Divorce is never a pleasant experience, but it does not need to be an excruciatingly stressful ordeal. Although significant effort is involved in dissolving a marriage, one way to make it less stressful is by pursuing an uncontested divorce, in which the couple works out their own agreement without the active intervention of mediators and courts. If you are considering this option, Bergen County uncontested divorce lawyer Howard B. Leopold can guide you. In over 25 years of practice, Leopold Law has helped numerous couples work out uncontested divorces in Northern New Jersey.The Uncontested Divorce Process in New Jersey
The term “uncontested divorce” refers to a divorce in which the couple works out all of the material issues on their own, often with the advice of an attorney who works for both of them. In most cases, it is in the best interests of both parties—in terms of their time, costs, and emotional wellbeing—to aim for an uncontested divorce.
The key to a relatively quick, painless, and inexpensive divorce is the willingness of both parties to do the hard work of negotiating a satisfactory resolution to every material issue, including:
- The proper identification of separate and marital property;
- A fair division of all marital assets and debts, and an agreement on any necessary asset liquidation;
- Allocation of joint expenses, including medical insurance and costs for them and any children, as well as mortgage payments;
- Allocation of tax liability, deductions, and exemptions moving forward;
- Residence, custody, and visitation schedules for any children;
- Any child support amounts and schedules; and
- Any spousal support amount, as well as its method, terms, and duration.
If there is any dispute regarding these issues, even if it is over just one or two items, the divorce will be considered “contested,” and the case will continue to move toward trial unless and until the spouses can arrive at a settlement agreement.
Consequently, even though the formal divorce process does not begin until the filing of divorce papers with the appropriate court, for an uncontested divorce, the work needs to be done prior to the actual filing. It is advisable to review all of the details and documentation with an experienced attorney beforehand so that you know exactly what will be involved in your divorce and make sure that you address all necessary matters. To avoid delays and unnecessary contention later, you need to be fully aware of all that is involved so that you can identify or anticipate potential problems and resolve them with your spouse ahead of time.
After your spouse and you have resolved all of the issues, the divorce process may be expedited if the non-filing spouse declines to respond to the initial pleading. By not answering, the defendant “defaults,” and the plaintiff may move for a default judgment and obtain a final hearing. At the hearing, it is advisable for both the plaintiff and the defendant to attend so that the judge can verify from both spouses that the settlement agreement is satisfactory to each of them and ask any questions, if necessary. If everything is in order, the judge will sign the final divorce decree and incorporate the settlement agreement into it.Discuss an Uncontested Divorce with a Bergen County Lawyer
If your spouse and you believe it would be in your best interests to work out an amicable, uncontested divorce, contact Bergen County uncontested divorce attorney Howard B. Leopold at Leopold Law. For a free consultation to find out how we can advise and assist you, call (201) 345-5907 or contact us online to make an appointment. Howard represents people who need a family law attorney in Bergen, Essex, Passaic, and Hudson Counties.