What is the divorce process in nj?
When one or both spouses make the decision to seek a divorce, they may not initially realize that they are getting themselves into a potentially long and complex process, especially if the divorce ends up at trial when the spouses cannot come to an agreement on the issues in their divorce. If you are considering a divorce in New Jersey, you should familiarize yourself with the process of divorce in New Jersey courts.
Filing a Divorce Complaint
Divorce proceedings begin when one spouse files the divorce complaint with the court; that spouse will be designated the plaintiff, while the other spouse is designated the defendant — these designations merely reflect who filed the complaint and are not necessarily intended to identify one spouse as being “at fault” for the divorce.
The complaint should set forth the names and addresses of the spouses, the place and date that the parties were married, and the grounds for divorce, which may be a fault-based divorce (such as due to adultery, abandonment, or cruelty) or a no-fault divorce (irreconcilable difference or an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage).
Appearing in Court
The “defendant” spouse must answer the divorce complaint if he or she wants his or her arguments to be heard on any of the issues in the divorce, such as alimony or equitable distribution of marital property. The “defendant” spouse may simply file a general appearance and answer, or may assert counterclaims against the “plaintiff” spouse, such as allegations that the “plaintiff” spouse committed grounds for a divorce or asserting issues not asserted in the complaint (for example, asserting a request for alimony).
Preparing a Case Information Statement
Both spouses will be required to file a case information statement, which includes financial information for each spouse (such as income and separate assets like pensions or retirement accounts) that may be relevant to financial issues in the divorce like equitable distribution and alimony.
Settlement Negotiations & Mediation
If the spouses have not already engaged in settlement negotiations to reach a postnuptial agreement prior to filing for divorce, the court will require them to engage in an early settlement panel, which will advise both spouses of the outstanding issues in the divorce and recommend potential avenues of settlement. If the spouses accept the panel’s recommendations, the court will incorporate them into the final judgment of divorce.
If the early settlement panel fails to reach an agreement between the spouses, they will next be required to participate in court-ordered economic mediation. If no settlement is reached, the last step before trial is the intensive settlement conference.
If there are any remaining issues following all the steps of dispute resolution, the court will hold a trial on those issues. The court will decide any outstanding issues in the divorce and incorporate those rulings, along with any settlement agreement the spouses have reached on other issues, into the final judgment of divorce. It is only when the court issues the final judgment of divorce that spouses are legally considered divorced and their marriage ended.
Contact a Clark Family Law Attorney for a Consultation About Divorce in New Jersey Today
If you are thinking about filing for divorce, or if you have already started the divorce process and are dealing with another matter such as child custody, child support, or division of assets, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Team Law represent clients throughout the state, including Hoboken, Paterson, Elizabeth, and Trenton. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (732) 540-1394 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 136 Central Ave., Clark, NJ 07066, as well as offices located in West New York, Perth Amboy, Edison, Summit, Newark, New Brunswick, Orange, Plainfield, and Jersey City.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.