As a divorce and family law attorney in Hudson County, New Jersey, I've found that Preparation and Being Realistic are the keys to better outcomes in family court. Whether it is a divorce or other family court-related matter such as child custody, you need to be prepared and you need to be realistic.
What is Realistic in the family court context? An example is a dad who has not seen his children in 8 months wanting to have residential custody immediately. That is not realistic unless the children are in harm's way or other scenarios. If that is not realistic what can I do? You can start preparing and building a case for custody or more parenting time. How? Start with whatever parenting time (visits) you can get in person, on the phone, on video chat and the like. As time goes on, you will build a stronger bond with your children and build a stronger case. And while it may not be easy to be so restricted in the parenting time, you have to keep fighting to achieve your long-term goals. Persistence, Positivity and Persistence again, that is just some of what it takes. Swallowing your pride and honoring a court order and dealing with unruly tactics and games are also part of it at times.
What Preparation are you talking about? I am referring to building a case over the long term. Rome was not built in a day and you will not build a strong case in a day either. When you do build a case, you will not automatically win either, you have to keep pushing forward. You may encounter a Judge that does not agree with you, a Judge that does not know the current case law, an Adversary that is telling lies and the court believes that person, but again you can't stop fighting.
What if I am honoring a court order but the mother/father is not? You have to keep filing motions to enforce litigants rights, motions to try to obtain more parenting time and custody. One of the forms of relief for habitual violations of court orders is a change in residential custody, so is more parenting time to name a few
Why is it even important to fight my case if alimony is a simple calculation? It is not a simple calculation at all. Frankly, if you do not fight your case at the beginning, the case and the circumstances will only get worse for you. For example, your spouse files a motion for temporary support/alimony, child support, parenting time limitations, etc. Assume that if you do not fight, the Judge will order you to pay $7200 a month in support. If you fought, you may have been able to reduce that amount to $5800-$6000 a month. Again not only is it bad if you do not fight in the short-term but imagine trying to negotiate later on in the case for a lower support amount when your spouse is already collecting $7200 a month? The Palestinians and Israelis may have a better chance at a deal. Case Momentum and strategy are critical aspects of a divorce and family law case.
The Judge is against me, I want to change the Judge, what can I do? You can and should keep your mouth shut, that is what you should do. The Judge may not "like" you at one point in a case just like any other human being but you can change that, You have the power. Changing judges is very difficult and you know who decides if you should change the Judge? The Judge you are before now! If you do get the Judge changed, don't you think the next Judge will know you did that and/or why? Not a good move.
I Cant' Afford to pay what was ordered or what they are asking for, what can I do? One thing you should not do is ignore the order or ignore the demands, that will only make it worse. If there is a court order, you need to do anything you can to pay as much as possible while permitting you to live as well. If there isn't a court order, negotiate in good faith and give reasons behind your counter-offers. It is a proven fact that if you ask for something or negotiate for something and give a reason as to why you are asking for something that the other side will be much more receptive than simply demanding them to adhere to your demands and requests.
A Judge will never order me to pay what I can't afford and can't make me work right? A Judge can't make you work but a Judge can put you in jail. A Judge can suspend your ability to drive, to renew your passport, to receive your income tax refund and on and on. Further, how will you pay your lawyer to keep working? (slight joke but not really).
I have equal rights to my kids and joint custody so I do not have to pay child support right? Joint custody has nothing to do with child support but shared residential custody does and with shared residential custody, you may still have to pay. Either way, not paying support should not be your goal, being with your kids should be.
While the above only captures a fraction of the questions and strategy I go over daily with my divorce and family law clients in my Jersey City office, there are many more. If you face a divorce whether civil or contested or other family law/child custody cases in Hudson County or beyond, contact my office on 973-337-9643 or 201-706-3788. Until then, be safe, think positive, be realistic and prepare your case.