Divorce and Family Law

I am an attorney who provides services to clients based on their needs. I have many “tools” available to help my clients, I am not limited to just one. Not everyone who walks through my door can mediate their divorce or go through the collaborative process. My experience and training allow me to work with the client to find what will work best for them.

Melissa Fecak, Esq,

Divorce Litigation

In some contested divorce matters, couples are unable to resolve all of their issues and need to proceed with litigation to dissolve the marriage.  With litigation, there is a perception that the divorce occurs completely in the court.  The reality of divorce litigation is that the majority of couples (approximately 97%) settle many, if not all, of their issues without the need of a trial.  

Litigation is just one of the ways that couples can use to divorce.  For some couples, it may be the best or only option.  When there is a history of domestic violence or abuse, couples are limited to litigation.  Divorce litigation may also be the only option when parties are unable to communicate openly or if there is a significant amount of mistrust between parties. 

Most couples getting divorced proceed with litigation.  This may be because the couple did not realize that they had other options.  In other cases, litigation helps the couple to divorce.  

Some of the advantages to litigation are:

  • The Court can hold a non-complying spouse accountable.  
  • There is formal discovery, including depositions, subpoenas and interrogatories.
  • There is a time frame that both parties need to follow.
  • Relief can be granted/issues can be resolved even if you and your spouse do not agree.

Melissa helps her clients to navigate through the divorce process as painlessly as possible.  It is her belief that you want a strong, compassionate negotiator and advocate to support you through the divorce.  Melissa does not take the approach of attacking everything in hopes of making something stick.  Rather it is our approach to help you work towards your goals and needs while protecting you and your family.

 
Child Support and Custody

Two of the biggest issues for parents who are separating or divorcing are custody and child support. Custody is more than where the child(ren) lives – it is about decision making and raising the children. Just because you are separating does not mean your children are out of your (or your ex’s) lives. The children have a right to be protected and to have a relationship with both parents.

Part of the custody discussion involves parenting time. For your parenting plan to be successful, it should follow the needs and interests of you, your children and the other parent. Through mindful negotiations and out-of-the-box solutions, Melissa helps parents to negotiate or litigate for a parenting plan that works for the family. 

In those cases where you are unable to work out parenting time through mediation, there is litigation. A judge will make decisions regarding custody and parenting time, as well as addressing other issues like education. No matter how you resolve the differences in parenting time and custody, the focus in on the children’s best interest.

Child support is for the financial expenses of the child(ren). In New Jersey, it is generally calculated based on the Child Support Guidelines. Child support covers part of the child’s expenses, such as housing, food, clothing and other basic needs. There are additional expenses such as healthcare, child care, extracurricular activities and educational costs which may be calculated separately.

Child Support Guidelines are just that guidelines. While most times the Guidelines may be a good solution, they do not work for every situation. If you have a child with special needs, medical concerns or educational issues there may be a need for additional support. This is also true when a child has special skills or may be gifted. 

Melissa works with parents to resolve the issues of custody, parenting time and child support without the adversarial tactics that can inhibit successful co-parenting. It is her focus to protect the children, preserve the parents’ relationships while making sure to address the children’s needs. Melissa also is careful to make sure in those situations where the parents are unable to co-parent or work together, that the children are supported and protected.

Prenuptial Agreement

No one enters a marriage expecting that divorce will happen.  When a divorce occurs, spouses often lament that they did not take steps to protect themselves before the marriage. Melissa assists parties with the drafting and review of prenuptial agreements.  These agreements address: how premarital assets will be treated, the distribution of marital assets, spousal support and other financial issues in the event of a divorce.

In addition to representing individuals, Melissa works with couples through mediation to help them negotiate the terms of a Prenup.  Mediation allows the couple to come up with the terms of their prenuptial themselves and reduces the stress and pressure.      

Post-Judgment Matters

Unfortunately, even after the divorce is final, you may need to return to court for assistance. Melissa can assist in negotiating a settlement before making an application to the court. If the matter cannot be resolved, Melissa can file or defend against Motions or other court applications.

Some of the matters that may be addressed post-divorce are:

  • Child Support Modifications
  • Modification, Suspension or Termination of Alimony
  • Change in Custody
  • Modification of Parenting Time
  • Enforcement of Support
  • Enforcement of Terms of Marital Settlement Agreement
  • Division of Retirement Plans
Adoption

Adoption can be one of the greatest expressions of love.  This expression comes with financial and legal commitments and obligations.  Melissa works with clients to navigate the legal proceedings in the adoption process.  

She can assist with prospective parents, step-parents and other family members who are seeking to adopt a child.  We are not an agency, but we can work with the agency to finalize the adoptions through the courts. 

Learn more about your options.

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