This week Your Legal Corner weighs in with advice on current divorce laws and how to achieve an equitable divorce.
Your Legal Corner will discuss “Divorce, Alimony and the Displaced Homemaker.” If we ask the same question to different people, invariably we will receive different answers. This is especially true when deciding what is fair and equitable with regard to a divorce.
To achieve a fair and equitable result in a divorce, one must become familiar with the current divorce laws and be acutely cognizant of his or her financial reality. Yes, before filing for a divorce or retaining an attorney… do your homework… formulate a plan.
An important issue to review when formulating a plan is alimony as the law has recently changed. The new law applies only to couples getting divorced in the future and usually will not alter existing property settlement agreements or other contractual obligations. Alimony changes include deleting permanent alimony, stricter rules regarding cohabitation, and the ability to have alimony payments lowered if unemployed for three months.
Historically, alimony was granted to women who were dependent upon their husbands for financial support. Current statistics show approximately 22,000 ex- spouses received alimony in the State of New Jersey during 2013.
In 2014, the alimony law was changed to do away with permanent alimony unless exceptional circumstances exist. The change is partially based on the fact that because a large percentage of women are in the workforce, the need for lifetime alimony is much less.
To formulate a plan, see an in depth description of the divorce process and the applicable forms see NJCourts.com.
How money was handled during the marriage is another major issue to examine in creating your plan. Inventory what your monthly bills are. Review non-monthly expenses as well as unexpected costs to help predict your financial future. To assist in the financial portion of your plan, an HD Inventory Packet is available for your own personal use.
During the divorce process, the court will require both parties to complete a Case Information Packet. This packet requests both parties financial information and may be viewed on NJCourts.com. Fill the packet out carefully because it will determine the standard of living held throughout the marriage.
Once an overall plan has been developed, it is time to interview attorneys. Make appointments and come prepared with questions. Questions will come from your research and personal situation. General questions to ask your attorney could include what are the fees? Are you the attorney that will handle my case? How many cases like mine have you tried? What will my divorced financial picture look like?
Divorce issues today are gender neutral with both men and women in need of assistance. The Division on Women provides assistance through the Displaced Homemaker Programs throughout the State of New Jersey.
A displaced homemaker is someone who is under-employed, who for a number of years worked mostly in the home and now finds themselves as their own source of financial support.
Programs available include job counseling and development, as well as legal and life skills seminars. In Gloucester County, the program is coordinated by the People in Transition, held at Rowan College/ Gloucester County 1400 Tanyard Road, Sewell New Jersey 08080. For workshops click on student services at www.RCGC.edu.
Remember, when contemplating a divorce, develop your plan first… then proceed. Till next week, God bless, keep smiling and remember who’s in Your Legal Corner. Next week, YLC will discuss “Special Needs Trusts and Contacting a Personal Injury Attorney.” Victoria M. Dalton is an Attorney Of Counsel with the Law Offices of Hoffman DiMuzio. Call 856-845-8243 or contact us now for further information and other YLC articles. Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational articles about the law and is not legal advice!