Note - You can avoid almost every step on this page if you and your spouse can agree on an Uncontested Divorce
If you have been thinking about a New Jersey divorce, you may be unclear about what to expect during your divorce process. A thorough understanding of the New Jersey divorce process, from the first set of filing the Complaint for Divorce to the final trial, will make it easier for you to understand the process when you file for divorce in the State of New Jersey. Each case has a life of it's own, so your case make take a different turn here and there.
The New Jersey Divorce Process
Step 1—Complaint for Divorce
A New Jersey divorce begins with an NJ divorce form called the Complaint for Divorce. This is the initial filing and tells the court that you are seeking a divorce and asks the judge to grant the judgment of divorce. In the complaint form and along with it usually includes:
• The grounds for New Jersey divorce, such as:
◦ Irreconcilable differences
◦ 18 Month Separation
◦ Extreme cruelty
◦ And more
• An Affidavit of Insurance Coverage form that identifies your existing insurances, such as:
◦ Automobile insurance
◦ Homeowner’s insurance
◦ Life insurance
◦ Medical insurance
◦ And more
• A Confidential Litigant Information Sheet that informs the court about personal information about you, including:
◦ Date and place of birth
◦ Social security number
◦ Driver’s license number
◦ And more
Step 2—Case Management
After the Complaint for Divorce has been filed, your New Jersey divorce matter will be assigned a docket number. You will then have to serve other party with the divorce papers, which includes the Summons and Complaint. Soon thereafter the court may then set a date for a case management conference to:
• Gather all of the parties in the NJ divorce
• Discuss the issues of your New Jersey divorce that is preventing it from going forward
• Establish deadlines for the exchange of documents and interrogatories
• Ascertain if any experts will be required and if child custody is an issue.
Step 3—Early Settlement Panel
During what is called the discovery phase, your NJ divorce attorneys should be trying to settle your case in order to avoid a costly trial. If, it turns out that the trial date is reached and your New Jersey divorce case has not been settled, you will be required to appear before the early settlement panel . Your NJ divorce attorney will attend it with you. The panel will listen to both sides and in the end provide recommendations for settlement. If you agree then you can convert you divorce to an uncontested divorce and obtain your divorce, in most cases, the very same day. A mutual acceptance of the panel’s recommendation will enable a judge to grant your New Jersey divorce before leaving the courthouse that very day.
Discovery is the process where the parties exchange information so that the truth can be established. Let’s say that one party runs a business and the other knows little about it. During this period all documents pertaining to the business can be requested and the court will order whn and what is permitted to be exchanged.
In all cases both parties are required to complete a case information statement, and in some cases interrogatories (written questions) will be exchanged. These interrogatories detail each party’s income, assets, monthly budgets, and liabilities.
If the lawyers required it, a party may be questioned under oath about their marriage including the assets and children. This is called a deposition. Normally a deposition is taken in a lawyer’s office with a court stenographer present. After the deposition is completed a transcript of the deposition is be made available to each party and the court if appropriate.
Step 5—Economic Mediation
If the early settlement panel does not resolve the open issues in your New Jersey divorce, then you will be directed to select an economic mediator to help you solve your NJ divorce matter. A date will be scheduled and you and your spouse and your two New Jersey lawyers will meet the mediators in an effort to come to a resolution of your divorce matter.
The mediator meets with both parties in order to assist you in reaching an amicable settlement.
Step 6—The Exhaustive Settlement Conference
If you cannot settle your New Jersey divorce with the Early Settlement Panel or the economic mediation segment, then the court will required both parties and their NJ divorce lawyers to come again to court for an all-day settlement conference. The basic reason for this all day settlemtn conference is to avoid your New Jersey divorce case from going to trial.
Step 7—The Trial
The trial is the final Step of your New Jersey divorce process and in most cases it is never reached because the case is settled during the divorce process. During the trial, the judge will listen to testimony from each party, witnesses, and experts, and will eventually make a decision on all the issues that are still in dispute.
Unless you or you spouse appeals the judges decision, your New Jersey divorce will be granted.
If you are thinking about getting a NJ divorce, contact Moses Apsan, Esq. (973) 465-7600 for your FREE CONSULTATION.
If you need more information about obtaining a divorce in New Jersey please contact our office for a free consolation.