Divorce is the process by which a couple ends a legal marriage. A divorce can be a relatively friendly matter, when both parties agree about things like the division of property and custody of the children.If so, then a divorce will be relatively inexpensive and can be resolved quickly.
On the other hand, a divorce can be hotly contested, with a couple fighting over everything from ownership of the family business to custody of the cat.When much is at stake, and emotions run high, divorces can be stressful, expensive, and drag on for years.
Although you don’t have to have an attorney in order to obtain a divorce, it’s a very good idea to at least consult with an experienced family lawyer before beginning the process.
If you don’t hire an attorney, then you must be prepared to educate yourself about New Jersey divorce law, prepare all the required papers, and represent yourself in court.
Our Bergen County divorce lawyer can explain your rights and obligations and advise you about what a court is likely to order if you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on your own.
A divorce lawyer can also advise you about alternatives to traditional litigated divorce, such as divorce mediation and collaborative divorce.
If your spouse refuses to cooperate, an experienced divorce attorney in Bergen County can vigorously protect your rights and interests in court.
There are no formal filing requirements for a “legal separation” in New Jersey.As long as you are living apart from your spouse (and intend to remain apart), then you are considered separated.
How long you’ll have to wait for a court to grant your divorce depends on the grounds for the divorce.
- For adultery, there is no waiting period.
- For extreme cruelty, you may file for divorce three months after the last act of cruelty occurred.
- For desertion, you may file for divorce 12 months after your spouse left.
- For a “no fault” divorce, you may file for divorce after you and your spouse have been living apart for 18 consecutive months.
After you or your attorney file your divorce papers, your spouse will have 30 days to respond if your spouse lives in New Jersey.(Longer time limits apply if your spouse lives outside the state or outside the United States).
If your spouse doesn’t file an answer, or if your spouse has no issues for the court to decide, then the court will grant the divorce based on a “default judgment.”This is another way of saying that the divorce is uncontested.
Once a spouse has filed for divorce, and established proper legal grounds for the divorce, the other spouse cannot prevent the divorce from happening.Courts will not force people to remain married to each other if one spouse wishes to be divorced.
In addition to the grounds listed above, grounds for divorce in New Jersey are:
- Drug addiction and habitual drunkenness
- Imprisonment for at least 18 months
- Institutionalization in a mental institution
- Deviant sexual conduct without the other spouse’s consent
Whether or not a spouse responds to an initial divorce filing, both spouses will need to appear at a hearing scheduled by the clerk of the Superior Court in the area.If the parties have already reached a settlement by the time of the hearing, then the divorce can be granted quickly.If the parties don’t agree, then the court will set a timetable for further proceedings.
If you have questions about divorce, we invite you to contact our Hackensack office for a free initial consultation with an experienced Bergen County divorce attorney.
Call us today at (201) 345-5907 or send us an e-mail and let us help you with your New Jersey divorce issue.