Carolann M. Aschoff, P.C.

New Jersey Family Law Blog

How do you keep a child custody agreement functional?

When you and your spouse choose to get a divorce in New Jersey, it is going to take some time to agree upon a child custody arrangement that will provide support and consistency to your children without creating too much stress for either parent. Establishing boundaries, clarifying responsibilities and leaving room open for modifications in the future are all imperative parts of creating an agreement that will be rewarding for everyone involved. 

Once an agreement is solidified and it appears to be working appropriately for both you and your spouse, you may be wondering how to maintain the consistency that you have going right now. One suggestion provided by is that you review how things are going every so often. Evaluate if the arrangement is working for your children and allowing them to continue to build positive and long-lasting relationships with both of their parents. Assess if the arrangement is allowing you to continue parenting without compromising your ability to maintain a job. 

Negotiating pet custody during divorce

Many New Jersey couples treat their pets as part of the family, which may lead to complications during a divorce. When a couple decides to split up, it may not be clear who should get custody of the pets. While the letter of the law may view a pet as property in terms of asset division, the reality of the situation may be more like a child custody battle in terms of the emotions involved.

FindLaw states that New Jersey is not a "community property" state. This means that when a court decides on divorce terms, the goal is to split assets equitably, rather than to divide everything exactly in half (as would happen in a community property state). For most property, such as furniture and real estate, a court may focus mostly on its financial worth.

Deciding who will receive child custody involves multiple steps

The process of getting divorced can feel like an emotional roller coaster, especially when young children are involved. You may naturally worry about who will end up getting custody of the children and how the children will feel about the new arrangement.

Because deciding child custody can be an emotional process, who gets custody of the children can be a challenging choice to make in many divorce cases. Here is a rundown on how child custody cases are generally handled in New Jersey.

Is nesting a good post-divorce living arrangement?

There are numerous issues you and your spouse need to discuss during the divorce process in New Jersey, including what to do with your house and where your children will live. These decisions are often complex, requiring you to consider your immediate and long-term finances as well as what is best for your children. You may think that the only solution is to have one of you stay in the house while the other one moves out. However, a different living arrangement called nesting may provide unique benefits for you, your ex-spouse and your children.

An NBC article describes the relatively new practice of nesting that some people choose after a divorce. In this situation, your children stay in the family home all the time while you and your spouse alternate living there with them. You may share the rent for an apartment where you each live when you are not with your children. You and your ex-spouse may rotate every week or every few weeks. This arrangement may allow your children to feel more secure at home and maintain closer relationships with both you and your ex-spouse.

Gaming disorder may contribute to divorce

It is often challenging to identify all the actions, decisions and feelings that contribute to the end of a marriage. While infidelity and financial arguments are frequent causes, these are not the only things that may contribute to a divorce. Addiction to video games, also known as gaming disorder, may be a cause of divorce. However, it is also possible to treat gaming disorders. Before a couple files for divorce in New Jersey, it may be helpful to determine if gaming addiction is a factor.

One of the most recent video games to cause marriage issues is "Fortnite." According to CNBC, over 200 United Kingdom couples in 2018 listed a spouse's addiction to the online game as a factor in the decision to file for divorce. Although the 200 couples who cited gaming addiction as a factor only represent a fraction of the overall divorce statistics, this number is still important in that it indicates gaming addiction may have consequences as severe as more common issues such as alcoholism and drug usage.

How do you create a parenting plan?

If you and your spouse decide to divorce, it may be time-consuming to reach an agreement on child custody. There are several essential issues that you may need to decide on, including where the child will live and how visitations will work. In New Jersey, you may be able to settle custody issues with minimal court time if you and your spouse are able to agree to terms on your own. If that is not a possibility, you may need to file a custody complaint in court to establish or modify a custody order. In either case, one of the key elements of a custody agreement is a parenting plan.

If you and your spouse create a parenting plan through informal negotiations with each other, you may simply need to submit it to the court for final approval. You may also use mediation to reach an agreement. The end result of your discussions should be a clear and thorough parenting plan that describes how you and your ex-spouse intend to care for your child.

Dividing the spoils after a divorce

New Jersey is one of the most expensive U.S. states to live in. It comes as no surprise then when couples fight over the assets they have acquired together during a marriage. According to CNBC, millennials are not only marrying later, but showing a greater propensity toward maintaining separate assets. About 28% of married millennials do not have a joint bank account. This more than doubles how many Gen Xers and Baby Boomers keep their bank accounts separate after marriage.

One proposed reason for this is that millennials have witnessed difficulties with separating assets during a divorce. Even so, professionals warn that owning property separately may not protect some assets from being counted as jointly owned during a divorce. This may happen when couples live in a community property state, which does not include New Jersey. Even so, one spouse may move to one of these states, such as California or Nevada, and then file for divorce there. Those courts may then hold jurisdiction over the divorce and therefore the marriage assets.

Negotiating divorce matters may result in less conflict

Deciding to end a marriage can understandably be challenging. However, actually going through the process itself can be even more difficult, especially if you approach your divorce as a battle you must win.

The truth is that your divorce proceedings here in New Jersey do not have to be hostile and combative. Instead, you and your future ex-spouse can use the negotiation process to try to resolve your differences in areas like property division, spousal maintenance and more.

Discernment counseling may offer unique benefits

One of the most common things individuals may hear when they start considering a divorce is a plea to try marriage counseling first. This request may come from a spouse who wishes to stay married or a well-meaning friend or family member. With all the emotions and stress that may occur near the potential end of a marriage, it may be difficult for a person or a couple to determine whether they should try counseling. A relatively new option, discernment counseling, may help couples determine whether it is best to try to fix the marriage or pursue a divorce.

Although marriage counseling may help couples work through issues and improve their communication, it does not always fix relationships. As Psychology Today points out, marriage counseling may lead to negative consequences in some situations. This is especially common when counseling begins after one person has decided he or she wants the marriage to end. At that point, marriage counseling may provoke more negative emotions and reactions, because it becomes clear that the spouses do not have an equal desire to remain married.

Mediation may save couples thousands of dollars

According to Forbes, January is the season for divorce. People speculate that unhappily married couples may want to prevent souring the holidays with divorce proceedings. Others wonder whether or not a bad encounter with family members over the holidays may have been the final nail in the coffin. Whatever the reason or season, couples can expect to spend thousands of dollars on divorce.

One of the best ways to reduce divorce fees is to consider mediation. Mediated divorces almost always cost a fraction of what it costs to battle it out in court. In these instances, one appointed neutral party serves as the mediator between two soon-to-be ex-spouses to help them resolve any outstanding issues amicably. Forbes notes that this may end up costing couples a few hundred dollars versus tens of thousands in court.

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