Deciding to divorce or separate is rarely easy. Concerns about how the split may affect your property and finances can increase the emotional stress. If you have children, the potential impact on them is an additional source of concern. With questions ranging from finances to family that must be answered before you can legally dissolve your marriage and move forward, the divorce process can seem entirely overwhelming.
The Law Office of Tejas S. Kapadia is committed to helping individuals undergoing a divorce or any other family matters throughout New Jersey. It remains the objective of our New Jersey family law attorneys to offer competent legal counsel and providing you with the support, guidance, and aggressive advocacy that you need to reach your desired outcome.
Contact our Law office at (201) 632-1529 for a free consultation or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation.
GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE
You must state a reason for the divorce recognized by New Jersey law (called “grounds” for divorce).
No-fault or irreconcilable differences: To file for divorce based on irreconcilable differences, you must meet the following requirements:
- You or your spouse must have lived in New Jersey for 12 consecutive months before filing for divorce.
- You or your spouse must have experienced irreconcilable differences for 6 months, and
- The irreconcilable differences are a reason that the marriage, civil union or domestic partnership should be dissolved, and
- You are certain there is no way to reconcile.
There is no need to accuse the other spouse of doing anything wrong when filing based on irreconcilable differences. In fact, making accusations of adultery or other “wrongdoing” will not affect the outcome of the divorce or improve your chances of getting more child support, alimony, or other financial arrangements, such as equitable distribution.
- Separation: To file for divorce based on separation, the couple must have been living apart for at least 18 months.
- Extreme Cruelty: To file on the grounds of extreme cruelty requires proof of other factors. You should consult an attorney or read N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2 to see if the statute applies to your case.
- Other Grounds: Other “fault” grounds for divorce include adultery, institutionalization, and incarceration for an extended period. For more information, read N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2.
If you have been served with a Summons and Divorce Complaint, you are the defendant. The person who filed the divorce is the plaintiff.
You have 35 days to respond to the Summons and Divorce Complaint.
If you do not respond to the court at all, the court may grant the divorce and order in favor of the Plaintiff.
You have three options in how you respond to the court. You can:
- File an Answer — This means you respond to, or contest, what the plaintiff has stated in the Complaint.
- File an Answer and Counterclaim — This means you respond to the Complaint and also state any separate grounds for divorce and/or claims you want to make against the plaintiff.
- File an Appearance — This means you are not contesting what Plaintiff has stated in the Complaint but you do want to be heard on issues of custody, parenting time (visitation), child support, equitable distribution, alimony, or other matters.
Once granted by a judge, a decree of divorce legally terminates the marriage relationship between the spouses.
Call to discuss your Divorce options with our Experienced Attorney (201) 632-1529
The basic difference is that divorce ends the marriage and separation doesn’t. In New Jersey, there are two ways to get legally separated but not fully divorced. One option is to seek a “divorce from bed and board,” which is a similar process to a regular, absolute divorce that divides property, child support, and so on. This process isn’t used very often, however.
The more common way to get legally separated in New Jersey is to negotiate a separation agreement; that is, a legally binding contract that addresses the issues that would arise in a divorce, such as child custody, visitation, child support, visitation, and division of property. Again, at the end of the day, you’re still married – and thus can’t marry someone else – but otherwise, a separation is functionally quite similar to a divorce.
The sooner spouses begin amicably separating their finances, the easier the divorce process will proceed. You may wish to obtain separate bank accounts, although keeping one joint account to pay marital expenses will be helpful. You may also agree to divide existing back accounts and existing debt. You may also agree to sell the marital home, if neither of you wishes to or can afford to remain in the house. Do not remove your spouse’s name, transfer any monies, sell any properties or change any insurance without your spouse’s knowledge and agreement.
No, New Jersey is not a community property or 50/50 state. New Jersey is an “equitable distribution” state, which means the court is instructed to divide assets in a manner that is fair, but not necessarily equal. The courts have wide discretion in determining a fair division of property. Some of the factors New Jersey courts consider include:
- Duration of the marriage
- Age and health of the divorcing spouses
- The standard of living during the marriage
- Each spouse’s economic circumstances
- Any other relevant factors
This is one of the reasons it’s so important to have an experienced divorce lawyer representing your interests. There is no simple formula to determine how your marital property will be divided. An attorney who knows the system and understands how the courts weigh these factors can make a significant difference in the outcome.
The average New Jersey divorce costs somewhere between $12,000 and $15,000 in total. However, the total cost varies greatly because there are many factors that can make the divorce process more or less expensive. Generally, the least expensive divorces are those where both spouses are able to easily collaborate on settlement agreements. Litigation is typically the most expensive divorce method because it involves both spouses battling each other in court, which means paying court fees and attorney fees. Even if the divorce is uncontested and you don’t hire a lawyer, you’ll still need to pay at least a few hundred to file the divorce papers and to hire a process server to serve your spouse the divorce papers.
There are many aspects of a divorce that can alter the expenses you’ll need to pay. As stated earlier, uncontested divorces are much less expensive than contested divorces. If you decide to hire a divorce attorney, New Jersey divorce lawyers typically charge around $300 an hour for their services. Because contested divorces (which normally involve litigation) are much more time-consuming than other types of divorce, much of the cost goes toward lawyer fees. Uncontested divorces that are much more straightforward don’t always require an attorney, so you can choose to represent yourself in these situations.
Many people wonder if mediation is a cheaper option for divorces. It’s usually less expensive than litigation, but it can still be costly. Many people who hire a mediator also hire an attorney to help them file the paperwork. This is because the mediator helps the spouses work to come to a settlement agreement, but in New Jersey, the mediator can’t file the papers to finalize the divorce papers. You might still need an attorney, depending on your specific situation.
Hiring a divorce attorney can be costly, but the price might be worth it if you need an experienced professional to guide you through the process with your best interests in mind. Contact us today to inquire about hiring a divorce lawyer or mediator to assist you through this difficult time.
Mediation can be an effective tool for resolving divorce-related disputes in many cases. But, it isn’t for everyone. If you and your spouse are willing to work together, then it may be a good option. In every divorce matter, there is an opportunity to attend mediation on some level or approach discussion of resolution of the issues in a collaborative type approach. With that said, some couples just cannot agree no matter what and in those cases, it is sometimes more efficient and cost-effective to have the Judge make the decision.
You’re not legally required to have a lawyer to file for divorce, but it’s usually in your interest to get legal representation. Even a seemingly amicable divorce can get messy quickly, and the consequences of a mistake can affect the rest of your life. A lawyer who knows the system and knows the process can advocate for your interests, advise you on the best way forward, and make sure you and your family have a solid foundation after the marriage ends.
Divorce is always difficult, but you can make the process easier with the right attorney on your side. If you’re going through a divorce or considering a divorce in New Jersey, talk to an experienced divorce lawyer in your area today.
Ready to talk about your situation and get answers to your burning questions? Call (201) 632-1529 or complete our online contact form
Let our New Jersey divorce lawyers guide you through the divorce process
If you are considering divorce, or have been served divorce papers, you need legal counsel that works diligently to protect your best interests. The attorneys at the Law Office of Tejas S. Kapadia can provide the assertive yet compassionate support you need to move forward with your life as quickly and easily as possible.
Contact the Law Office of Tejas S. Kapadia Today!
We understand that if you are considering an attorney, then your matter is of extreme importance. Our response will be prompt, discreet and with the care and understanding that you deserve. Schedule an appointment with our Family attorney now.
Call (201) 632-1529 or complete our online contact form to schedule a consultation.
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