Going through a divorce is never easy. Between heightened emotions, concerns over legal costs, and uncertainty regarding the future, the process can feel overwhelming.
However, having a basic understanding of the process can go a long way toward putting your mind at ease and alleviating some of the stress.
If you are about to begin the divorce process in New Jersey and aren’t sure where to begin, Weiner Law is here to help. Use our guide below to learn more about how to file for divorce in New Jersey, other steps in the process, and how a divorce attorney can help.
New Jersey Divorce Process: What You Need to Know
Divorce is referred to as the “dissolution” of marriage in New Jersey, and it is the process by which married couples formally terminate their marriage. While each case is different, here are a few general things about the process to keep in mind as you get started.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
A contested divorce is one in which the spouses disagree on one or more issues. These disputed issues frequently include matters involving:
- Alimony (spousal support),
- Division of marital property,
- Child custody,
- Parenting time (visitation), and
- Child support.
When either party contests these or other issues, the judge will eventually need to resolve them through the divorce process.
In some cases, both spouses will agree to the divorce and all related terms and issues.
This is referred to as an uncontested divorce. Because there is inherently less disagreement and animosity in an uncontested divorce, the process for finalizing the divorce is typically much shorter than in a contested divorce.
Note, however, that even in an uncontested divorce, the judge must still enter a final order for the dissolution of the marriage. Thus, the parties must set forth any agreement they reach in writing and provide it to the court to review before it can be entered as a court order.
How to File for Divorce in New Jersey
To initiate the divorce process, you first need to complete a summons and complaint. The complaint must state the ground under which you are seeking the divorce.
Once you have drafted the complaint, you will then file it with the appropriate court using the New Jersey e-filing system and pay the applicable filing fee.
After filing for divorce, you will then need to formally serve the summons and complaint on your spouse so they have notice of the pending divorce action.
To effectuate service, you can hire a private process server or contact the sheriff’s office in the county where you filed your complaint.
Next Steps in the Process
After you have filed and served the complaint on your spouse, they will then have an opportunity to respond by filing an answer.
Thereafter, the court will typically schedule a case management conference between the parties to discuss certain issues before proceeding.
Issues can include the following:
- Contested issues in the case,
- Timeframe for discovery,
- Options for early settlement,
- Setting a trial date, and
- Other miscellaneous matters related to the case.
The judge will not hear any evidence in this initial case management conference. Rather, this is an opportunity for the parties to discuss initial matters before the case is ready to proceed.
If the parties have not agreed to all terms of the divorce, the court may nevertheless order the parties to attend mediation. This is a process where the parties meet with a neutral third-party mediator who will help the parties work toward a resolution on any disputed issues.
While the parties are not required to reach any early settlement, the alternative is proceeding to trial, where the judge decides all disputed issues after hearing the evidence.
Thus, mediation and an early settlement can be a great way to reduce the time, expense, and stress typically associated with going to trial.
Cost of Divorce Lawyers in New Jersey
There is no average cost of hiring a divorce attorney in New Jersey. However, it is not uncommon for an attorney to cost a few thousand dollars or more, depending on the complexity and overall length of your case.
That said, hiring an attorney can help you save valuable time and money in the long run when considering things like property division, alimony, and child support.
Many people are hesitant to hire an attorney for their New Jersey divorce due to the uncertainty of the potential cost. However, the value of having an experienced legal professional in your corner cannot be overstated.
A mistake can cost far more in time and money when you have to go back to court to fix or modify the terms of your divorce order.
Weiner Law: New Jersey Divorce Attorneys You Can Count On
When navigating a divorce, it’s important to have someone on your side that you can trust. When you hire Weiner Law, you can count on us to provide you with the zealous legal representation you need and the care, attention, and compassion that your case deserves.
If you have questions about the New Jersey divorce process, give our New Jersey family law attorneys a call. Let’s discuss your case and see how we can help you move forward today.
How Long Does a Divorce Take in New Jersey?
Typically, the New Jersey divorce process can be completed from start to finish in under one year. That said, each case is different, and some divorces can be finalized in a matter of months, while others may last more than a year. Ultimately, the overall length of the process will depend on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, the complexity of the case, and the level of cooperation between the parties.
What Are the Divorce Laws in New Jersey?
Most of the laws governing divorce are covered in Chapter 2A:34 of the New Jersey Statutes. This chapter covers causes for divorce, property distribution upon dissolution, alimony (spousal maintenance), and other related matters. However, child custody, another important topic that frequently arises in divorce proceedings, is addressed primarily in Chapter 9:2.
How Much Does a Divorce Cost in New Jersey?
The cost of a divorce will vary widely from case to case. This will ultimately depend on factors such as the complexity of your case, the level of experience and rate of the attorney working on your case, and the extent of any disputed issues between the parties.