Frequently, people going through a divorce describe themselves as surprised or even shocked by their partner’s decision to end the marriage. Even those who suspected their spouse was considering a divorce are often stunned to learn their spouse has been planning the financial aspects of the divorce for months or even years before the Complaint for Divorce was filed. A spouse’s pre-planning of the financial aspects of their divorce is so common a phenomenon it has been given the phrase “divorce-planning.”
In New Jersey, alimony and child support obligations are generally subject to modification based on “changed circumstances.” The right to seek modification, and the steps one must take when doing so, were established in 1980 by the New Jersey Supreme Court in the case of Lepis v. Lepis. Typically, modification of an alimony or child support obligation requires a post-divorce application to the Court if the parties are not able to agree on whether to modify the support obligation and/or by how much.
As part of the divorce process, spouses must resolve various financial matters, including support and division of assets and debts. The resulting marital settlement agreement is enforceable in a court of law, even when one party declares bankruptcy after the divorce has been finalized, as illustrated by a recent New Jersey decision.
If you are going through the process of divorcing in the State of New Jersey, the Court will require you and your spouse to file a “Case Information Statement.” This is a document which summarizes the finances of the marriage. Generally, the Case Information Statement asks you to provide your income, your spouse’s income, the average spending over the course of one year, and list all assets and liabilities.
Under New Jersey law, when a party’s motion has been denied by the court, the party may file a motion for reconsideration. However, this is only available if the matter meets certain criteria demonstrating an error has been made. The purpose of making a motion for reconsideration is not to give a party another opportunity to make the same arguments but to advise the Court of facts it overlooked or controlling law the Court did not consider.
Many people think of domestic violence incidents as occurring between parties who are in an active relationship, but that is not a requirement. New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA) protects against acts of domestic violence that occur between a spouse, former spouse, household member or individuals involved in a dating relationship, including past relationships. Such a relationship also does not have to be exclusive. Even casual dating may give rise to a claim under the PDVA, as affirmed in a recent Appellate Division case.