights are and what you can expect.

Q: How long does divorce mediation typically take?

A: In mediation, unlike litigation, there are no witnesses (other than the parties) and the mediator does not consider exhibits or other evidence. As a result, most divorce mediation can be completed in a day or two.

Q: What if my ex has been abusive or threatening? Is mediation still a good option?

A: Both parties must agree to the terms established by mediation. Your ex may be unwilling to do so, if he or she is accustomed to intimidating you. However, if you have a strong mediator, you shouldn’t have to worry about the outcome being affected by your former spouse’s actions. The mediator is required to help bring about a solution that is in the best interests of both parties. If the mediator perceives that you are only agreeing under duress or undue influence, the mediator can and should intercede to make certain that the outcome if fair to both parties.

Q: Should I hire an attorney to be my divorce mediator?

A: You can, but there’s no requirement that you do so. An attorney will have a solid understanding of your rights, as well as the responsibilities of both parties, and can make certain that all important issues are addressed. However, there are many skilled divorce mediators who are not lawyers.

Q: What happens if my ex doesn’t honor the terms of the mediation?

A: Typically, when you complete mediation, you sign an agreement that is entered with the court. If your ex fails to abide by the terms of the agreement, he or she can be found in contempt of court. In addition, you may be able to bring an action for breach of contract.

Contact Us

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured people throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.

July 1, 2015 By Leave a Comment

What You Can Do If You Can’t Pay Your Support Obligation

Most non-custodial parents want to provide for their children, and understand the importance of meeting their child support obligation. But what happens if you lose your job, or you are self-employed and can’t get a customer to pay you? What can you do to minimize the potential problems?

The Loss of a Job Won’t Affect Your Obligation

A child support obligation is a court order. It will stay in effect until withdrawn, amended or completed. Accordingly, even if you lose your job or can’t get a customer to pay you, you will still be liable for regular child support. You can petition the court to amend your obligation, but you won’t likely get much relief, if any. The court will typically require a permanent and substantial change in your income to make a change to the order. Courts are reluctant to change support orders due to temporary unemployment, as the order will have to be amended again when you go back to work. In most instances, you will simply accrue an arrearage and will have to pay a higher amount when you go back to work to make up the arrearage.

What to Do When You Can’t Pay Support

The first thing to do is contact your child support enforcement office in the state and county where your divorce was finalized. This will typically be the agency that handles your child support, unless you have legally transferred the responsibility. The agency will typically have forms that you can complete to request a change in support, but the court will have to approve any change.

If you agreed in the court order to pay support directly to your ex-spouse, you should immediately contact him or her. You may be able to work out arrangements to make up the arrearage. However, if you pay directly to a child support enforcement agency that then sends payment to your ex, there’s no benefit to contacting your ex other than as a courtesy. The decision to seek enforcement may or may not come from your ex or from the agency, but the enforcement agency may or may not act without request or approval from your ex.

Contact the Law Office of Taylor & Boguski

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured people throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.

June 3, 2015 By Leave a Comment

The Things You Can Do to Minimize the Impact of a Divorce on Your Kids

Divorce is always hard on children, even if family life was difficult before the breakup. As a parent, you don’t want to do things that will only add to your child’s sense of loss and grief. Here are important things to do and to remember to help your children cope with the changes the come with divorce.

Make certain your kids know that the divorce had nothing to do with them—Often, your children will simply ask you why you are getting a divorce. The response can be complicated, but don’t dismiss their question with an evasive answer—they’ll only try to find the answer on their own (and often come up with the wrong answer). It’s best to clearly state that the problems were between you and your ex (no need to detail the problems) and that the divorce has nothing to do with them.

Remember that your children love your ex, too—The differences you have with your ex need to stay between you and your ex. You should never put your children in the position where they have to choose sides between you and your ex. They love your ex and you will put them in an extremely awkward position if you try to demean or belittle the other parent.

Work with your ex to be consistent in discipline and other matters—While you may have a different parenting style than your ex, try not to directly contradict what you ex does or says to them. As much as possible, keep the same sets of rules at both households. The more variations you have, the more stress you will put on your child.

Be willing to compromise for the sake of your children—When the stakes are small, don’t make them big. Be the one who is willing to cooperate with the other parent for the sake of the children. Be willing to switch weekends if it will benefit the kids and won’t dramatically alter your plans. Your willingness to cooperate will go a long way toward eliminating or minimizing the stress your children experience.

Co-parent when practicable and possible, but be willing to let the other parent make a decision if doing so makes sense—Kids feel stress when everything has to be decided by committee. When it’s in your child’s best interests to have both parents involved, participate cooperatively. But when a decision has to be made and discussion will only delay or aggravate the situation, be willing to let your ex decide.

Contact Us

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured people throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-234-2233.

May 8, 2015 By Leave a Comment

Making Divorce Less Painful for Your Children

As a parent, the last thing you want is to see your children suffer. In the midst of a divorce, though, you can do thing, often unintentionally, that cause a lot of confusion, anxiety and pain for your children. Here are some tips to minimize that risk.

Redefine Your Relationship with Your Ex

If you have minor children, the reality is that you will have to have some sort of relationship with your ex, as you will have to work effectively with them on custody and visitation matters. To the extent that you can, let the past be the past. When structuring your new relationship with your ex, ask yourself, “how can I get along with my ex in ways that are most beneficial for my children?” Be willing to compromise, as long as you are not sacrificing your relationship with your children in the process.

Pay Attention—Even the Best of Intentions Can Be Misinterpreted

Often, some of the most painful things that divorced parents do are done with the best of intentions. For example, don’t tell your child how much you will “miss” them as get ready to head out the door with their non-custodial parent. Many young children interpret this to mean that their custodial parent will be “lonely” without them, and will be sad. Consequently, they spend most of their time with the noncustodial parent worrying about the other parent. Your children know that you love them. When they go with a non-custodial parent, you should simply encourage them to have a good time.

Always Be Clear In Your Communications

Not knowing is generally far worse than knowing. Furthermore, your children are more observant than you probably give them credit for. If something is wrong, they’ll generally know, even if they don’t know what is wrong. If you don’t give them some idea of what is going on, they will typically try to figure it out themselves and will usually come up with the wrong answer.

Contact the Law Office of Taylor & Boguski

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured people throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-234-2233.

April 2, 2015 By Leave a Comment

At-Fault Divorce Still Available in New Jersey

Every state offers some form of no-fault divorce, where parties can typically end a marriage without specifying grounds other than “irreconcilable differences.” In 17 states, “at fault” divorce is no longer an option. New Jersey is not one of those states. New Jersey currently allows a party to petition the court for a divorce based on a number of grounds, from adultery to desertion, from drug or alcohol abuse to physical or mental cruelty. Other grounds stated in the New Jersey statute include:

  • Separation for at least 18 months
  • Institutionalization in a mental facility for at least 24 month
  • Imprisonment for 18 consecutive months
  • Unwanted deviant sexual conduct within the marriage
  • Why Would You Pursue an At-Fault Divorce?

In most instances, the principal reason for filing an at-fault divorce complaint is to secure advantage in custody or support proceedings, or to obtain a disproportionate share of the marital estate. While New Jersey law does not specifically refer to the wrongdoing of one of the parties as a factor in property division, the court can take into account any factor deemed relevant. This holds true with respect to alimony or spousal support as well.

Though not the case in New Jersey, some states require a longer waiting period for no-fault divorces to be finalized than for at-fault divorces. For example, New York has a one year waiting period that only applies to no-fault divorce.

The Costs of At-Fault Divorce

In an at-fault divorce, you will likely have to go to court to prove your ex’s wrongdoing. That can be time-consuming and expensive, as well as embarrassing.

Contact Us

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured people throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-234-2233.

February 26, 2015 By Leave a Comment

How to Best Protect Yourself When Divorce is Inevitable

If you are still married, but it’s clear that the end is near, there are a number of steps you should take to make the process a lot easier on yourself. Here are some of the most important measures.

Put together a comprehensive record of your finances—This may be difficult to do, especially if your spouse has taken primary responsibility for financial matters. You may need to contact financial institutions directly, and request documentation from creditors. While you are compiling financial records, request a copy of your credit report and put it in your file.

Start saving money, if possible—You will have to pay legal fees as part of the divorce. There may be other expenses as well. In addition, you may have to pay for a new place to live, and to furnish your new residence. The more money you can set aside, the easier it will be to take the final step.

Start creating a separate identity—Get yourself a post office box, so that you can communicate with people (such as your lawyer) without the interference or oversight of your spouse. Open your own bank accounts, preferably somewhere other than where you and your spouse have accounts. If possible, get credit cards that are in your name only and contact any existing credit card companies to terminate any cards that have your name on them.

Make any necessary changes to estate planning documents—You can execute a new will, declaring any existing will null and void. If you have documents that give your spouse power of attorney or allow him to make medical decisions on your behalf, change those as well.

Remove your spouse as a beneficiary on any retirement plans, insurance policies or other financial accounts.

Contact Us

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured people throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-234-2233.

January 29, 2015 By Leave a Comment

Protecting Your Property Rights during a New Jersey Divorce

When your marriage has failed, one of the most complicated procedures can be the division of marital debts and assets. You may have property that you owned free and clear before the marriage, or that you had made significant payments on before you got married. There may be disputes about retirement plans or credit card bills. One of the best things you can do to protect your interests and avoid endless battles is negotiate and sign a marital separation agreement, also known as a property settlement agreement.

A marital separation agreement is a legally binding contract that addresses the key issues of your divorce, including custody and spousal support issues, as well as the division of debts and assets. You can prepare and sign the agreement before you file for divorce, if you want, but for most people, it’s part of the divorce process. It’s important to understand that there is no requirement that you file the agreement with the court for it to have legal effect.

A property settlement agreement is not necessary to get a divorce, but it will make the process much simpler. There may be circumstances, though, where you simply don’t need a property settlement agreement—for example, if you have no home or significant joint assets, no debt and no children, there’s really no need.

Because the agreement is a legally binding contract, it will remain in effect until modified, either by mutual agreement of the parties, by court order, or if the purposes of the agreement are no longer legitimate. When you file the agreement with the court, the court may, in its discretion, review it to determine whether it is fair to both parties. As a practical matter, though, courts rarely do, unless there have been allegations of domestic violence.

Contact Us

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured people throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-234-2233.

September 30, 2014 By Leave a Comment

Finalize Your Divorce without the Time, Expense and Emotional Turmoil of a Trial

The Benefits of Divorce Mediation

Parents pulling child in separate directionsIf your marriage has ended, but you have minor children, you will still have to work cooperatively with your ex-spouse until your kids become adults. Accordingly, it may not be in your best interests to make your divorce proceeding a battleground—you may want to make your ex-spouse suffer, but your children will be hurt in the process. Mediation can help you amicably resolve your disputes, so that you can move forward without acrimony and bitterness.

The Basics of Mediation

In mediation, both parties work with a third party neutral, known as a mediator. The mediator does not represent either party, and has no vested interest in the outcome. The mediator’s principal objective is to help the parties identify mutually beneficial solutions to such difficult issues as child custody and visitation, child support, alimony or spousal support, and the division of marital assets.

A mediator does not perform most of the functions of a judge. The mediator is not concerned about who is “right” and who is “wrong,” or about who has the most compelling evidence. The mediator simply works to bring the parties together, helping both sides understand the consequences of not working out their differences cooperatively. As a consequence, the mediator does not take testimony from witnesses, does not consider evidence, and does not issue any type of ruling as to whose arguments prevail and how the dispute should be resolved. A mediator may suggest a specific resolution to a party, but the suggestion is not binding.

The benefits of mediation are many:

  • The parties actually make the decisions, rather than waiting for a judge or jury to rule on facts and law
  • Mediation is typically less expensive than litigation
  • Mediation can usually be completed far more rapidly than litigation
  • Mediation is not a winner take all approach—in a successful mediation, both parties should feel they got what they needed

Contact Us

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to men and women throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.

August 11, 2014 By Leave a Comment

Setting Yourself Up for Success after Divorce

An article on the WebMD website has some practical advice for those starting over after a divorce.

1. Seek Out a Support Network

There may not be a single strategy to ease the pain and loss that divorce brings. But leaning on a support network can be a critical strategy to help you start over.

This can help you emotionally, but also with practical issues. You may find yourself being a single parent for the first time. You want to be strong for your children, but trying to juggle a full-time job while being a full-time parent can be stressful and exhausting, especially if you have more than one child or if they are young or have special needs. You may want to seek out others in a similar situation, talk to your pediatrician, take advantage of school resources and get to know teachers and school administrators.

Hopefully your relationship with your ex-spouse is healthy enough so that he or she can be relied upon for help when necessary.

2. Redefine Yourself

Going through a divorce means no longer being part of a couple. This can be seen as a relief or frightening. Give yourself time to explore what you want and need in the future. Be constructive, not destructive, and take up new hobbies or activities and develop new interests to expand who you are. Doing something physical like exercise, gardening, biking or hiking may help you work off stress and meet new people.

3. Minimize the Impact on the Kids

While coping with the breakup of a marriage can be painful, that pain should be limited as much as possible for your children. Ex-spouses should try to make the new situation as positive as possible. Avoid criticizing the other parent in front of the children. Engaging in a “scorched earth” policy concerning your ex may result in younger children showing regressive behavior, like bed-wetting, and older children and teenagers can exhibit low self-esteem and engage in risky behavior.

Avoid pulling children into any ongoing conflict with an ex-spouse, so they can avoid having to take sides. Whatever short-term gain you might think you’ll get by enlisting your kids, you risk long-term relationship losses with your kids.

If after your divorce you or your children need professional help coping with the new, post-divorce reality, contact our office. We can refer you to qualified therapists who have helped many of our clients in the past.

July 11, 2014 By Leave a Comment

Preparing for the Divorce Ahead of Time

Creating a checklist. A divorce can be a long, complex, life-changing event. Based on our many years of experience representing clients getting divorced, it’s not something you should just jump into unprepared. If you’re seriously considering getting a divorce, talk to one of our attorneys about your situation and take these steps to prepare for the process.

1. If you have kids, maintain a stable, safe home environment for them.

It’s rarely a good idea to move out of the marital home and leave your children with your spouse. If you do, a judge may get the impression that you think your spouse is a great parent and is perfectly capable of taking care of your children. Depending on the circumstances, that may or may not be a message you want to send.

2. Keep a daily record of everything you do with your children.

Include the time they spend with your spouse as well. Note any negative events (arguments started in front of your children, belittling comments about you said in their presence).

3. Gather documents to support what you’ve said in your record.

Write down names of witnesses who have knowledge of your parenting skills or those of your spouse. Get copies of relevant police reports or school records.

4. Gather all information and documents related to your financial situation and make copies.

Look for bank statements, credit card statements, investment account statements, retirement account statements, loan applications, the last three to five years’ tax returns and W-2 forms, property tax bills, mortgage statements, etc. It’s common that one spouse maintains the financial records, makes payments and cuts checks while the other stays out of the finances. In a divorce, this may leave one spouse unaware of what the other is doing.

5. Take an inventory of all of your personal property.

Normally, property that was yours before the marriage is considered to be separate property and should remain yours (with some exceptions).

6. Save some cash.

The divorce process can be very expensive. Put aside some cash so you have some liquid funds. Put the money in a new account in a bank other than the one you normally use. You may need money to live on or to hire legal representation, financial experts and mental health professionals to guide you through your divorce.

7. Open your own post office box.

This will ensure that your mail will sit securely in a locked box that only you can access so you can receive confidential mail from your divorce professionals, as well as bank statements. Start an e-mail account that only you can access, which may also help keep online correspondence private.

8. Get a copy of your credit report.

Resolve any disputed debts as soon as possible. Monitor your credit report to make sure that your spouse is not dissipating marital assets. If you fear your spouse might borrow money in your name, sign up for a credit monitoring service so you can be notified if there’s a change to your credit history.

If you have any questions or concerns about getting a divorce, the legal process and how it may affect you, contact our office for a free consultation.

June 5, 2014 By Leave a Comment

Negotiating a Custody Arrangement That Actually Works for Your Children’s Well-Being

Divorcing parents have to focus on protecting their own interests as far as assets, debts and income. They must also factor in the interests of their children, and it’s normally in a child’s best interests to be part of the lives of both parents. We help parents put together custody agreements.

If children are involved, some divorces can degenerate to the point where children become pawns in the power game between divorcing spouses. If one spouse wants custody, then the other doesn’t want that to happen just as form of punishment for some real or imagined past deed. Just because a person was a bad spouse doesn’t mean he or she is a bad parent.

Though there are cases in which a child’s time with a parent genuinely needs to be limited, that’s not normally in the child’s best interests. Custody agreements should be worked out between the parents, which requires them to act like adults if they want to act in their children’s best interests.

How to make the best of the situation

The key elements of a successful custody agreement that serves a child’s interests are:

  • A focus on meeting a child’s needs: What are those needs? How can each parent meet those needs? What are the child’s personality, interests and activities? How can these needs be met without one or both of the parents overextending themselves?
  • Enough detail so that both parents and the children know what to expect: There needs to be some predictability, and each parent needs to know what’s expected of them so they can live up to their end of the bargain.
  • Regular reviews to determine whether changes should be made in the agreement: Children grow older and their needs change over time. One or both parents’ situations may also change.
  • A way for the parents to make decisions and resolve conflicts regarding parenting issues: As much as you need enough details in the agreement, not all issues can be resolved on paper. As time passes and issues arise, how will the parents make decisions? What’s the best way for the parents to communicate? What role, if any, will the child’s input play? Should some form of third-party mediation take place in case the parents are deadlocked over an important issue?
  • Working out a functional custody agreement can take flexibility and imagination, but mostly a desire to serve the best interests of the children. If you have any questions about child custody agreements, contact our office for a free consultation.

May 7, 2014 By Leave a Comment

I’ve Inherited Money during Our Marriage. Do I Have to Split That If I Divorce?

Generally, no. But since this is the law we’re talking about, it’s not that simple.

Unless the parties can come to an agreement, a judge will divide marital property in a fair and “equitable” way during the divorce proceedings. The issue then becomes whether this inheritance, or part of it, is marital property. Money or property inherited by one spouse isn’t normally considered marital property, so it isn’t divided at divorce, depending on how it was handled during the marriage.

Everything divorcing spouses own must be classified as either marital or separate property. Marital property includes assets (and debts) that were acquired during the marriage by either spouse or by both of them together, with exceptions.

Separate property includes assets that either spouse acquired before the marriage and during the marriage when assets are:

  • Inherited by just one spouse
  • Received by one spouse as a gift from a third party
  • Separate property can become marital property
  • An asset may begin as separate property but change (“transmute”) into marital property:

Adding a spouse to the title: If a spouse inherits real property and later adds the other spouse’s name to the title, it becomes marital property.

Contributing marital assets: If the title to an asset stays in one spouse’s name and it increases in value, that increase might be marital property. If a spouse helps make mortgage payments or helps pay for remodeling costs for a house that the other spouse inherited and is in that spouse’s name only, any increase in value in the house would probably be considered a marital asset.

Mixing (or “commingling”) assets: If an inherited sum of money is deposited into a joint account, it may be impossible to determine, if deposits and withdrawals are constantly made, what portion remains separate property.

Using separate funds to buy marital assets: If a spouse uses an inherited sum of money to buy a house that is in both spouse’s names, this separate asset becomes a marital asset.

Keeping separate property separate and proving it

As long as separate property is carefully kept separate, it and any increased value of it belongs only to the spouse who originally owned it. A prenuptial agreement created before the marriage can also spell out which property is separate.

A spouse claiming to own inherited, separate property at divorce will have to prove it.

That’s easier when the property was never mixed with marital property and meticulous records were kept to establish that.

If your inheritance was mixed with joint funds, proving it is separate property is not impossible, but it can be very difficult.

If you have any questions about property division during divorce, contact our office for a free consultation.

April 7, 2014 By Leave a Comment

Can Child Support Be Used to Pay for College?

Mount Laurel Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

It’s not uncommon for a certain amount of confusion to arise around the issue of whether or not child support can be used to pay for college. Technically speaking, the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines apply to the cost of raising a child from birth to the age of 18. Consequently, New Jersey’s Child Support Guidelines do not apply to children over the age of 18 unless they are still in high school or attending a similar secondary educational institution.

However, in certain situations, the court may decide to extend child support beyond the age of 18. In general, the court will act in what it believes to be a child’s best interests. In what way, then, could extending child support to pay for college be considered “in a child’s best interests”?

How to make the best of the situation

Child Support and College Expenses: Understanding When It May Not Apply

In general, when a child reaches the age of 18 or is considered “emancipated,” child support payments stop. Most custodial parents are puzzled by this and often ask why, when college costs continue to rise, child support isn’t extended to pay for college.

Part of the reason child support may not be ordered in relation to college costs is the amount paid toward child support in the first place. Secondly, many college students work to help pay for their own education, or else they take out loans. Here, if a student can bear some of the costs of his or her education, child support is deemed unnecessary by the court.

Lastly, if a student is in need of financial help to defray the costs of college, it may make more sense for the noncustodial parent to give money directly to his or her child rather than doing so indirectly through the custodial parent.

Case Law: Child Support and College Expenses in New Jersey

In Newburgh v. Arrigo, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided that, given the egalitarian nature of society and the increasing number of families interested in sending their children to college, the following 12 factors should be used to determine if child support should be used to pay for college:

  • Whether the parent, if still living with the child, would have contributed toward the costs of the requested higher education
  • The effect of the background, values and goals of the parent on the reasonableness of the child’s expectation for higher education
  • The amount of the contribution sought by the child for the cost of higher education
  • The ability of the parent to pay that cost
  • The relationship of the requested contribution to the kind of school or course of study sought by the chil
  • The financial resources of both parents
  • The commitment to and aptitude of the child for the requested education
  • The financial resources of the child, including assets owned individually or held in custodianship or trust
  • The ability of the child to earn income during the school year or vacations
  • The availability of financial aid in the form of college grants and loans
  • The child’s relationship to the paying parent, including mutual affection and shared goals, as well as responsiveness to parental advice and guidance
  • The relationship of the education requested to any prior training and to the overall long-range goals of the child
  • Contact Mount Laurel Child Custody Attorneys at Taylor & Boguski
  • If you’re unsure whether or not the Newburgh ruling applies to your situation, contact Mount Laurel child support attorneys at Taylor & Boguski. We can review your situation and determine the best legal options available to you for determining if you have a case for extending child support to help pay for your child’s college education.

March 12, 2014 By Leave a Comment

Can I Get Child Support If My Ex Is in Another Country?

Depending on the situation, yes. We represent clients seeking child support from the other parent, whether that parent is across the street or across the globe.

Agreements with other countries

The federal government has negotiated reciprocity agreements with several countries and is negotiating declarations with others on behalf of all U.S. jurisdictions. The following countries are foreign reciprocating countries for child support purposes.

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Czech Republic
  • El Salvador
  • Finland
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovak Republic
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

These agreements spell out procedures for establishing and enforcing child support orders across borders. Requirements may vary, but a parent will be asked to provide the same kind of information as in a domestic case. Including as much specific information, such as the address and employer of the noncustodial parent, as possible is a good idea.

Possible steps when there is no agreement with the other country

If the other parent works for an American company or for a foreign company with offices in the United States, income withholding might be possible even if the country he or she lives is not one of the reciprocating countries. Approaching a foreign employer doing business in the United States directly for help might prove successful. If the other parent is employed by the Department of Defense or another federal agency and living overseas, the agency employing the parent could be contacted to arrange payment.

The state Office of Child Support could get involved and criminal charges could be filed if the other parent is not paying support. That could lead to an arrest and extradition from the other country. One instance of this took place in 1997, when the state of Massachusetts, working with Interpol, had a parent who was the subject of an outstanding warrant deported from the Dominican Republic and arrested on arrival in the United States.

If there is no reciprocal agreement with the country where the other parent lives, a child support enforcement action could be filed in the appropriate court in the foreign country. This normally requires hiring a local an attorney. The Department of State, Office of American Citizens Services may have information on foreign child support laws and a list of English-speaking attorneys. That foreign attorney will probably want any documents concerning child support proceedings and decisions from New Jersey.

Child support issues can be complex, and we work with our clients to get the best possible outcome for them and the children involved. If you have questions or concerns about child custody, contact our office.

February 7, 2014 By Leave a Comment

Retirement Plans: Is It Better Financially to Stay Married?

Mount Laurel Divorce Attorneys • Marital Asset Division

It’s not unusual for someone to wonder whether or not they can afford divorce — after all, divorce will impact your monthly income, health benefits, credit score and taxes. Additionally, if you get a divorce you’ll need to divide your marital assets. Since New Jersey is an “equitable division” state, the court will determine what it believes to be a fair and equitable division of marital property. Practically speaking, this means the court may divide your savings accounts, investments or business assets it considers marital property.

For these reasons, couples that have been married longer and have older children in school may decide divorce isn’t in their best financial interests at this time. However, if you are in debt and considering bankruptcy, divorce may be in your best financial interests.

Retirement Plans and Divorce

An important consideration in determining if divorce makes financial sense for you at this time is how any savings or retirement plan assets will be divided. In cases in which only one spouse has a 401(k) or a retirement plan in place, a divorce may substantially change the amount of savings you had initially planned for. New Jersey state law considers retirement accounts to be marital property. Consequently, any retirement plan is subject to a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).

In essence, a QDRO ensures that the nonparticipating spouse in a retirement plan will receive a portion of the assets contained in the plan. The plan’s administrator must be notified — usually through paperwork prepared by an attorney — indicating the amount the nonparticipant spouse is entitled to receive.

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders and the Finances of Divorce

If you don’t work or have very little money in your 401(k), you need to consider what makes financial sense if your spouse has a retirement plan or substantial savings in his or her 401(k). While you are entitled to receive a portion of your spouse’s retirement plan benefits, you cannot simply take the money owed you without incurring a substantial financial penalty.

Secondly, the value of a QDRO will grow as the plan benefit grows over time. In this way, a divorce and QDRO will provide you with some measure of financial security in your later years, but your quality of life may suffer now if you live alone and must support yourself as a result.

If you are the working spouse and stand to lose some of your pension plan assets through a QDRO, staying married may, in the end, make more financial sense. Combined earnings and Social Security benefits may mean the difference between a fairly comfortable retirement and one in which you face a certain amount of financial stress from having to live alone.

Contact Mount Laurel Divorce Attorneys at Taylor & Boguski

There are a number of financial issues to take into consideration when considering divorce. How your retirement plan will be affected is only one consideration. In order to properly weigh the relevant factors involved, it’s important to talk to an experienced divorce attorney who can explain the division of marital assets, the division of marital debt and how your business or taxes will be affected as well.

If you are considering divorce but are facing serious financial problems, contact Mount Laurel divorce attorneys at Taylor & Boguski today to learn how we can help you.

January 17, 2014 By Leave a Comment

Mount Laurel Child Custody Attorneys

The first thing to keep in mind regarding child custody is that the court will always act in what it believes to be the best interests of a child. In New Jersey, determining child custody depends on a number of factors. These factors typically fall into the following general categories:

  • The emotional needs of a child: How stable is each parent? Is there a history of mental abuse or neglect? Does a child suffer from a psychological condition that recommends awarding custody to a particular parent? In the case of older children, which parent does a child prefer?
  • The physical needs or well-being of a child: What is the environment of each parent’s home? Are there concerns that a child will be physically neglected or abused? Does a child have special needs regarding a medical condition?
  • The situation of each parent: What is the financial situation of each parent? What are the employment or work responsibilities of each parent? To what extent is each parent willing to be involved in their child’s life and to what extent has each exhibited a commitment in this regard?
  • In cases in which parents are not interested in shared or joint custody, the court will award custody to the parent it believes will promote and protect the best interests of a child. The noncustodial parent will have visitation or “parenting time” rights according to a plan approved by the court.

What Happens If One Parent Wants to Move Away?

Regardless of whether or not a custodial or noncustodial parent wants to move out of town or out of state, they must first get a court approved postdivorce modification and the permission of the other parent. Even if parents share custody link to www.divorcenet.com/states/new_jersey/new_jersey_custody_and_visitation_rights_part_1, any change in a parent’s situation that could affect the agreed-upon child custody arrangements in a divorce agreement must be reviewed first by the court. Failure to do so could result in a charge of contempt of court and certain sanctions regarding existing child custody arrangements. Consequently, a parent — custodial, noncustodial or otherwise — cannot simply move away without first obtaining a postdivorce modification.

Postdivorce Modifications and Child Custody Arrangements

Regardless of whether a parent has a good reason to move — job commitments, caring for an ailing family member or personal preference — the law requires a parent to do the following:

  • Notify the noncustodial or custodial parent regarding any intent to move
  • Notify the noncustodial or custodial parent of the location where they intend to move
  • Notify the noncustodial or custodial parent of the reason(s) for the move
  • Submit a proposed child custody plan accommodating the move in question

Parental Relocations and New Jersey Courts

The court will review the proposed parental relocation to determine if it is in the best interests of the child. Here, the court will consider access to education opportunities, healthcare issues, whether extended family live in the area and how the move will affect the child’s ability to engage in hobbies or sports or practice their faith. The court will also consider the practical side of visitation under the new arrangement and how that could affect the ability of a child to spend time with the relocated parent.

If the court approves the parental relocation, a new parenting schedule must be provided, including a reasonable inventory of travel expenses, how vacations will be allotted, what will happen during school vacations, etc. If the parental relocation is not approved, the parent intending to relocate must change his or her plans or be held in contempt of court.

Contact Mount Laurel Child Custody Attorneys

Whether you are thinking of moving out of state or to the next town over, you still need a postdivorce modification. To discuss your case and learn what you need to do to maintain your child custody rights, contact Mount Laurel child custody attorneys link to Contact Us at Taylor & Boguski, LLC today.

January 3, 2014 By Leave a Comment

Can I Sue for Child Support Owed from the Time of Birth?

Mount Laurel Divorce Temporary Orders Attorneys

Under New Jersey state law, a noncustodial parent is legally responsible for child support. Practically speaking, this means that if you and your spouse are legally separated or divorced, or you are estranged from your child’s father, you can seek an enforcement order to require them to pay child support. Here, the law is clear: child support is not a punitive measure, intended to punish one parent and reward the other; rather, child support is explicitly for the upkeep and maintenance of a child, not the custodial parent.

However, there is a statute of limitations on establishing paternity in New Jersey; a paternity action must be initiated no later than within five years after a child’s 18th birthday.

Child Support and Paternity

In New Jersey, the amount of child support paid is determined under Appendix IX of the New Jersey Court Rules. In general, child support is the responsibility of both parents. However, in cases involving out-of-wedlock births, the paternity of a child link to www.njchildsupport.org/Services-Programs/Non-Custodial-Parents/Custodial-Parents.aspx may be unstated on the birth certificate. In cases such as these, if the mother of a child sues the putative father for paternity and establishes that he is in fact the father of her child, she has legal grounds for demanding child support from him.

What if paternity isn’t established until years after the birth of a child? Under New Jersey state law, a noncustodial parent can be held responsible for paying child support from the time of the child’s birth until the child reaches age 18 or beyond. The time frame involved will depend on what your child support agreement says and what the court determines is in the best interests of the child. In some cases, child support may be extended beyond the age of 18 if a child is still in high school or is attending a secondary educational institution.

When a child enters college, New Jersey’s child support guidelines typically no longer apply since there is an overlap with certain college costs (room and board, transportation, etc.) and Guideline expenditures. If the child lives at home, however, the court may decide to continue child support.

Back-Owed Child Support

New Jersey’s Child Support Guidelines reflect the average cost of raising a child from the age of birth to 17 years old. As such, unless a child is legally emancipated, a noncustodial parent can be held financially responsible for child support going back to the birth of his child.

If a child support order is not entered until after a child is 12 years old, the amount of child support ordered will likely be adjusted upward to reflect the incremental increase in expenses of raising a child since the cost of taking care of an infant or young child is not as much as it is for raising an older child or a teenager.

Mount Laurel Child Support Attorneys at Taylor & Boguski

If you are interested in establishing the paternity of your child and seeking an enforcement order for child support in arrears, contact Mount Laurel divorce temporary orders attorneys at Taylor & Boguski, LLC, today to schedule an appointment and discuss your case.

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