Our attorneys at Perrotta, Lamb & Johnson, LLC, are happy to answer any questions you may have concerning family law and divorce. Having the right information and trusting its source is the first step to resolving your legal issues. We've compiled the most frequently asked family law questions and answers below from our almost 30 years of practice.
Divorce and child support
- Our divorce was final years ago. Still, I need to change a few items in the divorce decree. How do I make these changes?
- How is the property allocated between us?
- Am I responsible for my husband's school loans?
- My ex-husband is a deadbeat dad. What should I do?
- What are the visitation rights for same-sex partners?
- My husband's income has increased since our divorce. Can I get an increase in his support payments to me?
Fathers' rights and grandparents' rights
- Isn't the deck stacked against fathers asserting their rights?
- I have custodial rights of my daughter. Can I deny visitation rights to her mother?
- My son's divorce decree ignored any grandparent visitation. What can I do about that?
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Divorce and child support
Our divorce was final years ago. Still, I need to change a few items in the divorce decree. How do I make these changes?
Once your divorce is final, you can still seek modifications in your divorce decree, property settlement, or custody and support arrangements. However, you need to work closely with your attorney to ensure that the changes you make are what you intended and that they are enforceable.
How is the property allocated between us?
There are a number of things the divorce courts consider when dividing marital property between spouses:
- Standard of living established during the marriage
- Opportunity to acquire future income and assets
- Either person's prior marriage(s)
- Tax consequences of the distribution
- Length of the marriage
- Custodial parent designation
- Each person's age, health, station in life, income, vocational skills, employability, estates, liabilities and needs
- Contribution by one spouse to the education, training or increased earning power of the other spouse
- Sources of income, including medical, retirement and insurance benefits
- Services rendered as a parent, wage earner or homemaker
- Value of each person's property
Am I responsible for my husband's school loans?
Divorce courts usually divide the liabilities in the same way they do the assets. Since school loans that originated during the marriage benefited both parties, you are likely to be assigned at least a portion of the liability.
My ex-husband is a deadbeat dad. What should I do?
Alimony, spousal maintenance and child support are all enforceable by the court. First, you must know where your ex-husband works and his Social Security Number. Then go to the court clerk's office. Request that the clerk garnish his wages. Additionally, your attorney could go after his property. This is a longer process and may not yield the money you're owed, since cars and homes are often leased and mortgaged. Your attorney might also file a petition for contempt with the court. This places your ex-husband in the uncomfortable position of having to show cause for being delinquent with your payments.
What are the visitation rights for same-sex partners?
The issue of visitation rights for same-sex partners for children born during their relationship is still in flux. However, some same-sex partners have indeed received parental rights after their relationships ended. New Jersey is one state where its supreme court upheld visitation rights to the nonbiological parent of a lesbian relationship. Your family law attorney can counsel you as to your rights and the best ways to assert them.
My husband's income has increased since our divorce. Can I get an increase in his child support payments to me?
Your demand for increased child support must pass these tests in most states to be legitimate:
- Your ex-husband has increased his income.
- Your child has increased needs.
In many states, the person requesting an increase must show there's been some sort of a change in circumstances that justifies an increase in support payments. Your attorney can counsel you on the merits of your request and the likelihood of it being upheld.
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Fathers' And Grandparents' Rights: Isn't the deck stacked against fathers asserting their rights?
It depends on the judge. More often than not, fathers have the same rights related to their children as do mothers. However, the fact is that it usually takes a skilled family law attorney to make these rights part of the overall divorce agreement. A father's right to child support from the mother is one such right. Gaining either partial or full custody of your children is another one. So is the right to visit your children frequently and without interference. Each is a fundamental right available to both the mother and the father. They are necessary to your relationship with your children. Yet they are likely diminished or ignored entirely unless your attorney makes a strong legal assertion for them.
As a father, I have custodial rights of my daughter. Can I deny visitation rights to her mother?
Visitation rights give children more of a sense of family, even though their parents live apart. Noncustodial parents are entitled to reasonable visitation. Repeated disagreements between parents are not a reason to deny visitation. Nor is the fact that the noncustodial parent doesn't show the child a good time during visits. However, if a child's health or welfare is endangered by or during a visitation, you may have grounds for denial. An example would be if the noncustodial parent shows up unexpectedly in the middle of the night demanding to see the child. That is a legitimate reason to deny visitation. Another is if the parent appears for a visitation obviously intoxicated.
My son's divorce decree ignored any grandparent visitation. What can I do about that?
Many child custody and visitation agreements ignore the grandparents' relationship with the children. Children remember that relationship for the rest of their lives. Both children and grandparents can get an immense sense of joy from such involvement. A divorce lawyer can help you cope legally with issues such as:
- The children are living with the grandparents.
- The parents have divorced.
- The custodial parent has died.
- Visitation is requested.
- Financial support to the child is provided by the grandparents.
Your family law attorney works for the child's best interests. At Perrotta, Lamb & Johnson, LLC, we find that the grandparents' involvement gives such benefit that their regular participation in the child's life is essential.