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Top Four New Jersey Divorce Law Myths Debunked


Every family law case we handle is unique in its own way, but there are some common threads of regret that arise in divorce proceedings, many stemming from things people wish they would have known when they were married. Here, our Monmouth divorce lawyers are busting the top four divorce law myths in New Jersey.

Myth #1: I never put my spouse’s name on my bank accounts, so there is no marital property to divide.

This is not the way marital property is identified or equitably divided in New Jersey. Here, as in most other states, it’s not so much whose name is on the account (or deed or title) as much as when it was acquired. There may be some exceptions, but in general, all property acquired during marriage is subject to equitable distribution under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1. There is a rebuttable presumption that both parties made substantial financial and/or nonfinancial contribution toward the acquisition of income and property while the two were married. How that property is divided will depend on a host of different factors, including the duration of the marriage, whether the income/property was brought to the marriage, the standard of living established during the marriage, etc.

Myth #2: My husband hasn’t worked for the duration of the marriage, but since I was the wife, I won’t have to pay him alimony.

An award of alimony in New Jersey (and in all other states) is not framed in terms of gender. The purpose of alimony is to limit the potential for unfair economic advantage/disadvantage of either party as a result of divorce by providing ongoing income to the spouse who doesn’t earn a wage or earns less of a wage. N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23 outlines the guidelines for alimony awards and duration. There are several different types of alimony, more predicated on the established marital lifestyle, the contributions of both parties during the marriage (including non-financial) and the need of the lower wage-earner and the ability of the higher wage-earner to pay. If your husband supported you and/or your family as a homemaker for the duration of your education and/or career, that will be considered by the court in the alimony determination.

Myth #3: Mothers are favored in child custody cases.

There was a time when this was true. It is no longer the case, though the stereotype persists. N.J.S.A. 9:2-4 is clear on the fact that the rights of both parents are carefully and equally considered, but the best interests of the child are paramount. The court will consider a litany of factors, including the parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child, parents’ willingness to accept custody orders (as well as a history of unwillingness to allow parenting time that isn’t based on a substantive history of abuse), the child’s relationship with both parents and any siblings, the safety of the child, the stability of the home environment offered, the quality/continuity of the child’s education, the child’s needs, the geographical proximity of parents’ homes, both parents’ employment responsibilities, the age and number of children and (if they are old enough to make an intelligent decision0 the child’s preference. Parents are only deemed unfit if their conduct has had a significant negative impact on the child. Here again, the gender of the parent is not a consideration.

Myth #4: My spouse had an affair, so the court will issue me more favorable rulings.

Typically, infidelity will not impact New Jersey divorce proceedings. New Jersey offers no fault divorce under the catch-all umbrella of irreconcilable differences, so it isn’t necessary to “air the dirty laundry,” so-to-speak. There are a few narrow circumstances under which an affair might impact property distribution or parenting time. One would be if the court finds the unfaithful spouse dissipated (wasted) marital assets on the adulterous relationship. Another might be if the court finds the person with whom the cheater is romantically involved poses some danger to the kids (in which case, the court might order the person not be around the children).

The best way to address specific questions and concerns regarding your divorce is to discuss them with an experienced Monmouth divorce lawyer.

Call Rozin|Golinder Law, LLC today at (732) 810-0034 for a free and confidential consultation.