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Father and Son


Last Updated November 2022

What Is Family Law?

Family law deals specifically with the familial unit; spouses, parents and minor children. There are times where extended family members (i.e., grandparents, cousins, etc.) and interested parties (i.e., foster parents) are brought into family law matters, but the majority of cases are focused on the immediate family. Family law covers divorce, divorce from bed and board, equitable distribution, alimony, post-separation support, child custody, child support, termination of parental rights, and adoption to name a few.

What Types of Issues Fall Under Family Law?

The legal termination of a marriage between two individuals. When the parties have no other issues besides finalizing the divorce (e.g., property division, custody, etc.), it is considered an absolute divorce.


The legal termination of a marriage between two individuals. When the parties have no other issues besides finalizing the divorce (e.g., property division, custody, etc.), it is considered an absolute divorce.

Divorce Mediation

Divorce mediation is a process that allows divorcing couples to meet with a specially-trained, neutral third-party to discuss and resolve common divorce-related issues. Mediation is typically less stressful and less expensive than a divorce trial, and it usually proceeds much faster.

Divorce Arbitration

Arbitration is one of the many processes used to resolve disputes between divorcing parties.  It is often used when couples have reached an impasse or stalemate in their divorce negotiations and wish to resolve the issues without going to court.  Divorce Arbitration is a type of divorce trial, but instead of couples resolving their dispute in a public courtroom, their case is heard in a private setting before an Arbitrator.  This setting is called an arbitration hearing and is scheduled at a time and place convenient to all parties, unlike a court trial, which is scheduled subject to a trial judge’s availability.


In Divorce Arbitration, the divorcing couple and their respective attorneys choose and agree upon an Arbitrator.  The Arbitrator is then presented with the specific issues preventing resolution.  In Arbitration, divorcing couples may also define what procedure will be followed and how long the Arbitrator will have to render a decision.  After a hearing, the Arbitrator renders a decision, called an award, on the specific disputed issues. 
Unlike a court trial, the Arbitrator’s Award, in most cases, cannot be appealed.  Divorce Arbitration can be used in connection with the Adversarial process where the arbitration takes the place of an in-court trial or, in Collaborative Divorce or Divorce Mediation, when an impasse has been reached.

Domestic Violence

Also called "domestic abuse" or "intimate partner violence", domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone.
Domestic abuse can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation,  or religion. Although many outlets typically associate domestic abuse with females as the victims, either gender can be the abuser or the victim. It can also occur within a range of relationships including couples who are married, living together or dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. 


Legal guardianship is one of the options available to parents who are planning for the care of their children in their absence due to a variety of situations, such as illness or incarceration. It allows parents to name a caregiver and to give the caregiver certain legal rights regarding the care of the child(ren). In most cases, the parents’ legal rights are not terminated and the parents still play a role in their children’s lives. Legal guardians have custody of the children and the authority to make decisions concerning the protection, education, care, discipline, etc.


New Jersey Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney, is an official designation given by the New Jersey Supreme Court to attorneys who have demonstrated a specific skill set in the areas of family and matrimonial law. It is a simple way to ensure you are working with a professional NJ matrimonial lawyer whose experience meets the highest standard of client care. Like any certification process, this one is offered to individuals who have mastered this subject area, meaning you can expect certified matrimonial attorneys in NJ to demonstrate superior knowledge in a number of diverse practice issues.

Equitable Distribution

This is the division, allocation, and distribution of marital property. Marital property is typically equally distributed between the spouses. Marital property includes such items as the marital home, bank accounts, retirement accounts, vehicles, etc. Not all marital property is divided equally. Sometimes a party can ask for an unequal distribution in certain circumstances. 


Payments from one spouse to the other paid for a specific amount of time or until specific events take place that will terminate the alimony payments. Alimony is awarded to the dependent spouse (the spouse with lower or no income) and paid by the supporting spouse (the spouse with a higher income). Usually, the amount and duration of alimony are based on the party’s needs and are in the judge’s determination.

Post Separation Support

Post-separation support is paid by the supporting spouse to the dependent spouse until permanent alimony is determined. 

Child Custody

The legal and physical custody of the minor child. Legal custody allows a parent to make decisions for the child (e.g., medical, schooling, etc.) and physical custody refers to which parent the minor child lives with. Parents can share joint legal and physical custody. In some cases, the parents may share joint legal custody with one parent having primary physical custody and the other parent having secondary (visitation) custody.

Pre-Nuptial and Post Nuptial

Whether you are about to get married or are already together and are experiencing or considering a change in life circumstance, it is not only beneficial, but in fact essential, that your rights and interests are protected no matter what happens down the road. There are legal relationship agreements that you can and should enter with your spouse to ensure that you are both prepared for whatever may come. The prenuptial and postnuptial agreement attorneys at Sanvenero & Cittadino help clients in New Jersey make sure they are adequately prepared and protected in their marriage in the event of any unforeseen setback in the relationship.

Child Support

The monthly payment from one parent to the other parent for the benefit of the minor child. Typically child support payments are paid to the parent that the minor child lives with primarily. Child Support is usually set in accordance with the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines.

Termination of Parental Rights

The termination of the legal relationship between the child and the parent(s). One parent may terminate the rights of the other parent so that a stepparent can adopt the child or both parents’ rights can be terminated so that the child may be placed for adoption. One cannot terminate his or her own parental rights, but a party may relinquish his or her own parental rights if the child is being adopted or if there are substantial allegations of abuse, neglect, or dependency. 


Creating a legal relationship between a child and parent. The adopting parent(s) assume all legal rights and responsibilities as if the minor child was biologically their own. Under this circumstance, a child may inherit from their adoptive parent as well.

Contact Your New Jersey Family Lawyers

Although this list is not exhaustive, it should serve as a general guide as to those issues handled by family law attorneys.  If you are still unsure if you need a family law attorney, please give us a call and we will be glad to assist you.

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