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Overview of New Jersey Uncontested Divorce Timeline

While it is true that many marriage dissolution cases are hotly contested, there are also situations in which a couple is able to pursue a New Jersey uncontested divorce. If you are contemplating ending your marriage, and you and your spouse believe that you may be able to settle the case without going to trial, you undoubtedly have several important questions. Among these questions likely is how long does an uncontested divorce take in the state of New Jersey?

The bottom line is that there is no hard and fast timeframe within which an New Jersey uncontested divorce will be completed. The focus really needs to be on possible points in the process that might delay the resolution of an uncontested divorce case.

Residency Requirements Before Filing for a New Jersey Divorce

New Jersey law requires that at least one spouse reside in the state for a minimum period of time before a divorce case can be filed. Specifically, before a New Jersey divorce case can be commenced, at least one spouse must live in the state for a minimum of one year.

One exception to the one-year residency requirement does exist. This residency requirement doesn’t exist in a situation in which the spouse filing for divorce is alleging adultery as the grounds for seeking a marriage dissolution.

Service of “Divorce Papers” on “Other Spouse”

Following the filing of a marriage dissolution complaint and associated documents with the clerk of the court in the county where the person pursuing a divorce resides, the “divorce papers” must be served on the other spouse. (Technically speaking, divorce papers are known as pleadings.) The divorce papers encompass the complaint and other documents filed with the court clerk to commence the case. They also include what is identified as a summons.

The summons sets forth basic information about the court as well as a deadline by which the other spouse must file an answer to the complaint. In New Jersey, the responding spouse has 35 days to file an answer to the marriage dissolution complaint.

Default Divorce Versus New Jersey Uncontested Divorce

A discussion of a New Jersey divorce that is not contested is incomplete without noting the difference between the terms “default divorce” and “uncontested divorce.” In basic terms, a default divorce is a type of uncontested divorce, a subcategory of uncontested divorce.

If the person being sued for divorce fails to respond to the complaint within 35 days, the person who filed the marriage dissolution action is entitled to seek what is known as a default divorce. In order to obtain a default judgment from the court, the party who filed the divorce complaint – the petitioner – must demonstrate to the court that the respondent properly was served with the “divorce paperwork.”

Divorce Settlement Agreement

The key to keeping an uncontested divorce moving along at a steady, efficient pace, is reaching agreement between the spouses and writing a suitable divorce settlement agreement. Two crucial points need to be made about the marital settlement agreement.

First, this type of agreement must be legally sufficient. In other words, the manner in which the document is drafted must meet the requirements of New Jersey law. (This is yet another reason why hiring an attorney is appropriate even when by all accounts a particular marriage dissolution case appears to be uncontested.

Second, a settlement agreement must be comprehensive. The agreement must address all matters at issue in a particular marriage dissolution proceeding.

Marriage Dissolution Hearing

Once a settlement agreement is executed between the parties, a divorce case can be schedule for a marriage dissolution hearing. During the hearing, a judge will confirm that the parties have satisfied all legal requirements associated with a settlement agreement. Assuming everything is in order, the court will grant a divorce and include a marital settlement agreement within the final divorce decree in the case.

Whether you already know your divorce will be contested, or if you have hopes that you and your spouse will be able to reach an agreement to settle your marriage dissolution case, the legal team at the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen is here to assist you. We can schedule an initial consultation with you by calling our firm at (201) 845-7400. There is no charge for an initial consultation with an experienced divorce attorney from our firm.

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