Divorce FAQ

How long does it take to get a divorce in New Jersey?

The honest answer here is that it depends on how difficult your case is.  If the spouses are in agreement on everything, it may be as fast as two months.  If the case is contested by both parties and many issues are involved, the case can very well take over a full year.

Is there an advantage to filing a complaint first?

In New Jersey, most times it does not make a difference which party files first as far as who will get more support or assets. Usually, the party that files first may have a greater desire for the divorce, and as a result, if willing to let more go in an effort to expedite the divorce.

What is the benefit for no-fault divorce in New Jersey?

Each spouse is seen as contributing the same amount to the death of the marriage, so a more equitable agreement is possible.

Can I get divorced if I do not know where my spouse is?

Yes. Through a process referred to as Constructive Service, you can proceed to get divorced.

How are debts divided in a divorce proceeding?

Debts are very common during a marriage and a pending divorce. Debts are usually divided in a manner that approximates the parties' respective earnings ability and ability to pay.

What is an uncontested case?

An uncontested case is a divorce proceeding where the parties are not disputing any legal issues. Generally, the parties are just ready for the whole process to be over with.

What is a contested case?

As soon as a complaint or summons is filed, a divorce proceeding becomes contested, and is contested until all disputes are resolved, including alimony, custody, and division of assets.

If spouses agree on everything do they need an attorney?

If you are going to have an uncontested divorce and you both agree on everything it is still advisable that you hire and attorney to review the paperwork and make sure everything seems fair. You may be very surprised what happens if you do not. A lot of people end up signing what they thought was discussed and agreed to, but actually was not. New Jersey will not allow one attorney to represent both parties due to the conflict of interest.

What does a mediator do?

A mediator may be used if the spouses do not wish to fight in the courtroom. A mediator helps the spouses understand and express their objectives with the intent to be able to achieve them through negotiation, rather than through court proceedings and motions.

What is an arbitration?

Arbitration is less formal than a regular court hearing. Parties must consent to have their cases decided through arbitration. An arbitrator will hear from both spouses, who will have the opportunity to disclose all information necessary to prove his or her claims. Each side must be represented by legal counsel, and the decision reached by the panel is final. The decision is then attached to the divorce complaint to become part of the final divorce decree.

What are pleadings?

The paperwork filed with the court to formally initiate a divorce is the first pleading and subsequent paperwork may constitute pleadings. For example, the response of the other spouse is likely the second pleading in a case.