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Archive for January, 2015

NAME CHANGE IN NJ

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Deciding whether to keep a married name or re-assume a maiden name is a common dilemma among women going through and after divorce.  The New Jersey Final Judgment of Divorce gives both the husband and wife the chance to legally change his or her name to one used before marriage, or any other last name.  This also applies to same sex couples in which one partner assumed the name of the other in marriage or civil union.  Unlike divorce, a legal separation known as “divorce from bed and board” or “limited divorce” does not satisfy the requirement of the name change statute.

New Jersey Statute 2A:34-21 states that “the court, upon or after granting a divorce from the bonds of matrimony to either spouse or dissolution of a civil union to either partner in a civil union couple, may allow either spouse or partner in a civil union couple to resume any name used by the spouse or partner in a civil union couple before the marriage or civil union, or to assume any surname.”

Before granting a request for name change in NJ during divorce proceedings, the court usually requires that the party state under oath:

(1)   that the request is not intended for any New Jersey Name Changefraudulent purpose;

(2) if he/she was ever convicted of a crime and if so, the nature and sentence imposed; and

(3) whether any criminal charges are pending.

Although these requests are usually granted, an applicant who has a pending bankruptcy action in NJ will generally be denied.

In addition to the use of a previously used name, the statute also grants permission for the spouse to assume any surname, even if never previously used before the marriage or civil union.  If the name was never used, the spouse may be required to comply with the notice provisions of the general name change in NJ statute, 2A:34-21, which requires a detailed sworn affidavit.

The initial divorce pleadings should include the request for name change; however, it is still possible to resume a maiden/previous name after a finalized divorce.  A post-judgment motion will be used for this purpose.

If a spouse is also interested in changing a child’s name, the statute for name change in NJ permits minor children to legally change surnames; however, the process is much more complex than spousal name change.  A formal name change case must be filed in civil court that identifies the other parent, his or her residence, and the parents raising the child. The case will then be transferred to the family court. An experienced NJ family law attorney can guide the parent through this process.

New Jersey Divorce Name Change

The official seal on the judgment of divorce legally authorizes a spouse to change his or her name on all legal documents such as a driver’s license, social security card, and birth certificate.  Once these documents are changed, any relevant government agencies, financial institutions, and businesses should be notified.  Some other institutions to be notified include schools, children’s schools, Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Records or Vital Statistics, passport office, post office, Social Security Administration, insurance agencies, and phone and utility companies.  It can be helpful to notify all family, friends, and neighbors of the new name to spread the word. Only the new name should be used by the individual in both work and social settings. Wills or living wills, power of attorney, and all contracts should also be amended to include the new legal name to avoid future confusion.

Whether requesting a name change post-divorce or as part of divorce pleadings, it is crucial to have the services of a competent NJ family law attorney.

USING MEDIATION AFTER DIVORCE

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Mediation is not only for divorcing couples.  Mediation maybe used at anytime a dispute arrises.  After divorce, a change in one spouses employment, change in health, relocating are just a few examples of issues that may be addressed in mediation.  Choosing mediation over litigation  is often highly beneficial to maintaining amicable relations.

Property Settlement Agreementdivorce mediator Edison NJ

Mediation is especially helpful in modifying a property settlement agreement after divorce. If there is disagreement any time after the agreement is signed, a mediator can guide the parties in coming to a fair compromise.

Alimony is usually a major issue addressed in the property settlement agreement and can be modified if certain circumstances change. Changes in employment and income commonly call for payments to be adjusted. Seeing a mediation attorney to draft these changes can save parties significant time, money, and stress.

Child Custody

If a property settlement agreement was previously signed by parents it is likely to contain a child custody agreement. Whether mediation or litigation was used in the divorce, ex-spouses who co-parent may find it helpful to use mediation to modify the child custody agreement as their child grows and family dynamics change. While many co-parents, especially those who have used divorce mediation, have an amicable and effective parenting relationship, seeing a divorce mediator Edison NJ or surrounding areas when circumstances change can aid in keeping the situation peaceful.

As a child grows their needs and interests will change, which means previous child custody agreements may not hold as much relevance. Instances in which a parent relocated may also find child custody mediation effective. Using mediation in these cases does not weaken the family unit as might litigation, but rather it acts as an aid in continuing the amicable and reduced stress environment that both parents have worked hard to achieve.

While divorced couples are usually equipped to handle conflict, mediation should be kept in mind as an alternative solution.  Certain complex issues, especially those involving children, will benefit from the help of an effective mediation attorney.

Contact us today to set up an appointment for you and your spouse.  Armour Law Firm for your divorce mediator Edison NJ and surrounding areas.

5 TOP REASONS TO MEDIATE DIVORCE

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Divorce mediation is an increasingly popular method that allows couples to have more control over the issues in their divorce. During mediation sessions both parties, a mediation attorney, and, if necessary, third party professionals, will focus on coming to a settlement that is fair and appropriate. While mediation is not for every couple, there are some major benefits and reasons to mediate divorce that make it worth considering.

armour law firm divorce mediation

1) Flexible and Informal

The mediation process does not include the court, and instead a divorce mediator helps guide the parties through creating their own property settlement agreement, parenting plan, or any other necessary agreement. The absence of traditional divorce litigation allows mediation sessions to be flexible and informal. Sessions are scheduled at mutually convenient times allowing both parties to use their time effectively and work around one another’s obligations. Because the mediation environment is conducive to open communication and confidentiality, there is more room for creative and personalized solutions.

2) Relationships

Although divorce eliminates the marital relationship, it can be necessary for ex-spouses to keep in contact, especially when children are involved. Divorce mediation allows parties to lay the foundation for their new relationship as it focuses on developing communication, trust, problem-solving, and compromise. A 12 year divorce mediation study by Dr. Robert E. Emery found that couples who used mediation had better relationships with each other and their children than those who used litigation.

3) Stress

While stress is an inevitable part of divorce, mediation can help reduce it. Litigation is adversarial while mediation is collaborative. The thought of court involvement alone can cause additional stress for many people, so replacing it with the face-to-face contact and discussion of mediation can be highly beneficial. Having more direct involvement in sensitive issues such as parenting plans can also greatly reduce stress.

4) Cost

One of the more obvious reasons to mediate divorce mediation is its financial cost, which is generally much less than divorce litigation. Attorney and court fees can add up quickly, especially in contested divorce, but in mediation the focus is on working together, which includes collaborating to ensure modest cost. Cost can be greatly reduced by effectively using each session and shortening the length of the whole process.

5) Control

Since divorce mediation is a voluntary process it allows both parties to feel more in control of their financial and family lives. Unlike divorce litigation, mediation involves only one attorney who cannot give either party individual legal advice. Couples begin mediation with an agreement to be open and not withhold any relevant information. The intention is to solve issues without court intervention. This helps establish trust and comfort during sessions, which leads to a greater sense of control. Children may also feel more empowered knowing their parents are involved in a collaborative process and willing to compromise.