Getting a divorce is incredibly stressful and emotional. You may be thinking that you should see how quickly you can get through the process so that you can move on and start healing from the break up. However, you also need to keep in mind that the order given by the judge at your final hearing will be good for a long time, possibly years, and it may be difficult to get the order changed unless your circumstances have dramatically changed. You should speak with a compassionate, caring family law lawyer who can not only represent your interests in the case but support you throughout the process.
New Jersey Divorce Laws to Consider
Divorce is a serious matter in New Jersey, and you will not be able to file for divorce in the state unless at least one of the parties has been a resident of New Jersey for at least a year, unless adultery is involved. When there is adultery involved in the pleadings, you will not need to prove a certain length of residency. Most states will allow parties to simply file that the marriage is irretrievably broken, without giving specific reasons. In New Jersey, you may allege adultery, abandonment, irreconcilable differences, a separation that has already lasted at least 18 months, imprisonment, institutionalization, or drug addiction. You may also claim that your significant other committed deviant sexual conduct on you without your consent, but if you believe that applies to you, you should speak to your New Jersey divorce attorney first before filing the claim. If you don’t meet the residency requirements but plan on getting divorced in New Jersey, you may just have to wait.
Asset/Liabilities Distribution in New Jersey
New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, which means that the courts will not automatically divide the parties’ property in an even split. In order to get what you deserve, you will need to have an attorney who has experience with divorce cases and understands how to process your financial information. Sometimes it may take a long time to ensure that you have all the paperwork you need, because some documents may be more difficult to access. At the very least, you will need income information, loan details, childcare expense, and property ownership information. If you or your spouse has a retirement plan, the judge may need that information in order to make a fair ruling.
Even if you have not filed for divorce yet, you probably have a good idea of what arrangements you want to make for the children, if there are any in the marriage. You do not have to wait until your divorce is final to start receiving or paying support so that your family can continue to function as well as possible at this traumatic time.
New Jersey is one of the states that allow alimony, so if you believe you may need alimony, you should be careful that you ask for spousal maintenance as part of your original filing. If you think you may be depending on this support to help support yourself after the divorce, you should make sure that you have let the court know your situation and why you need it. Again, this is one way that New Jersey law tries to be fair to both parties. If one party stayed at home doing the valuable work of raising the children while another spent decades in the workplace, it would not be fair to push that stay-at-home parent out without any assistance.
The Divorce Process
Once you have established residency and know what grounds you will claim to file, you and your attorney should prepare a petition. Your attorney can assist you in covering all the important matters so that your interests are represented to the judge immediately. Once you are satisfied with your petition, file it with the court and make sure that your spouse receives a copy.
If your spouse disagrees with the original petition, he or she can file a response and either simply deny what you are asking for or offer an alternative. Hopefully, your spouse also has a competent attorney who will make sure that your spouse meets all the deadlines and turns in all the paperwork required by the court. Also, if you cannot agree on everything, you may want to try mediation, where an unbiased third party will look at all the information and work with you and your spouse in an attempt to reach an agreement. Mediation is not only less stressful, but it is less expensive and will make you feel better about the final result, as you will know that you were able to reach this agreement by your own efforts.
Between the time you file your original petition and the judge issues the final divorce decree, New Jersey will allow you to complete the entire process in about a month and a half. However, that minimal period is only possible when you and your spouse are able to agree on everything and can present a fair agreement to the judge. By the time parties present evidence to each other and ask for other evidence, the process can drag on in a contested divorce. Even a contested divorce will hopefully be finished within one year.
Call a Competent, Skilled New Jersey Divorce Attorney
We understand how painful it is when you are trying to complete the negotiations for your divorce. Even individuals who thought they were happy with the choice experience feelings of loss knowing that the marriage is over. At Schultz & Associates, we want to help you negotiate this difficult process as smoothly as possible. We will listen to your side of what happened so that we can understand what brought you to this place. We can help you get past the emotion so that you can deal with the issues as they come, instead of getting stuck on old resentments. If you have started divorce proceedings on your own or if you are just thinking about filing, call today so we can discuss your options.