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Overview of a Contested Divorce in NJ Timeline

If you and your spouse have made the decision to seek an end to your marriage, you certainly have a number of questions about the divorce process. Among them most likely is the very basic but very important question of how long does a contested divorce in NJ take?

Overarching Judicial Policy About Divorce Timeframe in New Jersey

There is a recognition in the New Jersey judicial system that parties to a divorce are not well served when a marriage dissolution case drags on indefinitely. New Jersey courts have mandated that a divorce in the state should not take longer 12 months as a general rule. The clock starts running from the time a complaint is filed with the clerk of the court.

The 12-month time frame references what commonly is known as a contested divorce. An uncontested marriage dissolution case can conclude far more quickly than a year in New Jersey.

The 12-month timeframe is the general outward parameter for concluding a divorce case in New Jersey. As is discussed in a moment, there can be factors and issues that necessarily will extend the conclusion of marriage dissolution proceedings beyond the one-year mark.

New Jersey Divorce Residency Requirement

One factor that can extend the total time associated with ending a marriage in the Garden State is the statutory residency requirement. Before a divorce complaint can be filed in this state, at least one spouse must reside in New Jersey for at least a year unless you file on the grounds of adultery. Therefore, if that residency minimum has not been met, a couple will have to hold off pursuing a marriage dissolution case until that one-year threshold has been crossed. Please note that the one residency requirement does not apply if you file on the grounds of adultery.

Is There a Separation Period Prior to Commencing a Divorce Case?

You may have heard that you need to be separated from your spouse for a certain period of time before filing a New Jersey complaint for divorce. In most cases, there is not pre-filing separation period required in New Jersey, something that could extend the overall process. (Some states do maintain a separation requirement before filing a complaint or petition for divorce.)

The only exception to this rule is if you seek a divorce on the grounds of separation. There has to be a minimum period of separation before you can file a complaint for marriage dissolution alleging this as the reason for divorce. (Most people pursue a divorce based on irreconcilable differences in such a situation in order to bypass this additional waiting period.)

Child Custody and Related Issues can Draw Out a Contested Divorce in NJ

When it comes to the timeline of a contested divorce in NJ, issues surrounding child custody and related matters frequently are the reasons for the proceedings taking a more extended period of time. This typically occurs not only because of the complexity of custody, parenting time, support, and other legal niceties but because of the emotionally charged nature of these types of issues.

High-Asset Divorces Tend to be More Challenging to Resolve

Another line of marriage dissolution cases that can extend the timeline of a contested matter is that associated with a significant number of assets. Not only does this include cases in which the parties have extensive assets but those proceedings in which a spouse or both spouses own a business.

Other Factors that Extend a Contested Divorce in NJ

There are a number of other circumstances that can prolong the overall divorce process in New Jersey. For example, if you want to base a divorce on a spouse’s incarceration, you will need to demonstrate that your spouse will serve at least 18 months in prison or jail.

If you want to base a marriage dissolution on an allegation of insanity, a demonstration must be made that the condition is permanent. This requires considerable evidence, including testimony and reports from mental health professionals. Moreover, your spouse would need to have been hospitalized or institutionalized for at least two years.

If you face the prospect of a contested divorce in NJ, you best protect your vital legal interests by retaining the services of an experienced, tenacious New Jersey divorce attorney on the legal team at the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen.

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