There are two types of divorce in the State of New Jersey, absolute or final divorce from the bonds of matrimony and a limited divorce or divorce from bed and board. The second type of divorce is the closest thing that New Jersey has to a “legal separation.” In this limited judgment of divorce or what is more commonly known as the divorce from bed and board, neither party is completely divorced or able to remarry.
In order to file a suit for divorce in New Jersey, the State needs to have jurisdiction over the property and/or the individual. Additionally, you will have to list a reason why you want a divorce – or give them a cause of action. These include, but are not limited to: Adultery, Desertion, Extreme Cruelty, Habitual Drunkenness, Eighteen Month Separation and Irreconcilable Differences. Religious terminations such as Catholic Annulments or Jewish Gets are different from civil divorces and nullities and you should seek advice from your pastor, rabbi, or imam to inquire into those terminations. If you would like a consultation to learn more about your rights and responsibilities, please call our office to set up an appointment to meet with an attorney.
One of the most contentious and emotional areas of family law involves the issues relating to the custody and parenting time of children. There are two types of custody, legal and physical. Legal custody refers to which parent makes those major decisions affecting the child(ren)’s health, education and general welfare. Physical custody refers to where the child(ren) primarily reside. If the physical custody is not split equally between the parties, then one parent with whom the child(ren) spends the majority of time is the custodial parent (or residential parent/Parent of Primary Resident). The other parent with whom the child(ren) spends the minority of time is the non-custodial parent (or Parent of Alternate Residence). If parents cannot resolve the issue of custody and parenting time, that matter is resolved by the Court. In reaching its ultimate decision, the Judge will review statutory and case law to determine the best interest of the child(ren). If you would like a consultation to learn more custody and/or parenting time and your options to same, please call our office to set up an appointment to meet with an attorney.
In New Jersey, parents have an obligation to support their children until they reach the age of majority, which is not necessarily the age of eighteen. For some families with disabled children, that obligation may continue indefinitely. It is important to know that the obligation to support your child(ren) is not related to whether you have visitation/parenting time or the amount of time your child spends with the other parent. Many parents believe that if they cannot or are not permitted to see their child(ren), that they do not have an obligation to pay support to that other parent. This is simply incorrect. The New Jersey Legislature provides in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23, for the Court’s to issue Orders for the support of a child. That right to child support belongs to the child and not to either parent. Ordinarily, the Court will determine your child support obligation pursuant to the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. The Support Guidelines consider the parties’ gross incomes, the amount of overnights each parent has, the child’s share of the health insurance premium, work related expenses, and other factors which affect the financial need of the child(ren). To learn more about child support and other financial obligations you may have, contact our office to set up a consultation to meet with an attorney.
When your child(ren) have disabilities, child support can become more complicated. Government benefits paid to or for children and healthcare related expenses that are predictable and recurring in those families may not be similar to the expenses factored into and considered when determining an obligation pursuant to the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. Let us explore those special needs with you so as to provide you with options that are best for your family.
Pursuant to the case law and statutory law, the purpose of alimony is to provide the dependent spouse with a level of support that will allow that spouse to live at a standard that is reasonable similar to standard of living that existed prior to the parties’ separation. The legislature gave the Courts the jurisdiction to award alimony and those factors that the Court will review in determining whether alimony is appropriate are found in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23. Alimony can be awarded on a temporary basis (called Pendente Lite) or prior to a trial in the divorce or annulment. After trial, the Courts can award Limited Duration Alimony, Reimbursement Alimony, Rehabilitative Alimony, or a hybrid of these. If you would like a consultation to learn more about your rights and responsibilities, please call our office to set up an appointment to meet with an attorney.
The Courts also have jurisdiction to equitably distribute all of the assets and debts that were acquired during the marriage – regardless of how that particular asset or debt is titled. For example, just because a credit card is only in one spouse’s name, does not mean that the debt will only belong to that spouse following a divorce. Similarly, a spouse’ pension or other retirement asset may be subject to equitable distribution even though it was incurred to that one spouse during the marriage. This is because the Courts recognize the marriage as a partnership, with each partners efforts contributing to the acquisition of wealth and debts. Contact our office to set up a consultation to learn more about your rights and responsibilities.
Removal/Relocation from the State of New Jersey:
Removing a child from the State of New Jersey is prohibited without the consent of both parents or an order from the court. Many times the removal will affect custody rights and/or will detrimentally affect your parenting time. Case law provides that the parent moving must show a good faith reason for the move and that the move will not be inimical to the child’s best interests. If you are thinking of moving out of New Jersey or the other parent of your child(ren)is threatening to leave New Jersey, contact our office before any steps are taken so that we can help you protect your family.
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution by which the parties, themselves, structure their own Agreement that resolves most, if not all, of the issues. In mediation, the parties sit down with a trained mediator who will help facilitate the communication between the parties in an effort to promote a settlement on the issues. The law office of McNeely McGuigan & Esmi LLC offers mediation for family law matters, as well as other matters that can benefit from mediation. All of our attorneys are trained mediators and will allow the parties to consider and explore all options for settlement. Furthermore, our attorneys also represent litigants that are in the process of going through mediation to ensure that our clients are making informed decisions. If you are going through mediation right now or are considering using a mediator, call our office to schedule an appointment to learn more about the mediation process and make informed decisions during that mediation.
Collaborative Divorce is an alternative dispute resolution in which collaboratively-trained attorneys, financial professionals and mental health professionals commit to resolving family matters respectfully. In Collaborative matters, the litigants pledge not go to Court. Rather, they participate respectfully in sessions (with their partner and his/her attorney, their attorneys and/or other professionals) to help reduce conflict, promote cooperation and communication to reach a resolution that serves the best interests of their family.
Ms. McGuigan is a founding member of the South Jersey Collaborative Divorce Professionals (formerly the South Jersey Collaborative Law Group). As an attorney specially trained to handle collaborative cases, Ms. McGuigan is committed to helping her clients settle their family disputes respectfully and with the help of other trained professionals. The Collaborative process is not limited to divorces, but is also very helpful for many post-divorce matters that continue to arise. For more information, please contact our office to schedule an appointment with Ms. McGuigan or go to:
Guardianships are established to protect individuals that lack decision-making capability and who would otherwise be prey to exploitation. The individual may be an adult who has lost mental capacity or an individual approaching 18 years of ago whose disability arose at birth or during childhood, or alternatively, may be a minor whose parents or guardians have died . There are two types of Guardians: Guardian of the person and Guardian of the property. The Guardian of the person makes decisions affecting the ward’s personal and medical decisions. The Guardian of the property makes financial decisions affecting that individual. Guardianships are filed in the County in which the alleged incapacitated individual or minor resides. If you have a loved one that is in need of a Guardianship or if you dispute the allegation that you yourself are incapacitated stemming from a filing of another, give our office a call to set up a consultation to meet with an attorney to determine how best to proceed. It is likewise noteworthy that once an adjudication of incapacity is made, the guardian appointed is a fiduciary and as such, is held to a high legal standard in performing his or her duties. Besides day to day care and consideration for the ward, the guardian also has to file an annual report. If you would like a consultation to learn more about this topic and your options, please call our office to set up an appointment to meet with an attorney.
There are many legalities surrounding proper implementation of estate plans. It is essential to receive sound advice and proper documents that comply with the law. Additionally, other factors unique to each individual or family often give rise to special requirements such as when a family member is disabled (special needs planning, to include special needs trusts and letters of intent) or is a non-citizen (qualified domestic trust). If you would like a consultation to discuss your circumstances, needs, and options, please call our office to set up an appointment to meet with an attorney.
There are many legal requirements in administering an estate in New Jersey. An estate administration typically begins when a personal representative is authorized by the county surrogate to act as the estate’s fiduciary, to manage the affairs of the estate from cradle to grave to include protecting estate assets and mitigating risk, vetting legitimate estate liabilities, payment of taxes, etc. An estate administration is often complicated by the fact that beneficiary expectations may run quite high, and altogether the comprehensive nature of the process can present daunting challenges. If you would like a consultation to learn more about this topic and your options, please call our office to set up an appointment to meet with an attorney.
Probate is the process by which a decedent’s will is deemed genuine. In New Jersey, probate is under the purview of the county surrogate. The surrogate will issue a judgment admitting a will that is found to be proper – assuming no caveat is filed or other issue identified. Next, the surrogate issues Letters Testamentary to document the authority to the Executor to act on behalf of the decedent’s estate. A similar process is required when the decedent has no will or dies intestate, except that the personal representative (here an “administrator” rather than executor) must qualify and purchase a surety bond. Ancillary probate processes are required when a decedent resided out-of-state but owned real property in New Jersey. If you would like a consultation to learn more about this topic and your options, please call our office to set up an appointment to meet with an attorney.
Perhaps because of the high-stakes involved, estates are often the subject of litigation. Typically, estate litigation ensues in the Chancery division, which is a court of equity. One of the most common claims is that the will is in some way improper; for example, that the will is superseded by another, that someone exerted improper undue influence on the testator, etc. If you would like to learn about your options in this realm, please call our office to set up a meeting with an attorney.
Demographics show that we have an aging population here in the U.S., and the Centers for Disease Control notes that our population of those aged 65 and older will nearly double in the thirty years leading up to 2020. Unfortunately, along with this aging trend is the potential for issues related to cognition, chronic illness, increased dependence and disability. Coping with the changes that accompany aging can be a challenge, and putting a sound plan in place requires thought and careful advice. Such a plan can address issues such as divorce, estate planning, risk mitigation, guardianship, and much more. One particular area fraught with pitfalls relates to qualified immigrants and Medicaid eligibility subject to the five-year-rule. If you would like to learn about your options in this realm, please call our office to set up a meeting with an attorney.
We represent individuals and families who seek to apply for immigrant as well as non-immigrant benefits, as well as employers who seek to hire foreign nationals. A special area of interest is immigrant petitions for foreign nationals who are exceptionally desirable under U.S. immigration law: Extraordinary Ability, National Interest Waivers, and Physician petitions. Examples of services provided include:
- Extraordinary ability petitions;
- National interest waivers;
- Student and Exchange Program (F and J);
- Family based green cards;
- Marriage and fiancée;
- Employment-based green cards;
- S. citizenship / naturalization;
- Assistance with overseas consular processing;
- Medical sector visa research and clinical physicians;
- Business, professional, and religious workers; and
- Labor certification processing.
If you would like a consultation to learn more about your options, please call our office to set up an appointment to meet with an attorney.