Practice Areas | Family Law & Divorce
Family Law is a general description for various legal matters which are heard, if a resolution cannot be reached directly between the parties, in the Family Part of the Superior Court. Thomas C. McCoy has been handling all such family matters for the past 25 years, appearing in courts from Atlantic to Passaic County. He has been an Early Settlement Panelist (mediator) for the Ocean County Superior Court for over 15 years and is a member of the New Jersey State Bar and the Ocean County Bar Family Law Sections. Below, we discuss the various areas of Family Law in which we have deep expertise and experience.
The divorce of a marital relationship is often a highly stressful time. The process can also be rather complicated, and seemingly overwhelming. When it comes to working with an attorney for your divorce, you need a legal representative with the compassion to understand your feelings and the experience to work for you through the legal system to achieve the best outcome for you under your particular circumstances.
There are a number of questions to resolve in a divorce, including:
Although every case is different, there are certain guiding principles and prior case law which are followed by the courts and of which your attorney must be keenly aware.
Custody and Support
In our society, there are many relationships not consummated by marriage but from whom children have been born. As you can imagine, this raises issues, just as in divorce, concerning the custody of those children, the support obligations of the parents of those children, and the parenting time or visitation schedules of the parents (and possibly others in the extended family). When such matters go to the court system, they are handled by different judges and through a different section of the court than divorce cases and many of those cases are handled without attorneys. From a simple conversation with one of our attorneys to full representation in the court matter, we at Woodland, McCoy & Shinn can provide invaluable assistance in this very important, and emotional area.
When two parties, whether married or dating, have an argument that escalates into threatening or even violent conflict, it may become necessary to impose upon the offending party a Restraining Order to protect the other. After an explanation of the circumstances of the conflict, a judge can issue a Restraining Order that limits or effectively bars any contact between the two parties. Additional provisions may be enacted that compel the payment of support, or limiting - if allowing at all - contact with children.
The situation described above is a common scenario that plays out daily in the family court system with a hearing before a judge typically occurring sooner than most expect, and the end result, without guided counsel and work, often devastating to one party or sometimes to both parties. The attorneys at Woodland, McCoy & Shinn have assisted many people in such situations over the years and can provide the legal guidance and assistance you need for these very complicated matters.
Post Judgment Motions
A post judgement motion is a request to the court to resolve an issue subsequent to a Final Judgment of Divorce or a prior Order entered by the court. Statistics show that, in any given year, there are just as many post judgment motions filed as there are divorce actions. A post judgement motion may be necessary when circumstances change compelling one party to seek an amendment to the terms of the prior Judgment. For example, an economic recession and its subsequent negative effect on employment can be prime reasons for such motions to amend the amount of support payments. There are also enforcement motions where one party seeks the other party’s compliance with the Judgment terms.
As with Custody and Support matters discussed earlier, it is not uncommon for people to attempt to handle post judgement motions without legal assistance. However, as with Custody and Support matters, the results from attempting such a motion without legal advice and/or assistance can be quite negative. A simple telephone discussion with one of our attorneys may suffice to provide you with all you need to know to proceed with your post judgement motion. If, however, your case is more complex, more involvement on our part may be necessary for you to achieve the best possible result.
In the current era of second and third marriages typically involving children from prior relationships, the use of an effective pre-marital agreement has become increasingly important. There is a specific statute in New Jersey which governs such agreements and it is imperative that the requirements of that statute be followed for that agreement to be effective. We at Woodland, McCoy & Shinn have counseled people about, and have prepared, many such agreements and have the knowledge and experience to ensure that all client agreements not only comply with the law but will effectively protect the client's interests.
Adoptions can occur through a variety of different mechanisms, most typically through an approved agency or as a result of a stepparent situation. There are specific rules that must be followed and that are required by the courts. We at Woodland, McCoy & Shinn have an excellent knowledge of all the adoption rules and regulations and can help guide you through the requirements maze and will be present with you in all court proceedings through to the happy moment of the actual adoption.
Collaborative Law and Mediation
There is a growing national and even global movement now for the use of a different process to manage parties splitting their relationship. This is called “Collaborative Law” and Thomas C. McCoy has been a member for some time in the Jersey Shore Collaborative Law Group, the first such group in New Jersey. In this process, often referred to as “a kinder and gentler” way to divorce, the parties can respectfully work with one another to reach a resolution suitable to their particular needs often with the help of other professionals but without a judge deciding for the parties. Under the Collaborative Law approach, the pressures of a court system and the uncertainties of what a judge may decide are eliminated. All decisions are made by the parties themselves; in fact, an agreement is signed whereby the parties confirm that they will work together without resorting to the court system.
The Collaborative Law approach may not be suitable for everyone, especially where there is significant animosity between the divorcing parties. However, where the two parties both desire an amicable split, the Collaborative Law and Mediation approach can be highly effective and exceptionally gratifying. Thomas C. McCoy has been specifically trained in the techniques required by this system and has affiliated himself with other professionals who are similarly trained.
There are instances in which parties do not wish to litigate disputes and other matters in the usual fashion, typified by each party retaining an attorney to fight for their rights in order to enforce the obligations of the other party. An alternative to this adversarial litigation approach is for the parties to secure a single attorney who represents neither of them but instead provides expert information and discussion about all of the case issues and advises them in the same manner as the court. Thomas C. McCoy assumes this role in the court system being an Early Settlement Panelist (as it is referred in the courts) and also performs such services in his private practice. As mentioned earlier, mediation can be used effectively by (amicably) divorcing couples but is a viable alternative for other disputes where the involved parties are open to a less adversarial approach.