Process of a Bergen County, NJ, Divorce Case

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More than 26,000 couples file for divorce every year, but the process does not end overnight. The divorce process is ongoing and can be complicated, which is why it’s so important that you seek out the assistance of a divorce attorney in Bergen County, NJ.

The complications of divorce often involve whether it’s contested or not, the grounds for divorce and whether there are other issues involved in the case.

Is the Divorce Contested?

An uncontested divorce is one where you and your spouse can resolve all the issues involved in the divorce, including child custody, the division of assets, alimony, etc. A contested divorce is one where you are not able to work out an agreement for the disposition of property and other matters involved in the case.

What Are the Grounds for Divorce?

New Jersey law allows that a couple can file for divorce with fault or no-fault grounds. Many divorced couples cite irreconcilable differences when they file their no-fault divorce. It’s faster and easier to file with a no-fault claim, and it also removes the requirement of being forced to prove fault by the other spouse.

In cases where the couple files a fault divorce, the type of fault may involve allowable grounds. Filing for divorce in this way may prolong the divorce process and make it more contentious. Here are a few of the types of faults allowable by NJ law.

  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Deviant sexual conduct
  • Drug or alcohol addiction
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Imprisonment
  • Institutionalization for mental illness
  • Separation lasting over 18 months

While an at-fault divorce can be more complicated, there may be good reasons to file in this way. In cases where you are seeking full custody, the division of property, or there are other mitigating circumstances, an at-fault finding in your divorce case could benefit your claims in the case.

For certain at-fault divorce filings, like adultery, you must have been a resident of New Jersey for at least six months. Other at-fault filings require you to be a New Jersey resident for at least one year. To determine the best filing options for your particular situation, you should consult with a divorce lawyer in Bergen County, NJ.

What Other Issues May Be Involved in the Divorce Proceedings?

Your divorce process can be further complicated by a range of issues related to your separation and divorce. Since New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, the court rule on alimony and maintenance, as well as the division of property/assets and debt. The split is not always 50/50. Instead, the division is in a way that is considered “fair” under New Jersey Law.

A few factors can affect the division of assets. Here’s a quick list of some of the considerations.

  • The presence of a written agreement (like a prenuptial).
  • The income or property each person brought to the marriage.
  • The age, health, and wellness of each party.
  • Each person’s economic situation at the time of the split.
  • The standard of living each person has become accustomed to during the marriage.
  • The extent to which a person may have set aside career goals.
  • The value of the property.
  • The income and earning capacity of each party.
  • The debts and liabilities of each person.
  • How much did each person contribute to the acquisition of the property?
  • The needs of the custodial parent to provide for the best interests of the child.

While the spousal support and division of property can represent issues at the time of the divorce, child custody can be a much more drawn-out and even more contentious issue. While New Jersey law provides for and supports continued contact with both parents, custody battles can become heated as the court determines the aspects of custody.

  • Legal custody:  This aspect refers to the parent who is responsible for all major decisions for the minor child, including education, health, and welfare.
  • Physical custody: This aspect refers to the parent who has the primary physical custody of the child.

The arrangements that center around legal and physical custody are rarely simple and straightforward, even in the most amicable of divorces. The case may end up involving joint legal and physical custody, or it may involve joint physical custody, with legal custody residing with only one parent.

It’s also possible for a divorce to end with one parent retaining sole legal and physical custody of the child or children. That means that only one parent has the legal right to make all decisions in the child’s best interest. It may mean minimal or no visitation rights for the non-custodial parent.

How Long Does the Divorce Process Take?

The divorce process in New Jersey can be fast and easy, particularly if the case is uncontested. Depending on the complexity of the case, with child custody and property disputes involved, the divorce case can drag on for years.

What is the Divorce Process?

Even with complications, the divorce process is simple. It usually involves filing your divorce petition (Divorce Complaint) and making sure your spouse (or his/her attorney) is properly served. If your spouse doesn’t properly respond, the court can move forward with the legal process. The court can award everything that’s been requested in the complaint.

Depending on the circumstances involved in the divorce, you may meet with your spouse and both of your attorneys to discuss the issues involved in the case. If you can agree, your attorney may draft a Marital Settlement Agreement. If a compromise cannot be reached, mediation or other legal means may be used to settle the case.

A trial is a possible part of the divorce process, as is the appeals process. At any time, if you feel the court handed down a decision in error, you can file an appeal. You would need to have legal grounds to do so, but it can become part of the divorce process in more extreme cases.

Why You Should Consider Hiring a Hackensack Divorce Attorney

Divorce can be a difficult and emotionally draining time. It’s not something you ever want to go through alone, particularly where children are involved. It may be the most difficult time in your life, but that’s why you need to rely on your very own Hackensack divorce attorney. You need an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer who can guide you through the entire process.

Carrie S. Schultz

Carrie S. Schultz, Esq., the founder of Men's Rights Divorce & Family Law, is certified as a Matrimonial Law Attorney by the Supreme Court of New Jersey and practices solely within the area of divorce and family law. She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Miami School of Law.

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