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Divorce Survival Guide
Area professionals answer frequently asked questions about navigating the challenges of divorce.

by Liz Hunter

Individuals who are struggling in their marriage may find themselves considering divorce. Yet often, there is hesitation because they are unfamiliar with the process and have concerns about their children, finances and well-being, among others. Family law professionals are trained for this, ready to listen to your concerns and provide the proper solutions that will lead to a fair outcome. We asked some of the most respected professionals in our area to provide insight into a few of the most common questions they hear from prospective clients.

I am concerned about being able to afford a divorce. What are my options?
The most efficient and cost-effective way to keep costs down in the divorce process is for couples to mediate their divorce. Mediation is a voluntary process that affords the parties the opportunity of becoming thoroughly educated with the help and guidance of an experienced mediator to make informed decisions on all aspects of their divorce including child custody and visitation matters, spousal support, child support and the division of assets. When couples work with a professional mediator and not through attorneys it reduces the cost significantly and is completed in a fraction of the time. The alternative processes for divorce all include each party retaining attorneys for representation and those processes are significantly higher on cost and duration.
Carmela DeNicola
Professional Mediator

What if I am worried my spouse will try to alter assets or property ownership?
It is always helpful to be able to identify all of the assets that exist. While there may be concerns about things being altered or changed, the reality is that taking those actions is generally harder than one would think. The discovery process will allow for investigation into assets and accounts and with the accessibility of account statements and history (either voluntarily or through subpoena power), the tracing of assets has become much easier. If something is missing or changed, the court has the ability to hold the party accountable for their actions by way of reimbursement or credit to the other party. If there is a true concern about dissipation of assets, a court order can be sought to restrain such behavior. If the order is disregarded, not only can reimbursement/credit be sought, but also sanctions for the violation of an order.
Stephanie J. Zane, Esq.

How do you decide who remains in the marital home after the divorce begins?
A couple's financial circumstances typically dictate their living situation after divorce begins. Divorcing couples who can afford two residences may choose to physically separate, depending upon child custody-related issues and other considerations. Others, who do not have the financial means or choose to stay for other reasons, can remain in the same residence as the divorce unfolds. Unless there are domestic violence issues, generally, neither party has an obligation to move out during the divorce. But, in limited circumstances even in the absence of domestic violence, a court can compel one party to move out if necessary to protect the other spouse and/or children.
Michael Weinberg, Esq.


Should a person be careful about email, text, or social media activity as a divorce process goes along? Could they impact the outcome?
Absolutely! Social media and electronic communications are frequently used in court. Once you hit “send” it is there forever. Facebook stores everything. No matter how safe you think you are being, the other side can and will screenshot your Instagram. It is hard to deny what you typed or a picture of you doing something improper.
The internet can also be beneficial. There are applications designed to facilitate communications between parents in custody disputes including messaging and calendaring. This often improves the tone of communications between adversarial parents, which benefits the children.
Remember, anything you post or have posted can and will be used against you in a court of law.
Andrew Rochester, Esq.

How can I best keep my children out of court proceedings or from having their fate determined by a judge?
The only way to protect children through a divorce is for parents to work together in making all decisions in the best interest of the children, putting their personal differences aside. A professional mediator works extensively with parents in a customized and thoughtful manner to address the specific needs of their children. Mediation also teaches parents on how to build their future separately, which keeps their children in the forefront rather than an afterthought due to conflict. In mediation, children always come first.
Roseann Vanella
Professional Mediator

What are the most important steps to take if my spouse is abusive? Do I need proof? What if it was verbal/emotional?
If you believe you are a victim of abuse and are currently unsafe, you can contact 911, go to your local police department or go to the courthouse during regular hours. It is important to have professional help on-site and have any incident documented. Officers or court staff would be able to assist you in obtaining a temporary restraining order, which would provide you legal separation from the abuser for a short time period. It is very important to document all incidents of abuse—when physical, keep photos of injury or physical damage; when emotional or verbal, keep a journal of dates, times and descriptions of events, and copies of social media posts, texts, emails, notes, letters, etc. Verbal/emotional abuse is the most difficult to prove but you can legally record phone calls or interactions so long as you are a party to those calls and interactions (New Jersey is a one-party consent state). No one deserves to be the victim of emotional and/or physical abuse and offenders should be held accountable legally.
Kathleen Stockton
Stockton Family Law

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 3 (June 2021).
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