If you are initiating a New Jersey divorce, you need to make informed decisions based on accurate information. Unfortunately, the myths and misconceptions surrounding the divorce process are legion. This is why we recommend waiting until you have consulted with a Freehold divorce attorney before making any big decisions. Your lawyer can provide you with the right information you need to choose your next move wisely.
That said, there are some common myths about getting divorced in New Jersey that we see constantly circulated. Here, we address the top 5.
- Assets are split 50/50 in a divorce. Not in New Jersey. Not in most states, actually. N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1 outlines the equitable distribution process we use instead. Equitable distribution is a means of dividing marital property, which is all property acquired during the marriage. Equitable distribution considers the needs of each party and the facts of each case. The goal is to divvy up property in a way that is the mostly fair – but that almost never means entirely equal. As a legal theory, equitable distribution recognizes that some factors can make ownership of property inherently unequal. Judges will weigh a host of factors, including the length of the marriage, the age and health of both parties, the income/property brought into the marriage by each, the education and employability of both parties, any written agreements (prenuptial agreements) between the two, etc.
- The wife always gets primary custody of the kids. Historically, this was more true than not. However, that’s no longer a reality today. N.J.S.A. 9:2-4, the state’s child custody statute, expressly states that that the rights of both parents are considered equal in the proceedings. But that is not the top priority; whatever decision the court decides when it comes to custody or parenting time MUST reflect the best interests of the child(ren) involved. Again, that doesn’t always mean a 50/50 split of time, but both parents are presumed to have an equal right to custody or parenting time unless proven otherwise.
- We can’t agree on anything, so we have to go to court. Divorce litigation can be expensive, intensive and often extensive. It is true that the more things you and your soon-to-be-ex can agree on, the less likely you’ll have a bitter court battle ahead. But as our Freehold family law attorneys can explain, there are alternatives to litigation. Mediation, for instance, can be highly effective for a lot of couples – even those with a lot of disagreements. Collaborative divorce can be on the table too. Neither option requires you to come to the table agreeing on everything, only that you be willing at least to communicate.
- The wife always gets alimony. Firstly, no one is guaranteed alimony in a New Jersey divorce. Beyond that, not all alimony favors the wife. There is a list of factors judges will consider when weighing alimony, but gender isn’t on that list. Primarily, it will come down to both parties’ respective incomes, how long they’ve been married and the standard of living established during the marriage. As women increasingly step into the role as primary wage earner, more men are being awarded alimony.
- I need to give the court a good reason to get divorced. It’s true that up until 2007, couples divorcing in New Jersey had to assert specific grounds for divorce. These included reasons like desertion, addiction, adultery, institutionalization, imprisonment and extreme cruelty. Those grounds still exist, but the vast majority of those divorcing here now assert no-fault desert under the umbrella “irreconcilable differences.”
If you are considering divorce in New Jersey and have questions about how certain aspects may play out in your case, our knowledgeable, compassionate legal team can help.
Contact the Freehold divorce attorneys at Rozin-Golinder Law LLC by calling (732) 810-0034.