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Uncontested Divorce - Suggestions for Terms of Divorce

Reegz posted 1/13/2021 22:02 PM

After IC - me with 2 different therapists, her with 2 different therapists, and MC - 2 different therapists, my STBXW decided we needed a divorce. I agree. I'm not going to get my life together and feel good about myself unless there is a serious change. We've been "nesting" since early September.

Remarkably, it's been relatively cordial with no pressure for me to leave the household. But there is simmering tension - still waters run deep - and I want to start healing alone - which means I need to leave.

Because I don't have steady employment and we have very little money together - she wants an uncontested divorce and I agree. Our biggest asset is our children and we both agree on split custody, no child support with splitting expenses. We are in NJ and here, we can list any terms we want to abide by in our uncontested divorce filings, which would also be applicable in family court.

Any suggestions on items to include in the filing: College Expenses, expenses until they are 25, etc.? Anyone have any experiences with this?

oldtruck posted 1/14/2021 08:58 AM

NC between children and her dates. Till she becomes engaged.
protects the kids having men appear and disappear from their

No men overnights until WW gets married. Again to protect
and teach the kids moral behavior.

And the same for you.

Reegz posted 1/14/2021 09:37 AM

@oldtruck - great idea on the NC until engaged - although my STBXW swears she will never get married again. I think it's a good idea. I can abide by that as well.

Tigersrule77 posted 1/14/2021 12:27 PM

What is important to you? Since it seems you don't have many assets, finances shouldn't be a big issue. Just keep in mind that your WW might decide in the future to try to change custody terms or CS. If you both agree to waive alimony, that's great. It is my understanding that in most states, that is something that cannot be changed, once settled, unless there is fraud involved.

You will probably want to include language on how to deal with one parent moving. What if your WW decides she wants to move to Seattle? Obviously, it would be difficult to share custody in that situation.

My D was fairly simple also, so I don't have much advice. I would suggest that you not try to lock in things after they turn 18. Legally, your kids will be adults. Why argue with your WW now about who will pay what for their education? Either of you can save for it if you choose, or not. That's my opinion only. I'm sure some would disagree with me.

I hope the D goes smoothly for you.

Reegz posted 1/14/2021 12:56 PM

@TigersRule77 - agree about the custody and moving. Shit happens in life - situations change and people change. No one is exempt.

As far as once they are 18, and leave school, I don't agree with you. I want both of us to help with trade school or undergraduate school when they graduate High School - I got the same help and I don't want to deny that to them. My WW however did NOT, and I'm guessing she may feel differently.

gmc94 posted 1/14/2021 14:43 PM

NC with kids til engagement is not, IMHO, realistic. How would you feel if you were 8 or 10 or 15 and first met your future stepparent when s/he was engaged to your bio parent? Also, what if when they DO meet, they HATE each other?
IMO, a more realistic approach MAY be no contact (and esp sleepovers) with other men/women until they've been dating x period of time or w/o the other parent's consent, which shall not be unreasonably withheld. IOW, if your new GF has a crystal clear criminal record, no history of drug/alcohol abuse, etc then it's not reasonable for XWW to withhold consent. BUT, if she's had 2+ DUIs (or a recent one), long history of bad checks, fraud, etc., then it's not unreasonable for XWW to put the brakes on things (as we all know, limerance can create a TON of blind spots). Now, whether refusal to consent is "unreasonable" or not, is a matter of opinion... which would put you back in court. I have no idea how a court would view that if the crap hit the fan.

I think most parents (even those who D after infidelity - tho prolly waaaay less likely when the new person is an AP) want to have a cordial & respectful relationship with the X's new GF/BF/SO... cuz it's what's best for the kids to not have bio mom & dad fighting about it (those little buggers can sense tension a mile away). But - as already said - limerance is a bitch and can put some seriously dark blinders on folks, who are apt to take their X's reasonable concerns about a new SO into a bad emotional space (eg my X just doesn't want me to be happy... or my X is just jealous that I have someone in my life and s/he doesn't). So it's really important to try and think and process through some of that, cuz it's not "about" the bio parent... it's "about" the KIDS.

Think of the custody/parenting plan as the FALL BACK position. IOW, the hope is that you and XWW will be able to work out whatever needs to be. And that is how it SHOULD be and what creates the best outcomes for the KIDS. What's in writing is what everyone has to adhere to if you and XWW CAN'T work it out between the two of you. (ETA: So, if your custody plan says you get the kids every Saturday, but you get a job that requires you work Saturday, you two can agree - preferably in writing - to a revised schedule.... but know that at any time, your XWW could say she's no longer willing to do that, and you are back on what's in the ORIGINAL custody plan. Now, if that were to go to court, most judges would not be happy about it if mom agrees to a change in writing, they follow the new custody for x period of time, then mom unilaterally wants to go back to the original plan. However, if after the change in custody, one of the kids starts having problems or acting out or grades drop, etc. then a court may see it as OK)

One thing I would really encourage is a means of communication outside of the kids (using kids as messengers is an AWFUL thing for the kids). There are lots of online programs - they may or may not be available free or via your court. I would check them out. If nothing else works, you can create a shared Google drive that is used. In the old days, folks had a notebook that went with the kids (pref with a lock). You can put receipts that need reimbursement, notes about anything important, etc in there (eg here's the bill from dr smith, which you owe me for 1/2, and Ms. Jones called me today to say that Johnny has been acting up in class. I think he and Jimmy got into an argument about Star Wars, but it may be something else). You get the idea. If you have to talk about things, do it from work or when the kids are not with either of you (kids are smart and super good listeners when they want to be).

As to $ and reimbursement, you need to CLEARLY spell out where they get their health insurance, who pays the premiums, what happens if that parent loses their job/health insurance, who pays for visits, and if out of pocket costs are split 50/50 how long the paying parent has to submit the bill for their reimbursement, and how long to be reimbursed. You don't want to get a $200 bill a year after the kid was in the ER with a demand it be paid next week. Same for school activities, etc (if Johnny is gonna play soccer, who pays for the uniform, the fees, and all the other stuff that comes with a sport?). That kind of stuff can create a lot of post-D tension/conflict, so putting that fall back position in writing now can save arguments later.

Same thing goes with signing kids up for stuff. If Jane wants to do gymnastics that costs $100/month, can mom just sign her up and expect you to pay? No. Those things should be done with other parents WRITTEN consent. And that written consent can be as simple as a text ("hey- exw, Jane wants to do gymnastics at the YMCA. It's $75/mo. Are you ok with that?" is totally sufficient - just screenshot the text to your photos and upload it to the cloud). And what happens if you want Johnny to play soccer, but mom wants him to do cross country? How would that be worked out if you two can't stand to even speak to each other?

And all the other incidental expenses that kids incur, esp clothing. I've seen cases where the parent paying child support did not believe they had to buy their kids clothing. Stuff like that will get most judges pretty PISSED OFF. It's not necessarily something to put into writing, but it IS something to consider and see where you and STBX end up (keeping in mind that just bc you two are relatively sympatico today, doesn't mean that will be true in a year or 10).

As to college, if your kids are still 9 & 7 (ie elem school), I'd prolly not include it at all. In the old days the "default" was usually that the parents agree to split the cost UP TO the cost of in-state tuition at xyz state college. Either parent can obviously choose to pay more if the kid goes somewhere very $$$... or not. If it just says we each pay 1/2, then what if the kid chooses to go to a super expensive school, and doesn't have their act together to get scholarships and the other parent (in your case, mom) says - why yes, Johnny, you can go to HootiePatootie U, cuz your dad agreed to pay 1/2 of any college, but your income has not kept up with college costs (and whose has?). I think including college is something seen more often in high income families... JMO.

holidays - make sure that EVERY holiday that's important to you is spelled out, with the times and WHO WILL DO TRANSPORTATION - eg mom transports kids to dads every xmas eve by 4pm, and dad will transport kids to moms on Xmas day by noon. If you have particular traditions on particular holidays (eg we ALWAYS go to my parents on xmas eve), then I would fight to keep that as the status quo (and vice versa - if you as a family ALWAYS went to XWW's parent's on Thanksgiving for a dinner at 4pm, it may be that you get them in the AM to have a morning "event" [with new traditions] and then they get to her parent's by 2:30 or something). Bottom line is that kids should not have to forego their own traditions bc their parents are D.

As to relocation. I'd be surprised if NJ didn't have a relocation plan/language/laws (do they not already have form separation agreements and parenting/custody plans? If not, you may need to get an atty to make sure you are covered). If not, you could look to other states for language (knowing it may - or may not - be respected in NJ). As I understand it, in most states the general rule is that NO ONE gets to move ANYWHERE w/o prior WRITTEN notice (often certified mail, return receipt) at least 30/60/90 days before the move. Then the non-moving parent has x days (usually 30) to object - also IN WRITING, and maybe to file a motion with the court. In my state (and I suspect many others) this would include just moving into a different apartment across the hall in the same building. Also, in my state, a parent who moves (whether across the hall or across the city or across the country) w/o that notice will (a) PISS OFF the judge and (b) usually be required to give remedial custody time to the non-moving parent, and (c) is usually not allowed to have custody in their new home if it's far away (so if you want to move to Seattle, go for it, but you ain't taking the kids and you will have to come back to Jersey to see them during your periods of custody).

Finally, I thought NJ had a mandatory 1-year separation period. I may be wrong, but it's worth investigating (and perhaps adultery is an exception).

Best of luck...

[This message edited by gmc94 at 2:49 PM, January 14th, 2021 (Thursday)]

99problems posted 1/15/2021 08:33 AM

The "NC until x happens" thing is a great idea, in theory. Its not enforceable by any means. All the ex has to do is lie. Ask my stbxw how easy it is.

The1stWife posted 1/15/2021 12:34 PM

You need to determine who pays for what even now. Healthcare expenses/premiums, out of pocket health expenses, clothes and activities and camp and lessons and tutors etc.

Then comes college. It’s not just tuition and Fees it’s books and lab fees snd meal plans and commuting expenses plus the items needed like a microwave and bedding. Then there is the semester abroad expenses or internship related expenses. And tutors if required.

You can make it simple by saying (as an example): all college related expenses will be split equally (50-50). Then hope it works out for you.

Alonelyagain posted 1/15/2021 13:24 PM

I’m two years out from having my “uncontested divorce” finalized by a judge in NJ. I put uncontested in quotes because we both had lawyers and the negotiations took months. After the XWW and I agreed on terms and signed the agreement, we went before a judge in open court. The judge then read the terms out loud, asked about our education levels, ability to understand English and if we understood and agreed with the terms. After the judge was satisfied with the terms and our responses, he approved our agreement.

I wanted the agreement to place restrictions on my XWW introducing her bf’s to my kids similar to what other posters have suggested, but my attorney told me that the restrictions wouldn’t be enforceable. So we compromised with a requirement that we notify the other before we introduce our kids to someone we’re dating. There’s really no enforcement mechanism for that one either.

Bigger posted 1/17/2021 17:34 PM

As others have noted the personal limitations are not realistic.
I would with the greatest emphasis I can suggest you clarify ALL financial issues. That includes all outstanding debt such as credit-cards. If you google credit card debt and divorce in NJ you will see it can be rather complex.
Basically – if your wife owes 10k on a card in her name that was issued while married there is a significant chance that debt is marital debt. If she doesn’t pay that card the debt-owner could legally go after you. All a divorce outlining she was going to pay it would do is give you grounds to sue her.
This can all be cleaned and clarified, but you need to make 100% certain that the owner of the debt (bank that issued mortgage, bank that issued card and so on) is OK with the division of assets.
In the decree list the cards, who will be responsible, the outstanding debt at the time and the issuers acceptance of the change.

rambler posted 1/17/2021 20:15 PM

Any rules you ask for her will also apply to you. You have a higher likelihood to remarry than her.

rambler posted 1/17/2021 20:16 PM

Any rules you ask for her will also apply to you. You have a higher likelihood to remarry than her.

josiep posted 1/17/2021 20:41 PM

Because I don't have steady employment and we have very little money together

How do you determine who pays what under your current living arrangement?

Are you content being a person who doesn't have steady employment or this just a recent, temporary thing?

I'm not going to get my life together and feel good about myself unless there is a serious change

Is it possible you'd begin to feel good about yourself by improving your educational and skill levels and focusing on finding steady employment where you'd likely develop friendships with coworkers and have interests outside the pain of the infidelity?

If the marriage is over, naturally, you have to deal with it but remember that you have to take yourself with you when you leave.

gmc94 posted 1/18/2021 16:42 PM

Because I don't have steady employment and we have very little money together
This is why outlining who pays for college is probably not a good idea at this juncture. You could be required to pay for 50% of something you won't be able to pay (and if you and STBXW stayed M, couldn't have paid either).

As to debt, the bank(s) likely won't do jack. IOW, if your name is on the account, they can come after you even if your STBXW is liable for it in the Divorce.... then you ahve to sue her to get your $ back.

homewrecked2011 posted 1/24/2021 12:37 PM

The first atty I saw quoted me $250.00 to file for a non-contested divorce. It would be the state standards. He said he would type everything up, we could stop by his office and sign, (pre-covid), he would file it for us. He said that he would actually be looking out for my best interest, but not to tell my sbxwh, that he was an adult and should know to get legal representation.

That said, do a search in your state for the standard custody/visitation. In my state, once you are D, the xws can bring anyone they want around the kids, but no overnights until married. (I actually had that enforced and won).

So.. some suggestions..
Who will have final say in Medical Issues? I have it, but my State recently changed it to shared decision making.
Who will pay for health ins, deductibles, copays.
Get orthodontist bills shared!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ( our co sharing was I paid 25%, he paid 75% on all medical including orthodontist. Which of course he didn’t want them having braces, so my final decider in medical issues benefited my children).

Both parents are permitted to attend every practice and activity the children are involved in and they must be notified of these as soon as they are announced.

Both parents have access to all school and medical records.

First right of refusal.

Rotate 4th of July, Halloween, as well as Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas, their birthdays, your birthday.

Summer visitation requests have to be received by may 1, in writing to the custodial parent. But, you may put in the agreement, you have them all of June, thru July 4, she has them rest of July and until school starts.

The non custodial parent did all pick-ups and returns, in my case.
What plan do you two prefer? Many people do the one week in/one week off, but you could ask on SI a separate topic, how that worked for the children.

You could ask for the house, custody of the children, she pays alimony and child support, especially if you stayed home with the children.

Who claims the children on taxes? If you each claim 1, try to claim the youngest so you will have the child tax credit for longer.
Also, on FAFSA the child files info on the parent they reside with. My sons received a lot of fin aid bc they lived with me.
I think New Jersey can make both parents pay for college, in my state, it’s not required.

In my state, standard orders are that the children cannot watch X or R rated movies until age 16.

Some states say that no one can smoke around the children, especially in the house or in a car.

Perhaps take everyone’s responses here, and set up a 1 hr consult with an atty in your area. Here, the cost is $100-200 for the initial consult. They might have more ideas for you, state specific....

grubs posted 1/25/2021 20:55 PM

Try to get ahead of future conflict points with the kids. It doesn't have to be comprehensive but the more you include the more the default are set.
Children's schedule?
Holiday Schedule- Alternate Years and Holidays? Ex. First year one gets Thanksgiving, one gets xmas than flip who gets what date next year.
Tax Deductions- Who gets them? Alternate or concession to other spouse?
Insurance? Who has to carry? What does the other spouse give up in return?
Medical Decisions.
Process to handle adjustments, Like one spouses week to have kids, what happens if they have to travel for work or just need someone to watch the kids?
How to handle one spouse moving out of town?
Sports of extracurricular fees? Split 50/50?
Some of these you can flex on afterwards, but it gives one spouse the final responsibility if no agreements can be made. You really want to limit post court involvement with disagreements in the day to day child rearing.

[This message edited by grubs at 8:55 PM, January 25th (Monday)]

Reegz posted 1/28/2021 23:15 PM

I apologize for the late response. I appreciate the time all of you took to posts and share your experiences.

I am going to take these suggestions into an attorney next week and ask about what else should be included. I just wanted to see about what the experiences were for other people who have already gone through this.

I'm grateful to everyone here.

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