The first step for many New Jersey spouses who want to dissolve a marriage is to consult a family law attorney. You can take matters into your own hands and obtain a divorce without a lawyer’s assistance, but New Jersey courts don’t recommend it, especially when couples have children. An attorney will not be appointed for you.
New Jersey divorces can be obtained by filing petitions that include reasons or grounds for divorce. An 18-month separation qualifies as grounds in a no-fault divorce. Other grounds include desertion, extreme cruelty and adultery. Different waiting periods apply, depending to the grounds claimed, before a petition can be filed.
A court date may be set as soon as three months following the filing of a divorce complaint. Getting a court date may take longer if the legal action is contested. Keep in mind that issues like alimony, child support, custody and property division can be sensitive and take time to work out.
Spouses and their attorneys can meet to work out a settlement. Some spouses resolve their differences with the help of an Early Settlement Panel. In either case, when an agreement is reached, the settlement is included with the divorce judgment.
Some spouses refuse to come to terms concerning the issues we mentioned earlier. In that case, a judge will decide for you. However, even spouses in conflict often prefer to resolve these problems without placing them before a judge.
A spouse cannot be denied a divorce as long as sufficient grounds are presented to the court. Failing to respond to a divorce complaint won’t suspend or end the divorce process. A lack of response results in a default judgment.
Family law attorneys can provide much more detail. Every divorce has its unique characteristics. Many attorneys offer free initial consultations to make it easier for spouses to get their preliminary divorce questions answered.
Source: New Jersey Courts, “Divorce/Matrimony” Dec. 02, 2014