Looking for New Jersey Family Law Services?
Family Law is a complex practice, encompassing marriage, divorce, child custody, adoption, paternity, and other matters related to the family structure. Family laws also address controversial issues such as abortion rights and same-sex marriage, in addition to criminal matters like domestic violence and child abuse.
You may be facing the most serious legal challenge of your lifetime. You want the dissolution process to be as fair as possible. And in some cases, it must also be done with your children’s feelings and best interests in mind. When disputes arise, the legal guidance of an experienced Attorney can be calming and reassuring.
Court statistics show that only a tiny fraction of the divorce cases that are filed are actually Tried by a Judge with all others being settled by the parties. So, it is important to have an experienced divorce lawyer who can assist you in negotiating an agreement that works for both parties and their children and, as a last resort, can try the matter to a conclusion.
My Philosophy As An Attorney
Do what is necessary to minimize the adverse impact on the children. Both husband and wife (no matter who I represent) need to be treated with respect.
Both parties need to have sufficient income to go on with their lives. All of this needs to be accomplished as efficiently as possible and by amicable resolution if possible.
Court litigation is a last resort and only utilized in those situations where one of the parties is totally unreasonable and where litigation solutions can be accomplished at a rate relatively affordable to the client.
35+ Years Experience
The word divorce is actually from the Latin word “diversus” meaning “to turn different ways.” That is the way I see divorce. It does not need to be the end; it is just a different path. I have been practicing in this field of law for over thirty-five years and know that you need a knowledgeable attorney who is also sensitive to your current circumstances. I work tirelessly to assist my clients to reach resolutions that will put all parties on their different paths (as quickly and amicably as possible.)
Even for those who really want to get a divorce, it is not a happy situation. When lawyers and litigation expenses are added, the experience can often become miserable. That is why Mediation came into vogue. And avoidance of legal fees is only one aspect of the desirability of Mediation.
As you probably know, lawyers charge based on time spent, usually charging a minimum for each step taken, either a five minute or one-tenth of an hour (.1 = 6 minutes) minimum. So now, think about an attempted resolution of a minor issue when both sides have lawyers and are not speaking with each other; for example, who gets the car.
- Wife calls her lawyer to tell him she will transfer the car to her husband (.1)
- Wife’s lawyer calls Husband’s lawyer to ask if husband will take the car (.1 for each of the attorneys or .2)
- Husband’s lawyer calls Husband to ask if he’ll take the car and he says that he will (.1)
- Husband’s lawyer calls Wife’s lawyer and tells him that Husband will take the car (.1)
- Wife’s lawyer calls Wife and tells her that, yes indeed, Husband will take the car (.1 for each of the attorneys or .2)
Add up all of those tenths of an hour – the resolution of that issue took .7 hours, that is 42 minutes. At a typical $350 per hour rate, that cost the couple $245.
Now look at the same issue in the context of Mediation:
Husband and Wife are sitting in an office with the Mediator, who may be charging $350 per hour. Mediator says to the couple, who’s going to take the car. Wife says she doesn’t want it. Husband says he’ll take it. Elapsed time – ten seconds. If it were really being billed at $350 per hour, the charge would be about 9¢. Realistically, it would be noted by the Mediator in his/her notes and that issue would be a line in the ultimate Agreement; in reality, the charge for that “agreement” would have been part of the overall conference discussing many other issues.
So what can you expect out of mediation?
A good mediator can help the parties come to an amicable agreement with very little attorney participation. In mediation, the mediator will assist the parties in getting all pertinent information together and help them evaluate that information. This would include, but not be limited to evaluation of assets, determination of custody issues and every other issue that needs to be determined. Once the parties are in general agreement, the mediator would draft either a Memorandum of Understanding or a Property Settlement/Separation Agreement. Then each party can take that agreement or memorandum to their own lawyers for review and discussion. This is optional. There is no requirement that an attorney review the Agreement; it depends on the comfort level and desires of the individual parties.
Reaching the Final Agreement
Once approved, the Agreement can be signed and then one of the parties would be required to retain an attorney in order to obtain the divorce for the parties. The reason that an attorney would need to be involved at the end is that the Mediator cannot represent either of the parties to get the final divorce in Court. However, the role of the attorney at that point is very limited and thus there is a substantial savings in legal fees for both sides. I am proud of the fact that I have been able to help some couples overcome substantial animosity to come to an agreement. Many other couples have come to me and have been down-right friendly. In either case, the couples have spent far less than they would have spent if they had let the lawyers (or a Judge) resolve their issues. You, your spouse, your children and your bank account owe it to yourselves to give Mediation a try!
Feel free to call me for a free one hour consultation at no cost. However, before you call me, speak with your spouse. Find out whether he/she would like to try a Mediator. And have him/her look at my web page. I do not want to talk about details with you on the phone, when just you and I are speaking. The reason for this is that I need to remain neutral. Neither party should believe that the Mediator has taken the side of the person who makes the initial contact. For that reason, I limit my first phone call, the initial contact, to some minor details (such as where you live, how long you have been married, number of children, etc.) and then the scheduling of a meeting for you, your spouse and me.
I look forward to hearing from you.
“Rob was my lawyer for my divorce and family matter. From day one, Rob has been available at any time. He has been honest with me about everything whether or not I wanted to hear it. He explains everything so well. He puts in so much effort to fight for you. But also is realistic to what may or may not happen. He is so knowledgeable in his area of law and is very professional.”
FREQUENTLY ASKED FAMILY LAW QUESTIONS
Q. What are the grounds for divorce?
Q. Will marital fault impact on my rights to a property settlement?
Q. How is child custody determined?
Both parents are required to follow the “Children’s Bill of Rights.”
Q. What are the different types of support that can be obtained in a divorce proceeding?
Q. How is Child Support calculated?
For a very rough guess at how much your child support may be, click here
Q. How is alimony calculated?
Q. Are payments for child care, medical care and other similar costs included as a part of child support?
Q. How long must I pay or can I receive child support?
Q. How will the marital property be distributed?
Q. What property is not subject to equitable distribution?
Q. Are there any tax considerations with regard to any of the determinations made in my divorce?
Q. How quickly can I be divorced?
Q. Can my spouse and I retain the same attorney?
Q. How much will my divorce cost?
Q. What if my spouse does not consent to the divorce?
Q. Is there always a trial?
Q. What is the Matrimonial Early Settlement Panel?
Q. My spouse and I are very cooperative. Is there any way that we can limit attorney fees?
All parties should be aware of Dispute Resolution Alternatives, as mandated by the Court.
Q. What are the procedures that I can expect once I retain you to represent me?
2. Hopefully, your spouse or an attorney will contact me and we can enter into discussions in an attempt to resolve all issues. If we resolve some issues, we can enter into an Agreement which reduces the understanding of the parties to writing. If we are able to resolve all issues, we can jump to #7 below.
3. If we cannot resolve all issues, or if we can only resolve some issues, I would file a Complaint. This is the document that gets us into Court and tells the Court that you intend to pursue a Divorce. It also indicates that there are issues that may need to be resolved by the Court, if those issues cannot be resolved before a Trial. Once the Complaint is filed, I get it back from the Clerk of the Court with a Docket Number and then I will send it to the Sheriff for service upon your spouse. Once served, your spouse will have thirty-five days to file an Answer and possibly a Counterclaim for Divorce. In either case, that will start the Court’s bureaucratic process. It essentially puts you “in line”, waiting for the Court to get to your case.
4. While you are “waiting in line”, the Court expects us to continue to negotiate with the other side to attempt to resolve all issues. If we do, we can jump to #7 below. If we cannot, there will be an exchange of documents, including income information, information concerning all of your assets (sole assets and joint assets), appraisals may need to be prepared and any number of other actions may need to be accomplished so that both sides have sufficient information to be able to set forth their positions or to continue to negotiate a settlement.
5. If children are involved, you will be referred to Mediation to attempt to resolve a child custody (but not support) issues. Lawyers are not involved. You really want to attempt to resolve custody issues amicably. Failure to do so will require the hiring of experts, either Court appointed or each of you will hire your own. It is not unheard of for fully contested custody matters to approach $50,000 in costs and fees, if the matter goes through a full trial. When the emotional toll to all parties and the children is added onto the true “cost”, it obviously makes more sense to resolve Custody issues.
6. Eventually, the Court will schedule a Matrimonial Early Settlement Panel (MESP). Most of the lawyers who are active in the practice of Family Law (including myself) are members of the Panel. Two lawyers will be asked to consider your case, on the assigned day. Prior to that day, each of the attorneys will provide a MESP Memo, which is essentially a position paper. The lawyers will meet with the panelists and discuss the case. Neither you nor your spouse will meet with the Panel, but you will be in the Courthouse on that day, waiting for me to speak with you after the Panel hears the case. Often, negotiations will continue. If we can come to an agreement, based on the MESP recommendation or based on any other agreement that we reach, then you can get divorced on that day. Whatever is agreed to would be placed upon the record, in front of a Judge, and your Divorce would almost be completed. The only thing left would be for one of the attorneys to prepare a Final Judgment of Divorce, which would include the terms that were set on the record in front of the Judge, and same would be sent to the Judge for signature. You would get a copy once it is signed. This would be the end of my active participation in your case, unless other problems come up regarding violations of the PSA.
7. [THIS STEP IS SKIPPED IF YOU GOT A DIVORCE, AS PER #6 ABOVE]. Whatever agreement has been reached must be put in writing. This is called a Property Settlement Agreement (PSA) or Separation Agreement (SA). There may be some negotiation back and forth on “dotting i’s and crossing t’s”, but usually, this is not too difficult. Once it is signed, one of the attorneys would file a Complaint for Divorce. This is similar to #3 above, but the procedure is different because everything has been resolved. After the signing of some other documents in which the non-filing party acknowledges receipt of the Complaint and allowing a Default to be entered, the filing party and his/her attorney would go to Court on a mutually agreeable date and you would get your Divorce. The PSA would become a part of the Final Divorce Judgment and it would be as binding as if a Judge had decided all issues. This would be the end of my active participation in your case, unless other problems come up regarding violations of the PSA
Q. Can I receive child support or alimony before I am divorced?
Q. Do I need to hire an attorney to obtain a divorce?
Learn About New Jersey Family Laws
Divorce is an unfortunate occurrence for many married couples and families. Here’s an overview of New Jersey divorce laws including residency requirements, grounds for divorce and waiting periods.
Overview of what types of marriages are prohibited under New Jersey law, such as blood relatives; plus a reference to grounds for an annulment which include fraud, duress, impotency, and more.
New Jersey child custody laws allow parents and guardians the option of joint custody and recognize grandparent visitation rights. Learn about regulations and where to go for additional information.
Overview of child abuse laws in New Jersey, with information about what constitutes abuse, mandatory reporting requirements, penalties for failing to report abuse and where to go for more information.
Useful guide to how child support amounts are calculated in New Jersey, including a summary of general considerations that help determine amounts; a list of state guidelines; and links to related information.
What People Are Saying About Us
"Rob has been a great attorney and trusted advisor for my personal and professional endeavors over the past 20+ years. He has provided excellent legal representation in several property purchases and numerous legal issues. I have recommended him to many friends and family who have been extremely happy with services. Rob Gleaner has an excellent legal staff that supports his efforts to provide the maximum assistance to his clientele. I would highly recommend contacting Rob Gleaner for anyone in need of trusted legal guidance."
- Joseph K.
"Rob was my lawyer for my divorce and family matter. From day one, Rob has been available at any time. He has been honest with me about everything whether or not I wanted to hear it. He explains everything so well. He puts in so much effort to fight for you. But also is realistic to what may or may not happen. He is so knowledgeable in his area of law and is very professional."
"Robert is our one-stop, go-to professional for all our owner's legal issues and questions. He does most of our eviction filings, negotiates with tenants for payments plans, and when the account needs it, court appearances. Fantastic Advisor!"
- Happy Client
Want to Learn More?
If you’d like to learn more about our services and what it’s like to work with Robert A. Gleaner, P.C, get in touch. We’d be happy to talk more about your needs in family law, business law, or real estate.