The end of your marriage may be tough, but the process doesn’t have to be
Divorce often brings out the worst in people, but it does not have to. DAME Legal has a proven record of counseling clients in divorce, protecting their rights and interests while working to achieve favorable outcomes. From child custody and child support to alimony and more, our divorce attorneys in Bergen County can provide exceptional representation in all aspects of your divorce case.
Call 201-231-7580 or contact us online for answers and advice from 5-star Bergen County divorce lawyers.
No matter how simple or complex your divorce may be, DAME Legal will work tirelessly to achieve fair results that enable you to move on with your life.
What Is the Divorce Process in New Jersey?
New Jersey divorce cases can proceed differently, depending on whether ex-spouses agree on the issues involved or whether they can come to an agreement out of court. Generally, here’s how the divorce process in New Jersey goes:
- A spouse files a Complaint for Divorce in the county of residence: This will initiate the divorce case, and the spouse who files will be the “plaintiff.”
- Divorce papers are served: Once the Complaint has been filed, the plaintiff will need to serve the other spouse, who is the “defendant” in the case, with a copy of the Complaint.
- The defendant has the chance to file a response: New Jersey divorce law provides 35 days for the defendant in a divorce to file a response. A response only needs to be filed if the defendant disagrees with any details of the initial Complaint. If not or if the response is not filed in time, the court may grant the divorce according to the terms in the initial Complaint.
- The case information statement is filed: This filing will detail financial information that’s critical to making decisions regarding the division of property and/or support payments.
- The divorcing parties will go before the Early Settlement Panel and participate in economic mediation: During these proceedings, the issues of the divorce will be presented, and possible resolutions will be recommended. If the ex-spouses can agree on a resolution, the court will grant the divorce. If not, the case will continue with the following steps.
- An intensive settlement conference occurs: This will be a final attempt to try to resolve the case outside of court and before trial.
- The divorce goes to trial: Both parties will have the opportunity to present their arguments before a family court judge. At the end of these proceedings, the judge will make a final ruling on the point(s) of dispute and issue a final divorce decree.
How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced in NJ?
New Jersey divorce cases generally take between 6 months and 2 years to resolve, with the average case lasting about 16 to 17 months.
Usually, divorce in New Jersey lasts longer when:
- The marital property is extensive and complex: This could include real estate in various states or countries, jewelry or art collections, and other assets. Inventorying and appraising everything can take time, and that’s before anything is divided up.
- The ex-spouses disagree about several or all of the issues in their divorce case: The more disagreements there are, the longer it can take to resolve a case (unless a compromise can be reached).
- There are allegations of more serious misconduct: Accusations of abuse or hidden assets will usually be investigated and dealt with before the divorce itself is resolved. That’s because, in many cases, the resolutions of those accusations can impact how the issues of the divorce—like disputes over alimony or child custody—are resolved.
- Either party is intent on “sticking it” to their ex: Sometimes, people just can’t see past the hurt, resentment, or anger they have towards their ex, and they decide they want to fight everything. When that happens, divorce cases can drag out.
An experienced lawyer can help streamline even the most complex divorce cases in New Jersey. That can be priceless when you’re ready to end a marriage and start the next chapter of your life.
How Long do I Have to Live in Bergen County Before Filing for Divorce?
One year is the residency requirement for divorce in Bergen County and throughout New Jersey. That means, before you can file a Complaint for Divorce, you have to have lived in the county where you plan to file for divorce for at least 12 months before filing. Please be aware that there can be exceptions to this requirement.
Is Hackensack a ‘No-Fault’ City & What Does ‘No-fault’ Mean?
Hackensack, like all other cities in New Jersey, has offered an option for no-fault divorce since 2007. No-fault divorce means that:
- “Irreconcilable differences” is a ground for divorce in New Jersey.
- Neither spouse has to accuse the other of misconduct or some type of abandonment in order to qualify for divorce.
Spouses can file for a no-fault divorce in New Jersey as long as:
- The irreconcilable differences have persisted for at least 6 months, and there is no chance of reconciling; OR
- The spouses have been living apart for at least 18 months.
Grounds for a Divorce in Bergen County
In addition to irreconcilable differences, there are fault-based grounds for divorce in New Jersey. In these cases, the grounds for divorce would have to include at least one of the following:
- Physical or mental cruelty
- Alcohol and/or drug addiction
- Nonconsensual, deviant sexual behavior
- Incarceration or institutionalization for mental illness
- Some other bad action that one spouse committed against the other
What Is the Difference Between Contested & Uncontested Divorce in New Jersey?
This describes whether (or not) the divorcing parties agree on the issues of the case. Specifically:
- Uncontested divorce means the parties agree on issues like the division of the marital property, support payments, and/or custody issues. Uncontested cases can be resolved pretty quickly if the divorcing parties continue to agree as the case advances. For many, however, uncontested cases can become contested as exes start to work out the details of their case, especially without lawyers.
- Contested divorce means there is at least one disagreement over the issues of the case. While these cases can be heated and bitter, they can still be resolved without much ado if the parties are willing to work together—and if they have attorneys helping them along the way.
Is an Uncontested Divorce the Same as a No-Fault Divorce in New Jersey?
No. While contested versus uncontested refers to whether spouses agree about how to resolve their divorce, fault versus no-fault refers to the reason the divorce is occurring in the first place.
So, there can be fault-based uncontested divorces, like in the case of both parties agreeing to the terms of the divorce, which was filed on the grounds of adultery or incarceration. All the same, there can be no-fault contested divorce cases, in which the parties agree they don’t get along and never will but they don’t agree about the terms of the divorce.
How Are Assets & Debts Divided in a NJ Divorce?
The division of marital property in New Jersey, which includes assets and debts, should be done equitably, according to state law. This means fairly, not necessarily evenly. New Jersey, like most states, does not recognize “community property.”
To determine what constitutes a fair distribution of the marital property, New Jersey family courts will consider:
- The length of the marriage
- The standard of living set in the marriage
- The age and health of each spouse
- The property each party brought into the marriage
- Each party’s income, earning potential, and economic circumstances
- Each party’s custodial responsibilities for children
- Terms of any valid prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement
Whenever there’s a dispute over the division of property in a contested divorce in New Jersey, an attorney can be essential. With a lawyer, you can understand what’s fair, what you may be entitled to, and what you need to do to assert your rights to an equitable division.
What Is Marital Property in New Jersey?
Marital property is any asset or debt accumulated during the marriage (with some exceptions, like inheritance or gifts received during the marriage). In contrast, separate property is any asset or debt either party had before the marriage.
That sounds simple on paper. It can get complicated quickly when separate property is commingled with marital property. For example, depositing an inheritance into a joint account can immediately blur the lines between separate and marital property.
Will I Have to Go to Court to Settle My Divorce?
That depends on you, your ex, and your case. Your divorce case will go to trial if there is no way for you and your ex to resolve all of the issues of your divorce through out-of-court options. Commonly, this is the case when either spouse refuses to compromise or when there are allegations of hiding marital assets, domestic violence, or child abuse.
Generally, settling divorce cases out of court, before trial, is ideal for everyone. That’s because these divorce settlements can lead to:
- More favorable outcomes: With divorce settlements through mediation, exes can find compromises or solutions that fit their situation. A judge who doesn’t know you beyond your case won’t be able to do that as well as you can if you and your ex are able to find common ground.
- Faster resolutions: Exes can schedule mediation whenever it fits their schedule, not the court’s overburdened schedule. If that can result in a divorce settlement, there’s no need for a trial, which really shortens the process.
- Savings: Shorter divorce cases usually mean lower divorce costs. Ultimately, that can mean more financial resources to start your life after divorce.
From divorce mediation to divorce trial, the Bergen County family lawyers at DAME Legal handle it all. We can provide strategic, effective representation in any legal proceeding necessary for your divorce case. We can also explain your best options at every junction so that you can:
- See the big picture: It can be easy to focus on small details in the heat of divorce. We can help you keep a long-term perspective so you never lose sight of your goals and what’s most important.
- Make decisions that support your objectives: With our advice and counsel, you can avoid some of the common mistakes people make in New Jersey divorce.
- Protect your rights and interests at every phase of your case: From initial filings and responses to mediation, court hearings, and beyond, we’ll provide experienced representation and personal service throughout the entire process.
How Can a Divorce Attorney Help Me?
The right lawyer can help you with all aspects of your divorce case, guiding you towards efficient, favorable resolutions. At DAME Legal, we know how difficult and overwhelming divorce can be, especially when children, businesses, and major assets are involved. We also know that our counsel and representation can make all the difference in how you get through divorce.
With a deep understanding of New Jersey divorce law and experience handling various types of divorce cases, we are effective at advancing our clients’ interests and helping them strategically pursue their objectives. Here are some of the different types of divorce cases and issues we are skilled at resolving:
- High-net worth divorce
- Fault and no-fault divorce
- Uncontested and contested divorce cases
- Contested prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements
- Cases with complex, comingled, and/or allegedly hidden marital assets
- Divorce involving child custody and/or paternity issues
We are proud to be the family law firm in Bergen County, NJ that so many turn to when it’s time to set their divorce case up for an optimal resolution.
Divorce is never easy. We’re here to help.
Call 201-231-7580 or contact us online for answers and advice from a 5-star family law attorney in Bergen County.
It’s never too early or too late to get answers about a divorce case that hasn’t been finalized. Depending on the circumstances, it may even be possible (and in your best interests) to appeal a New Jersey divorce judgment. The lawyers at DAME Legal are standing by, ready to hear more about your situation and give you helpful advice.