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November 2020


Divorced Couples, Their Families, and COVID-19: How to Navigate Returning to School

Now that the CDC recognizes a “second wave” of COVID-19 cases, many parents are asking if it is truly safe for their children to go back to school in person. Complicating that decision are conflicting wishes of divorced couples who must make collaborative decisions about their child’s education. If you are a parent of a school-aged child who disagrees with an ex-spouse regarding your child’s schooling, you need the advice of an experienced family law attorney. Eveland & Foster, LLC  are renowned divorce and family law attorneys in the Greater New Jersey area, and they can assist you in making parenting decisions with your ex-spouse in the era of COVID-19.

Between November 1, 2020 and November 5, 2020, the State of New Jersey reported more than 9,500 new cases. Cases are at their highest levels since Mid-June. While the New Jersey State Department of Education intended to open schools for in-person learning in early December, those plans are now being re-evaluated. In Morris County, New Jersey, plans were made to return students to in person learning in early January. Those students included children in middle and high school.

Now that those plans have been revised, children in grades K-5 will not return to in-person learning until at least January 15, 2021 and children in grades 6-12 will not return until the first week of February 2021. It will consist of hybrid learning (a mixture of virtual and in-person instruction) with alternating schedules and staggering of student arrivals and departures. This will further complicate schedules and coordination for divorced parents of minor children, but it is critical at this juncture for parents to recognize that flexibility and a desire to collaborate can assist children in a smooth transition.

Revisions to Parental Agreements and Physical Custody Arrangements

If you share joint physical custody of your child with your ex-spouse, you might have a split 4-3, or 3-2-3 weekly arrangement, in which both parents are responsible for ensuring the child is ready for school each day. This is compounded when virtually schooling takes place and the child requires adult supervision. In some cases, both parents are essential workers and have been unable to hire child care to supervise their children during virtual learning hours. If your spouse refuses to assist your child with schoolwork, getting logged on for virtual learning, and getting to school on time for in-person learning, they are violating the terms of your marital settlement agreement and/or parenting agreement. It is critical you seek the assistance of an experienced attorney to assist you in an amicable solution. Your child’s well-being is of utmost importance. Eveland & Foster, LLC can ensure that the best interests of your child are upheld during a dispute or settlement conference with your ex-spouse.

Resolving In-Person or Virtual Learning Disputes With Your Ex-Spouse

You can resolve educational disputes with your ex-spouse by meeting with an attorney for possible revisions or amendments to your parenting plan. If your ex-spouse has been exposed to Covid-19 or is not following protocol, it might be necessary for you to retain temporary full physical custody. Only a judge can make revisions to a parenting agreement, after a hearing between both parties. But remember, legal custody includes decisions about education, homeschooling vs. public or private school, and opting out of in-person learning in the Spring semester. Parents might want to consider revising a split week plan and alternating to one full calendar week for each parent, with drop-off/pick-up on the weekends. Also, both parents should ensure the child has an adequate workspace for virtual schooling, along with a laptop/tablet and reliable internet connection, and parental supervision for logging on and participating in virtual classes.

Call Eveland & Foster, LLC Today

The Law Offices of Eveland & Foster, LLC are experienced family law attorneys.  They produce proven results and outcomes for their clients and have assisted many clients in the new era of COVID-19. While the pandemic has brought many challenges, it does not change the law. Parents are required to seek a resolution that is in the best interest of the children, and that includes decisions regarding education. Now more than ever it is essential that children experience some sense of normalcy when everything else has changed. It is crucial that divorced parents try to collaborate and communicate openly when it pertains to following COVID-19 protocols and making choices about virtual or in person schooling. If you are faced with difficulty from your ex-spouse regarding your child’s education and school plans, and you need help, call Eveland & Foster, LLC today for a consultation and review of your potential options.

New Jersey Divorce

New Jersey follows an equitable division of property rule when two people go through a New Jersey divorce. As such, any assets acquired during the course of the marriage are subject to division. Any premarital asset you want to protect from being part of a divorce settlement must be kept separate from the marital estate, so it will not be subject to distribution. How do you keep premarital assets outside of the marital estate?

Prenuptial Agreements

 Prenuptial agreements are the best way to protect premarital assets. A good prenuptial agreement clearly describes the assets which will not become marital property and will therefore not be subject to equitable distribution. Premarital property is protected from equitable distribution under New Jersey law. However, it is not always this simple. How is property divided when there is no prenuptial agreement?

Assets Purchased in Contemplation of Marriage

Assets purchased in contemplation of marriage might be considered marital property if not carved out in a prenuptial agreement. To decide if an asset is marital property, the court will look at the behavior of the parties surrounding the acquisition of the property. So for example, if one spouse purchased a house before the marriage, the court will look at whether the other spouse had input into the purchase, invested resources into improving the property, and took an active role in maintaining the property. If the court decides that the house was purchased in contemplation of marriage, then it will be considered a marital asset.

Assets That Increase in Value During the Marriage

Sometimes an asset owned by one party prior to a marriage increases in value during the marriage. In such a case, the court will look at whether the asset was active or passive. Passive assets increase in value without any contribution from the non-owner spouse, and such assets will usually not be subject to equitable distribution. However, if the court decides an asset is active, and the non-owner spouse was involved in whatever caused the asset to increase in value, then the amount of the increase in value will be considered subject to equitable distribution.

What Happens When Premarital Assets are Commingled with Marital Assets?

 When parties commingle premarital assets with marital assets, it makes divorce and property division more complicated. Placing funds into a joint account, for example, can convert a premarital asset to a joint asset, as can selling pre-owned stock to buy a family home.

The Bottom Line for Protecting Premarital Assets

Whoever is in possession of a premarital asset and wishes to protect it should never commingle the asset with marital property. You should also not allow your spouse to invest time or effort into improving an asset you own or increase the value of your asset if you wish to keep it outside the marital estate. Do not add your spouse’s name to any account, title, or other ownership documents, if you wish to keep the asset separate. If you have received an inheritance, you should keep the funds in a separate account, and any inherited property outside of the home you live in with your spouse.

Do You Need a New Jersey Divorce Lawyer?

If you need advice on how to protect your assets, either before marrying or because you are considering a divorce, consult with the experienced divorce attorneys at Eveland & Foster. Our team will help guard your assets. Get in touch with an experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer today, and let us help you protect your assets.

Disclaimer: This website and information presented are for the purposes of legal marketing and general education. No part of this site should be construed as legal advice. Please consult with an attorney regarding your specific situation. Please do not submit any confidential personal information through this website either by email contact form or chat. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. We welcome your inquiries and offer consultations, however neither contacting our firm nor receiving a consultation establishes an attorney-client relationship.

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