Family Law

Family law is an area of the law that deals with family-related matters and domestic relations, including:

  • Marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships

  • Adoption and surrogacy

  • Child abuse and domestic abuse 

  • The termination of relationships, including divorce, annulment, property settlements, alimony, child custody and visitation, and child support.

  • Juvenile delinquency and adjudication

  • Paternity testing and paternity fraud

  • Domestic Violence

If you are having domestic problems, I will work diligently to protect your rights.  I take pride in the quality of service, support and compassion I provide my clients.  Every situation is unique and your case will be handled in a comprehensive and caring manner.  I am attentive to every detail of your case - too much is at stake to miss any of the nuances.  

Adoption

Starting a family through adoption can be a challenge, but unlike other areas of family law, it can be a joyful process.  There are many types of adoptions including relative adoptions, private placements, adoption agencies, Department of Children Protection and Permanency (DCPP, formerly known as DYFS) adoptions, gay and lesbian adoptions, and, of course, foreign adoptions.  Second marriages, civil unions, blended families, or same sex marriages can all lead to the need for legal bonds between a new parent and child.  

Adopting a child in any situation has wonderful rewards, let us help you fulfill your goal to add to your family. We can help you from the beginning or steer you in the right direction.

Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements are not just for superstars and politicians.  There are many good reasons to have a prenup. Couples with children from prior marriages now marrying for a second time often have complicated family dynamics.  Couples with established careers want to establish financial security going forward.  Across the board, more and more couples are interested in prenups.  Drafting prenuptial agreements allows couples to discuss their finances together in a cooperative atmosphere.  There must be full and complete financial disclosure, including income and all assets and debts.  But then, would you want to start a marriage without being upfront and totally honest about your finances?  Each party needs the prenup reviewed by his or her own lawyer.  Prenuptuals are great documents when they are done with both parties’ interests and needs taken into account.  And with a little bit of luck, you may never need to use them.

Divorce

When you are in the process of making the decision to end your marriage, civil union or domestic partnership, it is important to speak with an attorney before you file for divorce. Divorce proceedings in New Jersey start by filing a complaint for divorce.  This document tells the court that one spouse or partner wants to divorce the other.  The complaint requires you to indicate the grounds (reasons) for the divorce.  The options fall into two major categories:  No-fault divorce and fault-based divorce.  A no-fault divorce may be less acrimonious and can be based on “irreconcilable differences” or separation.  Whether you choose a no-fault or fault-based divorce will, to a great extent, determine how the case will be handled and how lengthy a process it will be.  You should talk to an attorney about the best way to file in your specific instance. 

The divorce process divides a couple’s assets and debts, may provide for alimony (support) for one spouse, determines the future care and custody of any children, and gives each person the legal right to marry someone else.  If there is little or no marital property, no children and no disagreement on alimony, the legal divorce proceedings can move quickly. However, most couples have issues to work out and the process can become lengthy and combative if not handled properly. Divorce, whether desired or not, is a very stressful time.  We understand the traumatic experience of divorce.

You will be on an emotional roller coaster; it will be my job, as your lawyer, to keep us on track and moving forward towards the goals we have set.

Alimony 

Alimony is a court-ordered payment from one spouse to the other while a divorce case is pending and afterwards. It’s intended to provide financial support for the spouse who was financially supported during the marriage. Alimony is important for several reasons:

  • She (or he) gave up a potential career and earning power and instead invested time and effort into the family.

  • She helped his career along by taking care of the home and children giving him more time to spend at work increasing his earning power. 

  • By the time the children are old enough for her to go back to work full time, she has been out of the job market for several years and may not be as attractive to potential employeees as someone who has worked steadily.  On the other hand, he has been working steadily which has increased his worth.

  • Even though the assets may be divided evenly at the time of divorce, he, because of his greater earning power will be able to replace and build up new assets over time.   She, because of her lack of earning power, will not be able to replace assets as easily and will probably be forced to deplete them to support herself.

The concept of permanent alimony no longer exists in New Jersey and there are many factors that contribute to the amount and duration of alimony including:

  • The actual need of one party and ability of the other party to pay. 

  • The length of the marriage or civil union.

  • The ages of the parties and their emotional and physical health.

  • The party’s standard of living during the marriage or civil union and whether each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living, with neither person being more entitled to that standard of living than the other person.

  • Each party’s earning ability, educational levels, occupational skills and employability. 

  • The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance. 

  • A party’s parental responsibilities for their children. 

  • The time and cost needed to acquire enough education or training to enable the party seeking support to find suitable employment.

  • The history of financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage including contributions to the care and education of the children and the disruption of individual careers.

  • The distribution of property ordered and any payouts on that distribution.

  • Any investment income available to either party from of any assets held by them.

  • The tax treatment and cost to both parties of any alimony award.

 

The balancing of all these factors and any others deemed relevant means there is significant room to negotiate.  You need a skilled attorney to look out for your rights.

Child Custody & Parenting Time

When a couple decides to divorce or split up, child custody and parenting time (previously called "visitation") become a priority.  But people who never got married or joined in a civil union are still entitled to custody and parenting time for their child.  Coming to an agreement on child custody and parenting time is not always easy because while both parents may want to do what is best for the children, they often do not agree on exactly what that is. 

Courts in New Jersey can order many different custodial and parenting arrangements.  In considering the best arrangement for your child, it is important to understand that New Jersey child custody includes both physical custody, which governs where your child will live, and legal custody, which governs which parent or parents have decision-making authority on how your child will be raised and cared for. 

The courts are guided by a variety of factors including the parents ability to agree and communicate with each other, the stability of the home environment offered, the needs of the child, the fitness and geographic proximity of the parents, the preference of the child, the extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to the separation, the age and number of children, the employment responsibilities of the parents, and the history of any domestic violence.

Whatever your child custody arrangement, there are various options available for structuring parenting time. I can help you craft a sensible New Jersey parenting plan designed to meet all the needs of your family both now and well into the future.

Child Support

Child support is the responsibility of both parents - to make sure their child has enough food to eat, clothes to wear and a safe place to live, as well as adequate medical insurance in most cases.  Regardless of their living situation or relationship, both parents are required to provide the financial, medical and emotional support a child needs to grow into a responsible adult.  This responsibility starts in infancy and can last through college.

 

To determine the amount of child support and medical insurance required when parents split up, New Jersey courts rely on the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines.  The guidelines are designed to determine how much each parent should contribute for the care of the child.  Health care is to be ordered as accessible and at a reasonable cost based on health insurance available through both parents’ resources.  The guidelines are based on a formula which looks at the incomes of both parents and takes into account the costs of child care, medical insurance, and any factor the court deems best for the child.  If both parents agree on an amount for child support based on the guidelines, they can avoid having a judge make the decision.  I can help with this.

973-509-8500 

33 Plymouth Street, Suite 204

Montclair, NJ 07042

Copyright © 2018 Leslie A. Farber

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Leslie Farber Law, New Jersey lawyer, attorney

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