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Articles Posted in Child Custody

Sharing child custody with an ex-spouse can be difficult enough even when there are no major disagreements between you about medical or educational issues. It is rife with compromise even when there is no global pandemic going on. But the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent school closings have posed unprecedented challenges for parents, especially working parents, and with the new school year about to start, those challenges are coming to a head.

In New Jersey, divorced parents have both physical and legal custody arrangements. Physical custody determines which parent the child lives with the majority of the time. Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, including matters of health care, education, and religious affiliation. If one parent has sole legal custody, it means that parent makes all the decisions pertaining to those matters. In the case of two fit parents, New Jersey family courts tend to favor arrangements where both parents share joint legal custody, meaning that both have equal input on these issues. It’s in the latter case where problems can arise when parents don’t see eye-to-eye.

Local public school districts in the state are in the process of deciding whether students will return to in-person classes this fall, attend class remotely via computer, or a hybrid of both. The issue has sparked controversy and debate across the state and country, with many families feeling strongly that their children should be in the classroom, and others feeling just as strongly that it’s unsafe to send their kids back to school while the disease is continuing to spread.

According to many legal experts in New Jersey, January is the most popular month for divorce to occur. Nationally, the divorce filing rate in January is one third higher than the rate in other months. In fact, Google searches for divorce related topics have peaked in January, historically between the Jan 6 and Jan 12 time period.

Many legal and relationship experts note that this may occur since many couples view January as the time to embark on New Year’s resolutions and new beginnings. The holiday season also may cause a delay in divorces, since many parents want to maintain a sense of harmony for children during the holiday season in November and December.

There is also a financial component that may drive the trend of January divorces. For example, many parties may feel that if they file for divorce earlier in the year, assets such as end-of-year bonuses will not count towards total marital assets. Many tax professionals also advise couples to wait until the new year in order to consider additional legislation and potential tax breaks.

When pursuing a divorce, child custody is one of the primary factors to consider for parents. Historically, women in the United States have traditionally assumed the role of primary caretaker following a divorce. However, this trend has changed, which has opened up a larger dialogue and debate about the pros and cons of joint custody agreements.

What Are Joint Custody Agreements?

Joint custody agreements allow both parents to have equal responsibilities in the child-raising process.

A recent article from the Wall Street Journal illustrates a declining divorce rate in the United States. Since, 1979, the United States divorce rate has fallen 29% from 22.6 out of each 1,000 marriages, to 16.1 out of each 1,000 marriages. Many researchers attribute this decline to delayed marriages. For example, the median age of marriage for woman has increased from 20 years old in 1963 to 27 in 2017.

Interestingly, the divorce rates among age-categorized groups was not as uniform. The divorcer rate for couples under 54 years old consistently dropped, though the trend was reversed as individuals neared 55 and above. This category of “gray divorces” experienced a nearly doubled rate since 1979. Many researchers note that the rate of divorce is particularly high for this age group – which consists of baby boomers – since this group is more likely to be on their second marriage, which has a statistically higher rate of divorce.

If divorce is something going through your mind, there are some steps to take to ensure that you pursue it in a way that is ideal for you and your family. Primarily, understand your objectives of the divorce. If you and your spouse agree on all of the most important matters, then an uncontested divorce may be possible. These issues include child support and parenting arrangements; spousal support, better known as alimony; and distribution of marital property.

Our New Jersey child relocation attorneys Discuss the New Standard for NJ Parental Relocation

A new ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court has changed the standard that courts must use as a guideline when deciding child relocation cases. For the past 16 years, they turned to the Baures factors to help them determine whether or not to allow a custodial parent to relocate with the child to another state. The 2001 case upon which this standard was based was Baures v. Lewis.

Baures: The Standard in Parental Relocation

Our New Jersey Child Custody Attorneys Examine the “Best Interests of the Child” and New Jersey Custody Cases

If you have been involved in a New Jersey child custody or parenting time case, you’ve probably heard the phrase “best interests of the child.” New Jersey law mandates that the child’s best interests must be of paramount importance in every family law decision, but what does that phrase really mean?

Best Interests of the Child: Who Decides?

When Divorced Parents Cannot Agree on Their Child’s Medical Care:  The Importance of Cooperation in Co-Parenting

A recent case brought before the Ocean County Superior Court demonstrates the importance of communication and cooperation in co-parenting. The case involved the divorced parents of a 16-year-old boy who injured his arm and elbow in a sports accident. The father allegedly scheduled the child’s surgery without obtaining his ex-wife’s prior consent. She wanted and was granted the right to consult another surgeon and get a second opinion. Both parents believed their chosen surgeon was best, and neither would give in. The father filed an emergency application for sole legal custody, maintaining that the boy’s mother was holding up the child’s treatment.

Because the couple was unable to reach an amicable agreement, the boy’s injuries were not being addressed.

Some Marital Settlement Agreements in divorce contain parental relocation provisions when there are children and child custody issues involved. Unless there is an inclusion about non-relocation or a specific exception referring to the reason the custodial parent wants to move out of New Jersey, a change in the divorce agreement may be needed. Of course, if the other parent agrees, then there is no problem. However, if the other parent does not consent to the relocation, a change in the agreement may need to be negotiated or the party wanting to relocate out of the state may have to obtain a court order allowing the provision to be ignored.

Recently, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey addressed such a situation in a divorce case referenced as Bisbing v. Bisbing.

Bisbing v. Bisbing: A New Jersey Case Study

Thanksgiving Ideas for the Divorced Parent Sharing CustodyThanksgiving is a time for sharing! But you didn’t think you would be sharing your child!

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for sharing. School children learn about the autumn feast celebrated by the Pilgrims and their Wampanoag neighbors in 1621. They may learn that beginning in 1817, individual states—starting with New York—began to adopt official annual Thanksgiving observances and that in 1863, in the middle of the American Civil War, President Lincoln proclaimed that Thanksgiving would be a national holiday. President Lincoln hoped it would be a day that all Americans would ask God to “heal the wounds of the nation.”

Today an important element of our Thanksgiving celebrations is the cooking and sharing of traditional meals with family and friends as well as showing generosity to those less fortunate. Yes, sharing is an integral aspect of the holiday, but you never counted on having to share your child!

brang-300x225On September 15, 2016, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt separated. Jolie filed for divorce two days later. The famous couple, called “Brangelina” by their fans, had been together since 2004 and married in 2014.

Jolie’s spokespersons have said that she is doing it for the “health of her family.” She has asked that she and her family be afforded privacy.

Pitt stated when asked how he felt about the situation by People magazine, “I am very saddened by this, but what matters most now is the well-being of our kids. I kindly ask the press to give them the space they deserve during this challenging time.”

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