Step by Step Guide: How to Start a Divorce in NJ
Going through a divorce, also known as dissolution, is highly stressful for most spouses who have decided to start down this path. As the thought of divorce lingers continuously in one’s mind, with many questions to follow, the first and foremost question is “what’s needed to start a divorce in NJ.?”
First, several issues will need to be addressed when starting a divorce in NJ. We outline them in the list below.
- Type of Divorce
- Cause of action or grounds for divorce
- Allocation of marital property
- Child custody
- Child support
This guide explains the types of divorce in New Jersey and the steps to take to start a divorce.
Types of Divorce in NJ
There are three types of divorce in New Jersey: collaborative divorce, contested divorce, and uncontested divorce.
A collaborative divorce is a relatively new procedure whereby couples can reach an agreement, assisted by legal professionals, mediators, and other advisers, as to the terms of their divorce. Then, a legal document is drawn up and legalized by a court to end the marriage.
A contested divorce takes place when the parties cannot amicably agree on the terms of their divorce. A judge makes decisions in the courtroom, often following evidence from both sides. A judge will decide what is fair before finalizing a divorce, including matters related to children, division of marital property, and alimony payments.
An uncontested divorce is similar to a collaborative divorce. Parties reach an agreement together, usually without the assistance of professionals. Instead, a lawyer is hired to file the divorce papers with the court. There is typically no need for either party to appear in court and a judge legally finalizes the divorce.
Steps to Take to Start a Divorce in NJ
So, now let us discuss the divorce process for each type of divorce since the steps to take are different.
Both spouses have their own lawyer for a collaborative divorce, who must agree to be bound by the collaborative divorce process. Together, the spouses and their attorneys share information and discuss pertinent details to reach an agreement without the need for a trial. Finally, a written contract is submitted to the court to finalize the divorce. However, if the parties ultimately cannot reach an agreement, they must retain different lawyers and start a contested divorce.
For some couples, there is no possibility of considering trying to divorce collaboratively; their expected outcomes are often vastly different, and there is usually much disagreement.
For a contested divorce, lawyers can assist clients with complex litigation and court representation to try and achieve the best outcome. For example, an attorney may present evidence in court and call witnesses as part of the divorce trial.
The steps to take to start a divorce when it’s contested are:
- File a complaint about divorce, including grounds for divorce
- Complaint about divorce served on spouse with a summons
- Spouse has 35 days to respond
The divorce process step by step then includes:
- Exchange of Case Information Statements
- Discovery requests for extra information, written statements, expert evidence, and documents
- Meeting of Early Settlement Panel
- Temporary order hearing
- Pre-trial preparation
- Post-trial submissions
For an uncontested divorce in NJ, the first steps are to complete paperwork known as divorce pleadings and then file the documents at court along with the relevant fee (or waiver). Then, papers should be served on the other spouse.
Start The Divorce Process and Protect Yourself
Regardless of the type of divorce, it’s highly recommended to consult a divorce attorney to ensure that all of the steps you take are correct, enabling the best outcome for you.
Family lawyers specializing in divorce have the experience and expertise to advise and guide you on the right path on how to start a divorce in NJ. Divorce is an important event in one’s life and must be handled with care.
Contact Dalena & Bosch Family Law Firm for expert legal representation and compassion to start your divorce in New Jersey. Regardless of the type of divorce, the professional divorce attorneys at Dalena & Bosch will “hold your hand” and guide you step by step from start to finish. Let us help you begin a new chapter of your life.