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  1. What is Joint Custody in Monmouth County NJ?

    I get asked all the time, "What is joint custody in NJ?

    What does it really mean in practical terms to me as someone who will be getting divorced here in Monmouth County?"

    Or "How do judges in the Monmouth County court house in Freehold tend to handle joint custody requests?"

    Well, I can tell you this: they take it very seriously.

    Last week I heard a judge yell at a lawyer for even using the word "visitation", saying "parents don't 'visit' with their children...they share parenting time."

    The bottom line is that in New Jersey, there are two broad types of custody.

    Physical custody deals with where the child lives, and legal custody deals with who makes major decisions for the child.

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    Topics: Child Custody, Co-parenting, family court

  2. NJ Child Custody

    When I began my career as a New Jersey Divorce Lawyer 37 years ago in 1987, moms almost always ended up with physical custody, the parents shared joint legal custody, and dads would usually have visitation every other weekend, plus Wednesday night for dinner.

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    Topics: Child Custody

  3. Combatting Parental Alienation in Monmouth County

    We have some good judges in Monmouth County.

    They will not tolerate parental alienation.

    The challenge is convincing your judge that it is happening.

    That is because parental alienation is a complex and often emotionally charged issue.

    It refers to the manipulation or programming of a child by one parent to denigrate, reject, or estrange the other parent.

    While it is widely acknowledged that parental alienation can have serious and detrimental effects on children and families, the concept remains controversial, and its diagnosis and treatment are subjects of debate within the legal and psychological communities.

    Dr. Richard Gardner, a prominent psychiatrist, introduced the term "Parental Alienation Syndrome" (PAS) in the 1980s to describe a specific constellation of behaviors exhibited by children who have been alienated from one parent.

    Gardner's work on PAS brought much-needed attention to the phenomenon of parental alienation and provided a framework for understanding and addressing it in legal and therapeutic settings.

    Advocates of Gardner's work point to several key contributions he made to the field.

    Firstly, he emphasized the importance of recognizing parental alienation as a form of emotional abuse, highlighting its potential long-term consequences for children's mental and emotional well-being.

    By identifying specific behaviors associated with PAS, such as the child's irrational hostility toward the targeted parent and the absence of legitimate reasons for this hostility, Gardner provided professionals with criteria for identifying and addressing cases of parental alienation.

    Furthermore, Gardner proposed interventions aimed at combating parental alienation, such as court-ordered reunification therapy and educational programs for both parents and children.

    These interventions, proponents argue, can help repair damaged parent-child relationships and mitigate the harmful effects of alienation on families.

    However, despite these contributions, Gardner's work and the concept of PAS have drawn criticism from some quarters.

    One major criticism is that PAS lacks scientific validity and reliability as a diagnostic entity.

    Critics argue that the criteria for diagnosing PAS are vague and subjective, making it susceptible to misuse in legal proceedings.

    Additionally, skeptics contend that PAS places undue emphasis on blaming one parent for the alienation, potentially overlooking the complex dynamics of high-conflict divorces and the role both parents may play in contributing to the alienation.

    Moreover, Gardner's views on the role of false allegations of abuse in custody disputes have been particularly controversial.

    He argued that in many cases, allegations of abuse by the alienated parent are fabricated as part of the alienating parent's strategy to alienate the child.

    Critics counter that this perspective may discourage genuine victims of abuse, especially children, from coming forward and receiving the protection and support they need.

    While there is widespread recognition in Monmouth County that parental alienation is a real and harmful phenomenon, the legacy of Dr. Richard Gardner and his concept of Parental Alienation Syndrome remains contentious.

    While some praise Gardner for bringing attention to the issue and proposing interventions to address it, others criticize his work for its lack of scientific rigor and potential for misuse in legal settings.

    Moving forward, it is essential for professionals working in the fields of law, psychology, and family therapy to approach cases of parental alienation with sensitivity, objectivity, and a focus on the best interests of the children involved.

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  4. Gaslighting in Marriage: Recognizing and Addressing Manipulative Behavior

    Gaslighting is a term that has gained widespread recognition in recent years, particularly in discussions about relationships and mental health.

    In the context of marriage, gaslighting can have devastating effects on the well-being of one spouse, often leading to confusion, self-doubt, and emotional turmoil.

    If you are having marital problems, it is crucial to understand the dynamics of gaslighting, its impact on people, and how someone who is being gaslighted can take steps to address the situation, including considering divorce if necessary.

    What is Gaslighting?

    Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse in which one person manipulates another into questioning their own reality, memories, or sanity.

    The term originated from the play and subsequent film adaptation, "Gas Light," where a husband attempts to convince his wife that she is imagining things by dimming the gas lights in their home.

    In a marriage, gaslighting can manifest in various ways, including:

    1. Denying the truth: The gaslighter may flatly deny events or conversations that the other spouse clearly remembers happening.

    2. Blaming: They might shift blame onto the other spouse for things that are not their fault, making them feel responsible for problems in the relationship.

    3. Minimizing feelings: Gaslighters may trivialize the emotions or concerns of their partner, making them feel irrational or oversensitive.

    4. Withholding information: A manipulative spouse might withhold crucial information or manipulate situations to keep the other spouse in the dark, fostering a sense of dependence.

    5. Projection: Gaslighters often project their own flaws or behaviors onto their partner, making them feel as though they are the ones at fault.

    Effects of Gaslighting on the Spouse

    Being subjected to gaslighting can have profound effects on the mental and emotional well-being of the targeted spouse.

    Over time, they may begin to doubt their own perceptions, lose confidence in their judgment, and experience anxiety, depression, or even PTSD-like symptoms.

    Gaslighting erodes trust and creates a power imbalance in the relationship, leaving the victim feeling helpless and trapped.

    What Can the Gaslighted Spouse Do?

    If you suspect that you are being gaslighted in your marriage, it's essential to recognize the signs and take proactive steps to address the situation.

    Here are some strategies to consider:

    1. Educate yourself: Learn about gaslighting and its tactics to better understand what you're experiencing. Knowledge is empowering and can help you regain a sense of clarity and confidence.

    2. Trust your instincts: Trust your gut feelings and intuition. If something doesn't feel right or if you're constantly questioning your own reality, it's essential to take those feelings seriously.

    3. Seek support: Reach out to friends, family members, or a therapist who can provide validation, support, and perspective. Having a trusted support system can help you feel less isolated and more empowered to take action.

    4. Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries with your spouse and communicate your needs assertively. Let them know that gaslighting behavior is not acceptable and that you refuse to tolerate it any longer.

    5. Consider couples therapy: If both partners are willing, couples therapy can provide a safe space to address issues of communication, trust, and power dynamics in the relationship.

      However, if the gaslighting continues or if your spouse is unwilling to seek help, it may be necessary to consider other options.

    6. Explore legal options: In cases where gaslighting is part of a pattern of abuse or manipulation, seeking legal guidance from a divorce lawyer may be helpful to protect your rights and well-being.

      A divorce lawyer can provide guidance on your options and help you navigate the legal process with compassion and expertise.

    Ultimately, no one deserves to be subjected to gaslighting or any form of emotional abuse in a marriage.

    If efforts to address the situation prove unsuccessful, prioritizing your own mental health and well-being may mean making the difficult decision to seek a divorce.

    Remember that you are not alone, and support is available to help you navigate this challenging journey toward healing and independence.

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  5. Understanding Domestic Violence in NJ

    In the challenging landscape of family law, domestic violence cases stand out as some of the most urgent and sensitive matters.

    If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, it's crucial to understand your rights and the legal options available to protect yourself and your loved ones.

    I understand the complexities and emotional turmoil that accompany domestic violence situations.

    My firm, located at 5 Professional Circle, Colts Neck NJ, is committed to providing compassionate support and effective legal representation to people who are navigating these difficult circumstances.

    What Constitutes Domestic Violence in New Jersey?

    Domestic violence encompasses a range of abusive behaviors that occur within intimate relationships or households.

    These behaviors can manifest in various forms, including physical violence, emotional abuse, sexual assault, financial manipulation, and stalking.

    Under New Jersey law, domestic violence is defined broadly and includes acts such as:

    1. Physical abuse, such as hitting, kicking, or restraining.
    2. Emotional abuse, including threats, intimidation, and verbal attacks.
    3. Sexual assault or coercion.
    4. Economic abuse, such as controlling finances or preventing access to resources.
    5. Stalking or harassment, whether in person or through technology.
    6. Destruction of property or pets.

    Recognizing the Signs of Domestic Violence

    Identifying domestic violence can be challenging, especially when it involves non-physical forms of abuse. Some common signs that may indicate an abusive relationship include:

    • Frequent belittling or humiliation by a partner.
    • Controlling behavior, such as monitoring movements or isolating from friends and family.
    • Unexplained injuries or a history of frequent injuries.
    • Fearful or anxious behavior around a partner.
    • Financial dependence or restrictions imposed by a partner.
    • Manipulative tactics to maintain power and control.

    Seeking Help and Legal Protection

    If you are experiencing domestic violence or believe you are in danger, your safety is the top priority. It's essential to take immediate steps to protect yourself and your children, if applicable. Here's what you can do:

    1. Reach out for support: Contact local domestic violence hotlines, shelters, or counseling services for assistance and guidance. You're not alone, and there are resources available to help you navigate this difficult situation.

    2. Create a safety plan: Develop a plan to leave safely if necessary, including identifying a safe place to go and packing essential items such as identification, money, and medications.

    3. Document the abuse: Keep a record of incidents of abuse, including dates, descriptions, and any evidence, such as photos or text messages. This documentation may be valuable in legal proceedings.

    4. Seek legal advice: Consult with an experienced domestic violence attorney like Steven J. Kaplan, Esq., who can assess your situation, explain your legal rights, and help you obtain a restraining order or other protective measures.

    5. Follow through with legal action: If you decide to pursue legal action against your abuser, your attorney can guide you through the process, represent you in court hearings, and advocate for your best interests.

    Remember, you deserve to live free from fear and abuse.

    By taking proactive steps and seeking the support of knowledgeable professionals, you can begin to rebuild your life and secure a brighter future.

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  6. Your Right to Freedom from a Controlling Spouse in NJ

    In the realm of family law, one of the most pervasive and damaging issues that many people face is dealing with a controlling spouse.

    Whether it's through manipulation, intimidation, or coercion, the effects of being in a relationship with a controlling partner can be emotionally and psychologically devastating.

    However, it's crucial for someone in such a situation to understand that they have rights and legal avenues available to break free from this cycle of control.

    In the state of New Jersey, you have the right to live free from the undue influence and control of a spouse.

    This fundamental principle is upheld by various laws and legal doctrines designed to protect you from abusive and controlling behavior within your marital relationship.

    It's important to note that controlling behavior can take many forms, including:

    1. Emotional and Psychological Abuse: This may involve tactics such as gaslighting, manipulation, and threats intended to undermine the victim's sense of self-worth and independence.

    2. Financial Abuse: Controlling spouses may exert power by controlling access to financial resources, limiting the victim's ability to work or earn money, or using financial dependence as a means of control.

    3. Isolation: Controlling spouses may seek to isolate their partners from friends, family, and support networks, making it more difficult for the victim to seek help or escape the abusive relationship.

    4. Coercive Control: This refers to a pattern of behavior aimed at dominating the victim through intimidation, manipulation, and control tactics that gradually erode the victim's autonomy and agency.

    In cases where someone is facing these forms of abuse and control within their marriage, seeking legal assistance from a knowledgeable New Jersey divorce lawyer is essential.

    A skilled attorney can provide guidance and support in navigating the legal process of seeking protection through avenues such as obtaining a restraining order or filing for divorce.

    Moreover, beyond legal remedies, it's crucial to prioritize your own safety and well-being.

    This may involve seeking support from trusted friends, family members, or support groups, as well as accessing resources such as counseling or therapy to address the emotional impact of being in an abusive relationship.

    Ultimately, you have the right to live free from the control and abuse of a spouse.

    By understanding your legal rights and seeking appropriate assistance, you can take steps to assert your autonomy and break free from the cycle of control, paving the way for a brighter and more empowered future.

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  7. NJ Divorce Lawyer Hourly Rates

    One common concern for those seeking legal representation in a New Jersey divorce case is the lawyer's hourly rate.

    In New Jersey, the average hourly rate of a divorce lawyer can vary significantly, from below $300/hour to above $600/hour, based on several factors.

    Let's delve into these variables to gain a better understanding of what influences the hourly rate of a divorce lawyer in New Jersey.

    1. Experience and Expertise: One of the primary determinants of a divorce lawyer's hourly rate is their level of experience and expertise.

      Lawyers with decades of experience and a successful track record in handling divorce cases typically command higher hourly rates compared to those who are newer to the field.

    2. Geographic Location: The location of the law firm can also play a significant role in determining hourly rates.

      Law firms situated in urban centers or affluent areas tend to charge higher rates due to the higher cost of living and operating expenses.

      On the other hand, lawyers practicing in rural or less affluent areas may have lower hourly rates.

    3. Reputation and Prestige of the Law Firm: Established law firms with a reputation for excellence often charge premium rates for their services.

      Clients may be willing to pay a higher hourly rate for the assurance of working with a reputable firm known for delivering results.

    4. Overhead Costs: Law firms incur various overhead costs, including office rent, utilities, staff salaries, and professional insurance.

      These expenses are factored into the hourly rates charged by lawyers to cover the costs of running their practice.

    5. Demand and Supply: Market forces also play a role in determining hourly rates, with supply and demand dynamics influencing pricing.

      In highly competitive markets with an abundance of divorce lawyers, hourly rates may be more competitive.

      Conversely, in areas with a scarcity of experienced divorce lawyers, rates may be higher due to increased demand.

    6. Negotiation and Fee Structures: Some divorce lawyers may offer flexible fee structures, such as flat fees for specific services or alternative billing arrangements.

      Clients should discuss fee structures and negotiate terms with their lawyer to ensure transparency and affordability.

    In conclusion, the average hourly rate of a divorce lawyer in New Jersey is influenced by a multitude of factors, including experience, location, reputation, case complexity, specialized services, overhead costs, market dynamics, and fee structures.

    Clients should carefully consider these variables when selecting legal representation and ensure that they engage a lawyer who not only fits their budget but also possesses the requisite skills and expertise to effectively advocate for their interests during the divorce process.

    Transparency in billing practices and open communication between clients and lawyers are essential for building trust and fostering a successful attorney-client relationship.


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  8. Top 5 Things to Consider Before Separating from Your Spouse in New Jersey

    Going through a divorce or separation is undoubtedly one of the most challenging experiences anyone can face.

    If you're contemplating separating from your spouse in New Jersey, it's crucial to approach the situation with careful consideration and preparation.

    Here are the top five things that I feel you should contemplate before taking that step:

    1. Understanding New Jersey Divorce Laws: Familiarize yourself with the divorce laws specific to New Jersey. I'll show you how to do that (below).

      New Jersey is a "no-fault" divorce state, meaning you don't have to prove fault to get divorced.

      However, understanding the legal requirements, such as residency requirements and grounds for divorce, will help you navigate the process more effectively.

      Consulting with a knowledgeable divorce attorney can provide invaluable guidance in this regard. So will the information that I provide to you at the bottom of this article.

    2. Exploring Mediation: Consider mediation.

      This option can often lead to a more amicable and cost-effective resolution compared to traditional litigation.

      Mediation empowers both parties to work together to reach mutually agreeable solutions, which can be particularly beneficial if there are children involved or if you wish to preserve a civil relationship with your spouse post-divorce.

    3. Financial Considerations: Take stock of your financial situation and consider how a separation or divorce will impact it.

      This includes assessing assets, debts, income, and expenses.

      In New Jersey, marital assets are typically divided equitably, but this doesn't necessarily mean equally.

      Understanding your financial rights and obligations can help you negotiate a fair settlement and plan for your financial future post-divorce.

    4. Child Custody and Support: If you have children, prioritize their well-being throughout the separation process.

      New Jersey courts make child custody decisions based on the best interests of the child, taking into account factors such as parental involvement, stability, and the child's preferences (if they're old enough).

      Additionally, understand your rights and responsibilities concerning child support, as these obligations can significantly impact your financial situation.

    5. Emotional and Mental Well-being: Finally, don't underestimate the emotional toll that a separation or divorce can take.

      It's essential to prioritize your emotional and mental well-being throughout the process.

      Seek support from friends, family, or a therapist who can provide guidance and a listening ear during this challenging time.

      Taking care of yourself emotionally will not only help you cope with the immediate challenges but also position you for a healthier future beyond the divorce.

    In conclusion, contemplating a separation or divorce in New Jersey requires careful consideration of various factors, including legal, financial, and emotional aspects.

    By understanding your rights, exploring alternative dispute resolution methods, prioritizing your children's well-being, and taking care of your emotional health, you can navigate this difficult process with greater clarity and confidence.

    Remember, seeking guidance from a qualified divorce attorney is often the first step toward achieving a fair and equitable resolution.


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  9. Forget About Legal Separation in Monmouth County

    If you are looking to get a divorce here in Monmouth County, you don't need to spend even one second worrying about the concept of "legal separation".

    It's simply not an issue.

    If you choose to, you can separate right now by simply...well, separating.

    You don't need to file any legal papers.

    You can just move out, if you choose to.

    Now, that doesn't mean that it is a great idea to do so...prior to separating you should speak with an expert and make sure that you are handling things in a way that will be in your best interest.

    But I want you to understand that you CAN move out, today, if you want to without filing any papers.

    In other states, "legal separation" refers to a formal arrangement where a married couple lives apart while remaining legally married.

    It involves court-approved agreements regarding various issues such as child custody, support, and division of assets.

    But...and it's a BIG "but"..New Jersey law doesn’t specifically recognize legal separation in the same manner as other states.

    Unlike some states that have specific statutes and procedures for legal separation, New Jersey doesn’t have a distinct legal separation process.

    Instead, couples can opt for informal separation arrangements, which don’t require court involvement.

    This means that couples in New Jersey can choose to separate without obtaining a formal decree from the court, thereby avoiding additional legal complexities and expenses.

    In New Jersey, the legal framework primarily revolves around divorce rather than legal separation.

    We do have a concept known as "Divorce from Bed and Board" here in New Jersey, but that is something to learn about at the end of your learning, NOT right now.

    Spending time learning about "Divorce from Bed and Board" right now will not be a good use of your time and effort.

    You don't need to worry about getting a legal separation...instead, it would be wise for you to learn and be concerned about how to approach your upcoming separation and possible divorce case.

    You can do that well right here on this website if you want to.


    If you live in Monmouth County and if you are considering separating from your spouse, the most important thing for you to do before doing anything else is to learn how to protect yourself, your children, and your assets.undefined

    undefinedI'll show you how you can do it.

    Stick around this website.

    You'll get a lot of good help, free of charge.

    I've been a divorce specialist in Colts Neck for 36 years, and I've successfully worked with over 5000 people.

    I "get it" and I'm here to help.

    My free NJ DIVORCE EDGE 2024 (click here) course will teach you how to turn your situation around to your advantage.

    Getting a divorce requires you to make many important decisions.

    Making a wrong decision can be the difference between getting a good result and getting a bad result.

    Getting "the edge" in your divorce case comes down to this: making the right decisions.

    And every divorce case is different.

    My emails will teach you, in an easy to understand way, everything that you need to know to help you make the right decisions for you, based upon the specific facts of your case.

    You will get my best articles on every divorce-related topic.

    I get emails from strangers all the time thanking me for making this information available to them online at no cost.

    I'm pretty certain that you, too, will get a lot of value from my emails.

    And if you want to stop the emails, I made it really easy for you to do that...

    One click on any email stops the course.

    But few people do that...

    Because the material is really helpful to anyone who is thinking about getting a divorce in Monmouth County.


    Are you ready to start turning things around?

    The next move is up to you...!

    Click the link above and begin learning how to get the "edge" in YOUR Monmouth County separation or divorce case.

    Until next time,

    Steven J. Kaplan, Esq.

    Specializing In Separation and
    Divorce In Monmouth County

    5 Professional Circle
    Colts Neck, NJ. 07722

    (732) 845-9010

     CLICK HERE To Learn About My Free NJ DIVORCE EDGE 2024 Course!
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  10. Top 5 Tips for Women Getting Divorced in NJ

    Divorce is undoubtedly one of the most challenging life experiences, but with the right guidance and approach, women in New Jersey can navigate this process more smoothly.

    As a divorce lawyer with experience in New Jersey family law, I've witnessed firsthand the complexities involved.

    Here are five essential tips to help women going through a divorce in the Garden State:

    1. Know Your Rights and Options: Understanding your rights and legal options is crucial from the outset.

      New Jersey's divorce laws cover various aspects such as child custody, alimony, and property division.

      Familiarize yourself with these laws or consult with a knowledgeable divorce attorney who can explain them to you in detail.

      Being informed empowers you to make decisions that align with your best interests.

    2. Document Finances and Assets: Financial transparency is key during divorce proceedings.

      Gather documentation of all your assets, including bank statements, investment accounts, property deeds, and retirement savings.

      Make copies of important financial records and keep them in a secure location.

      Having a clear picture of your financial situation ensures fair distribution of assets and helps prevent any attempts to conceal or undervalue marital property.

    3. Prioritize Self-Care and Support: Divorce can take a toll on your emotional and mental well-being.

      It's essential to prioritize self-care and seek support from friends, family, or a therapist.

      Surround yourself with a supportive network that can offer guidance and encouragement during this challenging time. 

      Additionally, consider joining support groups or seeking counseling to navigate the emotional aspects of divorce effectively.
    4. Focus on the Children: If children are involved, their well-being should be a top priority throughout the divorce process.

      Maintain open communication with your children and reassure them that they are loved and supported.

      Collaborate with your ex-spouse to create a co-parenting plan that prioritizes the children's needs and fosters a healthy relationship between both parents.

      Keeping the children's best interests at heart can minimize the negative impact of divorce on their lives.

    5. Consider Mediation: While litigation is sometimes unavoidable, exploring alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation can offer a more amicable and cost-effective approach to resolving conflicts.

      Mediation allows both parties to work together with trained professionals to reach mutually beneficial agreements outside of court.

      By choosing a cooperative approach, you can maintain more control over the outcome and reduce the stress associated with prolonged litigation.

    In conclusion, navigating a divorce in New Jersey requires careful planning, emotional resilience, and strategic decision-making.

    By staying informed, prioritizing self-care, and seeking support when needed, women can successfully navigate the challenges of divorce and emerge stronger on the other side.

    Remember, you don't have to go through this journey alone—reach out to trusted professionals who can guide you every step of the way.


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