BURNHAM DOUGLASS *

Areas of Practice

FAMILY & DOMESTIC

Whether you are fighting for child custody or would like to protect your assets during a divorce, it is important that you have an attorney you trust by your side. Burnham Douglass provides mediation services as well as individual representation of clients. Our goal is to think outside the box to create effective family law solutions tailored for you. We know that in many family law cases, emotions tend to take over, and we don’t always act in our own best interests. At our firm, we work to make sure that your relationships are not damaged. We provide sound, objective counsel. Our team works hard to create customized strategies that are tailored to your situation. We do this by getting to know you, your family, and listening to your goals.

ADOPTION
 

Do you wish to add on to your family via adoption? Our legal team at Burnham Law Group, LLC would love to help you through this exciting journey. Our firm has more than 28 years of legal experience guiding families through various family law-related matters, including adoptions.

Whether you wish to adopt domestically or internationally, we have the knowledge you need. When you turn to Burnham Law Group, you can rest assured that your case will be handled with the utmost professionalism and discretion. Our South Jersey family law lawyers are committed to providing personalized and high-quality legal representation through every step of your adoption case.

Are you planning on any of the following adoptions? 

  • International adoption

  • Domestic adoption

  • Stepparent adoption

  • Foster parent adoption

  • Adoptions by same-sex couples

  • Adoptions via an agency

How New Jersey Adoptions Work

 

New Jersey is a popular state for adoptions because its process is streamlined: adoptions are made permanent without the delay of a waiting period. In other words, 72 hours after a child has been born, a birth mom can legally surrender her parental rights permanently. New Jersey also has an extremely open stance on adoption, welcoming all prospective parents, regardless of their sexual orientation or marital status.

At the same time, adoptions are still highly regulated and do require extensive clearances, paperwork, and background checks. Our legal team can walk you through the steps and make sure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

South Jersey Adoption Lawyers at Burnham Douglass

Provide Personalized Legal Guidance

 

With all of the unknown and nerve-wracking aspects of adoption, it is best to have proven legal guidance in your corner. At Burnham Douglass, our South Jersey adoption lawyers can help you make informed decisions and formulate a plan that suits your family. Our offices are conveniently located in Marlton and Somers Point, New Jersey. We serve clients throughout South Jersey including those in Atlantic County, Burlington County, and Camden County.

ALIMONY
 

After a divorce, one spouse may be required to pay the other spouse alimony, which is intended to provide financial support to a spouse until they are able to support themselves. In most alimony cases, the amount you are ordered to pay will usually reflect the lifestyle that both of you enjoyed during the marriage.

Why Choose Our Alimony Attorneys?

  • Named to the Top 100 Lawyers by American Society of Legal Advocates (ASLA)

  • List as Nation’s Top 1% by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel (NADC)

  • Over two decades of experience serving South Jersey families

If you are seeking alimony or if your former spouse is requesting that you pay alimony, consult our South Jersey alimony lawyers at Burnham Douglass. We can fight to protect your rights and ensure you receive what you are entitled to by law.

How Alimony Is Awarded

 

To decide on the amount and duration of alimony, a judge will consider:

  • The needs of the requesting spouse;

  • The duration of the marriage;

  • The physical and emotional health of each spouse;

  • The income, earning capacity, education level and employment history of each spouse;

  • The standard of living that both enjoyed during the marriage;

  • The time and expense required to obtain education or training for the receiving spouse until he or she can become self-supporting;

  • Parental responsibilities;

  • Each spouse’s financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage.

If you are the spouse ordered to pay alimony, these payments will be tax deductible. If you are the spouse who receives the alimony, you will have to report these payments as income.

Types of Alimony in New Jersey

 

The different types of alimony include:

  • Temporary alimony: This is awarded to low-earning/unemployed spouses to help cover living expenses during divorce proceedings.

  • Limited duration alimony: This refers to when economic assistance is needed for a limited time.

  • Reimbursement alimony: This refers to compensation for a spouse who provided support to the other through advanced education.

  • Rehabilitative alimony: This refers to short-term alimony that is paid until the recipient is self-supporting.

For a free and confidential case evaluation with our legal team

GIVE OUR OFFICE A CALL TODAY AT 856.751.5505 OR CONTACT US ONLINE!

CHILD CUSTODY
 

Are you in the process of divorcing your spouse and worried about child custody? Are you an unmarried parent seeking to protect your custody rights? If so, then we encourage you to contact our South Jersey child custody attorneys at Burnham Law Group, LLC. We are a team of experienced, dedicated, and compassionate legal advocates who are prepared to protect you and your child’s best interests. No family law case is too complex for us.

Why Choose Our Custody Attorneys?

  • Named to the Top 100 Lawyers by American Society of Legal Advocates (ASLA)

  • List as Nation’s Top 1% by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel (NADC)

  • Over two decades of experience serving South Jersey families

 

During child custody disputes, many parents worry about the results and how it will affect the dynamics of their families. “What will happen to my kids? Who will get primary custody? Will their best interests be prioritized?” are common questions that clients have. We will be by your side to answer these questions and to help you pursue the best possible outcome for you and for your children.

How Courts Determine Child Custody

 

Having handled various family law cases for over 28 years, our legal team has extensive knowledge of child custody proceedings and ways to effectively protect your family’s interests. We can help create a child custody arrangement that is reasonable and agreeable to the courts and the child’s other parent.

The court will determine custody based on the following factors:

  • The physical and mental health of both parents;

  • Your child’s relationship with you and the other parent;

  • The cooperation between you and the other parent;

  • The distance between the parents’ homes;

  • The stability of each home environment;

  • If your child has any special needs;

  • The child’s preference (depending on his/her age).

There are many different types of custody and these include sole legal custody, shared legal custody, sole residential custody, and shared residential custody. Legal custody refers to who gets to make the decisions concerning the health of the child, schooling of the child, etc. whereas residential custody refers to which parent gets to share a living space with the child. We work closely with you to help determine the ideal arrangement for your child.

Valid Reasons for Parental Relocation

 

As long as you are not relocating solely to sever contact with your child’s other parent or to prevent him or her from seeing your child, then there is a chance the court may grant your relocation.

The courts will consider the following factors when deciding whether to approve a relocation:

  • If the parent’s reason for relocation is sound – such as for a new job, remarriage, military obligations, etc.;

  • How the move will affect the child and his or her best interests;

  • How the move will affect the child’s relationship with the other parent and relatives;

  • How the move will affect child visitation;

  • The distance from the non-custodial parent.

In relocation cases, you are required to make arrangements for visitation and resolve who will shoulder the costs for these visits. It is better to take care of matters like these now rather than wait for a dispute to arise. There is a lot to consider in parental relocation cases, so it is important that you prepare your petition carefully and thoroughly with the help of our team.

Relocation Disputes

 

If you are a parent who is contesting the relocation of your child, we can also work to provide fair and reasonable solutions to your relocation dispute. Our lead attorney is a Certified Mediator who knows how to handle contested family law matters. Our goal is always to settle cases in a manner that is amicable and to everyone’s satisfaction.

DISTRIBUTION OF ASSETS
 

New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, and “equitable distribution” in New Jersey is based on circumstance rather than equal division (50-/50). Circumstances that are considered by the court when determining asset division include real estate, investments, retirement assets, and business and personal property. Each party’s interests will vary; in order to reach a fair divorce agreement, financial equity must be obtained.

It is important that you work with a South Jersey divorce lawyer to help you protect your assets or your right to your fair share of your spouse’s assets. We understand how controversial issues regarding assets and properties can be during a divorce, and we work hard to help you come up with amicable solutions to even the most contentious disputes.

Deciding Property Distribution

 

Before dividing a couple’s property, the court will consider the following:

  • The length of the marriage;

  • Each spouse’s age and physical / emotional health;

  • Any income or property brought into a marriage by either spouse;

  • The marital standard of living;

  • Any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements;

  • Each spouse’s economic circumstances;

  • The current economic circumstances;

  • Each spouse’s income and earning capacity;

  • Whether either spouse delayed pursuing career goals during the marriage;

  • The present value of all property;

  • The tax consequences of distribution;

  • Each spouse’s debts and liabilities;

  • Contributions to acquire, preserve, improve or waste the marital property;

  • Contributions made to the education or earning capacity of the other spouse.

In the event that one spouse wasted marital assets by misusing property, a judge may assign the other spouse a larger part of the remaining assets. Or if one spouse’s behavior was “egregious,” a judge can also assign more assets to the other spouse.

When it comes to debts, courts usually divide debts equally, unless one spouse is solely responsible for the debt, receives the entire benefit of the debt or is better able to pay for the debt.

Property Division – How it Works

 

You can either negotiate your own property division with your spouse, or a judge will make the decision. In most cases, it is in your best interest to resolve all the details amicably. The court will be more limited in how it will divide the assets. Judges are given limited information and cannot fully understand your needs.

To negotiate your own division, you will need to identify all of the marital property, determine the value of the marital property and distribute the property (this includes selling the marital home and dividing the proceeds, etc.). Our experienced team of South Jersey family law attorneys at Burnham Douglass, know how to approach each case to make sure that you keep what you are entitled to receive.

DIVORCE
 

Divorce is already one of the most difficult experiences in one’s life. Every aspect of your previous lifestyle must be adjusted to accommodate your new situation including negotiating child custody arrangements, seeking a new residence, and dividing up your financial assets. Your emotional state may influence the decisions you make if you do not consider your future with a clear head and the assistance of a knowledgeable and objective legal professional.

If you have children or significant assets, you will be facing unique circumstances and a potentially complex divorce proceeding. It is critical that you fully understand all your legal options when arranging the most vital components of your life such as your children, property, and financial assets.

Why Choose Our South Jersey Divorce Attorneys?

  • Named to the Top 100 Lawyers by American Society of Legal Advocates (ASLA)

  • List as Nation’s Top 1% by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel (NADC)

  • Over two decades of experience serving South Jersey families

At Burnham Douglass, we have been protecting our clients throughout their divorces for over 28 years. We are a respected name in divorce representation across Burlington County and throughout South Jersey. Our divorce lawyers have counseled thousands of clients through their divorces, ranging from amicable separations to contested disputes.

Types of Divorce in New Jersey

 

We are able to represent clients who face a variety of divorces, including:

  • At-fault divorces – The grounds for a fault-based divorce in New Jersey include adultery, desertion, institutionalization, imprisonment, prolonged drug or alcohol abuse, and deviant sexual conduct. Spouses filing for a divorce on one of these grounds must provide adequate proof of the behavior in order to be granted the divorce.

In the state of New Jersey, just like every other state in the country, divorces are allowed to be filed for no reason in particular, or “no-fault”. As this is available to anyone, it should underline the noteworthiness of any at-fault case, which could be indicative of serious problems. Courts need to pay particularly close attention to at-fault cases, as someone’s livelihood could be on the line.

Reasons cited in at-fault divorce cases often include:

Adultery committed by either party

Willful desertion (abandonment) by either spouse for a term of 12 months or more

If a spouse is institutionalized for mental illness for 24 consecutive months or more

Imprisonment of one spouse for 18 or more consecutive months

If a spouse experiences extreme cruelty by the other in the form of physical, emotional, or other types of abuse and cannot safely live in the same home

Problems related to drug or alcohol addiction that continues for 12 or more consecutive months

If one party engages in deviant sexual behavior without the other’s knowledge or consent

In the case of an at-fault divorce, plaintiffs may be given an advantage when applying for child custody or alimony or in the division of financial assets, especially when a dispute arises. It is important to note that spouses filing for divorce on the basis of fault must be able to show adequate proof of their claims.

  • No-fault divorces – Divorces filed on the basis of irreconcilable differences or after a separation do not require either party to prove the other was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. As a result, divorce proceedings are generally easier and less costly than fault-based divorce cases.

Have you ever heard the term “irreconcilable differences” before? Normally, news stories about married celebrity couples filing for divorce will throw these two words around. While it sounds particularly legal-savvy, it is actually just a way of saying that no one in particular is to blame for their decision to divorce, or that they are creating a “no-fault divorce”.

If you do not feel that there is a reason for your spouse to be at-fault for the end of your marriage but you know that you would like to split regardless, you can contact our South Jersey divorce attorneys at Burnham Douglass. We would be happy to put our 28+ years of collective legal and trial experience to use for you during your no-fault divorce. As neither you nor your spouse are to blame, it can become difficult to secure what you would like during the divorce.

Our goal will be to uphold your best interests in regards to:

• Asset distribution

 Child custody rights

 Child support payments

 Relocation agreements

Benefits of a No-Fault Divorce

 

Even though the thought of ending your marriage, regardless of your history together, might be slightly distressing, there are some positive aspects of a no-fault divorce. It is important to keep your chin up during this process and remember that there are legal professionals at our firm who are here to help.

Some of the advantageous characteristics of a no-fault divorce include:

• Privacy: You will not have to speak to a judge or jury about personal problems the two of you have gone through; you can always leave it simply as “irreconcilable differences.”

• Emotions: Children in particular are susceptible to experiencing emotional pain during a divorce as one parent or another is cast into a negative light. By keeping things “no-fault,” they may feel confused by what is happening but not necessarily damaged.

• Time to think: You can prepare yourself for a no-fault divorce by first filing for a legal separation. This will give you 18 months to live separately and see if you really would like the marriage to end. If so, you can finish the process readily using no-fault procedures.

  • Annulments – An annulment can effectively void a marriage under certain conditions, such as if one or both parties were intoxicated or otherwise incapacitated at the time they were wed. Other circumstances may also provide a valid reason for an annulment.

 

  • Same-Sex Divorce – In the eyes of the law, same-sex unions are treated no differently than any other marriage. However, there may be complexities in regards to child custody, support, and other divorce issues. For this reason, it is highly advisable for those in the LGBTQ community who are seeking divorce to consult a divorce lawyer with experience handling the unique issues surrounding same-sex divorces.

Same-sex divorces are treated just like any other divorce in the eyes of the law and are subject to the same legal procedures. Since New Jersey is a no-fault state, divorcing couples do not have to cite reasons of fault in order to pursue a divorce, with irreconcilable differences serving as sufficient reason.

The only requirement for divorce is that at least one of the spouses must have lived in New Jersey for a minimum of one year prior to commencing divorce proceedings. Just like a traditional union, gay, lesbian, and transgender couples must sort out the terms of their separation through either uncontested or contested means.

A couple must decide the following issues:

 Child custody

 Child support

 Debt distribution

 Property division

 Spousal support

 Visitation rights

 

If an agreement can be reached, a judge will review the terms of a couple’s separation agreement and finalize it if it is legally sound. Our firm can help you negotiate with your spouse and pursue an amicable separation.

If an agreement cannot be reached, however, we are fully prepared to pursue litigation and go the distance on your behalf. No matter the complexity of your situation, we can provide the trusted advocacy you need.

Hiring a Divorce Attorney

 

Divorce can be a highly emotional process, the outcome of which can have a significant impact on your life. Take the time to find the right divorce attorney for you and your specific case. This is a critical step in ensuring your best interests are protected. The divorce lawyer you choose to represent you should be professional, experienced, knowledgeable, able to listen to what you want and advise you well. It is also important that you are comfortable with your attorney as you may need to share highly personal information about yourself and your marriage. Don’t rush into hiring an attorney until you are certain that he or she is the best fit for you.

Protecting Your Best Interests

 

At our firm, we understand what is at stake. You could lose your hard-earned assets or even compromise the quality time that you spend with your child if a divorce doesn’t work out in your favor. We know that our clients are facing a tremendous amount of stress, and we work hard to help them secure the best possible results. Our goal is always to make the process as easy and free of stress as possible. We are known for offering sound, practical, and effective advice to clients from start to finish. If you are looking for a compassionate, honest, and experienced attorney to help you get through your divorce, you can turn to Burnham Douglass.

HIGH ASSET DIVORCE

Identification of Income, Assets, and Hidden Assets

Identifying the income and assets of a married couple is vital to a fair divorce settlement. Identification of hidden income and assets is equally important. In many high net worth divorces, spouses are not always aware of all income sources or assets that have accumulated during the marriage.

Business ventures, partnerships, interests, stock purchases, inheritances, trusts, and annuities that accumulate during the marital period become part of the estate. All bank accounts, brokerage accounts, individual retirement accounts, pensions, deferred compensation, and stock options available to one spouse need to be valued so that a fair distribution among both marital partners can be reached.

Division of Real Estate and Property

 

In a high net worth divorce, there can be several residences, vacation homes in various locations, and investment or commercial properties. Depending on the specifics of each purchase, not all property may be subject to equitable distribution. The date of the marriage, purchase date of the property, down payment amounts, and payment sources will impact the portion of the property each spouse is entitled to receive. Valuation, comparative market appraisal, and analysis of each property is essential to fair distribution.

 

Couples must also decide what they will do with each property after they divorce.  The issue of which property will be the place of residence for each spouse, what properties will be sold, and which properties will be redistributed among the divorcing couple must be decided. When an amicable settlement is not possible, the court will need to step in.

Retirement Benefits and Stock Options

 

In New Jersey, all retirement benefits accrued from the date of the marriage to the date the couple petitions for divorce are generally subject to equitable distribution. All 401k plans, 403B, IRAs, pensions, deferred compensation plans, SEPs, and SERPs will be examined and then split through a domestic relations order. These assets are distributed in the future, but the net worth and benefit amount you are entitled to are established at this time. Stock options offered through employment can become very complicated when figuring out taxes related to stock distribution or early withdrawal penalty.

Distribution of Business Interests and Partnerships

 

When a spouse or couple owns a business, equitable distribution of these assets can be increasingly complex. The business or partnership must undergo a valuation process that typically requires the services of a forensic accountant and actuary. An in-depth inspection of all aspects of the business, including the business complex, transaction records, financial records, ledgers, payroll, receivables, machinery, inventory, real estate, client lists, partnership interests, enterprise, and goodwill will be done to determine the current and future worth of the business.

If one spouse owned the business before the marriage occurred, it may affect whether the business is considered a marital asset. The couple must also decide whether they will keep the business or sell it. Buy-outs, sale, annuitized settlement, or some other distribution agreement must be drafted when the decision is made on the future of the business.

Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements are honored in New Jersey courts. It is vital that a qualified divorce lawyer reviews the prenuptial agreement in relation to current New Jersey laws. A spouse that signed a prenuptial agreement may still be entitled to part of their spouse’s retirement benefits and property.

The laws regarding prenuptial agreements are specific in New Jersey and can be overwhelming to interpret if a lawyer is not familiar with the most current stipulations. Consultation and representation of a competent and experienced South Jersey divorce lawyer will ensure that your rights are protected, and that you claim your fair share of marital assets.

For a free and confidential case evaluation with our legal team

GIVE OUR OFFICE A CALL TODAY AT 856.751.5505 OR CONTACT US ONLINE!

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
 

At Burnham Douglass our knowledgeable and experienced South Jersey domestic violence lawyers are dedicated to protecting and fighting for the rights of domestic violence victims throughout the state. We have earned a reputation for giving straightforward, reliable counsel, and our compassionate lawyers are here to assist you with even the most sensitive cases.

 

New Jersey has strict laws regarding domestic violence, as well as several legal protections available for domestic violence victims. Depending on the nature of the domestic violence crime, offenders may face lengthy terms of imprisonment and hefty fines.

New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act

 

The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA) provides protection for anyone over the age of 18 who is being physically, sexually, emotionally, or economically abused or threatened with such abuse by their:

  • Current or former spouse;

  • Current or former household member;

  • Current or former dating partner;

  • Biological or adoptive parent.

 

Generally, the PDVA covers anyone who is being abused or threatened by someone with whom they have, or have had, an intimate relationship. Women comprise almost 95 percent of domestic violence victims, although both men and women can be perpetrators or victims.

Domestic violence is an underreported crime, partly due to the cycle of violence, in which the abuser wields some form of power and control over the victim, causing them to feel as if they have no choice but to stay in the abusive relationship.

Domestic violence not only consists of physical harm, but also psychological or emotional harm, such as constant threats or humiliation. Economic abuse is another form of domestic violence which makes the victim financially dependent upon the abuser, and therefore subject to their control.

There are 14 criminal offenses that are specifically prohibited under the Act:

  • Assault;

  • Burglary;

  • Criminal mischief;

  • Criminal restraint;

  • Criminal sexual contact;

  • Criminal trespass;

  • False imprisonment;

  • Harassment;

  • Homicide;

  • Kidnapping;

  • Lewdness;

  • Sexual assault;

  • Stalking;

  • Terrorist threats.

Protections for Domestic Violence Victims

 

Victims of domestic violence in New Jersey have several protections available to them. If you were subject to one of the above 14 crimes, you may be able to press criminal charges against your abuser, in addition to getting a civil restraining order.

The purpose of a restraining order is to prevent your abuser from coming near you or contacting you. Restraining orders may also require the abuser to attend counseling or give up possession of firearms and other deadly weapons.

Temporary and Final Restraining Orders

 

Once a domestic violence complaint has been filed, the case will be heard informally by a judge/domestic violence hearing officer, who will decide whether to issue a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) until the final hearing can be held.

If a TRO is issued, the victim must bring a copy of it to the local police department. A final hearing must be held within 10 days of the TRO issuance. The judge at the final hearing will listen to both sides of the case and decide whether to issue a Final Domestic Violence Restraining Order (FRO).

 

If the abuser violates the terms of either the TRO or the FRO, the victim may file a criminal complaint for Contempt of Court. The case will then be handled by a New Jersey Assistant Prosecutor. Violating a restraining order may result in up to 18 months in prison and fines in excess of $10,000.

 

Victims of domestic violence may also utilize the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP), which allows them to obtain a legal substitute address that they can put on all their legal documents, instead of their physical address.

 

If children are at risk, relevant terms and restrictions may be placed in the restraining order, and custody or child support orders may be modified.

EMANCIPATION
 

Emancipation of a minor child occurs when the child is no longer under the care and dependence of a parent. This means that the child is not eligible for any financial support, including child support from a parent. Only a court can officially declare a child emancipated, and all circumstances of the family and the child’s best interests will be considered when making this decision.

 

If you need help with an emancipation case, discuss the matter with our South Jersey emancipation lawyers at Burnham Douglass. We guide you through the entire process and review your available options.

How Is Emancipation Determined by a Court?

 

In New Jersey, there is no specific age at which a minor child is declared emancipated. A child turning 18 years old does not automatically activate emancipation. A court must make this decision by looking at proof that the child is truly independent and that the emancipation order is sound.

 

When determining emancipation, courts will look at:

  • If the child is financially self-supportive;

  • If the child is living independently;

  • If the child demonstrates maturity as an adult;

  • The child’s needs and interests.

If a child has petitioned to be emancipated, parents are able to contest the petition if they believe it is not in the child’s best interests. Once a child is emancipated, child support obligations are no longer in effect, unless there is an existing child support debt, which must be paid off.

MODIFICATIONS
 

When you go through a divorce, it is important to try to do what is best for you and your children. You will also want to strategize for the long run, and possibly do so with the help of a divorce lawyer. Even with a professional working out the most difficult details with you, no one can see perfectly into the future. Unexpected consequences can and do happen to all of us, and your situation might change completely without warning.

 

When life comes at you faster than expected, you might need to modify divorce and family law dispute resolutions to relieve yourself of undue stress. When this is the case, we encourage you to come to Burnham Law Group, LLC. Our South Jersey family law attorneys are ready and willing to help you make sense of this confusing time.

What Can Be Modified?

 

Modifications are meant to be used to make your life easier, or rebalance an agreement that has gotten to be one-sided since its establishment. For the most part, they are utilized after a divorce to address some of the biggest concerns regarding the dissolution of a marriage. To put it simply, any ongoing legal matter that was created during a divorce might be subject to modification.

 

Some of the most commonly modified aspects of a divorce agreement include:

 

How Can Items Be Modified?

 

Modifications are powerful tools to adjust pre-established agreements. Due to their ability to directly affected people’s lives and finances, they cannot be used on a whim. Instead, a judge must approve any modifications presented, and they will only do so if proper reasoning is presented.

When creating a modification request, you will normally have to cite a major life event or financial change, such as:

  • Remarrying;

  • Job loss;

  • Necessary relocation for employment;

  • Serious illness or injury;

  • Criminal activity.

As many of the valid reasons for a modification involve financial trouble, child support or alimony agreements are the most commonly modified.

For a free and confidential case evaluation with our legal team

GIVE OUR OFFICE A CALL TODAY AT 856.751.5505 OR CONTACT US ONLINE!

PRENUPTIALS
 

Getting married is one of the most important decisions that a couple can make. When one or both individuals is bringing significant assets or debts to the marriage, careful consideration should be taken to protect each party. Many couples use a prenuptial agreement to address the distribution of marital assets and debts should the marriage be dissolved at a later date.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement?

 

A prenuptial agreement is a type of contract that addresses how assets and liabilities will be handled in the event of a separation or divorce. These types of pre-marriage agreements become effective when the marriage takes place.

Some of the issues that can be addressed in a prenuptial agreement include:

  • Rights and obligations with respect to real estate, such as the right to sell or lease property (including property that was acquired before or during the marriage)

  • The modification or elimination of alimony / spousal support

  • How spouses will be handled in each other’s wills

  • Distribution of life insurance proceeds

  • Any other matter, including the setting forth of personal rights and obligations, that does not violate New Jersey public policy

 

New Jersey law does not permit a prenuptial agreement to set forth arrangements with respect to child custody or child support. These issues will be decided by a New Jersey judge or court under the “best interest of the child” standard.

Advantages of Filing a Prenuptial Agreement

 

Properly drafted prenuptial agreements can help couples cope with some of the hardest issues during the divorce process. All divorces involve some degree of stress, but the presence of a prenuptial agreement can provide both parties with a certainty that can alleviate some of the emotional distress.

When a couple has a prenuptial agreement in place, the process of a divorce can come to a conclusion much quicker, as parties do not have to resort to going through a lengthy court battle to resolve financial issues. Couples who have a prenuptial agreement in place may also save a significant amount of money in legal fees and other expenses associated with divorce.

Drafting a Premarital Agreement

 

Drafting a premarital agreement without the assistance of an experienced family lawyer can be complicated. A valid prenuptial agreement must be in writing, signed by both parties, and include a formal Statement of Assets.

An improperly drafted Statement of Assets, which does not include a fair and reasonable disclosure of all financial information, can result in an invalidation of the entire prenuptial agreement. For this reason, and to avoid any appearance that a party did not knowingly enter into the prenuptial agreement, it is highly advisable to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer before entering into this type of agreement.

Prenuptial agreements can be changed after the couple has been married. These changes must be made in writing, and both parties must sign the amended agreement – including an acknowledgement of any new additions to the asset list or changes to existing provisions.

How to Challenge a Prenuptial Agreement

 

New Jersey passed the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), which governs the law of prenuptial agreements. If a spouse can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the prenuptial agreement was entered into involuntarily, or under false pretenses, a New Jersey court may find that the agreement is unenforceable. Courts also will void any prenuptial agreement that is found to be “unconscionable” due to its grossly unreasonable nature.

SUPPORT
 

Whether you need to create a fair child support agreement in a divorce, enforce child support, or modify an existing support order, you can rely on Burnham Law Group, LLC to protect you and your child’s rights. Our South Jersey child support lawyers are both experienced and knowledgeable in family law matters and work tirelessly to provide you with a complete and effective argument with presenting your child support needs.

Why Choose Our Child Support Lawyers?

  • Named to the Top 100 Lawyers by American Society of Legal Advocates (ASLA)

  • List as Nation’s Top 1% by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel (NADC)

  • Over two decades of experience serving South Jersey families

 

No family law matter is too complex for our dedicated team to handle. When you need a skilled South Jersey child support lawyer on your side, you can rely on our legal advocates. We are well-prepared to protect you and your child’s financial well-being and future.

Determining Child Support Amounts in South Jersey

 

New Jersey uses the “income shares” method of determining child support. This means that the level of support will be based on the income of both parents combined. To determine the amount to be paid in child support, there are a number of predetermined factors outlined by New Jersey Statutes 2A:34-23.

These factors include:

  • The child’s needs;

  • Each parent’s standard of living;

  • Each parent’s assets and income;

  • Each parent and the child’s health and age.

There could be several other factors that determine the amount of court-ordered child support.

VISITATION
 

While nearly any family law case can prove to be emotional matter, child custody and visitation disputes are possibly the most emotionally charged issues. If you are currently experiencing a divorce or have encountered any sort of dispute regarding your visitation rights as a parent or grandparent, a South Jersey visitation attorney from Burnham Law Group can protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in a court of law. We understand how precious your children are to you, and we are prepared to do everything within our power to help you secure and maintain an active presence in their lives.

 

With the legal team at Burnham Law, you will find an unparalleled dedication to our clients’ wellbeing, our compassionate attorneys have helped thousands of families overcome a variety of complex disputes. Having earned inclusion in the Nation’s Top One Percent from the National Association of Distinguished Counsel, we are fully equipped with the knowledge and skills to help you pursue an amicable solution to your family issue.

 

How are Visitation Rights Determined in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, visitation or “parenting time” refers to the time that a non-custodial parent spends with their child. In most divorce cases, parents are encouraged to determine this arrangement on their own. If an agreement cannot be reached, however, the courts have the ability to step in and make a decision on their behalf. Most often, the courts will favor a shared arrangement unless circumstances are present that indicate that a parent is unfit to care for a child. As always, the court’s final decision will be made in alignment with the child’s best interests.

The courts will consider the following when making their decision:

  • The parents’ willingness to cooperate;

  • The presence of abusive behavior;

  • The child’s desires and relationship with both parents;

  • Any special needs of the child;

  • The parents’ financial situations;

  • The parents’ employment responsibilities.

 

Once a judge has reviewed all of the relevant information and each side has had a chance to present their case, a decision will be issued that carries the enforceability of law. Our firm’s attorneys can examine your unique situation and help you craft a strategy aimed at maximizing your chances of securing a desirable outcome for your situation.

Visitation Rights

 

If the court designates you as the non-custodial parent, what are your visitation rights? Both you and the other parent must work out a visitation schedule, which lays out the specific times you can visit your children. Otherwise, the court will have to determine a schedule it deems appropriate. Discuss your child visitation goals with our South Jersey visitation lawyer and find out more about ways you can protect your rights either as a custodial or non-custodial parent.

 

Common visitation plans in New Jersey include the following:

  • Providing the non-custodial parent with visitation every other weekend;

  • Providing the non-custodial parent with visitation one night a week;

  • Or with shared parenting, dividing the time up between parents as close to equal as possible.

 

Discuss your visitation goals with us today at no cost.

Court-Ordered Supervision

 

In some instances, you may only be allowed to visit with your children while being monitored (called “supervised visitation”).

You may be forced to comply with supervised visitation if:

  • You have a history of child abuse;

  • You have medical disabilities;

  • You have psychiatric problems;

  • You have any issues that could jeopardize the safety/welfare of the children.

 

If the custodial parent fails to comply with an established visitation schedule, he/she can be held in contempt of court. He/she can then be sanctioned (or punished) by the court and forced to pay a fine. If there is a pattern of the visitation schedule being violated, the court can transfer custody to the parent being denied visitation rights.

Can My Children Refuse to See Me?

 

New Jersey ensures that minor children have frequent and continuing contact with both parents. The older your children, however, the more their preferences will be considered. If your children do not wish to meet with you, they must be of “sufficient age and capacity to reason.” At age 16 a child is considered old enough to decide whether he/she wants to visit with you.

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ATTORNEYS AT LAW

856.751.5505 | 609.788.3595

Fax: 856.751.5516

OFFICE LOCATIONS

Marlton Office

Northfield Office

8000 Sagemore Dr., Suite 8303
Marlton, NJ 08053

450 Tilton Road, Suite 200B

Northfield, NJ 08225

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Licensed in New Jersey + Pennsylvania + D.C. + Virginia + North Carolina

Admitted to practice in the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Virginia and North Carolina State and Federal Circuit Courts, Administrative Courts and the United States Supreme Court.

Burnham Douglass provides legal advice, representation, litigation, trial skills and services to people from all walks of life.

Burnham Douglass is not a partnership, it is an independent organization consisting of a limited liability company doing business as Burnham Douglass, Business Registration documents on file with the State of New Jersey.