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What Is Joint Custody in NJ?

Posted by Steven J. Kaplan, Esq. on June 25, 2017

I get asked all the time "What is joint custody in NJ?  What does it really mean in practical terms to me?"

The bottom line is that in New Jersey, there are two broad types of custody.

"Physical Custody" deals with where the child lives, and "Legal Custody" deals with who makes major decisions for the child.

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Do It Right The First Time

Posted by Steven J. Kaplan, Esq. on May 31, 2017

As a divorce lawyer half of my clients are people who are getting divorced.

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The Monmouth County Intensive Settlement Panel

Posted by Steven J. Kaplan, Esq. on May 13, 2017

What happens if your Monmouth County divorce case cannot be settled through conventional means?

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"Why Won't The Other Monmouth County Divorce Attorney Negotiate?"

Posted by Steven J. Kaplan, Esq. on May 11, 2017

"Why won't the other monmouth county divorce attorney negotiate?"

That's what Barbara asked me.

"Steve", she said.  "We've been trying to get them to respond to our settlement proposal that I asked you to draft 2 months ago and that you mailed to them 2 months ago.  No response.

"We've been trying to get them to attend a four way conference to begin a dialogue.  No response.

"You call and leave messages for his attorney to call you back.  You do not get the courtesy of a return call."

"Why can't you get the other attorney to negotiate?"

Barbara is a really nice lady.

She didn't deserve the treatment that her husband gave her.

She knew that he had affairs but she did not want the divorce.

Ultimately her husband left her for another woman.

When I'm representing the person who doesn't want the divorce or who doesn't care about it or just wants to be left alone, I don't get the phone calls like the one that I got from Barbara.

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Topics: Divorce, Monmouth County divorce attorney

The Court Should Be Open For Parenting Time Emergencies

Posted by Steven J. Kaplan, Esq. on May 9, 2017

In an earlier blog post I proposed the creation of a new New Jersey statute that would afford a parent immediate access to a judge or a hearing officer if the other parent is placing children at risk by abusing substances.

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What If Your Early Settlement Panel in NJ Fails?

Posted by Steven J. Kaplan, Esq. on May 7, 2017

You're ready.

More important, your attorney is ready.  Ready for your New Jersey Early Settlement Panel.  Ready to settle your divorce case and get on with your life.

When your case is scheduled for an ESP, you and your lawyer will show up at 9:00 in the particular judge's courtroom at the Monmouth County Courthouse, and the judge will give a description from the bench as to what the Early Settlement Panel program here in Monmmouth County is all about.

The Judge will explain that there are volunteer lawyers here today who have expertise in divorce law who are here to help anybody who may be struggling on one issue or 100 issues to try to come to an overall resolution of their Monmouth County divorce case.

Once the judge calls the calendar, the the lawyer for the husband will check in, the lawyer for the wife will check in, and once those two check in, the judge recognizes that that case is ready to go.

She will go through her whole list.  There may be 10 cases on the list or there may be 30 cases on the list, but there are only a few panelists available.  

This means that some people will be out of the courtroom by 9:15 am or so into the hallway looking for a conference room to start their panel, whereas other people will likely be waiting for an hour, or 2 hours, or 3 hours with nothing happening quite yet.

Those people who are waiting, very often will choose to get together in the hallway and try to negotiate any remaining issues so that they can try to get divorced that day, perhaps even before reaching their Early Settlement Panel.

Some divorcing spouses are well prepared and are even able to show up in court with a settled case What the judge normally does in this situation is once the whole list is called and she sees who is there and who is not yet there, and once the people who are scheduled for the ESP actually start leaving the courtroom and go to the panel rooms, the judge will normally call those people who are there with settled cases, and will actually complete the divorces for those people fairly immediately.  Frequently there are one, two, three, or maybe four of those settled cases there and ready to be finalized in Court.

For people who have settled their divorce cases at this point in time it is usually (but not always)  a very low key procedure. The hard part is behind them. The hard part was really negotiating the deal, but  the uncontested divorce hearing is really the judge just getting an opportunity to listen to the lawyers question their clients about the voluntariness of the of the agreement.

The Judge wants to make sure that neither the husband nor the wife is feeling any duress, that neither of them are under any the influence of any medicine or alcohol or anything that could affect their ability to understand what is happening in Court or what the agreement says, that type of thing.

Once the judge is comfortable that those concerns have been properly addressed, the judge will normally grant the divorce.

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Topics: Alimony, family court

Monmouth County Courthouse Facilities

Posted by Steven J. Kaplan, Esq. on May 4, 2017


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Can Your Monmouth County Divorce Lawyer Help You In An Emergency?

Posted by Steven J. Kaplan, Esq. on April 30, 2017


Maybe not.

What exactly is an emergency that justifies a Monmouth County Divorce Lawyer  bringing an emergent "order to show cause" in Monmouth County Family Court?

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Topics: Alimony, Child Custody

Can I Remove Money From A Joint Account?

Posted by Steven J. Kaplan, Esq. on April 27, 2017

As a monmouth county divorce lawyer, I am regularly asked the qustion:  "Can I remove money from a joint account at the beginning of our divorce case?

Answer:  "Yes.  But unless we are talking about a relatively small amount of money, don't."

Don't touch large accounts, such as retirement accounts.  These should be left alone until you have a judge's permission to take funds from them.  

Indeed, they are often restrained from being touched at the beginning of many cases.  You cannot remove funds from ANY joint account if a judge has so ordered or if you have so agreed.

But if you have a joint checking account with your spouse, and if it has not been restrained from dissipation by order or agreement, and if you have say $20,000.00 in it, technically the entire $20,000.00 is his … and technically the entire $20,000.00 is also hers.

That's because it is a joint asset. Either one of you can go in and spend it all right now. 

In a Monmouth County divorce, one way to really offend your spouse (and there are many) would be to go in and clean out the whole checking account, because the message that you are telegraphing to your spouse is "I took everything and there is nothing that you can do about it."

Now obviously that is not going to go over well with your spouse or pretty much anybody else's spouse so well.

Also, checks may begin to bounce.

In addition, and perhaps most significant, the Judge in your case has the power to order you to return any money that you take if the Judge feels that it was inappropriate for you to remove the funds without either your spouse's consent or consent from the Court.

Frankly, normally the best thing to do is  neither one of you touch anything. You just leave it there until the end of the case and then it will likely be divided 50/50, so if there's $20,000.00 in there now and if there is $20,000.00 in there day you get divorced, in most cases (although not in all cases) you will each get $10,000.00, exactly 50 percent.

But if you really need money and if your spouse is supposed to be supporting you but has stopped doing so or has cut back support, the third option is to take exactly half.  

In this situation, what you are telegraphing to your spouse  is "hey, this is my money,  too, and I'm going to choose to use my share of it, but I'm also being fair with you because I'm not touching a penny of your half. I've taken my half; you can do whatever you want with your half".  

By doing that you are empowering yourself by giving yourself the ability to use those funds that are legitimately yours.

You are also empowering yourself in another way because you are showing your spouse that you are standing up for your rights while simultaneously  being respectful of your spouse's rights.

In my experience in an increasingly number of divorce cases in NJ, while the Judge has the power to order you to return any money that you unilaterally remove, if we are speaking about a relatively small amount and if you take only half leaving half for the other spouse, under reasonable circumstances, most Judges will not disturb that result.

This will free up enough money to keep you supported while you seek more financial relief from the Judge.

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Perhaps Your Monmouth County Divorce Attorney Should Take Depositions

Posted by Steven J. Kaplan, Esq. on April 23, 2017

Are there unanswered questions in your divorce case?  

Do these questions need to be answered before you can settle your case or, if settlement is not possible, go to trial?

Like "where did all of that money go"?

"Is he having an affair and did he spend our savings

on his girlfriend?"

"Does she own property that I do not know about but that I am entitled to share in?"

"Does he have certain problems that make it unreasonable for him to have our child on an overnight basis presently?"

Perhaps your divorce lawyer should consider "taking depositions."

A "deposition" in a divorce case is an opportunity that I have as a Monmouth County Divorce Attorney to send out a subpoena that requires the recipient of the subpoena to appear at my law office.

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Topics: Monmouth County divorce attorney

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