Divorce In NJ: Understanding the Process
By Peter Van Aulen, Esq.The Filing of the Complaint and Answer in a NJ Divorce
A party that files a complaint for Divorce is called the Plaintiff in a divorce in NJ. 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. The Defendant can file an Answer, Answer and Counterclaim, or Notice of Appearance.The Filing of the Case Information Statement in a New Jersey Divorce
The parties' New Jersey divorce lawyers 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 divorce case. It is used to determine temporary and final support issues. It is also used in dividing the parties’ assets.Pretrial Motions and Divorce in New Jersey
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 NJ Divorce
The Court holds a Case Management Conference. The parties and their New Jersey divorce lawyers are requried 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.Early Settlement Panel in a Divorce in NJ
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 NJ
If the parties fail to resolve the case at the Settlement Panel, then the Court will order the parties to economic mediation. The parties’ NJ 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.Settlement Conference and Trial in a NJ Divorce
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 comprehensive in office consultation with a New Jersey divorce lawyer.
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