Family Lawyer Curtis Romanowski Answers Your FAQs
The following are answers to some frequently asked questions about divorce and equitable division of property in New Jersey. We also have a separate page with answers to Alimony and Child Support FAQs.
Getting Divorced or Staying Together
What steps can I take to save my troubled marriage or civil union?
Many couples have found marriage counseling to be quite beneficial. While therapists cannot solve your problems, they may be able to help you achieve breakthroughs that can change the course of your relationship and save your marriage.
However, in order to have a chance of success, both spouses must be committed to the process. If your significant other does not want your marriage to last, or if they are only attending counseling because they feel obligated to do so, there is little chance that counseling will serve its intended goal.
As lawyers, when we are approached by clients seeking to prevent their marriages from dissolving, we focus on providing education around the realities of divorce and recommended approaches for communicating and resolving conflicts.
We are constantly arguing. Is there anything we can do to stay out of divorce court?
Non-defensive listening can help ease partners’ conflicts when speaking to one another. Defensiveness is dangerous and encourages a cycle of negativity. By finding the courage not to be defensive, or by minimizing defensiveness as much as possible, couples can often begin to improve their marriages and civil unions.
However, if a divorce or separation is the best option, there are alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods that can keep you out of divorce court as well. Through mediation, arbitration, Collaborative Divorce, or Progressive Divorce, couples can resolve their differences without putting their futures in the hands of a judge.
If we can’t work things out, should we stay together for the sake of our children?
Deciding whether to stay together for the sake of your children requires an honest assessment of the nature and extent of your marital discord. The key question to ask is whether you and your spouse will be able to cooperate on parenting issues if you remain together. If you and your spouse cannot realistically expect to function as a unit in parenting your children, staying together for the sake of your children may not be a realistic option.
Making the Decision to Divorce
What are the grounds for divorce in New Jersey?
New Jersey is among the majority of states that recognize “no fault” grounds for divorce. Either spouse can file to dissolve a marriage that is irretrievably broken with no hope of reconciliation.
While fault-based grounds still exist under New Jersey law, this concept is generally considered to be dead except in cases involving extreme circumstances. Even so, fault typically does not play a role in modern divorces except possibly in the calculation of alimony.
Can I leave our marital home?
Either spouse can choose to leave their marital residence. However, you should consult an attorney prior to doing so. In some circumstances, leaving is advisable; but, in others, leaving can have serious negative consequences for your divorce. In particular, if you have children, leaving can negatively impact your arguments for custody. At Romanowski Law Offices, we can help you weigh your options.
Can I force my spouse to leave our marital home?
In New Jersey, the courts will rarely compel one spouse to leave the family home prior to finalization of their divorce. The one major exception is where the spouse seeking sole possession of the home is a victim of domestic violence.
Dividing Marital Property
How will our marital property be distributed?
All property that spouses acquire during their marriage is subject to the rule of “equitable distribution.” However, it is important to note that “equitable” does not necessarily mean, “equal.” For purposes of property distribution in a divorce, the New Jersey courts view marriage as a joint enterprise. As a result, even if one spouse technically acquired all of the assets through earned income, the courts recognizes that through taking responsibility for maintaining the household, the other spouse provided the opportunity for earning the income and therefore is entitled to an “equitable” distribution.
What if certain assets are titled in my name alone?
With only certain well-defined exceptions, the rule of equitable distribution does not take into consideration the title-owner of individual marital assets. However, you may be entitled to retain assets that you owned prior to the marriage.
Am I still entitled to my spouse’s Social Security benefits if we divorce?
It depends. If you were receiving Social Security benefits prior to your divorce, you can continue to receive those benefits after the divorce if you meet certain requirements. Likewise, if your spouse was eligible but you were not receiving benefits, you can still apply as long as you meet the requirements and wait 60 days after your divorce is final. In other situations, we can help you evaluate your benefits entitlements. This is an important factor in considering the overall financial impact of your divorce.
Contact Romanowski Law Offices to Learn More
If you are considering filing for divorce, you no doubt have lots of questions. We would be happy to help you find answers during an expert consultation. To speak with one of our experienced divorce attorneys about your situation, call (732) 603-8585 or contact us online today.