Divorce complaint verbiage / custody terms - New Jersey

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Latest post Wed, Jan 6 2016 12:31 PM by ca19lawyer2. 4 replies.
  • Wed, Jan 6 2016 9:14 AM

    • mike91163
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    Divorce complaint verbiage / custody terms - New Jersey

    I'm asking these questions on behalf of a co-worker, who's presently in the early stages of divorce...no complaint has been filed yet with the court, but she was given a copy of the complaint by her husband, who apparently is using some fly-by-night "legal service" to create the complaint for a fee...read on.

    First, the particulars:

    • Both husband and wife long-term residents of NJ (15+ years)
    • Two children, one born in 1999, the other in 2000
    • Married in a civil ceremony, 2008
    • Have been living in separate domiciles since 2011; wife is parent of primary residence, the boys grudgingly spend 2-3 weekends/month at father's apartment
    • Husband has been paying child support to wife under a verbal agreement
    • Divorce is "amicable"; husband is the plaintiff

    Now, the "problems" I believe exist in the complaint:

    • Before the husband went to this service, he asked the wife for a list of her "demands"...but the service entered what the wife had scribbled down word-for-word in the complaint!  For example, it states "That the plaintiff is responsible for 50% of kid's cell phone bills, car insurance, life insurance, and funeral expenses." Further, in a section regarding splitting of health insurance costs for the children, the complaint reads "Kids are to be covered until the age of 26 unless their employment makes it possible for them to fully cover themselves."  Two things stand out here:
      • Is it safe to assume that "kids" is not an acceptable term in a legal filing?  Will a court accept this complaint with the word "kid" instead of "child"?
      • In the first quote above, there's no age limit listed; should there be one?
    • In the support section, it states "The plaintiff is to pay $250 a week child support until both children reach the age of 18 and have graduated high school.  It is possible that one or both children will need more than 4 years to complete their education and child support will continue until complete."
      • Shouldn't "complete" be more specific?  For example, is a GED acceptable, or should it state HS diploma?
    • Yet another odd statement:  "That the plaintiff is 50% financially responsible for defendant's wage loss due to the kids needing medical, educational, or legal parental involvement requiring the defendant to miss work."
      • Of course, there's that "kids" again...and, how can this be enforced and/or proven?
    • And lastly:  "The Defendant shall have sole custody of the children, to wit:", and it names the children.
      • My understanding is that, barring evidence of abuse, criminal activity, or other obvious reasons, judges in New Jersey are very reluctant to give sole LEGAL custody to one parent, as it requires them to declare a parent "unfit", which is not the case here.  Perhaps this statement was meant to infer "primary residence", but if the intent of the defendant is to have complete legal custody, that's going to be very hard to get, correct?

    I thank you one and all for your replies in advance!

    Mike

  • Wed, Jan 6 2016 9:48 AM In reply to

    Re: Divorce complaint verbiage / custody terms - New Jersey

    Yes, there's a lot that needs to be corrected and clarified but neither you nor we are the ones to edit every word.

    The best thing you can do for your coworker is kick this back to her and tell her to get a lawyer to write the petition (it's not a complaint) properly.

    Shouldn't cost much since they appear to be in agreement on everything.

     

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • Wed, Jan 6 2016 11:07 AM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Mar 30 2000
    • PA
    • Posts 51,419

    Re: Divorce complaint verbiage / custody terms - New Jersey

    Lots could be wrong with this...and your co worker needs paid counsel to represent her interests and those of her children as,she sees them.

    Stay out of it! 

     

    There is one super whopper of a gap,as,to,college costs..and thats a big deal in NJ .



  • Wed, Jan 6 2016 12:29 PM In reply to

    Re: Divorce complaint verbiage / custody terms - New Jersey

    mike91163:
    Is it safe to assume that "kids" is not an acceptable term in a legal filing?  Will a court accept this complaint with the word "kid" instead of "child"?

    I agree that "child" is more commonly used, but the word "kid" is synonymous.  I also don't know what you mean when you refer to the cour "accept[ing]" or not "accept[ing]" the complaint.  A court clerk isn't going to read a complaint, much less reject one because the party filing it used a slightly less formal word.

     

    mike91163:
    In the first quote above, there's no age limit listed; should there be one?

    No.  The party filing a complaint is free to request whatever he/she wants.

     

    mike91163:
    Shouldn't "complete" be more specific?  For example, is a GED acceptable, or should it state HS diploma?

    Again, the party filing a complaint may request whatever he/she wants.  Certainly, when/if the case is settled and a divorce decree is entered, things should be clear.

     

    mike91163:
    Yet another odd statement:  "That the plaintiff is 50% financially responsible for defendant's wage loss due to the kids needing medical, educational, or legal parental involvement requiring the defendant to miss work."

    • Of course, there's that "kids" again...and, how can this be enforced and/or proven?

    I don't understand what your question is.  I'm also not really sure what the allegation means or why your friend's husband would make it.

     

    mike91163:
    My understanding is that, barring evidence of abuse, criminal activity, or other obvious reasons, judges in New Jersey are very reluctant to give sole LEGAL custody to one parent, as it requires them to declare a parent "unfit"

    It's not true that ordering sole legal custody to one parent requires a finding that the other parent is "unfit."

     

    mike91163:
    erhaps this statement was meant to infer "primary residence", but if the intent of the defendant is to have complete legal custody, that's going to be very hard to get, correct?

    It's hard to get if the issue is contested.  However, it appears that your friend's husband is requesting that sole legal cutody be given to your friend.  I guess your friend could object, but I'm not sure why she would do that and, if there's no dispute, there's no reason why the court wouldn't sign off on what the parties agree to.

  • Wed, Jan 6 2016 12:31 PM In reply to

    Re: Divorce complaint verbiage / custody terms - New Jersey

    adjuster jack:
    The best thing you can do for your coworker is kick this back to her and tell her to get a lawyer to write the petition (it's not a complaint) properly.

    It's a petition in some states (yours and mine included), but in New Jersey, it's a complaint.

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