- Family Law
- Civil Litigation
- Accidents and Personal Injury
- Mediation and Arbitration
- Estate Administration and Litigation
Family Law is a diverse area of law and includes matter such as divorce, custody and parenting time, enforcement applications, adoption of a child, college contribution, and prenuptial agreements. Our attorneys have the skills and experience to advise litigants regarding their rights and responsibilities and can effectively represent litigants in achieving their goals.
The outcome of a divorce can have a significant impact on your parental rights and financial security. With so much at stake, it is critical that you have an experienced divorce lawyer on your side who is committed to protecting your rights.
You can find the skilled and knowledgeable representation you need at Heymann & Fletcher, Esqs. Our attorneys are prepared to handle all issues that may arise in your divorce, including:
- Equitable Distribution
- Child custody and visitation issues
- Child support
- Spousal support (alimony)
- Domestic violence
As experienced divorce lawyers, we understand that disputes concerning property division, child custody, spousal support and other significant matters can easily become acrimonious. Rather than unnecessarily inflaming matters that are potentially contentious, we seek to find ways to resolve disputes as efficiently and amicably as possible, while fully safeguarding our clients' rights.
As a result of our creative and proactive approach to dispute resolution, we have been able to help many of our clients avoid protracted litigation, thus minimizing the emotional and financial costs of divorce. However, when disputes can not be resolved by negotiation, mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution, we have the trial experience to vigorously protect our clients' rights and interests in the courtroom.
Child Custody and Parenting Time
The breakup of married or unmarried parents can be difficult for everyone involved. Navigating a new arrangement where parents live apart can be highly charged emotionally. Bringing in an experienced attorney at an early stage can help prevent years of litigation and harm to the relationship of a child and his or her parents.
While in a rare instance, a parent may be awarded sole legal custody, it is almost always the case that the parents will have joint legal custody, in which case they will need to learn to co-parent effectively. Despite breaking up, they will be tied together until their child is emancipated. Often, long-term conflict can be avoided by the early involvement of a professional who can aid in the crafting of an agreement that will address the issues likely to arise between parents.
Physical custody is a more variable issue. There are many reasons why the amount of time a child spends with one parent or the other can change, and even when both parents are in agreement, a physical change can have ripple effects that parents may not spot. This can range from the need of a parent to relocate because of a job, or a child’s after-school activities expanding disproportionately into one parent’s time with the child. An experienced attorney can help navigate those situations as well as advocate for a client in cases of conflict over what is in the best interest of the child.
As with legal custody, it is most often the case that both parents will have an obligation to cover their child’s expenses, usually in proportion to their incomes. That obligation is converted into child support most often through the use of an algorithm developed by the State of New Jersey known as the Child Support Guidelines. There are many factors that go into the calculation of child support through the Guidelines, including the income of the parents, the visitation schedule, costs for health insurance, costs for daycare, support obligations for children of only one of the parents, and numerous others. This can be difficult to navigate without a professional’s help.
There are also a number of expenses that are not part of the Child Support Guidelines, such as the costs for competitive sports or advanced-level dance or music lessons, unreimbursed medical expenses for the children, academic tutoring, and, as a whole other category, college costs. One way to avoid later conflict is to have a capable professional putting together your child support agreements who know how to make sure that as much guidance and clarity exists as to how unknown future expenses will be dealt with.
Alimony, or spousal support, can be a very complex issue. In a pending divorce, there can be multiple stages of spousal support, each with different considerations. Pendente lite, or temporary, support may be necessary so that the bills can get paid while the details of the divorce are being resolved. Whether there is any alimony following a divorce, and for how long, is dependent upon a number of factors, including the length of the marriage, the ages of the parties, whether either party has a disability, the employment status of each party during the marriage, the ability of both parties to work and at what earnings level and for how long, among others. In some situations, identifying the appropriate level of spousal support can require a financial expert. Regardless of the level of complexity involved, our firm has experience negotiating and litigating the issue of alimony for our clients.
Complex Asset Division
Asset division can range from the simple division of self-assembled furniture from a rented apartment to the extremely complex division of businesses and financial assets as well as real estate and antiques. Our office has experience in the division of complex assets through both settlement and litigation. We work well with business evaluators and other experts who must provide reports and in-court testimony analyzing the assets.
Post-Judgment Enforcement and Modifications
While a well-written divorce agreement will anticipate most of what may happen following a divorce, there are situations in which additional steps need to be taken. Sometimes, one party fails to live up to their commitments under the agreement and an enforcement action must be brought. This sounds simple, and litigants often try to make these applications pro se, but it is valuable to have an attorney who knows both the substantive and procedural law involved in such an application. Sometimes, we are able to get your attorneys’ fees paid by the party who has violated the agreement.
Even if both parties have lived up to the agreement, there is sometimes a need for further court orders. This could be due to the emancipation of children and the end of child support, or the retirement of a party and the conclusion of spousal support. It could also be due to outside circumstances, such as one parent being relocated by an employer affecting a custody agreement, or a party becoming disabled and unable to work affecting their ability to pay alimony. Our attorneys can help navigate these issues with you.
Domestic violence is an area in which our firm has longstanding experience. We have represented victims of domestic violence for both final restraining orders and throughout subsequent divorce litigation. We have also helped victims of domestic violence protect a final restraining order in the face of an abuser attempting to get it lifted. Domestic violence can have an impact on a divorce proceeding, the ability of people to co-parent, the relationship between child and parent, and many other aspects of the parties’ lives.
Our firm has also represented defendants against accusations of domestic violence. Domestic violence court is handled through the Family Part of the New Jersey Court, and because a defendant is not under threat of incarceration, there is no right to a public defender. However, a finding of domestic violence can significantly impact a defendant’s life, including in any divorce or custody matters. A person who is determined to have committed an act of domestic violence by the Court is put on a statewide registry, which can affect employability and permanently prevents legal possession of a firearm. If you have been accused of domestic violence, experienced legal counsel is critical.
Division of Child Protection and Permanency
There are any number of reasons why a referral may be made to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency about your child, but any inquiry must be taken seriously. The possible outcomes of an investigation can range from a determination that there are no concerns for the child’s safety, to a recommendation for counseling for a parent, to removal of a child from a parent’s care. The DCP&P process can seem overwhelming and is, indeed, complex, even for parents who have done nothing wrong and who are not themselves accused of abuse. Having an experienced attorney by your side can help you navigate the DCP&P investigations and any court proceedings that may follow.
Adoptions and Guardianship
Adoptions are the bright light of the Family Law system. Whether a step-parent adoption or the adoption by both parents of a non-biological child, there are few days as rewarding as the final hearing of an adoption. We can help you navigate the logistics and requirements of the Court system as you grow your family.
In the event of a contested adoption, we have the litigation expertise to represent your rights in a hearing, whether as the birth parent or adoptive parent.
Our firm also has extensive experience in Guardianship matters, whether for an elderly family member or for a special-needs child turning eighteen. We are able to represent the proposed guardians or the alleged incapacitated person from the application through the final hearing.
Prenuptial agreements are generally utilized by parties entering into marriage with pre-marital assets, whether real property, a business, or financial assets, to set forth certain conditions in the event of a divorce. This can include limits on the distribution of these assets, and/or a waiver or limitation on spousal support. In order for such an agreement to be enforceable, however, it must meet certain statutory requirements. Utilizing an experienced matrimonial attorney can help avoid the pitfalls that would render the agreement unenforceable.
If you have entered into a prenuptial agreement that you believe is unconscionable, either because the other party lied to you or unduly pressured you into the agreement, it is possible to have the agreement vacated. This often requires a full hearing in court, and considerable legal nuances. An experienced attorney can represent your interests in this situation.
It is not unusual for a trial court decision to leave one or both parties unhappy about certain aspects of a decision. Those parties have the right to seek review by the Appellate Division. An appeal is a very different process than the one utilized by the Superior Court. It is strictly a legal review, not a retrial, and requires the filing of briefs with a thorough legal analysis of the lower court’s actions. Even if a litigant has handled their matter on their own throughout a lower court proceeding, the particular requirements of an appeal make it important to have experienced legal counsel for such an undertaking.