social-media-divorce-2-400-08158573d-300x200Many people today use social media to engage with family and friends, especially those they don’t get to see on a regular basis. These platforms provide an easy means for publicly sharing accomplishments and milestones, or passing along amusing or entertaining stories. Problems can arise, however, when people share information of a more private nature, like their divorce.

Divorce is an emotional process. It isn’t unusual for people going through divorce to seek support or sympathy, but using a public venue like social media to solicit that support can backfire in a big way. So can carelessly posting about your social activities during this process. To learn about the dangers of discussing your divorce in social media or posting about your social engagements without censorship, read “3 Social Media Mistakes Divorcing Couples Make Every Time.”

custody - photo of baby's hand in parentsIt may sound like a Hollywood movie script, but actor Jason Patric is in a real-life battle for custody of his child.

Mr. Patric may have won the first round when California courts agreed that he was in fact the legal parent of the child who had been conceived through in vitro fertilization and born to Danielle Screiber, Mr. Patric’s ex-girlfriend. This biological connection, however, may not be enough to grant Mr. Patric custodial rights to the child. Ms. Schreiber has accused Mr. Patric of domestic violence in the form of physical and psychological abuse, causing the courts to reverse an earlier decision granting him joint custody of the child. The ultimate decision regarding Mr. Patric’s custodial rights will depend on completion of counseling by Mr. Patric and joint counseling by the couple. To learn more of this case, read “Jason Patric is Legal parent of IVF-Conceived Child, Appeals Court Rules.”

divorce's affect on credit score -- photo of corner of keyboard with a person's finger touching a yellow 'credit report' keyMost people work hard to establish a good credit rating and even harder to maintain it once it is achieved. To have a good credit score jeopardized by the actions of another person would be devastating, but that’s what could happen if a husband and wife fail to discuss how to handle their debt in the event of a divorce.

Married couples commonly have shared accounts and financial obligations – mortgages, credit cards, and car loans, to name a few. The actions of one spouse can impact the credit rating of the other spouse not only during the marriage, but even after the couple separates. To learn how to protect your credit score in the midst of your divorce, read “What Happens to Your Credit When You Get Divorced?

Protecting family-owned business from divorce - photo of couple standing outside storefront of grocery businessFamily-owned or controlled businesses are an important segment of the American economy. They account for about 90% of all American businesses, from large retailers like Walmart to small mom-and-pop shops, and produce more than half of the country’s gross domestic product. These businesses face all the same risks as publicly-owned businesses do – growing competition, changing technology, increasing costs of supplies, and the like. On top of that they face one more risk that their publicly-owned counterparts do not – divorce.

What happens to a business that is owned by a couple facing divorce depends largely on the steps the couple took, if any, to protect the business before their marital troubles began. Often the family has the majority of its assets tied up in the business, so one spouse buying the other out is not always an option. A recent MarketWatch article, “How to protect your family business during a divorce,” discusses different options available to couples who want to protect the businesses they worked so hard to create.

photos of two pet dogs standing next to owner's legs, all wearing bright green rain bootsFor an animal lover, a pet is more than a possession – it’s a member of the family, and a beloved one at that. But what happens to that “family member” when the family unit dissolves through divorce?

Most courts don’t share the sentiment that pets are family but rather view pets as property. However, this “property” is not as easy to distribute as say a house or a car. When it comes to deciding the post-divorce fate of a pet, courts consider the people involved rather than the animal: Who paid for the pet? Who cares for the pet? If children are involved, should the animal stay with them? That’s about to change, however, for one state.

Alaska recently became the first state to amend its divorce statutes so that courts are now required to consider the well-being of the animal in divorce cases (read, “In a first, Alaska divorce courts will now treat pets like children”). The amendments will even allow judges to award joint custody of a pet, if that arrangement is in best interest of the animal, and to include pets when issuing protective orders in cases of domestic violence. Time will tell if more states will follow this lead.

Photo of "To Do" list written in black ink on white paper with green markerYoung New Jerseyans are waiting longer to walk down the aisle, get married and start families, according to the 2011-2015 American Community Survey. And that’s if they get married at all.

Data from the survey indicated that the median age of New Jerseyans getting married for the first time increased by about one year since the last survey was conducted and that the number of residents that have never married has increased by about 5%.  Read “The slow death of marriage in New Jersey” to learn about the factors contributing to this trend as well as the future financial implications it can have.

Property Distribution: Photo of gray house with white trim with double Adirondack chair on porchThe distribution of property in connection with a divorce is a complex legal issue. Even answers to seemingly simple questions like who should get a marital home that was purchased before the wedding may surprise you.

Courts consider a number of factors when determining the distribution of property, including whether or not the couple has a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, and if the state in which the couple lives is a community property or common law state.

New Jersey happens to be an equitable distribution, or common law, state. Even here, ownership documentation like deeds and registrations alone may not be enough to establish who is entitled to what property. Courts consider other mitigating factors in making their determination. In the case of a marital home, for example, courts will consider not only who initially purchased the home, but also whether or not marital funds were used to pay the mortgage or make improvement to the home. For more insight into how marital property is treated in divorce proceedings, read “Martial Home Purchased Before Marriage: How Is It Treated?

winter-coats-400-04545880d-224x300Now that winter has arrived and the temperatures are dropping, most parents want to make sure their children are bundled up against the cold. Be aware, however, that the same coats that keep children warm when outdoors in the winter months can inadvertently threaten their safety while in the car.

Bulky coats and jackets can produce a gap between children and their safety harnesses when the children are buckled in to their car seats. These gaps prevent the harnesses from doing their intended job, which is to keep children securely fastened in the event of an accident. So, what’s a parent to do? Read “NJ parents – This super-simple precaution can protect your child in the car” for some helpful tips.

forensic-accounting-400-06176410dA crucial part of the divorce process is dividing up the couple’s assets and debts in as equitable a manner as possible. Sometimes this distribution of assets is simple, while other times it is much more complicated, especially for couples who have complex financial portfolios that include such things as stock options and restricted stocks, deferred compensation, retirement and insurance plans, properties located in other states or countries, and exceptionally valuable tangible assets such as artwork, antiques or collectibles.

The settlement options you agree to during your divorce proceedings can have a long-term impact on your financial and tax situation. If your situation is complex, it may be prudent to seek the help of a financial specialist, such as a forensic accountant, before agreeing to terms. For more on how a forensic accountant may be able to help in your divorce negotiations, read the New Jersey Business Magazine’s article, “Forensic Accounting During Divorce Proceedings.”

gifted-child-400-07411176dFor many children, extra-curricular activities are a trial-and-error means of discovering their interests and talents. New Jersey’s guidelines for child support recognize this and generally take into account the costs associated with such activities in the basic child support payments. What happens, however, when a child is gifted in a particular area, requiring more extensive involvement to develop his or her special skills?

A New Jersey judge ruled recently that a parent could be ordered to pay additional child support to help cover the costs of his or her gifted child’s endeavors to improve the child’s talents. To learn more read the nj.com story regarding “Divorced parents of gifted children …