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.

Divorce Mediation – How It Works

Mortgage negotiationIf 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.

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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.

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.

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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 856-200-8989.

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

Two daughtersMost 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 us online 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.

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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 856-234-2233.

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.

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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.

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.