MEETING OPTIONS DURING THE CORONAVIRUS: The Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen understands your concerns regarding the spread of the Coronavirus, and now offers different meeting options to our clients and those seeking legal representation. All meetings, including initial consultations, can be handled either through the phone, FaceTime, Zoom, or in person.

Understanding the Steps of a Divorce in New Jersey

By Peter Van Aulen, Esq.

The Filing of the Complaint and Answer in a New Jersey Divorce

A party that files a complaint for Divorce in New Jersey is called the Plaintiff. The Plaintiff then has the Complaint served on the other spouse who is called the Defendant. The Defendant will have 35 days after they have been served to answer the Complaint. In New Jersey the Defendant can file an Answer, Answer and Counterclaim, or Notice of Appearance.

The Filing of the Case Information Statement in a Divorce Filed in New Jersey

The parties are required to file Case Information Statements. Case Information Statements are documents in which each party states their income, expenses, debts, and assets. This is one of the most important documents filed in a pending divorce in New Jersey. It is used to determine temporary and final support issues. It is also used in dividing the parties’ assets.

Pretrial Motions in NJ

The parties have the right to file Prejudgment Motions after the Complaint has been filed. Pretrial Motions can request that the court order one party to pay pendent lite (temporary) child and spousal support. Said motions can also award temporary custody of the children and establish a temporary parenting time schedule. Pretrial support and custody orders are in effect until the Judge enters a Final Judgment or the Judge enters an order terminating or modifying the same.

Case Management Conference and Discovery in a New Jersey Divorce

The Court holds a Case Management Conference. The parties and their divorce lawyers are required to attend. This is a scheduling Hearing where the Judge will set a discovery period. A discovery period is a time when the parties exchange information needed to resolve the case. The Court will set dates for the parties to serve and answer interrogatories, produce documents, and have real estate and personal property appraised. The Court can order and set dates for evaluations of parties and children when custody or visitation is an issue. Also, if custody or visitation is at issue the Court will order the parties to custody/visitation mediation in an attempt to resolve these disputes.

New Jersey Divorce Court and the Early Settlement Panel

The Court will order the parties' lawyers to present their case to a Settlement Panel after the discovery period has ended. A Settlement Panel consists of two or three experienced matrimonial attorneys who volunteer their time to hear the parties’ case. A Settlement Panel only assists the parties in resolving their financial issues. A Settlement Panel does not assist the parties in settling any dispute in regard to custody or visitation. Custody and visitation mediation mentioned above is designed to attempt to resolve those disputes. The Settlement Panel will give a nonbinding recommendation on how to settle the case after reviewing the settlement proposals presented by the parties’ attorneys.

Mediation and Divorce in New Jersey

If the parties fail to resolve the case at the Settlement Panel, then the Court will order the parties to economic mediation. The parties' divorce attorneys will choose a mediator from a Court-approved list. This mediator will provide two hours of their time without charge. If the parties go beyond said two hours they must pay the mediator according to their hourly rate.

New Jersey Settlement Conference and Trial 

Most likely there will be a mandatory settlement conference with the Family Law Division Judge before the trial date. If you do not settle then there will be a Trial before a Judge if the parties fail to settle their case. The Judge will require the parties’ attorneys to prepare and submit to the court legal briefs outlining all arguments. At the end of the trial the Judge will enter a Judgment of Divorce in regard to custody, visitation, division of assets, child support and alimony. Please note that at any time in the above said process the parties can enter a Final Settlement Agreement resolving all issues in dispute. If they do the same their attorney’s will contact the court and schedule a date to put through the settled divorce. Call our office today at 201-845-7400 to schedule a free initial consultation with a New Jersey divorce lawyer .

New Jersey Divorce Lawyer Blog - Divorce
Client Reviews
Peter has integrity, and values his relationships with his clients beyond his financial relationship with them. For me to say this about any lawyer is really saying something. He is compassionate, straightforward and knowledgeable. I would easily recommend him to anybody. Lewie W.
Peter Van Aulen handled my case with great diligence and integrity. He is also a compassionate individual who realizes what a difficult time divorce can be emotionally. Peter works hard and doesn't take any shortcuts in preparing for a case… I highly recommend Mr. Van Aulen and his staff. Chuck Solomon
Peter is an exceptionally great attorney. He handled my child custody case and was able to ease any of my concerns with honest answers. He always took the time to explain the pros/cons and was always available to answer any questions that I had… I would highly recommend this attorney to anyone who is looking for one. Jessica Cruz
Peter Van Aulen is a very compassionate, honest and straightforward person. He was there for me at my lowest point with a genuine concern not only for my situation, but for me and my child's well being above all… He is fair and he is strong and when push comes to shove he is there for you. Cathy Dodge
Our cousin used Peter's law office to help with a sticky custody situation. He was extremely responsive, very nice and most importantly did an awesome job with the court! He is awesome. Lawrence Polsky

*Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances