Common Questions (And Answers) About New Jersey Divorce
If you’re about to go through divorce, you are likely filled with questions. This is, after all, a major life event that will impact everything from your finances to your relationship with your children.
On this page, we’ve provided answers to some of the most common questions we hear from clients, based on our lawyer’s over two decades of legal experience. After reading, we invite you to contact our firm, Scott J. Levine, for answers to your own questions in an initial consultation.
Do I need to list a reason when filing for divorce?
Thankfully, the days of fault-based divorce are gone. Every state now allows couples to file for “no-fault divorce,” which doesn’t require one spouse to accuse the other of wrongdoing (like infidelity) and then prove those allegations. Instead, in New Jersey, you can cite “irreconcilable differences,” meaning that you and your spouse have unspecified relationship issues that cannot be resolved.
What is equitable distribution?
When it comes to property division in divorce, there are two basic legal approaches: equitable distribution and community property. Most states, including New Jersey, use the equitable distribution model.
Most property obtained by either spouse during the marriage is considered to be marital property, jointly owned by both spouses. Under the equitable distribution model, marital property must be divided equitably in divorce, which isn’t necessarily a 50-50 split. Instead, couples and/or judges can deviate from a perfectly equal division if doing so would be equitable, based on each spouse’s financial needs, earning power, contributions to the marriage and any other relevant factors.
I own a business. How will that be handled in divorce?
It is critical to work with an experienced attorney like Mr. Levine in order to protect your business in divorce. Even if your spouse plays no role in the daily operation of the business, chances are good that they have an ownership stake, in part, because small businesses almost commingle marital and business assets.
Unless you want to go into business with your soon-to-be ex (and nearly no one does), you need to obtain full ownership by compensating them for their share. This starts with a careful and thorough business valuation conducted by a professional. Then, Mr. Levine can help you create a buyout proposal or trade other marital assets equal to the value of your spouse’s stake in the business.
How are retirement savings addressed in divorce?
Retirement savings and plans like an IRA or 401(k) are subject to equitable division in divorce, just like other assets. This isn’t always straightforward because employer-sponsored retirement plans are often listed in one spouse’s name only.
To divide these assets (after determining how they should be divided), your lawyer will need to create what’s known as a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). Once signed by a judge, a QDRO instructs and permits financial institutions managing a retirement plan to release funds to the spouse whose name is not on the plan.
Will alimony be part of my divorce?
Alimony, sometimes called spousal support, is not as common as it once was, but it nonetheless plays a role in many divorces. Awarding alimony is not automatic. Instead, couples can decide to make it part of their divorce or it can be awarded by a judge.
There are numerous considerations that help determine if alimony is needed, how much is appropriate and for how long it should be paid. This is a big topic, and there is no substitute for case-specific advice. Therefore, it is important to discuss alimony with your attorney early in the process if you have questions or concerns.
Will my divorce go to trial?
This is different for every divorcing couple. The good news is that there are numerous ways to resolve a divorce without going to trial, including meditation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution. A negotiated divorce is likely to be faster, cheaper and less contentious than a litigated one, and it gives both spouses more control over the outcomes.
Your divorce would likely need to be litigated if there are one or more issues on which you cannot reach an agreement with your spouse. Litigation is also necessary/appropriate in cases when there is a history of abuse or domestic violence, since the two spouses are not in a position to negotiate with one another freely and in good faith.
No matter how you ultimately need or want to resolve your divorce, our attorney is ready to provide full-service representation and support.
Contact Us Today For Answers To Your Divorce Questions
We are based in Mount Laurel, and our lawyer, Scott J. Levine, serves clients throughout central and southern New Jersey. To discuss your legal options with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney in an initial consultation, contact us. Just call 856-234-2855 or submit an online contact form.