If you are about to file a divorce complaint, it is crucial that you understand what to expect during the divorce process. Indeed, each case is unique, and the steps involved in one divorce case are not necessarily the ones involved in another case. However, the following are the general steps of divorce in New Jersey;
Filing the Divorce Complaint
As you already know, the first step in a New Jersey divorce is to file a divorce complaint with the court. As the person filing the complaint, you are called the plaintiff. In the divorce complaint, you must include, among other things, your name and that of your spouse, your addresses, and grounds for divorce. In NJ, you can get divorced either on fault or no-fault grounds. After you file a divorce complaint, you must serve the complaint to your spouse (the defendant).
Answer and Counterclaim
After you serve your spouse with the divorce papers, they have 35 days to respond to the complaint. Your spouse can file an Answer, Answer and Counterclaim, or Notice of Appearance. If your spouse fails to respond to the complaint within the allotted time, you can request a default divorce. This is a divorce where the court grants a final judgment without the defendant’s input.
Filing the Case Information Statements
The next step in a New Jersey divorce is usually filing Case Information Statements (CISs). Each party is required to file their own statement. A CIS includes information about a party’s income, expenses, assets, and debts. Case Information Statements are used to determine crucial matters, such as property division and support matters.
For example, at this stage, one party can request the court to order the other party to pay temporary spousal support. If the judge approves this request, the spousal support order will remain in effect until a final judgment is entered or the judge terminates or modifies the order.
Case Management Conference and Discovery
To get a sense of the issues that need to be resolved, the court will schedule a Case Management Conference. Usually, both spouses are required to attend this conference. During this hearing, the court will set a discovery period. In the discovery period, you and your spouse exchange all the information needed to resolve your divorce case.
After the discovery phase, your and your spouse’s attorney will be required to present their case to a Settlement Panel. This panel will help you resolve your financial issues, but the recommendation offered by the panel is nonbinding.
If you and your spouse do not come to an agreement at the Settlement Panel, you will be required to attend Economic Mediation. A court-approved mediator will try to help you and your spouse reach an agreement.
Intensive Settlement Conference
If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement in mediation, you will need to attend an Intensive Settlement Conference in court.
If, after everything discussed above, you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement, you will have to go to trial, where the court will decide on the divorce-related issues. Once the trial is done, the court will issue a Final Judgment of Divorce.
Contact Us for Legal Help
If you are facing an NJ divorce and are looking for an attorney to represent you, contact our qualified New Jersey divorce lawyer at the Trabosh Law Firm.