Going through a divorce and starting a new chapter in life is never easy. The divorce lawyers at Weiner Law regularly advise clients considering divorce and represent them throughout the process.
Divorce can be a straightforward process in some cases. But many divorces become contentious, especially when it comes to children and property.
How to File for Divorce in New Jersey
The process of filing and finalizing a divorce in New Jersey depends on several factors.
Where to File
Before someone can file for divorce, they need to meet New Jersey’s residency requirements. First, they or their spouse must have been a resident in the state for at least one year prior to filing for divorce. Second, they or their spouse must be a resident up until the date of filing the divorce.
The initiating spouse will file for divorce with the clerk’s office at the county courthouse. The New Jersey Rules of Court state that they must file for divorce in the county in which they live.
If a person doesn’t live in New Jersey, but their spouse does, they have to file in the county where their spouse lives.
Fault v. No-Fault
Many couples divorce without blaming an individual spouse as the cause of the divorce. This is called a no-fault divorce. If one spouse blames another for the dissolution of the marriage, they can file a fault divorce.
Couples seeking a no-fault divorce can follow two primary grounds recognized by New Jersey law:
- Separation, and
- Irreconcilable differences.
Couples seeking a fault divorce can cite:
- Deviant sexual conduct,
- Extreme cruelty, or
Keep in mind that most couples choose to file no-fault divorces. The process is often faster and less expensive than paying divorce lawyers to prove fault.
File for Divorce
The party initiating the divorce is the plaintiff, and their spouse is the defendant. The plaintiff must file the proper paperwork with the Family Division at the county courthouse and pay the filing fee.
These documents will include the legal complaint that cites the reason for the divorce, a summons, and any demands regarding child support, alimony, and property division.
After this, the plaintiff must serve the documents on the defendant to inform them of the divorce. The defendant then has 35 days to respond. If they don’t respond, the court may grant the divorce on the terms requested by the plaintiff.
Contested v. Uncontested
A divorce can be uncontested or contested. In uncontested divorces, couples work together and agree to all settlement terms. Issues you need to address include:
- Child custody,
- Child support,
- Spousal support,
- Division of marital property, and
- Division of marital debts.
A divorce is contested if the couple disagrees on any of these terms and needs time to settle their differences or have a court resolve the matter for them.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Many couples use alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to resolve issues regarding their divorce. Methods of ADR include mediation and arbitration, which are often less adversarial than court.
They provide a more cooperative means of resolving divorce-related matters. Better yet, these processes are often less costly than going to court.
Mediation involves negotiating with your spouse to achieve an agreeable resolution. If that’s not possible, you may need to go to court to resolve the divorce.
Arbitration is similar to having a judge decide the outcome of the divorce. The couple selects a neutral third party to hear the evidence and settle the divorce.
Why You Need a Divorce Attorney
Divorce is a complex, expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining process. Even uncontested divorces involve procedural requirements that can challenge the most well-intentioned couples.
Our New Jersey divorce attorneys take on these challenges for you so you can focus on the next chapter of your life. We understand the various requirements and nuances of New Jersey divorce law and can help you ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.
Some of our services include the following.
Navigating Child Custody and Support
Children are often at the center of divorce disputes. Deciding which parent they live with is a difficult conversation that is not always resolved amicably.
We can use our expertise to ease negotiations and resolve disputes. We will fight for your child’s best interests throughout the legal process.
Property Division and Alimony
You want to ensure your assets, liabilities, and properties are divided fairly in your divorce. We can assess your financial situation, negotiate a settlement, and advocate for your interests.
We can also help determine fair alimony arrangements for a smooth transition into post-divorce life.
Negotiating on Your Behalf and Representing You in Court
Negotiation is a difficult process for many people, especially when it involves their children and possessions. Your attorney can help you negotiate with your spouse and their attorney. They can also advocate for your interests in mediation or arbitration.
Your divorce attorney will represent you during this time to help ensure you make the best choices and act rationally. They can help you identify your goals, provide advice on negotiation tactics, and advise you on when you should accept an offer.
If you cannot reach an agreement with your spouse, your attorney will argue on your behalf in court. They will demonstrate why you need a certain outcome and advocate for a resolution that is in your favor.
New Jersey Divorce Statistics
The US Census Bureau found that 6.9 out of every 1,000 women filed for divorce in 2021. Compared to 2011, the divorce rate in 2021 fell by nearly 30%.
This decline in the divorce rate may be due to a nearly 10% decline in the marriage rate between 2011 and 2021. At the same time, the average length of marriage increased from 18 to 19 years.
New Jersey likely helped increase the average marriage length. It has some of the lowest divorce rates in the country, according to analysis by Point2.
The median marriage in New Jersey lasts 20.6 years. That may be why only 4.8 out of every 1,000 New Jersey couples filed for divorce in 2021.
How Much Does a Divorce Lawyer Cost?
The cost of a divorce lawyer in New Jersey can vary significantly based on several factors. These include the complexity of the case, the attorney’s experience, and the specific services required. Additionally, filing fees and other divorce-related costs may apply.
Speaking with the divorce lawyers at Weiner Law is the best way to estimate your legal costs. This consultation allows us to review your assets and other circumstances to see what services you’ll need.
Contact Us for Personalized Guidance
Anyone going through a divorce can benefit from working with an attorney. You should focus your attention on planning the next chapter of your life and not worrying about paperwork and negotiations.
Even if you are going through an amicable separation, New Jersey divorce laws don’t make it easy to make the divorce official.
Let the divorce attorneys at Weiner Law help you through this process. Our team includes Certified Matrimonial Law Attorneys and members of the New Jersey State Bar Association Family Law Committee.
We will work hard to finalize your divorce and protect your interests during the process. Call our New Jersey divorce lawyers today to schedule a consultation.