Even if you know it’s for the best, it can be distressing and confusing to face a divorce.
Divorce laws in New Jersey can be complex and it can be hard to find clear answers to your questions.
Arons & Solomon wants to help. We’ve prepared concise and informative answers to some of the typical questions our clients ask.
You may have even more questions, and that’s okay. Reach out to our office to discuss the details of your case.
What’s the Process for Getting a Divorce in New Jersey?
The process to get a divorce is the same used for the dissolution of a civil union or domestic partnership.
Each step of the divorce process must be completed properly or the divorce can be invalid.
To start the divorce process in New Jersey, either spouse can file a Complaint for Divorce, along with all of the required court forms. The spouse who files for divorce is the petitioner and the other spouse is the respondent.
At the time they file the divorce, the petitioner spouse provides the defendant spouse’s last known address for service of process. The respondent spouse will be served with the Summons and Complaint for Divorce.
The respondent then has 35 days to respond. If the respondent does not respond, the court may grant the divorce in favor of the petitioner.
Before any trials are held, both spouses have an opportunity to conduct discovery. Discovery is the exchange of documents and evidence relevant to the issues before the court.
The vast majority of all cases settle before trial and divorce cases are no different. When spouses can agree on child support, child custody, and division of assets, a settlement agreement can be submitted to the court for approval.
If spouses cannot agree on any issue, a trial will be held and the court will decide based on the evidence presented at trial. The court will issue a judgment granting the dissolution of the marriage.
How Do Family Courts in New Jersey Determine Child Custody?
If parents can agree on a child custody arrangement that works for their family, New Jersey courts will accept the parents’ agreement. When parents submit their agreement to the court, it must also include a Parenting Plan that outlines custody time and parental rights.
When parents can’t agree, New Jersey courts determine child custody based on the best interest of the child. The best interest of the child is a balancing test that allows the court to way any factor relevant to the child’s welfare.
How Do Family Courts in New Jersey Determine Child Support?
New Jersey courts determine child support using the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines provide the formula for calculating child support. They use the income shares model of child support, which means each parent owes support based on their proportion of the combined family income.
After child support is determined, if a change in circumstances occurs, either parent can ask the court to adjust the amount of child support in consideration of the change.
How Do Family Courts in New Jersey Handle Property division?
Property acquired by spouses during a marriage is called marital property. In New Jersey, any property a person owns before their marriage is their personal property. Upon divorce, each spouse is entitled to their personal property.
The court handles the division of assets using equitable distribution. This means the court may not split all of the property and debts equally, but the split will be fair to both parties.
How Do Family Courts in New Jersey Handle Debt Distribution?
New Jersey courts handle marital debt using equitable distribution. Generally, both spouses are responsible together for debt acquired during the marriage. If one spouse shows evidence that the debt was acquired before marriage or after the spouses started living apart, and that the funds only benefited the other spouse, the court may assign the debt to that spouse.
How Do Family Courts in New Jersey Determine Spousal Support?
For marriages less than 20 years, the duration of spousal support cannot exceed the duration of the marriage. The amount of spousal support is based on several factors: a party’s actual needs and the other party’s ability to pay, among other considerations, like the parties’ respective ages and income-earning capacities.
How Much Does it Cost to Get a Divorce in New Jersey?
The cost of a divorce in New Jersey will be different for each case. Most attorneys bill by the hour, so the cost of the divorce will depend on how much time is spent on your case.
Some factors that can influence attorneys’ fees include:
- The extent to which the spouses cooperate
- The extent to which the spouses disagree over issues
- The simplicity or complexity of the marital property
- Whether child custody and child support are in dispute
Clients can help manage legal expenses by preparing for each conversation they plan to have with their lawyer.
Is it Possible to Get a Divorce Without Going to Court in New Jersey?
Movies often show contentious divorce trials for dramatic effect. But in reality, lots of people want their divorce to be as easy to obtain as possible. Whether you have to go to court for divorce depends on whether your divorce is contested or uncontested.
If the divorce is uncontested and the spouses can reach agreements relating to property and any children involved, the court will accept their agreement and grant the divorce.
Call Our Bergen County Divorce Lawyers To Learn More
There may be questions about the New Jersey divorce process that are not covered in these answers. Reach out to Arons & Solomon today for answers to your questions about divorce. Our divorce attorneys in Bergen County, NJ can help you identify the best strategies for your case.