Bergen County Divorce Attorney serving Paramus, Ridgewood, Hackensack and surrounding areas
When a marriage ends, it can feel like the world has been turned upside down, and you’re suddenly faced with an uncertain future. Seeking legal assistance can be the first step toward creating a new life for yourself.
At the law firm of Rita T. Jerejian, LLC we help resolve complicated family disputes throughout Hackensack, NJ and the surrounding areas.
Our founding attorney Rita T. Jerejian has been practicing family law for more than two decades
Ms. Jerejian becomes personally invested in every divorce case she takes on and genuinely cares about achieving positive outcomes for her clients. If you retain her services, you’ll receive excellent legal counsel and compassionate support and reassurance.
The divorce process can be intimidating; major decisions will need to be made regarding such issues as:
- the division of marital assets and debts
- potential alimony payments
- child custody
- visitation rights
Ms. Jerejian negotiates firmly and in good faith to resolve these issues in a timely and cost-effective manner, and she also possesses the litigation skills to forcefully advocate for you in court if needed.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
There are two approaches to divorce in New Jersey: contested and uncontested. If you have a spouse who is very combative and refuses to compromise on any issue, you will most likely have no choice but to take them to court.
- In a contested divorce, lawyers will present adversarial positions to the judge, and the judge will make legally binding decisions on the contested issues.
- In an uncontested divorce, there is a much better chance of reaching mutual agreement on all the issues with little court involvement.
Dispute resolutions offer an alternative to court and may include the following:
- Mediation: A qualified, neutral person facilitates negotiations between you and your spouse to help you achieve a compromise and reach a settlement.
- Binding arbitration: The parties present their case to an independent decision maker who makes legally binding decisions about disputed issues.
If you use these methods, all the court has to do is approve and finalize the agreement.
How Do I Begin The Divorce Process?
Divorce requires the careful preparation and submission of many legal documents that can be complex and confusing. Ms. Jerejian can handle the complex paperwork for you and make sure to guide you every step of the way.
Residency Requirement & Filing A Complaint
To file for divorce in New Jersey, you or your spouse must have lived in the state one year before filing. If you meet this requirement, you can proceed to filing a Complaint for divorce with the Family Court clerk in the county where you live. The only cause of action where the one year residency requirement is not necessary is adultery.
Grounds for Divorce
In the Complaint, you will include the ground you have decided to file on. In New Jersey, you can choose between the following grounds:
- No-fault: irreconcilable differences for at least six months or separation for 18 consecutive months (must be living in separate residences);
- Institutionalization for mental illness for at least 24 consecutive months;
- Deviant sexual conduct;
- Imprisonment for at least 18 months;
- Adultery (no time limit);
- Willful and continued desertion for at least 12 months;
- Habitual drunkenness or voluntary addiction;
- Extreme cruelty, either bodily or mental.
The Complaint also allows you the opportunity to declare what you are seeking in the divorce as it relates to:
- division of marital property
- alimony payments
- child custody
- child visitation
Your spouse will be served with the petition and will have 35 days to file a response.
How Will Our Marital Property Be Distributed?
One of the major issues to address in a divorce is the division of marital property — the
assets and debts you and your spouse acquired during your marriage.
This excludes anything you may have acquired before the marriage, as well as any personal gifts you were given, such as an inheritance.
Examples of marital property:
- family home, vacation homes, and all other real property such as business and investment properties
- cash, checking and savings accounts, and money market accounts
- certificates of deposit, savings bonds, stocks, and bonds
- pensions, profit-sharing plans, stock options, and other retirement and employment benefits
- social security benefits
- household items
- life insurance
Dividing marital property can be one of the most contested parts of a divorce, but it doesn’t have to be.
You and your spouse will have the chance to negotiate property divisions, either independently or with a mediator or arbitrator’s help.
If you are unable to reach a compromise, a judge will make the decision. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, which means the judge will divide property according to what is considered “fair under the circumstances,” not necessarily a 50/50 split.
There are certain factors the court takes into account when dividing assets such as the length of the marriage, income levels, and value of property.
Am I Eligible For Alimony/Will I Have To Pay Alimony?
Alimony, or spousal support, may be awarded to a spouse who requires financial assistance to make ends meet, and the other spouse is financially capable of providing the support. There are three types of alimony available in New Jersey:
- Alimony Pendente Lite: This type of alimony is awarded to provide assistance during the divorce process itself, from the time of the filing to the final decree. There’s no guarantee this support will continue after the divorce.
- Rehabilitative Alimony: This is the most common type of alimony and is usually awarded for a finite period of time until the receiving spouse can become financially independent. In many cases, the receiving spouse will go back to school or get additional training in a particular field with the end goal of obtaining a job. Rehabilitative alimony is typically paid for one to five years.
- Indefinite Alimony: This alimony is awarded for an indefinite period of time due to the receiving spouse’s age, illness or disability, or inability to make reasonable progress toward being self-supporting.
How Is Child Custody Determined?
You and your spouse will be given every opportunity to resolve issues related to your children outside of the courtroom.
This is an amicable alternative to a hotly contested custody battle and is much better for the children involved. If you simply cannot establish an agreement, a judge will decide what is in the best interests of the children.
Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody
Legal custody refers to who will make the major decisions
regarding the children’s everyday life, which may include such things as education, healthcare, and religion.
- Joint legal custody will allow both parents to have input on these issues.
- Physical custody refers to who the child will reside with or spend the most time with.
- Sole custody refers to one parent having either sole legal or sole physical custody or both. Here, the sole custodian has the decision-making power and also has physical custody of the child. The non-custodial parent would have appropriate parenting time, depending on the case.
The custody determination is based entirely on the best interests of the children.
Some examples of the factors the court considers are:
- The parties ability to communicate and cooperate in matters pertaining to the child;
- The interaction of the child with his/her parents and siblings;
- The quality and continuity of the child’s education; and
- Any history of domestic violence.
How much child support will I receive from—or pay to—my spouse?
In New Jersey, child support is calculated by applying a formula called the “Child Support Guidelines,” which takes into consideration various factors, including but not limited to:
- the family’s income
- the amount of time each parent spends with the child
Under the Guidelines, child support covers costs related to:
- personal care
- other miscellaneous expenses
- the first $250 of un-reimbursed medical expenses per year, per child
Managing Post-Divorce Issues
Your divorce decree is meant to be final, but it’s not uncommon for issues to arise post-divorce. A sudden change in income, new needs of the children or the necessity for one party to move out of state can require modification of the final divorce judgment any time after a divorce.
Whether you need to request a divorce modification or you require assistance enforcing the terms of your divorce, Rita T. Jerejian, LLC can help.
Contact a Reliable New Jersey Divorce Lawyer Today
At Rita T. Jerejian, LLC, we offer compassionate yet aggressive divorce representation for clients throughout Bergen County, including Hackensack, Paramus, and Ridgewood. To schedule an appointment in our New Jersey office, call 201.489.7714 or contact us online.