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The coronavirus pandemic is creating special challenges all of us, but in particular for parents of children who are separated or divorced. In many districts, schools are closing for several weeks, but there are still many employers who have not. In the case of first responders, healthcare workers, or other essential employees, employers cannot allow their employees to work remotely from home.

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The divorce is almost over. You have finished negotiating alimony. Child-support has just been calculated and you have finally figured out who is going to take Aunt Millie’s China. The end of the stressful negotiations with your almost ex-spouse is almost at near when your attorney turns his or her attention to life insurance. It’s probably the last thing you want to hear about. Particularly if you are a relatively young individual, this is just one of those “lawyer details” that you really don’t want to pay attention to.

Unfortunately, this is one of the most over-looked issues which can come back to haunt litigants. Tragedies do happen, and when there is an unexpected death, it can have a monumental impact on property settlement agreements, particularly when a settlement contains provisions relating to child support and of children and college expenses. No one wants to think about death, and certainly most people don’t want to think about it when they are already in the process of grieving the end of a marriage. However, not having protection against the possibility of one parent or former spouse dying can be catastrophic for the survivors later on.


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Alcohol and substance abuse by one parent are always concerning to the other parent, but when those parents are separated or divorced, there is an increased level of anxiety. A new law, which took effect on December 1, 2019, can help ease the concerns of a parent whose former partner has been convicted of Driving While Intoxicated in New Jersey.

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A shortage of economically attractive men is yet another reason you may need a pre-nup before tying the knot. A recent Cornell University study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family says that one of the reasons the U.S. has seen a decline in marriage is because there is a shortage of men who are “economically attractive.” The study attributes the shortage to various factors, including the economy, which currently has more lower-paying and unstable jobs. Additionally, women are climbing the economic ladder and now have different expectations for a spouse.

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Audrey and Matt are young and in love. They have just graduated college and adopted Tenley, a one-year-old shelter puppy. Carol and Jack are in their late 50s and are getting married. Carol raises show dogs, and one of her dogs, Buddy, won multiple prestigious awards for agility. Steve and Jill, both in their early 30s, are getting married once Steve finishes his residency. Jill is an avid horsewoman and they plan to buy a property large enough to accommodate a stable. Finally, Larry and Sarah are getting divorced. They agree that the dog, Riley, should follow the children, which they will share custody of equally. However, in addition to the fact that Larry and Sarah both work and need doggy day care, Larry has substantial travel requirements for his job, which necessitates either Sarah taking Riley more than half the time, or expensive boarding expenses.

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A short time ago I had a conversation with a lawyer who had been the subject of a custody battle between her parents more than thirty years ago. Later in life, she decided to satisfy her curiosity of what her parents had said to the court, and obtained copies of all the pleadings they filed. In New Jersey, as in many states, very few documents are sealed or confidential, allowing this woman to access all of the certifications, or affidavits, her parents filed.

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According to the National Institute of Mental Health,

  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (46.6 million) experiences mental illness in a given year. 
  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. (11.2 million) experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
  • Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.

Not surprisingly, mental health issues come up in the context of a divorce in a variety of ways. They arise when mental health issues contribute to the breakdown of the marriage or relationship. For instance, a partner may suffer from a condition which causes him or her to behave in ways that are detrimental to the relationship. This can manifest itself in aggression, narcissism, and self-centered behavior to the detriment of the other partner or children, excessive spending impacting family finances, to engaging in dangerous behavior with a partner, and/or their children.


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The “D” word is a scary one. However, when considering the idea of a divorce, whether you are unhappy in your marriage, or your spouse has informed you that he or she is, giving into the urge to hide under the covers is a really, really bad idea. Knowledge is the fuel you need to power through this process—from the “I am thinking about it” stage to the “OMG I was just served divorce papers” stage.

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