Key terms in a New Jersey divorce

by Jeralyn Lawrence, Family Law Attorney, Lawrence Law

Divorce is a scary time for anyone thinking about it or going through it. Divorce is also something that people do not understand until they are in the process. Therefore, I have created a list of key terms that are helpful to those new to divorce.

1. Property Settlement Agreement/Marital Settlement Agreement: A written contract that addresses and resolves all issues arising out of a marriage. This is the main goal of every divorce and nearly 97%-98% of all couples reach this goal. The remaining couples have the issues of their divorce decided by a Judge.

2. Support: a) Alimony – guided by statutory factors. The most important factors are the length of marriage, needs of parties, ability to pay, and ages of the parties. b) Child Support – We have guidelines. Some cases are above the guidelines and a variety of factors become relevant to establish support.

3. Custody: a) Parent of Primary Residence – The parent who has the child the majority of the time. b) Parent of Alternate Residence – The other parent.

4. Parenting Time: The term used to describe the time shared between a child and their parent.

5. Equitable Distribution: The method used to divide marital assets and debts.

6. Emancipation: The age wherein a child is self-sufficient and child support is no longer an obligation of the parents.

7. Mediation: A process that allows the divorcing couple to self determine the terms of their divorce. A trained mediator facilitates this discussion and process. The mediator prepares a Memorandum of Understanding, which memorializes the terms of the agreement reached. This Memorandum of Understanding is then incorporated into the Marital Settlement Agreement.

For more information about this blog or other divorce, matrimonial or family law issues contact me at .

Jeralyn Lawrence is a family law attorney with Lawrence Law in Watchung. She also serves as Second Vice President of the New Jersey State Bar Association (slated to become President in 2022), is the Past Chair of the Family Law Section of the NJSBA, and serves as Second Vice-President of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. She can be reached at or (908) 645-1000.

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