The New Jersey Divorce Process
The procedure for getting a divorce in New Jersey, as in other states, has become more user-friendly over the years, principally with respect to the expansion of no-fault grounds on which individuals can file for divorce. It is still the case that even the simplest divorce in New Jersey, for example where there is no question of alimony or child support, is a complex undertaking.
The legal divorce process begins when one spouse files a “Complaint for Divorce” with the Superior Court of New Jersey. The other spouse is then served with the Complaint and given time to respond. If the parties are in agreement about property and debt division, as well as child custody and child support matters, the divorce can be finalized without a trial at an uncontested divorce hearing. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the court will schedule the case for a case management conference. At the conference, the judge and attorneys set forth time frames to exchange various information such as financials, appraisals and forensic evaluations.
Subsequently, the court will schedule an early settlement hearing date for non-binding mediation. Thereafter, in the event the case has not been settled a trial date will be set. At any time after the Complaint has been filed, either party can request temporary assistance from the court in the form of custody and spousal/child support orders, as well as orders to determine who pays what expenses on a temporary basis.
A Simplification of the Complicated Divorce Process
The complexity lies not in the steps to be followed in the divorce process, which are clear and limited, and which are outlined below. Rather, the complexity lies in complying with the substantive requirements of each step. For example, the first step in the divorce process is the filing of the Complaint. The Complaint’s purpose is to state the reason(s) you are filing for divorce and to ask the court for relief. Courts require that other information and forms be submitted along with the Complaint. To take just one example, you are required to submit along with the Complaint a Certification of Verification and Non-Collusion. By submitting the Certification of Verification and Non-Collusion, you certify that the Complaint is being filed in good faith, that all the claims in the Complaint are true, that there are no other pending actions involving the petitioner’s marriage and that no additional people other than the defendant named in the Complaint need to be included in the case.
The Major Procedural Issues in a NJ Divorce
Here is a list of the major procedural steps in a New Jersey divorce action:
- Filing of Complaint
- Defendant files an Answer, Answer and Counterclaim or an Appearance
- Case Management Conference is scheduled by the court
- Discovery process begins
- Depositions are scheduled and taken
- Parties may appear before an Early Settlement Panel and participate in Economic Mediation
- If neither the Early Settlement Panel nor the Economic Mediation Process produces a settlement, then the court will likely schedule a trial date
- Of course, there are a number of developments that may take place at any time in the divorce process that could cut short the steps laid out above. For example, your spouse may not answer your Complaint, and a default judgment may be entered on your behalf.
Getting a divorce in New Jersey, or anywhere else, is a major event in anyone’s life. It is an event fraught with pitfalls for those who try to navigate the process without the help of a lawyer. If you are resolved to file for divorce in New Jersey, it is important that you seek out an attorney experienced in New Jersey divorce law to represent your interests and to guide you through the New Jersey divorce process.
Why Vincent DeLuca is the Ideal Lawyer to Handle Your Divorce
Vincent C. DeLuca of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. is certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Attorney. Mr. DeLuca is part of the 0.002% of attorneys to hold the prestigious certification of Matrimonial Attorney in New Jersey. Additionally, Mr. DeLuca, whose practice is devoted exclusively to family law in Ocean County and Monmouth County, is one of only five certified Matrimonial Attorneys on the Roster of Mediators for Economic Aspects of Family Law in Ocean County, New Jersey. Call Villani & DeLuca at 732-965-3350 today to set up a free consultation.