One of the most common post divorce litigation issues that I see involves the selection and contribution toward college costs. Usually divorce agreements fall into two categories; those that specify exactly what the parties’ contribution toward college will be and those that indicate that a determination of the parties’ contribution will “abide the event,” and be based upon a consideration of the parties’ abilities to pay and the other common law factors found in the seminal case Newburgh v. Arrigo.
When it comes to divorce, everyone has heard the time-honored phrases, “I’ll see you in court!” and “you’ll be hearing from my attorney.” But what a lot of people don’t know are that there are several options for how to resolve your divorce that don’t involve going to court. Attorneys call the method by which a divorce is conducted “dispute resolution”...
- Cost-Effective: Recent statistics from the American Bar Association indicate that mediating your divorce case will cost you 40-60% less than litigating your divorce case;
- It’s Better for Your Children: Mediation avoids your children being involved in the divorce litigation, reduces the overall stress on the family and allows your children to see their parents cooperating;
I read a gorgeous New York Times Article recently about Dr. B.J. Miller, a palliative care doctor, who became a doctor after becoming a triple amputee. He has become famous in the last 2 years from his 2015 TED talk entitled “What really matters at the end of life,” (which has about 5 million views). What struck me most about Dr. Miller is how in learning to embrace his injuries he learned the truth about what truly makes us whole. A truth that he uses to help dying people face death.
The question he asks of his dying patients with maybe only months, weeks or even days to live is “What is your favorite part of yourself?” “What do we want to protect as everything falls apart?”
Sometimes the end of your divorce case is just the beginning of a long road of dealing with your ex-spouse. Maybe you have small children and will be co-parenting for many years, you have a home or retirement assets that you have to work together to divide or maybe you have support obligations that will have to be adjusted or revisited in the years following your divorce. The emotional and financial cost of continuously litigating with your ex-spouse is great and can dramatically impact your quality of life post-divorce. In my almost twenty years of practicing family law, the following are my most frequently recommended tips for avoiding unnecessary court costs and post-divorce conflict:
One of my daughter’s favorite holiday books is Llama Llama Holiday Drama, about a little llama who gets overwhelmed by the holidays. Unfortunately, getting caught up in “holidrama,” isn’t just for little llamas. Almost everyone experiences some form of their own “holidrama.” This is especially true if you are going through divorce or are sharing the holidays after a divorce. With competing personal, work, family and holiday obligations, the cost of gifts and entertaining as well as our emotional expectations around time with family and holiday traditions- the holidays can be overwhelming. They can also create situations ripe for arguing over parenting time with your spouse or ex-spouse. My best advice is DON’T, if you can avoid it. Not only will it cost you money in attorney’s fees, but it can also ruin your holidays and maybe your children’s holidays as well.
This year I realized that I was ready for a new beginning. That new beginning was the creation of my own law practice after many years in private practice. New beginnings can be scary and filled with anxiety. They require us to step into the unknown. What I realize from my personal experience, and in my work as a family lawyer helping others, is that in order to step into a new beginning you have to be ready to face uncertainty and change. Some of us choose to step into a new beginning for ourselves, while others get forced into it by circumstance; tragedy, painful endings, betrayals, or crisis. But either way, we all have to become “ready,” at some point to face a new beginning.
The Appellate Division opinion of A.M.C. v. P.B, released for publication on October 21, 2016 finds that a Trial Court misapplied the two-prong test for determining whether the issuance of Final Restraining Order is necessary (set forth in the landmark domestic violence case Silver v. Silver which requires in its second prong that the Court find that a domestic violence restraining order is necessary to protect a victim from future abuse). The Trial Court had found that the defendant had perpetrated acts of domestic violence, in this case, the assault of the victim on two separate occasions in a three- week period, including a physical assault that took place to prevent the victim from leaving the marital residence. But then determined that a Final Restraining Order was not necessary because it was not necessary to protect the victim from further acts of domestic violence because they believed that the parties’ relationship had ended when the victim left the marital residence because there were no children of the relationship and the fact that the defendant had no violated the TRO (which had not been served upon him) after the victim left the marital residence.
On September 26, 2016 the New Jersey Supreme Court heard oral argument in the case of Thieme v. Aucoin-Thieme involving a dispute over whether a $2.25M post-divorce bonus was subject to equitable distribution in a short term marriage of fourteen months, due to the fact that the parties had lived together eight years before the marriage and the bonus had been “earned” during that period. Among the issues to be considered by the Supreme Court is whether an asset acquired during the period of cohabitation should be subject to equitable distribution. Although not presently contemplated under the equitable distribution statute, defendant’s counsel has argued that this is an issue of “equity.” Stay tuned for the outcome of this very interesting case, which may potentially change the nature of equitable distribution in cases involving a period of cohabitation prior to the marriage.