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Family Law

Is Common Law Legal in NJ?

Prenuptial Agreement and Rings
Prenuptial Agreement

New Jersey is a common law state. In the United States there are two basic legal systems which govern marital property: common law and community property. The community property system is founded on Spanish law and is usually practiced in the western and south western portions of the United States. Alaska offers couples the right to opt in for community property. Common law, on the other hand has its foundation in English law and it is what governs most of the states including New Jersey.

What is Common Law?

Courtroom
Court house

The term Common Law refers to a legal system which is for the most part formed by decisions that have been made by the courts rather than on written laws and regulations that are imposed by government officials or legislatures. Reasoning per each case is necessary to interpret common law. It is based more on a principle and reasoning through particular circumstances to evaluate a case and determine what laws are actually applicable. This means that decisions which have been made about cases which are similar in nature become very valuable since the new case in question will be evaluated based on previous case decisions. The more similar the cases are, the stronger the link between them. The term, common law can also be used to refer to laws which did not originate from other branches of law. Statutes are actually brief explanations of the law they represent and are not explanatory in themselves. Codification is the process through which statutes are passed and then expressed and contained in a single document. This makes it more easily understood within the law that already exists instead of needing to create new laws.  Common Law in most cases only applies inside an area of jurisdiction. Judges oftentimes create common law by writing out their opinions on cases. When they do this, it binds lower courts in the same jurisdiction to the same types of judgments. The foundation that supports this type of law is formed by property, torts and contracts.

How to Choose a Family Law Attorney

Mediation
Mediation Meeting

Choosing a family law attorney can be a difficult task that we all must face at one time or another. However, it is important to remember that a family law attorney does much more than help with divorce proceedings. They may assist setting up a trust fund, a living will or help get any number of legal documents in order. NJ family law attorneys help protect both families and assets. Even though selecting one seems like an arduous task, there are some areas to think about which can help individuals select the right one for their particular set of circumstances. Hiring a family law attorney does not have to be so difficult if you consider the following topics. Choosing the best attorney can help reduce the hassles that many times accompany legal cases.

How is Spousal Support Determined?

Alimony
Money

Upon choosing to get a divorce, most couples will choose a NJ family law attorney to handle the entire legal proceeding. For individuals obtaining a divorce in New Jersey there are some clear cut calculations which are used to determine any child support that is to be paid. But it is not that simple to determine spousal support, or alimony. NJ alimony laws offer some very general guidelines for determining how much spousal support, alimony or divorce maintenance will be applicable in any particular case. But since the two are severing their financial ties by getting a divorce it can be a very difficult calculation.

How is Child Support Determined?

When a couple divorces in the state of New Jersey and there are children involved a family law attorney can help them understand how child support will be determined. There are several factors which are used to determine how much child support will be paid and to whom. In New Jersey supporting the children is the continuous duty of both of the parents. This duty will continue until a court order states otherwise or the children are emancipated. If one of the parents desires to terminate their obligation to pay child support they are required to file a petition with the court. Unless this is done child support is the obligation of both parents based on their level of income, their ability to earn an income and their assets.

What is the Difference Between Civil Union and Domestic Partnership?

Wedding band
Wedding Bands

It has not been very long ago that civil unions did not exist in New Jersey. Before the Domestic Partnership Act the only option for same sex couples was to create a domestic partnership, but the benefits were limited. One the NJ Domestic Partnership Act passed couples had to option to keep their status as a domestic partnership or convert it to a civil union. In order to convert to a civil union, parties can obtain a civil union license application from the local registrar’s office. When a couple enters into a civil union, the domestic partnership is automatically terminated.

Common Family Law Questions

Generally speaking, most family members can make decisions together concerning their lives without any type of intervention from outside sources. But there are those times when a family law attorney should be consulted for advice or legal counsel. When a divorce occurs an attorney who is familiar with NJ family law can help couples or families sort through the facts and come to resolutions. Most of the time, NJ family law concentrates on divorce or issues pertaining to child custody but there can be other reasons that a NJ family law attorney is needed. Here are some of the questions commonly asked about NJ family law.

What is a Testamentary Trust?

Trust Planning
Trust Planning

There are many different types of trusts that are created for a wide variety of purposes. One of the most common trusts is a Testamentary Trust which is typically set up for a young child, a relative with a disability, or any other person who inherits a large sum of money upon the death of a testator. This type of trust is commonly contained in a will which provides how the estate or part of an estate is to be distributed. Sometimes it is preceded and enacted by a life insurance policy that was held by the person who is establishing the trust. Sometimes there is more than just one testamentary trust set up with one will. Many times this type of trust is set up when there are large amounts of money that are to be distributed to minor children or young adults. The trust will be set up so that the child(ren) have someone else who will be responsible for handling the money until the child becomes mature enough to handle it responsibly.

Types of Trusts

Estate Planning
Estate Planning

Trusts are all very similar in nature whether they are created to protect assets, develop estate planning, or provide private benefits. However, trusts do not have to deal with the same type of property and they are not all created for the same purpose or in the same manner. There are many different types of trusts that can be created partly because of the wide variety of purposes and individual needs. A trust can be created by almost anyone and they have different time periods, and they may have any amount of money or property involved. Until recent years, trusts were limited to only the wealthiest; and used for the sole purpose of being able to pass their wealth on to the next generations in a private manner. Today, families can use trusts to protect the equity in a family home or some savings that have been accrued for retirement or college. This ensures that the assets are protected. Trusts are very flexible therefore it is beneficial to speak with a legal expert when developing a trust for any purpose. There are three basic ways to classify trusts: by its purpose, as living or testamentary, or as revocable or irrevocable.