Separated coupleIf 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

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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.

Torn Photo of married coupleIf 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 have more than 70 years of combined experience representing injured workers across New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, /contact-us/ or call us at 856-200-8989.

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

School playDivorce 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.

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

Making Divorce Less Painful for Your Children

Parents arguingAs 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 men and women throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 856-234-2233.

At-Fault Divorce Still Available in New Jersey

Marital strifeEvery 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.

How to Best Protect Yourself When Divorce is Inevitable

Mother and sonIf 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 men and women throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-234-2233.

Protecting Your Property Rights during a New Jersey Divorce

Splitting the houseWhen 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.

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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 856-234-2233.

The Criteria for Establishing Child Custody in New Jersey

Father and daughter easting breakfastIf you are involved in a divorce proceeding and have minor children, one of the difficult issues you will have to address centers on where the children will live, and how to maintain positive relationships with both parents—custody and visitation. As a parent, you want what’s best for your child, but you also want to play a meaningful role in their growth and development.

In New Jersey, the criteria for determining child custody and visitation are straightforward. The courts are charged with putting custody and visitation arrangements in place that are in the “best interests of the minor child.” When identifying what is in the child’s best interests, the courts are required to consider certain factors, including:

  • The history and inclination of the parents to agree, cooperate and communicate on issues involving the children
  • The historical interaction and relationship between the child and each parent, and between the child and siblings, including the extent and quality of any time spent between parent and child before or after the separation
  • The demonstrated willingness of both parents to honor custody and visitation arrangements
  • The safety of the child, as evidence by any history of domestic violence, including spouse or child abus
  • The relative stability of each parent’s home environment
  • Any special needs of the child, including medical, educational or religious needs
  • Any responsibilities (work-related or other) of either parent that may affect ability to be present as a parent
  • The proximity of each parent’s home to school, medical care, church or religious training, or other critical aspects of the child’s life
  • The wishes of the child, if the court determines the child is old enough and has the capacity to make “an intelligent decision.”

Contact Us

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

Preparing for the Divorce Ahead of Time

Creating a checklistA 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.

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

Mother, father and childDivorcing 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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.