Divorce 101: The New Jersey Divorce Process Explained

  • View
    2.758

  • Download
    5

Embed Size (px)

Text of Divorce 101: The New Jersey Divorce Process Explained

Divorce 101

How do I start my divorce? &What should I expect?DIVORCE 101The New Jersey Divorce Process1

Presented by:Divorce & Family Lawyers in New Jersey

Welcome to Divorce 101Our presentation today will help you learn about the steps and stages involved as you begin the divorce process in New Jersey.We hope to help you understand what to expect as you proceed. 1

Divorce 101: DisclaimerThis presentation contains general information and does not constitute legal advice.

Be sure to direct specific questions about your own situation to an attorney.

2

Today we are going to provide you with an overview of the law and court procedures that apply to divorce in New Jersey.Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand information, not legal advice.Every situation is different, so please be sure to direct specific questions to an attorney.2

SectionsDivorce 101: The New Jersey Divorce Process

Stage One: Beginning the Divorce ProcessStage Two & Three: Case Management and DiscoveryStage Four & Five: Early Settlement Panel and Economic MediationStage Six & Seven: Intensive Settlement Conference and TrialPost-Divorce Considerations

Questions & Additional Help3

Our agenda today is broken into sections where we will describe an overview of stages of the divorce process. Depending on your personal situation, some stages may not be applicable. However, having an understanding of all of the information can help you determine what may apply as well. [read agenda items]3

Divorce 101The New Jersey Divorce Process Divorce 101: The New Jersey Divorce Process

#

Stage One: Beginning the Divorce ProcessThe typicalNew Jersey divorcebegins when one spouse files a complaint for divorce:The complaint is legal paperwork that you or your attorney give to the courts to start your divorce process.It states grounds for divorce, either no-fault (such as irreconcilable differences), or fault (such as infidelity). It must be filed in family court, together with supporting forms.

FOR A COMPLETE DESCRIPTION OF STAGE ONE, DOWNLOAD OUR PDF: Stage 1: Beginning the Divorce Processwww.wlg.com/divorce-roadmap

5Divorce 101 1. Stage One: The New Jersey Divorce Process

5

Q: Do I have to prove that my spouse did something wrong to get a divorce?A: No. New Jersey permits a no-fault divorce.

6Irreconcilable differences is the most common type of no-fault divorce in New Jersey.

Defined, generally, as the existence of significant differences between a married couple causing the breakdown of the marriage and for a period of at least six months, with no reasonable chance of reconciliation.Divorce 101 1. Stage One: The New Jersey Divorce Process

6

A Note about Private Divorce MediationIf you and your spouse can come to an agreement, consider private divorce mediation as a way to resolve your case.One of you will still need to file for divorce, but some divorcing couples choose to attend mediation first. Mediation can reduce costs. A divorce mediator does not represent either party, each of you may still need separate attorneys, unless you choose to represent yourselves.For more information, see our companion slideshow: Divorce Mediation 101.7Divorce 101 1. Stage One: The New Jersey Divorce Process

7

Initial Divorce Papers8Divorce 101 1. Stage One: The New Jersey Divorce Process

8

A Special Case: Default JudgmentsIf no response to initial complaint within 35 days, the plaintiff can seek a default judgment.

Example: You cant locate your spouse.

This can also be an intentional strategy, by agreement, as a route to uncontested divorce.

9

Divorce 101 1. Stage One: The New Jersey Divorce Process

9

10Divorce 101 1. Stage One: The New Jersey Divorce Process

Stage Two & Three: Case Management and Discovery

Within 30 days of the last date for filing an answer to the complaint (or to defendants counterclaim, if any) the court will schedule a case management conference (CMC) to:Fix deadlines for completion of discovery based on the number and type of issues in your case, andDetermine if any expert reports will be necessary for trial (e.g. child custody expert).

FOR A COMPLETE DESCRIPTION OF STAGES TWO AND THREE, DOWNLOAD OUR PDF: Stages 2 and 3: Case Management and Discoverywww.wlg.com/divorce-roadmap

11Discovery: This is the effort to discover facts relevant to the divorce case through requests for documents and information about things such as earnings, monthly budgets, assets, debts, etc. Divorce 101 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process

11

A note about Temporary Motions

12Do you need immediate help from the court?You can file a pendente lite motion for temporary relief at any time during your case. This could be for:

Divorce 101 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process

12

Do you have a custody or parenting time dispute?The court will send most cases involving custody or parenting time issues to court-mandated parenting mediation.

13All cases involving parenting disputes are assigned to the priority track at the case management conference (CMC).The judge will set a hearing date within six months of the answer to the complaint or the counterclaim.

Divorce 101 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process

13

The court will require you to try to settle your parenting issues:14Divorce 101 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process

14

Q. What if you cant resolve your parenting issues through negotiation or mediation?15A. The court will want an expert opinion.

Divorce 101 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process

15

Custody Investigations & Evaluations

Family Division InvestigationsThe judge can order a social investigation and best interests of the child report

May include home inspections for shared parenting time

May also include psychological, psychiatric, parental functioning assessments or mental health evaluations if necessary

The judge can also interview the child in chambersPrivate Custody EvaluationsParents can jointly hire a mental health expert to conduct the investigation and prepare the report, or

Parents can each hire their own expert

Child custody evaluators must be neutral and follow uniform standards, regardless of who hires them16

Divorce 101 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process

16

Dividing assets and debts

Alimony (spousal support)

Child support

You may also need financial experts at trial if you are unable to settle your property or support issues:$17Divorce 101 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process

17

A few examples of financial experts:

18Divorce 101 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process

18

What is Discovery?

19Parties file and exchange Case Information Statements (CIS) containing detailed information

The court sets guidelines for additional discovery a formal exchange of necessary information at the Case Management Conference

Divorce 101 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process

19

What does the Case Information Statement (CIS) include? 20Divorce 101 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process

20

Additional discovery in a divorce case often includes:21Divorce 101 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process

21

22

Divorce 101 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process

Stage Four & Five: Early Settlement Panel and Economic Mediation

Trials are expensive and burdensome for both the parties and the courts. New Jersey courts require most divorcing couples to participate in a series of court-mandated settlement efforts before going to trial:

FOR A COMPLETE DESCRIPTION OF STAGES FOUR AND FIVE, DOWNLOAD OUR PDF: Stages 4 and 5: Early Settlement and Economic Mediationwww.wlg.com/divorce-roadmap23 Divorce 101 3. Stage Four/Five: The New Jersey Divorce Process

23

What is the Early Settlement Panel?Two or three experienced volunteer family law attorneys review your issues and provide recommendations for resolution. If both of you decide to accept the panel's recommendations, you can go immediately to court to put your settlement terms on the record.A judge will grant your New Jersey divorce before you leave the courthouse that very day.24Divorce 101 3. Stage Four/Five: The New Jersey Divorce Process

24

What is Economic Mediation?25If you do not resolve your financial issues after presenting your case to the early settlement panel, the court will require you to choose an economic mediator to help you reach an agreement.

Divorce 101 3. Stage Four/Five: The New Jersey Divorce Process

25

26

Divorce 101 3. Stage Four/Five: The New Jersey Divorce Process

Stage Six & Seven: Intensive Settlement Conference and Trial

If you still cannot settle your financial issues after economic mediation, the court will ask you and your attorneys to attend an all-day settlement conference in a final attempt to avoid a trial.

FOR A COMPLETE DESCRIPTION OF STAGES SIX AND SEVEN, DOWNLOAD OUR PDF: Stages 6 and 7: Intensive Settlement Conference and Trial www.wlg.com/divorce-roadmap

27

Divorce 101 4. Stage Six/Seven: The New Jersey Divorce Process

27

What happens if my divorce goes to Trial?

If your case goes to trial, a fa