If you’re a man in New Jersey who is in the midst of divorce, you know how challenging it can be to come to any kind of agreement with your spouse. However, many men want to settle their divorce out of court, so they try to make things work in mediation or during other negotiation processes.
No divorce settlement is a perfect science, and courts do rely on the judge’s personal opinion to come up with a settlement, but that doesn’t mean that negotiations outside of court have to be unfair. Here’s how you can make sure you don’t agree to an unbalanced divorce settlement.
Division of Assets
Dividing your marital assets can be a particularly challenging aspect of divorce. In most cases it’s not fair to divide your assets right down the middle because each spouse brought something different to the marriage. If one spouse was a much higher earner for the entirety of the marriage, it is usually equitable for them to receive a larger portion of the assets. However, don’t discount the value that a stay at home parent brings to the marriage. If your wife cared for your children for years while you were at work, it is reasonable that she would receive an appropriate portion of your assets. This is because she contributed her time to supporting you in your career and eliminated the need for you to pay expensive childcare costs. Even homemakers without children are entitled to a portion of their marital assets during a divorce. Keep this in mind when negotiating your settlement, but also don’t fall victim to an unreasonable request.
Generally, it is not fair for your wife to request over half of your marital assets in addition to long-term alimony payments if she has not worked in years. Of course, these are all guidelines that may not apply to your divorce. That’s why it’s so important to speak to an experienced and well qualified divorce lawyer for men in New Jersey about your case.
Alimony is another area where many men may feel taken advantage of as they try to negotiate their divorce settlement. Most alimony is no longer considered permanent but instead is determined to be paid for a specific length of time. In some cases the spouse who is receiving alimony may only qualify to receive these payments while the divorce is in progress, and once it is finalized they will no longer see that monthly check. In other cases temporary alimony may last for six months to a year after the divorce so the spouse receiving the alimony will have time to find work that covers their expenses.
The alimony your spouse requests should be proportionate to their financial needs with their current quality of life. Your spouse cannot request alimony that will allow her to go on a weekly shopping spree and live beyond her means. Another thing to consider when it comes to alimony is that the wife is not always the party who deserves to receive alimony payments. If your wife was a higher earner in your marriage, it may be reasonable for you to request alimony payments from her. If your spouse is in any way demanding alimony that you simply could not afford to pay based on your monthly expenses, be wary of continuing that conversation until you speak to your attorney.
Keeping Custody Fair
Child custody is one of the most important factors for divorcing fathers in New Jersey. If you are attempting to create a custody agreement outside of the courtroom, you must be diligent about planning the custody schedule that is fair to both parents and takes the child’s needs into account.
One of the biggest mistakes we see fathers make is to assume that their spouse should be entitled to primary custody of the child. The social and legal perception of child custody is changing, and mothers are no longer considered the default parent. These days, joint custody agreements are much more common. Don’t agree to an 80/20 custody split when you could quite possibly be entitled to 50/50. Your family law attorney will make it clear to your spouse and her attorney that if you were to go to court over custody, a judge would likely agree with your perspective on joint custody.