A divorce of any kind is a stressful, life-changing process. However, contested divorces tend to be lengthier, more expensive, and even more emotionally draining. Here’s what to expect during a contested divorce in New Jersey, and how you can best prepare for the process.
1. Filing the Complaint For Divorce
In New Jersey, a divorce starts when one spouse files a Complaint For Divorce. This is an easy step that simply lets the New Jersey courts know you and your spouse are seeking a dissolution of marriage.
2. Service of Summons
The Complaint For Divorce is then served to the other spouse with a summons, which must be answered within 35 days of receipt. Failure to respond to the complaint/summons could result in an uncontested divorce.
At this point, the spouses must gather all pertinent information regarding their assets, expenses, income, etc. After the serving of the Complaint For Divorce, you and your spouse both have only 20 days to exchange Case Information Statements regarding your assets and income. However, the discovery process may also involve written questions, depositions, and other fact-finding procedures.
4. Early Settlement
Some cases of contested divorce don’t actually go to trial. Several months after the Complaint For Divorce is filed, both spouses and their attorneys attempt to reach an agreement through arbitration with an Early Settlement Panel. If the divorce involves child custody issues, both spouses may still need to attend custody mediation.
5. Issuing Temporary Orders
At this point in the New Jersey contested divorce process, a judge will issue temporary orders for alimony/spousal support, child support, and child custody. Although these orders are considered to be temporary and they may be modified later during trial, temporary orders are still very important. This is particularly true in child custody cases — often, New Jersey courts will prefer that permanent custody is awarded to the parent who was awarded temporary custody in order to avoid further disrupting the lives of the children.
6. Preparing For Trial
If your contested divorce case goes to trial, you and your divorce attorney will prepare for litigation. Although litigation can be stressful and difficult to understand, it becomes much easier when you have the support of an experienced family lawyer on your side.
7. The Final Verdict
After the divorce trial is completed, the judge will use all information presented to issue a final judgment. Depending on the case, this could take just a few days or several months.
Contact a Veteran Divorce Attorney Today
The most important way you can protect your rights under the law during a contested divorce is to work closely with a seasoned divorce lawyer. Rita T. Jerejian is an attorney with over 25 years of experience fighting for her clients’ success in divorce court, and she can provide you with comprehensive, aggressive legal representation. Contact Attorney Jerejian today for a consultation at (201) 489-7714.