College and Divorce in NJIt’s college application time and parents across the state are praying for the essay fairy to arrive and save them. Having gone through it twice, I am sympathetic to all of those who are now going through what is a rite of indoctrination in parenting. Then, just when you think you get a break, now you have to figure out how to pay for it!

Even though those acceptance letters won’t be in the mail until April (unless your student is applying early action, or to a school with rolling admissions), it’s not too soon to start thinking about it. This takes on a whole other level of stress when you are divorced or separated from your child’s other parent.

New Jersey law clearly provides that a divorced or separated parent’s obligation extends to higher education. Unlike our neighbor to the west, support does not stop after high school when a child has the capacity to attend college, or a trade school. Not only is there an obligation to contribute towards college, child support does not end when your child goes off to the dorms. It may change, but it does not end.

Continue Reading Colleges & Children: What’s a Divorced Parent to Do?

It’s hard to believe that summer is over and I’m already following behind school buses on my way to work. Believe it or not, while fall has barely started, and it’s still almost 80 degrees outside, winter and the holidays are just around the corner. If you don’t believe me, just walk into your local CVS and see all the holiday displays!

Fall also means one other thing: now is the time to start thinking about holiday parenting time and making sure that you and your ex are “good” on the schedule. Most divorced or separated parents do not realize how much lead time is necessary to have a dispute decided by a judge in the event a resolution is not reached between the parents or caregivers. That’s why it’s time to start thinking about these issues now rather than waiting until the end of November, right before Thanksgiving.

Continue Reading Pumpkin Spice Latte’s and Time to Think About Holiday Parenting Time

During a divorce, many topics are covered in the Marital Settlement Agreement, and many more when the divorcing couple have children together. This can include child support as well as future college contributions. Depending on the agreement, the divorcing parties may specifically determine the percentages that each will pay for college costs, or will—if the child or children are young—defer setting any percentages until the child is in their senior year of high school. Within these agreements, there is often language that stipulates the children are required to apply for any available financial aid, grants and/or loans. However, does this mean children must be forced to take out loans for an obligation that is intended to part of their parents’ obligation?

A recent New Jersey Appellate Division opinion tackled this complicated question in the matter of M.F.W. v. G.O. In the case, the parties divorced in 2003 when their daughter was 5 years old, and their settlement included an agreement to pay for college and included language requiring that the daughter “…shall apply for all loans, grants, aid and scholarships available to her, the proceeds of which shall be first applied to college costs.”

Continue Reading Can College Loans Be Required In a Marital Settlement Agreement?

The Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court has affirmed a Domestic Violence Restraining Order which had been levied against a husband in the midst of a divorce. The decision, captioned, E.D.B. v. D.S. for privacy reasons, came about when the wife discovered the husband had placed an iPad in their shared home office and an iPhone under his bed in order to monitor his wife’s activities when he was not home. The couple was in the process of a divorce prior to this discovery, but was still living together in the same house with their children.

Continue Reading Appellate Division Affirms Stalking with iPad in Restraining Order

Changing American Families

Changing social norms and biological advances in reproductive technology have changed the face of the family, in turn creating legal consequences and implications.

Families formed by non-traditional marriages, same-sex couples, and individuals intending to parent alone may use assisted reproductive technology. Assisted reproductive technology and adoption can help create families who may not be biologically related.

Continue Reading Tri-Parenting Arrangements and Custody

Baures v. Lewis Standard for Relocation

For just over 16 years, Baures v. Lewis was the standard in New Jersey for allowing a parent to permanently relocate out-of-state with a child against the other parent’s wishes. N.J.S.A. 9:2-2 provides that a parent seeking to relocate and remove a child from New Jersey without the other parent’s consent must show “cause.”

Pursuant to Baures v. Lewis, a parent designated as the Parent of Primary Residence (PPR) could show cause to relocate the children out of state by: 1) demonstrating a good-faith reason for the move, and 2) that the move would “not be inimical to the child’s interests.” The New Jersey Supreme Court has now abandoned that standard in favor of a best interest of the child standard.

Continue Reading New Standard for Child Relocation Applications in New Jersey

Traditional fault divorce is generally viewed as a time consuming, expensive, and very public way to end a marriage. Couples who once shared homes, finances, and families suddenly find themselves as adversaries, fighting to divide the life they built together. Finances, and families, are often shattered by divorce. Divorce arbitration has been used for many years to resolve various legal issues.

Divorce attorneys are increasingly viewing arbitration as a viable alternative to a court divorce trial. Divorce arbitration can help couples avoid a time-consuming, expensive, public trial in return for the efficiency, privacy, cost-effectiveness, and informality of arbitration.

Continue Reading Are There Alternatives to Traditional Divorce?

In a case of first impression in New Jersey, the mother of a 16- year-old minor has been granted the right to legally change his first name from Veronica to Trevor. The court’s decision in the matter of Sacklow v. Betts was approved for publication on June 28, 2017 which gives it enhanced status in the legal community.

Because the case involves a minor child and his parents share legal custody – and disagree to some extent as to whether he should be permitted to change his name from Veronica to Trevor – the court exercised its role as parens patriae. In doing so, the court made its own findings of fact to determine to whether the name change is in Trevor’s best interests.

Continue Reading Can a Transgender Minor Legally Change His or Her Name?