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New Jersey Family Law Attorneys
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New Jersey Divorce Dos and Don’ts

As longtime New Jersey divorce attorneys, we recognize that every marriage, and therefore every dissolution, is different. But there are some good, commonsense tips from which every divorcing spouse can benefit.

  • DO hire an experienced divorce lawyer. This is key, and Rule No. 1. The right lawyer is someone who will advocate for both you and your children in court or during mediation. He or she will make certain all legal filings are timely and carried out properly. There are countless pitfalls that can occur when people try to go it alone and represent themselves (called “pro se” representation) – particularly if the other spouse does have a lawyer. It is essential to have someone on your side who understands the legal and procedural processes. No matter what your circumstances, let’s face it: Divorce is already difficult. A responsive, experienced lawyer can help make the process go much more smoothly, and can even serve as a buffer between you and your ex. Even attorneys who are divorcing hire another lawyer to handle their case.
  • DO gather all important financial documentation. This should include records of all assets and debts from before and after your marriage, retirement accounts, inheritances, tax records, etc. Bring the originals or copies with you to your initial consultation with your divorce lawyer. The more prepared you are, the less work your attorney will need to do (which can save you money).
  • DON’T try to hide any assets or intentionally become underemployed or unemployed. The motivation for doing this is usually to avoid having property subject to equitable distribution and/or to reduce alimony and child support payments. This can cost you tremendously in the long run. Courts have many ways of uncovering hidden assets, and you will likely be penalized substantially if you are caught. In some cases, courts have awarded the entirety of the hidden asset to the other spouse. If you intentionally become unemployed or underemployed, the court may order you to pay a higher amount of alimony or child support anyway. Along with this, don’t try to hide anything from your attorney. Your lawyer wants to help you, but surprises can damage negotiations and hurt your chances of obtaining the best possible outcome.
  • DO keep your kids and your soon-to-be-ex on your health insurance policy. Per New Jersey Court Rule 5:4-2(f), you cannot remove a spouse from your health insurance plan when the divorce is pending. To do so is sometimes called “insurance revenge.” Both parties need to certify that no changes to any health insurance plans were made in the 90 days prior to the filing. If a spouse improperly takes another off their health insurance policy, the health without coverage can petition the court for it to be immediately reinstated – and the judge won’t look favorably on any litigant trying to break the rules. Talk to your lawyer about the appropriate timeline so you don’t run afoul of the law.
  • DO weigh the legal ramifications of any actions while your divorce is pending. If you clear out, sell or destroy jointly-owned property, you could be penalized for that in the divorce settlement. If you physically harm or verbally threaten your soon-to-be-ex, this could harm your negotiations. If you trash-talk your soon-to-be-ex on social media – or even post pictures of yourself that could be misconstrued – it could impact child custody and parenting time decisions. If you defy court orders during or after divorce proceedings, there could be significant repercussions.
  • DO be flexible. If there are matters of small importance, let them go. Choose your battles. The more you can both compromise on the little things, the more time you have to devote to the aspects that are of great consequence to you. In our experience, a little good faith effort can go a long way. And if you’re being pragmatic, pick and choose the things that are truly worth the time, effort and expense of attorney’s fees.
  • DON’T sign anything from your spouse or his/her attorney without having your lawyer review it first. You do not want to forfeit rights, property, insurance or other benefits without fully understanding the big picture implications.
  • DON’T drag your kids into it – regardless of their age. Resist the temptation to argue in front of them. Avoid using them as pawns (they’re going through all this as much as you are). Don’t turn to them for advice (that’s what therapists are for). Recognize that so many children of divorce emerge Ok – sometimes even better than before – when they have the love and support from both parents.
  • DO use discretion when introducing a new romantic partner to your children. Although there are no hard-and-fast rules on this in family court, a string of new people or someone with a questionable past could be up for discussion in parenting time and custody negotiations.
  • DON’T think of divorce as a tool for revenge. You may be justifiably angry and bitter at your former spouse for things that transpired during your marriage. However, barring domestic violence, substance abuse or reckless spending, it’s unlikely those personal wrongs will have much impact on things like equitable division, child support or parenting time.
  • DO seek the counsel of a professional therapist to help you work through your losses. Divorce, in many ways, is like a death, and there is no shame in working with a professional to help you through this difficult time.
  • DON’T use parenting time as a weapon to enforce child support. There are official channels to handle this, and your interference with court-ordered parenting time could result in you being held in contempt.

If you are considering filing for divorce in New Jersey, we can help.

Call Rozin | Golinder Law today at (732) 810-0034 to speak to our experienced divorce lawyers.

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