One of the most common questions asked of a New Jersey divorce or family law attorney concerns plenary hearings. Plenary hearings are granted in New Jersey for many different issues: modification of alimony, retroactive modification of child support and emancipation issues, to name a few. New Jersey divorce laws as well as laws regarding child support modification almost uniformly require a plenary hearing, unlike other kinds of law in the state, such as personal injury claim law. If you are facing a plenary hearing in New Jersey regarding alimony or child support, it is important to understand that the court will be empowered to consider a broad range of evidence, including testimony from both parties, testimony of other witnesses, financial documents, income records, evidence that indicate expenditures and a wide range of other evidence. Proper preparation for a plenary hearing is important because the evidence presented will determine your alimony and child support obligations. Our New Jersey alimony and child support attorneys at the Micklin Law Group have provided suggestions for ways to prepare for a plenary hearing on child support or spousal support in New Jersey.
Preparation for Testimony
Our New Jersey family law attorneys conduct conferences with our clients to ensure that they know how to respond to questioning. Familiarity with the information that may be asked about will make testimony more credible. Our goal is to provide clients with confidence that they are familiar with the types of questions they will be asked during the hearing. These questions may relate to a broad range of issues that include activities and time spent with the children; income and assets; lifestyle during the marriage; earning capacity based on training, education and experience as well as other types of questions.
When gathering financial documents for your hearing, you will want to include all documents relating to the following: income of either party, business records, financial statements, tax returns, evidence of luxury expenditures like exotic vacations, credit card statements showing expenditures, bank records, title documents for personal and real property and similar financial documents that provide a clear picture of the level of marital income and standard of living during the marriage.
Evidence Supporting Custody
The amount of child custody each party exercises is one of the most important factors in the determination of child support. If you have academic records, counseling records, letters from teachers and coaches, statements from day care providers and other documents that support the children spending more custodial time with you, this will also affect child support in your favor.
Documents Support Working History of Lower Earning Spouse
If your spouse is seeking alimony, the more evidence you can provide of your spouse’s education, training, background and successful employment history may result in a less onerous alimony award. If your spouse has worked throughout the marriage or has extensive training, such that your spouse is capable of earning a reasonable income, this evidence should be provided to your New Jersey attorney handling the plenary hearing.
Evidence of Changes in Modification Proceedings
When you are seeking to modify alimony or child support, you will have to establish that there has been a change sufficient enough to justify such a modification. When applying to modify alimony, these changes may include changes in income of either of the parties; cohabitation or remarriage by the recipient spouse; changes in income, job loss, serious debilitating illness, or other factors that demonstrate a significant change in either the ability to pay by the party paying spousal support or the need of the recipient spouse. Changes that typically form a basis for modifying child support may include significant changes in income and custody time.