You’ve landed the job of your dreams, but there’s just one hitch: to accept it you will need to relocate with your children from New Jersey to Florida. Your ex currently lives in the same town you do and has parenting time with the kids every weekend. When you tell your ex about your new job and plans to relocate, they promise to fight you in court to stop you.

In New Jersey, it’s the law that the custodial parent of primary residence must seek permission before any move that disrupts an established parenting time agreement. This includes both out-of-state and in-state moves.

There are two ways for the parent to receive this permission: the child’s non-custodial/non-residential parent can agree to the move, and a new parenting time agreement can be drawn up. Or, in situations where the other parent objects, the custodial parent has the option of seeking permission from the courts.

Custodial parents were once only required to show the courts that the move would not be harmful to the child. If the decision to relocate was viewed by the courts as made in good faith, the custodial parent’s request was generally approved, even in the face of objections from the non-custodial parent.

New Jersey’s new rules for parental relocation requests

A year ago, these standards for evaluating parental relocation requests became much stricter. Following the New Jersey Supreme Court’s 2017 ruling in the landmark case Bisbing v. Bisbing, all relocation requests must now meet the more far-reaching standard of the move being in the “best interests” of the child before approval will be granted.

The rule change is viewed as a way to place custodial and noncustodial parents on more equal footing. For example, in the past, a custodial parent landing a good job in another state may have been reason enough for the courts to approve the parent’s move with their child. Those days are no longer. If the custodial parent’s relocation will result in the child missing out on regular contact with the noncustodial parent — and the courts view this regular contact as in the child’s best interests — the custodial parent’s relocation request may be denied.

What does this new standard mean for your plans to move? Child custody expert Bari Weinberger offers some steps for how to evaluate your relocation plans — and make the potential move as smooth as possible for all involved.

Solutions that safeguard your child’s relationship with their parent

Before heading to court, sit down with your child’s other parent and explain your plans and what is prompting you to move, and what you can do to keep the parent’s relationship with your child as strong and stable as possible.

Depending on how far away the move is and how it will impact your current parenting time plan, you may want to offer to your child’s other parent a few extra weekends or school vacation weeks or holidays that you give up. You may decide that the child spends all or part of summer vacation with the other parent, or you can schedule in times during the week for Skype or FaceTime.

Make it known to your child’s other parent that you care about their relationship with your child and are committed to helping them maintain it.

If your child’s other parent agrees to the move, you absolutely need to get this in writing — along with any changes to your parenting time schedule. Talk to a family law attorney about how to work an agreement letter.

Consider the benefits and drawbacks of moving

Instead of the move being for a job, maybe you want to Florida because your serious romantic partner lives there. That is personally fulfilling for you, but what will the move mean for practical aspects of your child’s life? How do the schools compare? Will your child be able to take part in their same sports or hobbies? Is there the same access to medical care as where you currently live in New Jersey? Will your child be able to continue in the same religious upbringing if you move? What is your child’s relationship like with your new partner? Does your child have an easy time making new friends? If you will work in your new location, how will this impact time with your child?

The courts can take any of these factors into consideration when determining best interests. Reflect on what the answers to these questions truly are and how they will impact your child.

Also read: I’m Moving For My Job: What About My Parenting Time?

Is your child old enough to have a preference?

Once your child is mature enough, they may begin to express a distinct preference for which parent they want to spend more time with, or may severely resent having time with their other parent curtailed in any way. How do your plans impact time they spend with their other parent? How flexible are you with agreeing to your child spending long stretches of time (i.e. summer vacation) with their other parent? For long-distance moves, will you (and the child’s other parent) be able to financially afford the possible air travel or other costs that your child needs to spend time with their other parent?

Talk to a family law attorney

Working with a family law attorney can help you evaluate your options and understand the best ways to present your request, and what you can do to support your child’s best interests. If you and your child’s other parent reach an agreement, your attorney can make sure this agreement will be accepted by the courts. If needed, a family law attorney can help you submit your request to move to the courts and also help with any related custody modification issues. Look for family law attorneys that offer free consultations so you can go over your situation and get answers to your questions.

Your next move

New jobs, new relationships, and a desire for a new start in life can motivate people to relocate out of New Jersey to live someplace different, and often, someplace very far away. Relocating and starting over may indeed be the best decision for you. But the courts in New Jersey now want you to stop and carefully ask yourself: is this the best decision for your kids?


Ask the Child Custody Expert: How Do I Protect Myself from Parental Alienation?

By Bari Weinberger

Parental alienation happens when one parent brainwashes a child into believing the other parent is “bad” or dangerous, so that the child rejects that parent. The alienation can occur almost overnight and most often occurs in high-conflict divorces.

Parental alienation is a form of emotional abuse, and the impact of parental alienation is equally devastating for both the targeted parent and the child. The trauma that occurs in children who are severed from their other parent in this way can lead to anxiety, depression, and deep feelings of mistrust and lack of attachment in their future relationships, including their own marriage and relationships with their own children.

Thankfully, the New Jersey courts have become much more informed and diligent in recognizing and addressing cases of parental alienation. In severe cases, it may even be grounds for the alienating parents to have their parenting time reduced. The courts may also order reunification therapy to help alienated parents and children begin to heal their wounds and rebuild their relationships.

Are you seeing red flags that your children’s other parent is trying to alienate them from you? It’s time to take immediate action. Family law expert Bari Weinberger has three strategies to protect your kids and combat parental alienation.

Maintain contact with your children

Alienators often try to thwart visitation and phone communication. It’s easy to feel hopeless when you’re consistently denied access to your children or, worse, when they refuse to see you because they’ve been told you’re dangerous or that you don’t care about them.

Keep scrupulous records of all contact with your children, carefully noting those times you’re denied access or your children refused to see or talk to you (and why). Also record things like cards your kids have sent you, activities that you engage in during parenting time, and anyone who’s spent time with you (i.e., you went on a picnic with another family from your child’s school).

If your ex interferes with visitation, or your kids are afraid to go because of your ex badmouthing you to them, go to court and file a complaint that the parent is in violation of the parenting time order. This gets the alienation on the record and lets the alienator know that you aren’t going to let weeds grow in the garden of your most precious relationships. A judge will hear from both of you. You can present your custody log at that time.

No matter how much your ex misbehaves, keep making contact with your kids: keep calling, texting, e-mailing, and attending school events. They may not respond, but they will know that you care. And continue to show up for visitation — even if they refuse to see you. Many adult children of parental alienation say they interpreted their parents’ absence as proof that that parent didn’t love them. When that happens, the alienating parent has won.


Encourage your child to speak to you directly

Parental alienation functions like a cult. The alienating parent (AP) isolates the child from the targeted parent (TP) so they only hear the AP’s skewed reality and come to believe that this is The Truth.

How do you combat this? Tell your child to come to you if they have questions about anything they have heard about you, or something they believe about you that worries them. All children, be they children of divorce or intact families, need to learn to speak to parents directly instead of using the other as a go-between. Your child might not believe you, but at least they are getting the opportunity to hear your side of the story –a story which might seem more reasonable to them as they mature and develop critical thinking skills.

Address the other parent’s lies

According to conventional divorce wisdom, you should turn the other cheek when you’re being badmouthed. The logic behind this advice is that kids are emotionally burdened when parents share their personal problems. That’s true, but the fact is, they are already being hurt by the alienator’s lies. Not addressing your ex’s hijinks is like pretending there’s no elephant in the room and can even make your children doubt reality.

Present your side of the story calmly and factually: you do love your child—very much—and that’s why you show up for every soccer game and piano recital; you do have fun together and here are photos of your camping trip to prove it; you do send text messages to contact them and here’s a record on your phone. The more you challenge the alienator’s false statements, the greater the chance your children will also.

Manage your emotional reactivity

It’s normal to feel angry, scared, and defensive when you’re continually being insulted and slandered by an ex who cannot manage their emotions. But it’s imperative that you do your best to manage your own emotions when you’re around your kids. If your ex tells your children you’re scary and then you act scary (because you get so frustrated you blow your top), you will just confirm your ex’s version of the truth. If you find yourself flying off the handle, reach out to professionals for help: therapy, meditation, exercise, journaling, etc. Repeat the mantra: keep calm and carry on.

Resources and help for parental alienation

For those who have been affected by parental alienation, please know that it is possible to overcome these tragic circumstances and reunify with your kids.

As a next step, please watch the free webinar: Parental Alienation: How To Reconnect With Your Kids for legal and therapeutic tips you can put into practice today.

Another helpful step is to find a family law attorney who has experience dealing with issues of parental alienation. Many attorneys and family law firms offer initial consultations. At your meeting, your attorney can listen to your concerns and outline a clear legal strategy for safeguarding your children and protecting your rights as their parent.

Bari Weinberger is a family law expert, author, keynote speaker, and certified matrimonial attorney at Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group. In addition to the numerous awards she and her firm have received, and the decades of successful outcomes for families going through difficult times, Bari is a mom herself. She understands that your family law matter can leave you vulnerable and exposed at a time when you need protection, clarity and peace of mind. Finding the right legal counsel adds to the confusion, darkening your situation even more. Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group is the bright answer to safeguarding your rights, your children, and securing the promising new future you deserve.

Need help with your situation? Schedule an initial consultation online at WLG.com or by calling (844) 280-2536.

Ask the Child Custody Expert: How to Co-Parent Like a Boss!

Co-parenting refers to parents working together following their separation or divorce to raise their children on amicable terms. In practice, this means setting aside negative feelings you still harbor towards each other so that you can put your childrens needs first.

When co-parenting is successful, kids thrive. But there’s no doubt about it, co-parenting requires great effort and dedication. Just some of the skills needed to co-parent well include empathy, patience, the ability to problem solve, and excellent communication.

If this sounds like a job description, that’s actually not too far off the mark of what co-parenting embodies. Therapists often say that one way to think about co-parenting is to view it like entering into a business relationship with your former spouse. You are both the co-CEOs of a new company called Our Kids.

So, are you ready to co-parent…like a boss?

Co-parenting is a skill than you can improve with practice. Family law expert Bari Weinberger has tips on how you can thrive in this new role and new relationship with your ex.

Meet your new work colleague

Emotions are probably still raw or running high as you begin to co-parent, so a good first step to start separating these feelings from your parenting is to literally start thinking about your ex as a new work colleague. Need to figure out visitation schedules or make decisions about your child’s summer camps or after school schedule? Have a pediatrician’s check-up next month and don’t know which parent can cover it? In coming up with answers to these issues, do your best to communicate with your ex as you would a colleague or co-worker—with cordiality, respect, and neutrality. Relax and speak slowly. In most situations, this tone will be mirrored back. Remember, many people who work together aren’t necessarily friends outside the office but still manage to get the job done—and done well!

Aim for Consistency

Few things flare tempers between divorced parents as much as inconsistency with things like visitation pick-ups and drop-offs, or lateness with paying child support. When taking a collaborative approach to parenting, use all available tools at your disposal to keep as much consistency to your child custody routines as possible. Think about using a shared calendar app made just for divorced parents. Some even include functionality to record and track child support payments!

Take Baby Steps Towards Long-Term Goals

Your child’s birthday is still a few months off, and you know it’s his dream to have both of you in attendance to celebrate. If hostility still rules your relationship with your former spouse, but you are both (grudgingly) on board with realizing your child’s wishes, set small goals that can help you achieve this larger goal. For example, agree to a policy that any communication between the two of you when discussing your child will stick to the topic at hand. If you’re discussing what time to pick your child up on Friday, adding, “don’t be late because you’re out somewhere with [name of new romantic partner]” is needlessly combative. Instead phrase the reminder in a more neutral tone, such as “Our pick-up time is at 3 pm. Will you be able to make it?”

From there, begin working on other areas, such as spending time with your former spouse and child as a dry run to the birthday party. Perhaps you both attend parent night at your child’s school, or a sporting event. These small baby steps can provide much-needed momentum towards realizing larger goals of peaceful parenting.

Form a Support Team

If making shared decisions, interacting with each another at drop-offs, or just speaking to a person you’d rather forget all about seem like impossible tasks, it doesn’t necessarily mean that co-parenting can’t work for the two of you—but it is a sign that you may need additional help, or at least a safe place to vent.

For some people, this can mean seeking out the help of a therapist to work on the anger, resentment, or hurt that still exists in the relationship with your ex. Some co-parents choose to work through their issues together with a family therapist, in addition to individual counseling.

Keep Things in Perspective

One co-parenting must? Avoid putting your children in the middle. Sure, even the most committed of co-parents will have days when tempers flare and old hurts come to the surface. However, this is for the two of you to deal with, not your child.

Plan now for these off moments by making commonsense rules you will both follow, including this very important one: don’t fight in front of your kids. Remember, co-parenting is not about your feelings, or those of your ex-spouse, but rather about your child’s happiness and stability.

Co-parenting has its challenges, but doesn’t every rewarding career? Besides, when you see the fruits of your labor—your happy, well-adjusted child—it suddenly puts it all in perspective.

Bari Weinberger is a family law expert, author, keynote speaker, and certified matrimonial attorney at Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group. In addition to the numerous awards she and her firm have received, and the decades of successful outcomes for families going through difficult times, Bari is a mom herself. She understands that your family law matter can leave you vulnerable and exposed at a time when you need protection, clarity and peace of mind. Finding the right legal counsel adds to the confusion, darkening your situation even more. Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group is the bright answer to safeguarding your rights, your children, and securing the promising new future you deserve.

Need help with your situation? Schedule an initial consultation online at WLG.com or by calling (844) 280-2536.

Will My Alimony Be Enough to Maintain My Standard of Living?

This is a common concern for spouses who will receive alimony, especially given recent changes in to  New Jersey law. The alimony determination process can be confusing, and it’s not a surprise if you have alimony-related questions keeping you up at night, such as:

  • How much alimony will I get? Will it be enough?
  • Is ‘lifetime alimony’ possible?
  • What if I have been a stay at home parent and need career training before re-entering the workforce – can alimony pay for this?

You want to ensure fair decisions about alimony are made in your divorce, but how exactly do you do this? For answers, we asked family law expert Bari Weinberger to share helpful “need to know” information and some of her favorite tips for navigating the New Jersey alimony process.

How is alimony calculated in New Jersey? 

To calculate child support in New Jersey, you can look to the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines for the equations and formulas needed to determine the correct amount.

As you explore alimony, and how much you may receive (or pay), be aware that no set formula or equation exists for determining alimony. Rather, New Jersey law provides a number of factors for the courts to consider and work with in deciding how much alimony will be paid, and for how long.

Some of these factors include:

  • The requesting spouse’s actual needs and the other spouse’s ability to pay
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s age and physical and emotional health
  • Each spouse’s income, earning capacity, education level, and employability
  • The standard of living during marriage
  • Parental responsibilities (i.e., did one spouse stay home with kids?)
  • Job re-training needs for spouse re-entering workforce
  • Each spouse’s financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage

Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers. Your family law attorney will work with you to see how each of these factors might impact your specific situation.

New Jersey’s New Alimony Laws

Something else that’s important to know about alimony is that in 2014, new laws were passed in New Jersey to reform and update the state’s alimony rules.

The most significant of these changes involved alimony duration, or how long alimony lasts. There used to be the concept of ‘lifetime alimony’ which no longer applies to couples divorcing today. Under the current rules, if you have been married for less than 20 years, the number of years that you receive alimony cannot exceed the number of years the marriage lasted for, unless there are exceptional circumstances such as chronic illness of the dependent spouse or whether or not the spouse in need is the primary caretaker of the children.

For example, if you were married for 15 years, you can generally expect that your alimony duration will be no longer than 15 years. If you were married for 5 years, then alimony would generally last up to 5 years, and so on. This is called “limited duration” alimony.

If you were married for 20 years or more, however, you can qualify for what is called “open durational alimony,” which can be awarded for longer periods over 20 years, if needed and appropriate. Open durational alimony replaced permanent lifetime alimony.

Different types of alimony might apply

Alimony in New Jersey is surprisingly flexible. It can help defray the cost of everyday living expenses — but it can actually do much more. Alimony can even start before divorce, as early as the date you first separate. Here are some different types of alimony and how they might apply to your situation:

Temporary alimony: You can start to receive alimony from the first day you separate from your spouse. Temporary alimony, also known by its legal name — pendente lite alimony — can cover the time of your separation through to the finalization of your divorce settlement. (After this, the alimony award in your settlement would take effect.)

Rehabilitative alimony: If you gave up a lucrative career at a biotech firm, for example, to stay home and raise your kids and now, as a result of your divorce, you plan to re-enter the workforce, you may qualify for rehabilitative alimony. This is money earmarked for expenses related to job re-training and re-entry into the workforce. If you need to take college courses or obtain an advanced degree or certificate to get caught up with current advancements and technology in your field, rehabilitative alimony can help defray these costs.

Reimbursement alimony: If you worked and paid for your spouse to attend medical school or earn their MBA, or you paid for any other educational training related to their career, reimbursement alimony can repay you the amount you invested.

If you aren’t sure about these other types of alimony, talk to a family law attorney and explain your situation. Depending on your needs and circumstances, one, both or all three may be appropriate.

Think twice before accepting any alimony bargaining chips

If you have considerable equity in your family home, your spouse may attempt to use the house as an alimony bargaining chip to lower monthly alimony payments. One common tactic is for the paying spouse to offer some or all of their portion of home equity to the receiving spouse in lieu of future alimony payments, or for a lowered alimony amount. For example, if the total amount of alimony they would pay over the support term works out to $50,000 and they offer $30,000 in home equity to cover part of it, payments could be reduced to reflect this.

Before accepting this deal, however, carefully consider whether being “bought out” by your spouse and staying in the family home is important to you, or is selling the house and splitting the proceeds more practical? It might seem like a windfall to have your ex-spouse offer up their share of home equity, but remember, it’s just that — equity — not liquid cash. If your house requires a great deal of upkeep or is in need of repair, factor in these costs first before making any decisions. Depending on your situation, an alimony arrangement with regular monthly payments may make much more financial sense.

Get your free guide: 3 Tips for Negotiating Alimony.

Understand new tax implications

 Currently, individuals paying spousal support can deduct those payments on their tax returns. And the individual receiving alimony must report it as taxable income. Traditionally, this has resulted in the paying spouse being more agreeable to payments, as it reduces their taxable income.

However, thanks to a new tax law taking effect, these benefits will go away as of January 1, 2019 for any new divorce or alimony agreement entered into on or after this date.

 For all new divorces and new alimony orders put in place from January onward, the paying spouse will need to claim alimony as part of their income and pay the tax on it; the recipient spouse will essentially receive the money tax-free.

 On the surface, this can sound like a good deal for the recipient spouse, and in some ways it may be. But another consequence of this shifting tax burden is that paying spouses may try to drive a harder bargain in alimony negotiations to pay the least amount of alimony possible so as to reduce amount they owe Uncle Sam. In the past (for orders put in place on or before December 31, 2018), payors had the silver lining of a big dedication come tax time, but this will soon be no more.

 Are you currently divorcing and/or in the middle of alimony negotiations? You could potentially have a very important bargaining chip for receiving a higher alimony payment if you can conclude your matter before the end of 2018. If your paperwork is signed and sealed by then, you will be grandfathered in under the old system and your spouse can still receive the alimony tax deduction.

Given all these changes and factors in play, it’s a good time to talk to a family law attorney. When in doubt, your attorney can work with your accountant or a financial planner to walk you through different income scenarios. This information will help you chose the best alimony settlement option for you.

Bari Weinberger is a family law expert, author, keynote speaker, and certified matrimonial attorney at Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group. In addition to the numerous awards she and her firm have received, and the decades of successful outcomes for families going through difficult times, Bari is a mom herself. She understands that your family law matter can leave you vulnerable and exposed at a time when you need protection, clarity and peace of mind. Finding the right legal counsel adds to the confusion, darkening your situation even more. Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group is the bright answer to safeguarding your rights, your children, and securing the promising new future you deserve.

Need help with your situation? Schedule an  initial consultation online at WLG.com or by calling (844) 280-2536.

What Happens to the Family Home If I Don’t Want to Sell?

If you’re like most divorcing spouses, your family home may be one of your most valuable marital assets — and also the asset that carries the most emotional weight. This may be the home where your children took their first steps and celebrated their first birthdays. Your home may be in a great school district where your children are thriving. Your home may feel like an important part of who you are. How could you give any of this up by selling it as part of your divorce?

 We talked to NJ divorce law expert Bari Weinberger about options for the family home and for any insight into the best path for divorcing couples.

Needless to say, there are emotions — lots of them — when it comes to making decisions about what to do with the family home. Your immediate reaction may be to say “No way!” at the prospect of selling it. But here’s where the advice to detach yourself from emotions during the divorce process becomes critical.

It may ultimately be in your best interests to remain in your family home and negotiate with your ex to buy out their share of the mortgage. However, the decision to do this should be made only after considering all your options.

Can you afford to stay?

When a couple decides to sell their house as part of their divorce, it can be an effective way to free up equity in the marital property, which is then generally split between spouses. Each party walks away free to start over in the home buying process with what hopefully amounts to a substantial down payment on a new house.

Before deciding to fight liquidation in order to hang onto home ownership, carefully consider one bottom line issue — can you afford your current house all by yourself? What are the costs involved with maintaining the home? Can you afford your utility bills on your own? Are you financially prepared to cover big expenses like a roof replacement?

Will you need to refinance your mortgage?

To assume sole ownership of the family home, one spouse generally needs to be “bought out” by the other spouse for their share of the home equity; the spouse being bought out also gives up obligation for any remaining mortgage debt. Beware the hidden costs of this! To remove your spouse from the mortgage, you will most likely need to go through a mortgage refinance program that comes with associated fees and closing costs.

Keep the house and give up retirement?

Some spouses create agreements with stipulations such as one spouse keeps all equity in the home and assumes sole ownership, while the other spouse will get to keep their retirement plan without dividing it. These kinds of agreements are then written right into the divorce decree.

The downside of this kind of this house-for-retirement arrangement? If the housing market has a downturn in the future, it could considerably eat into home equity. The spouse who owns the home may take out home equity lines of credit, which can also backfire should the house need to be sold during a housing slump. On the other hand, untouched retirement pensions may be a more stable bet for the future, especially if retirement sources are limited. Do you really want to negotiate that away?

Are you prepared to pay a higher capital gains tax?

When divorcing spouses transfer property between themselves, the tax effects are deferred and the spouse who buys the asset from the other spouse keeps the original basis in the property and becomes responsible for payment of all capital gains taxes on a later sale. The following is a simplified example of how this works:

Suppose that you and your spouse originally bought your home for $100,000 (in tax terms, the original basis) and when you purchased your spouse’s share of the equity, the home value was $400,000. If you sell the home on your own for $550,000 a few years later, your taxable profit would be the sales price minus the original basis, or $450,000. A married couple would be able to exclude up to $500,000 of profit on the sale and would therefore pay no tax. As a now single individual, however, you would only be able to exclude $250,000, and would have to pay capital gains tax on the remaining $200,000 of profit. Are you financially prepared for this tax bill?

Still want to stay? Here’s a “best of both worlds” solution

If you’re set on keeping the home and will do whatever it takes to make this happen, you might want to explore the “meet me in the middle” strategy of selling your home at a later date (usually up to two years after your divorce). It’s an option that can help you stay in the home and give your children stability as you transition through divorce. It’s a solution that gives you breathing room to figure out your next step.

By the end of this agreed up sales delay, you can still buy out your spouse’s equity, and are still able to negotiate with assets if you choose to go back to the bargaining table for a post-divorce adjustment in your asset plan.

You may also decide that you have the closure you need and are finally ready to move on. Perhaps you’ve had enough time and patience to find a less expensive option in your same neighborhood, or your children are going to a private school which is not dependent on remaining in the same school district. Also, two years out from your divorce means two more years of acquired equity in the house, which can be a nice nest egg.

For more information about the family home and divorce, please check out:

The path home

As you make this difficult decision, here’s one thing to keep in mind: what matters to your children is having a happy, stable family life. Your peace of mind matters much more in making this happen then being in the same home with kids feeling stressed out and miserable all the time.

Nothing can take away your happy memories, so do your best to make decisions based on the logical reasoning of what’s going to give you and your kids the greatest security. Ask a qualified family law attorney to work through your home options with you to determine the best path forward.

Bari Weinberger is a family law expert, author, keynote speaker, and certified matrimonial attorney at Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group. In addition to the numerous awards she and her firm have received, and the decades of successful outcomes for families going through difficult times, Bari is a mom herself. She understands that your family law matter can leave you vulnerable and exposed at a time when you need protection, clarity and peace of mind. Finding the right legal counsel adds to the confusion, darkening your situation even more. Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group is the bright answer to safeguarding your rights, your children, and securing the promising new future you deserve.

Need help with your situation? Schedule an initial consultation online at WLG.com or by calling (844) 280-2536.

Surviving Divorce When Your Ex is a Narcissist

How to make divorce as quick and painless as possible.

Ending a marriage is rarely easy, but when you’re divorcing a narcissist spouse, the challenges you face can feel extreme.

Narcissist spouses are driven by an urge and feeling of entitlement to “win” at all costs. At every turn, a narcissist’s core personality traits – lack of empathy, manipulative and controlling behavior, and thirst for attention – are there to ratchet up conflict and tension.

As much as you want to take the high road, a narcissist is often willing to “go there” in hurling false accusations and engaging in unnecessary court battles, turning an unpleasant split into a full-blown nightmare.

If you’ve been on the receiving end of rage-filled sentiments like…

You’ll never see the kids again. You’re a horrible parent.  

I’ll make sure everyone knows this divorce was all your fault.  

I don’t care how long it takes or how much it costs — you won’t get a dime from me.  

…you need to immediately take steps to safeguard yourself.

Whether you’re dealing with someone with only a few narcissistic traits, or you suspect your spouse may have full-blown narcissistic personality disorder, family law expert Bari Weinberger has some key information and strategies for you to protect yourself and your children and get through this difficult time.

Build relationships — and document everything

Psychologically healthy people move through anger. They realize that divorce involves give and take. They’re able to put negative feelings about their ex aside in order to have a positive co-parenting relationship. They understand that fueling a high-conflict divorce damages children.

Narcissists, by definition, have difficulty making empathy-centered decisions. They want to get their way and they don’t care what kind of slash and burn strategies they employ to do so, including spreading lies and even making false accusations before a judge.

You can take immediate steps to shield yourself from this high conflict behavior by making it a habit to document everything, especially when it comes to your kids. Get a journal and start logging places you go and people you speak with during the day. Carefully document time with your children and the activities you engage in. Even things like what did you eat for dinner? What movie did you watch? Who else was with you? Take photos and videos. Save letters and cards your children have sent you. Keep a log of phone calls to your kids.

It’s also helpful to nurture relationships with other adults in your child’s life. Check in with your child’s teachers or make an appointment to talk to your child’s pediatrician. The goal is simply that you want these people to know the real you. Don’t bash your ex to them, but be honest. You can explain that you and your spouse are divorcing and that you are doing everything you can to put your child’s needs and well-being first. Ask them for their advice on how to do this and then send a follow up with a note or photo of how you put that advice into action.

Should your narcissist spouse begin to gossip about “the crazy ex” or “horrible parent” behind your back to these same people, they will know you well enough to see through the narcissist’s act and know these things aren’t true.

Watch the free webinar: 5 Strategies When Divorcing a Narcissist


Don’t give the narcissist what they want

A narcissist wants to stay emotionally engaged with you, even if he or she initiated the divorce. Allowing you to move on feels like a loss of control, something your ex can’t tolerate. In order to keep you engaged, a narcissist may pull nasty punches: barrage you with hostile texts, e-mails, and voice mails; bad-mouth you in front of the children and anyone else who will listen; make false allegations against you, and find any opportunity to make you feel crazy and incompetent.

It may be tempting for you to respond in kind with your own vitriol. But remember, doing this will just provide the narcissist with the hoped-for emotional response — and invite more drama.

Instead, try to disengage as quickly as you can the next time you’re baited.

You can get help from a trained counselor in specific techniques and coping skills to manage your emotions during interactions with your spouse. It’s also critical to make sure your family law attorney is aware of the personality dynamics in play in your divorce. As I will explain below, a formal agreement about limited communication or even filing for a restraining order may be appropriate.

Gather financial paperwork as soon as possible

As a means of control, a narcissist spouse may be more likely to drag their heels on providing financial paperwork needed for calculating alimony, child support and asset division. This includes pay stubs and tax returns, bank statements and credit card bills, stock portfolio and retirement account information, and more. In some cases, a narcissist may decide to hide assets as a means of revenge.

To head off this kind of behavior, as early as possible in the divorce process, or even before you file, collect as much financial paperwork as possible. If your narcissist spouse had most of the control over your marital finances, run a credit report to help identify financial accounts open in both your names. If you file your taxes jointly, you can request a copy of your tax return from the IRS. This information may establish a fuller financial picture or even give you clues about possible hidden assets.

Be prepared to litigate—but don’t immediately discount mediation  

Using mediation to resolve a divorce can save considerable time and money. But mediation works best when two parties can discuss issues calmly face-to-face and entertain collaborative solutions. A high-conflict ex is simply not going to participate in that kind of process. On the other hand, because high-conflict personalities tend to feed on conflict, litigation with such a person often spirals out of control, resulting in a protracted, expensive, and emotionally draining court process.

However, there is a middle ground: Look for a mediator with experience implementing a highly structured process. This kind of mediator will help you stick to an agenda, will encourage frequent attorney consultations, and will caucus as necessary with each of you, reducing the emphasis on face-to-face interaction. Your family law attorney will be able to guide you in choosing the best process for your divorce.

Keep firm boundaries for safety’s sake

Narcissists believe that the only rules worth following are their own, while other people’s rules are meant to be broken. To maintain order and control in your life, you must be vigilant about setting and keeping firm boundaries. Unless there is a true time-sensitive issue, you really don’t need to respond to your ex’s texts and emails immediately. Stick to your court-ordered parenting time plan. Don’t let your former spouse manipulate you into inconveniencing yourself and your children just to suit his or her schedule.

Depending on your situation, you can explore with your attorney if getting these types of rules and boundaries written into your divorce agreement and/or custody order (specifically) would be appropriate in your case.

Also, be aware of the difference between a narcissist who is annoying and a narcissist who has crossed the line to harassment or stalking or physical violence. In these cases, legal remedies such as taking out a Temporary Restraining Order may be necessary to keep you and your children safe. When warranted, criminal charges may be appropriate.

Better days ahead 

It’s absolutely not fair that you need to deal with all this in your divorce. You deserve safety, peace of mind and a fresh start. And the good news is that help is available to get you these things.

I also want you to keep in mind this silver lining…

All of the hard work you’re putting in now during your divorce to protect yourself and your kids from the narcissist’s conflict and drama can pay off greatly in the long run. You’ve created new boundaries and habits. Keep them up and get ready for many more peaceful days ahead.

Bari Weinberger is a family law expert, author, keynote speaker, and certified matrimonial attorney at Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group. In addition to the numerous awards she and her firm have received, and the decades of successful outcomes for families going through difficult times, Bari is a mom herself. She understands that your family law matter can leave you vulnerable and exposed at a time when you need protection, clarity and peace of mind. Finding the right legal counsel adds to the confusion, darkening your situation even more. Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group is the bright answer to safeguarding your rights, your children, and securing the promising new future you deserve.

Need help with your situation? Schedule an  initial consultation online at WLG.com or by calling (844) 280-2536.

Ask the Expert: How Do I Avoid Costly Divorce Mistakes?

If you have to get divorced, you want it to be swift, painless, and as effective as possible for you and your children. In reaching these goals, there is simply no room for error.

But given the complexity of the divorce process, and the need to navigate it when your emotions may be running sky high, it’s all too easy to make costly and time-consuming mistakes. When it comes to safeguarding your rights, children and your future, even a simple paperwork oversight can set the stage for a divorce settlement that could devastate you for years to come.

Are you about to make a misstep? In this article, divorce expert Bari Weinberger takes you through some of the costly mistakes made in divorce — and how to avoid them.

Mistake: Viewing sole custody of the children as the only option

New Jersey family law is gender-neutral when it comes to parenting time and custody, meaning both parents have rights to their kids. Generally, the courts believe that it is in a child’s best interest to spend time with both his or her parents and typically favor shared custody arrangements whenever possible, unless there are specific reasons otherwise.

Parents often make the mistake of fighting tooth and nail for sole custody in divorce because they are angry with their ex and do not want them to have time with the children. In most situations, this can be an unrealistic position and will lead to an emotionally and financially costly court battle that is unlikely to be won.

Before you make any decisions, take the time to understand what types of custody there are and what they entail. You may find that after discussing the custody options with a qualified family law attorney that other arrangements are available that give you ample time with your child and help you transition to co-parenting in a peaceful way.

Mistake: Not considering all your options when it comes to the family home. 

Some divorcing parents dig in about keeping the family home because they don’t want more change for their children. Others are emotionally attached to their home because they have invested so much time and work in it over the years.

Before deciding to fight for taking over sole ownership of the home, however, carefully consider how you will be able to financially manage not only the mortgage on a single budget, but also the upkeep and maintenance of the house. What if the roof leaks or the boiler stops working? Would you have enough liquid cash to pay for these kinds of major repairs? Will the need to maintain basic home maintenance like having the driveway plowed in the winter or the lawn mowed in the summer deplete too much money from your family budget?

Another consideration is whether you’re giving up other valuable assets (i.e., retirement savings) in order to buy out your spouse’s equity. What will this mean for the big picture of safeguarding your future?

Bottom line: If your decision to attempt negotiation for full ownership of the family home is solely based on your emotional ties to the house, consider this a red flag to step back and see how the house fits in with your larger financial picture.

Mistake: Letting emotions rule your case

Emotions like feeling angry and hurt are understandable and certainly expected when a marriage ends. The problem occurs when negative emotions prevent you from at least attempting to work out an agreement with your ex through mediation, which is a golden opportunity to save time and money during your divorce.

The overburdened family courts in New Jersey strongly favor settlements and encourage couples to come up with agreements that they can live with.

It is advisable to approach your divorce in a businesslike, neutral way. Whether we like it or not, New Jersey is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that, unless there are really exceptional circumstances, one spouse does not receive more money or property in the divorce just because the other spouse was unfaithful or made other poor decisions.


Mistake: Not being strategic about your divorce filing date

Most people put little thought into the date that they file the Complaint for Divorce; however, the date you file is nothing short of critical because the filing date fixes a cut-off time stamp for equitable distribution of 401Ks and other retirement plans and benefits, and other investment assets and debts. The courts can also use the filing date as a hard start date for child support obligations. 401Ks and other retirement plans and benefits, and other investment assets and debts. The courts can also use the filing date as a hard start date for child support obligations.

How can a filing date go wrong? Let’s say Sarah and John separated but did not make a formal agreement about child support. Months drag on and John is sporadic at best about sending Sarah a check. Sarah is frustrated because she is having a hard time paying the bills. She finally files for divorce, something she knows is long overdue. After that, John completely stops paying her child support. Sarah goes to court and explains that she and John separated a year earlier and that he paid the $500/month that he verbally promised only a few times. Sarah asks for retroactive support to cover all the child-related costs she needed to shoulder alone. She was shocked when she found out that, at most, she would probably only get one month of support dating back to her actual filing date. Had Sarah gone ahead and filed when she knew the marriage was over—a year earlier—she would be able to recoup the thousands of dollars in support she lost out on.

If you’re not sure about your filing date, get a free consultation with an attorney to understand your best options. Your financial future will thank you for it.

Mistake: Taking legal advice from friends and relatives

It’s wonderful to have friends and family offer support as you start the divorce process. I encourage you to get all of the emotional and personal strength you need from loved ones, but steer clear of legal advice unless they are a practicing family law attorney. There are many reasons to shy away from any legal advice from friends and family not the least of which is that rules governing divorce in New Jersey, including child custody matters and asset division, are constantly changing and complex. Though well-meaning, you may be on the receiving end of mistaken and/or outdated advice that will cost you excess time, money and stress — and you don’t need any more of that!

Your path to your bright new future starts with making the best decisions possible during your divorce. The good news is that some of the most vexing problems that erupt in divorce are often completely avoidable.

In the end, your divorce will come down to the details! When you get these right, the peaceful and safeguarded future you want can be waiting for you.

Want to learn more? Here are the top 5 costly mistakes of divorce, which includes why choosing the wrong grounds for divorce could end up costing you more time, money and stress. 

Bari Weinberger is a family law expert, author, keynote speaker, and certified matrimonial attorney at Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group. In addition to the numerous awards she and her firm have received, and the decades of successful outcomes for families going through difficult times, Bari is a mom herself. She understands that your family law matter can leave you vulnerable and exposed at a time when you need protection, clarity and peace of mind. Finding the right legal counsel adds to the confusion, darkening your situation even more. Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group is the bright answer to safeguarding your rights, your children, and securing the promising new future you deserve.