Photo of a young boy looking at a map to navigate a city street as an example of free-range parentingGenerally speaking, a parent’s top priority is the safety of their children; however, how to go about keeping children safe can be an area of conflicting opinion. Even the child welfare laws that exist to protect children from abuse and neglect are subject to controversy.

Several years ago, the term ‘free-range parenting’ was coined to describe the parenting style of those who believe less supervision and more autonomy is healthy for children. This idea is in stark contrast to the ‘helicopter parents’ who closely supervise their child’s every activity. The problem is that, in some cases, this ‘free-range’ style led to parents being investigated for neglecting their children under child welfare laws.  Some argue these laws go too far and deny children opportunities to learn independence – and lawmakers in at least one state agree.

Utah recently became the first state to adopt a law supporting ‘free-range parenting’ provided the children in question were being adequately cared for, clothed and fed. What’s your take on this parenting style? Do you think more states should follow Utah’s example? To learn more, read “Utah’s ‘free-range parenting’ law said to be first in the nation.”

alimony-and-taxes-400-05339705d-300x201Spousal support, or alimony, often can be a point of contention in divorce negotiations. Now, with the recent changes to the tax code, negotiating these agreements may get more complicated.

Presently, spouses who pay alimony can deduct these payments on their income taxes while those who receive such payments are required to report them as income – all that changes at the end of this year however. According to the new tax code, in divorces settled after this December 31 alimony payments will no longer be deductible nor reportable as income on annual tax returns. Currently, there is much speculation regarding who will truly benefit from this tax change – the payer or the recipient – and what effect, if any, the change will have on divorce filings this year. To learn more, read “Alimony tax changes may scorch divorcing couples.”

photo of child and parent hugging representing successful co-parenting effortsStudies have shown that, barring any abuse or neglect, children fare best when they have the influence of both parents. Unfortunately, relationships between adults sometimes deteriorate to the point where separation is the only answer, leaving the children caught in the middle. One thing most parents going through divorce can agree on, though, is that each wants what is best for their children. While what that best is can be a point of contention, many parents would admit that a life of alternate weekends, a couple of vacation weeks each year, and alternating holidays doesn’t exactly foster strong parent/child ties. That’s one reason why more and more parents these days are ditching these traditional custody schedules in favor of co-parenting arrangements.

In a co-parenting situation, exes work together to share their parenting responsibilities much like they did while they were still together. Sometimes that means working cooperatively with someone you may still harbor a lot of anger towards. Letting that anger get in the way can lead to counterproductive efforts that adversely affect your parenting. To figure out if you have this co-parenting thing down pat, read “Are You Co-Parenting or Counter-Parenting? Get It Right For Your Kids!

Photo of pen lying on top of mortgage application illustrating need to refinance after divorceNegotiations have ended, your divorce is final and your ex gets the house. It’s over . . . or is it?

Couples often make the mistake of assuming that if the marital home is awarded to one spouse in the divorce negotiations, the other spouse no longer has any obligations regarding mortgage payments. That’s not quite true. Removing a name from the title and the mortgage are two different things. And as long as both names remain on the mortgage, both spouses are responsible for meeting the obligation. Rarely can one person simply assume a joint mortgage. The best solution would be to refinance the mortgage in one spouse’s name.

There are several other reasons refinancing your home after divorce could be beneficial. To learn more, read “Til The House Do Us Part: The Top Five Reasons To Refinance After Divorce.”

divorce-team-400-07974910d-300x200It is not uncommon for individuals going through divorce to be short-sighted and focus only on the immediate situation, which is to end their marriage. It’s a very emotional time for everyone involved and often decisions are made from the heart, not the head. But this tendency towards rash judgment can have detrimental consequences down the line.

While most people have some sort of support team in place – family and friends to help them get through the most emotional days — you might need a little more than a best friend’s shoulder to lean on. A strong team of professionals trained in matters relating to divorce and family law can help you come out on the other side of divorce both emotionally and financially sound. To learn more about who you may need on your team, read the recent Forbes magazine article “Considering Divorcing? This Is Your Single Most Important Decision.”

Attorney and Family and Divorce Mediator, Rosalyn A. Metzger, concludes her three-part article on the Mediation process with a discussion on how child-related issues can benefit from the process. To read the first two articles, see “The ABC’s of Mediation – Part I: The Process” and “The ABC’s of Mediation – Part II: Financial Issues.”

Mediating Parenting Time and Related Issues

Mediation of Child Issues - photo of young boy dressed in jeans and striped shirt holding hands with mother and father is following behindOne hot-button issue in divorce is often the children. Some people get stuck on “50-50” parenting time. However, you are well advised to consider all of the circumstances when trying to sort out the best parenting plan for your family. While New Jersey links child support to the amount of time the children share with each parent, in mediation you can separate those two issues so that money is not the guiding factor.

This second article from attorney and mediator Rosalyn A. Metzger on Mediation focuses on how the process addresses financial issues involved in divorce. To read the first article, see “The ABC’s of Mediation – Part I: The Process.”

Negotiating Financial Issues

Mediation Financial Issues - photo of notebooks labeled "assets", eyeglasses, pens, and laptop on a tablePart of divorce mediation involves financial issues. Although you won’t need any documents for the first session, you will need to begin assembling financial statements, preferably from the same end date so that the values come from the same time frame. This way, when you reach the financial issues that are part of every divorce, you are prepared. It often can take a while to obtain all of the financial information necessary.

Rosalyn A. Metzger, Esq., a member of the Rotolo Karch Law team and a Family and Divorce Mediator certified by the New Jersey Association of Professional Mediators, is the author of a three-part article on Mediation, an alternative to traditional divorce proceedings. This week, Ms. Metzger explores the Mediation process.

Divorce mediation: photo of three men and one woman sitting at conference table with laptop and coffee cupYou are thinking about getting divorced. You do your research on the internet. You may contact an attorney, or maybe you just want to go straight to a mediator. How does all of this work? Do you need a mediator and an attorney? But wait – isn’t mediation supposed to save money? How can using three people – an attorney for each spouse, plus a mediator – be less expensive than using just one? Good question!

Mediation is a process where you and your spouse, or partner, elect to forego the nastiness and expense of litigation to try to work things out. Your main concern, as you tell the mediator, is for your children. You want to spare them the fallout of a high conflict divorce that will wind its way through the courts over a period of years. Good for you!

Tax-implications-400-07978565d-300x200Filing for divorce in New Jersey is not complicated, but negotiating financial matters and property distribution issues in the  divorce proceedings can be. As couples simultaneously close the door on one stage of their life and work toward building the next stage, they face a number of decisions that, if not handled correctly, could have significant consequences later. One of the biggest problems is couples often make these decisions based on emotional reactions rather than a full understanding of future implications. This is especially true when it comes to tax matters.

Tax planning should play a prominent role in the divorce process. Unfortunately, the tax implications of many divorce-related decisions are often misunderstood, if not overlooked, by emotionally wrought couples. A recent Forbes magazine article, “Taxes and Family Law: A Cheat Sheet of What You Need To Know” just scratches the surface of some of the things you should understand about taxes and their impact on your divorce process. After reading the article, it’s easy to understand why some people choose to add a tax professional to their divorce team.

relocation-400-07509883d-300x150A recent decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court has changed the way divorce courts now decide cases involving the relocation of children.

When considering divorce matters dealing with the custody of children, courts apply the “in the child’s best interest” standard.  One exception to that has been the issue of moving children out of state against the other parent’s wishes. In those cases, the courts instead considered whether or not such a move would “cause harm” to the child. Until now, that is.

To learn how a recent ruling has changed the courts’ approach to this relocation issue read, “Court changes rules for divorced parent who want to leave N.J. with child.”