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Frequently Asked Divorce Questions
by Lauren Pearl-LoSchiavo, MSSW, LCSW of Divorce Mediation of North Jersey


At what age is my child considered emancipated?
There is no set age at which emancipation occurs in the state of New Jersey. A child may be considered emancipated when he/she reaches age 18, completes secondary, college or post-graduate education, marries, or enters the armed forces.

What is legal custody?
Legal custody can be either joint legal, where both parents have a say over the major decisions impacting children such as health, safety, and education, or sole legal custody, where one parent has the authority to make major decisions for the children.

What is physical custody?
In primary residential custody, one parent has the child for the majority of the time. In shared residential custody, time spent with each parent may be divided equally.

Is there such thing as legal separation in the state of New Jersey?
No. There is no such thing as "legal separation" in New Jersey, however, the issues that are usually decided in a divorce can be decided between the parties who could be considered "divorced from bed and board" but who legally remain married.

What is a non-contested divorce?
In a non-contested divorce, neither party disputes the grounds or basis for the divorce or the support including alimony.

What is considered marital property?
Marital property is usually acquired during the marriage, excludes inheritance/gifts from a party other than spouse, usually does not include property acquired before the marriage, and may be subject to the conditions of a pre-nup. An increase in value of separate property may be considered if increase is due to direct or indirect contributions of the other spouse. It does not matter who holds title to an asset or property acquired during the marriage.

What is equitable distribution?
Equitable distribution is the division of marital property between parties and takes into consideration the financial resources of each spouse, the asssets brought into the marriage, the standard of living achieved during the marriage, marital debts and liabilities, the earning potential of each spouse, tax consequences to each spouse, the value of marital property, and any written agreement made between the spouses. Property may not necessarily be divided 50:50.

How long does divorce mediation take?
The length of mediation depends on the level of cooperation between parties and on the complexity of and number of issues to be decided on. On average medation can range between 8 and 15 hours, however it could be less if there are no children and it is not necessary to cover parent and child support issues.

If we decide to mediate, do we still need attorneys?
Both parties are encouraged to consult with an independent review attorney to review the mediated agreement. Mediators do not give legal advice so a legal consultation can help clients understand how the law applies to their particular situation.

We have already consulted attorneys, is it too late to mediate?
No. It is never too late to try to mediate. Even if litigation has begun, just explain to your attorneys that you would like to take a break to try mediation. Everything that is said in mediation is confidential and cannot later be used if the case returns to litigation.

What are the issues to be negotiated in divorce mediation?
Issues to be negotiated include the parenting plan, division of assets and liabilities, spousal support, and child support.

What happens if one party refuses to participate?
Mediation is a voluntary process and can only continue with the participation of both parties.

What should we expect from the mediator?
You can expect your mediator to remain neutral and guide you towards an agreement that both parties are comfortable with. Your mediator will listen to the concerns and goals of each party and help you remain focused on issues of concern. Mediation is a self-determined process so your mediator's goal is to help you form an agreement that is in the best interest of you and your children.

Will our mediator give us legal advice about our particular situation?
No. Your mediator will remain a neutral third party throughout the entire mediation process and at no time will your mediator give you legal advice. Even if your mediator is also an attorney, legal advice is never given. Your mediator may provide you information on what particular laws relate to your particular situation but you engouraged to consult with a review attorney for legal advise.


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