Divorce, a significant life event, often feels like an overwhelming journey into the unknown. However, understanding the process can help demystify it, making it more manageable. 

Let’s break down the divorce process into steps, providing a detailed roadmap to navigate divorce in Bergen County, New Jersey. 

Step 1: Establish Residency in New Jersey

Before diving into the divorce process, it’s crucial to meet residency requirements. In New Jersey, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months before filing for divorce

Additionally, one of you should have resided in Bergen County, New Jersey, for at least one year. This applies unless the reason for filing is adultery, and individuals can file before a year has lapsed. 

However, if one of you has relocated, you must ensure compliance with these residency requirements before proceeding with the divorce.

Step 2: The Waiting Period

Like many other states, New Jersey imposes a waiting period for all divorce cases. This waiting period is a buffer between filing for divorce and its finalization, allowing both parties time to consider their decisions carefully. 

In New Jersey, you must wait at least six months from the filing date before your divorce can become final. While it’s possible to reach an agreement and have divorce documents approved sooner, this waiting period remains a fundamental aspect of the divorce process in New Jersey.

Step 3: Embrace New Jersey Family Law

New Jersey operates on a no-fault divorce basis, meaning there’s no need to officially place blame on either spouse for the end of the marriage. This approach simplifies the divorce process considerably. 

In New Jersey, it is not a requirement for both spouses to agree to divorce for it to proceed. One spouse can initiate the divorce and go through the legal process. That spouse can have the divorce finalized even if the other spouse declines to cooperate or participate. 

If a spouse refuses to participate or respond to the divorce filing, the case will move forward and likely result in a default judgment.

Step 4: Complete and File the Divorce Forms

Filing for divorce in New Jersey involves specific paperwork and a filing fee. The divorce-initiating spouse is known as the petitioner. You must complete and submit divorce forms to the court as the petitioner. These forms ask for your personal information and spouse’s, like your address, marriage date, how long you’ve been married, and where you live. 

Having a divorce attorney check your papers before you file is a good idea to ensure they’re accurate and complete.

Step 5: Serving Your Spouse and Their Response

After filing the divorce papers with the court, you must officially serve them to your spouse. This step formally notifies your spouse that you have initiated divorce proceedings. However, you cannot personally serve the divorce papers. 

Instead, an outside individual who is over the age of 18 must perform this task. Many individuals use a registered process server to ensure this critical step is executed accurately and efficiently.

Upon being served with the divorce papers, your spouse has 30 days to respond. This can be done by filing a court response indicating their intent to participate in the divorce process. Once both parties are on board, the divorce case advances to the discovery phase.

Step 6: The Discovery Phase

The discovery phase is crucial in divorce. Financial information and relevant documents are exchanged between spouses. This phase serves several essential purposes:

Having an experienced attorney to help you during this stage is crucial.

Step 7: Settlement or Trial

As the discovery phase progresses, both parties may work toward reaching a settlement agreement. A settlement agreement outlines how various aspects of the divorce will be handled, including property division, child custody, support, and alimony. If both parties agree, the divorce can be finalized without a trial.

However, the case may proceed to trial if an agreement cannot be reached. During a divorce trial, a judge will hear evidence and decide on issues that could not be resolved through negotiation or mediation.

Step 8: Divorce Finalization

The divorce can be finalized once an agreement is reached or the court decides at trial. This typically involves the issuance of a final divorce decree by the court, which officially ends the marriage.

Divorce in Bergen County, New Jersey, is a multifaceted process involving several critical steps. Understanding these steps and their implications and potential complexities is essential for a smoother divorce experience. 

It’s important to remember that every divorce case is unique, and the specific details and challenges can vary widely. If you hire a trusted divorce lawyer, however, your interests will be represented effectively at all times.

Contact the Bergen County Family and Divorce Law Firm of Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers for more help

Contact the experienced family attorneys at Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers today for legal assistance. Visit our law office in Bergen County or give us a call at (201) 487-1199 to schedule a free consultation with our team.

Bergen County Law Office
1 University Plaza Dr #400, Hackensack, NJ 07601, United States