Deciding to get married is easy. Deciding to cut ties and get a divorce is difficult. Whether you’ve been married for months or decades, uprooting your life and separating from the partner you’ve built your life with can be stressful and emotionally draining. But when relationships break down and there’s no way forward, divorce is the only direction to take.
Before you file for divorce, you should know these eight important things:
1. New Jersey Has Fault and No-Fault Grounds for Divorce
The Garden State has both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce, but in most cases, filing under no-fault grounds is the best option.
Courts care very little about the reason for your divorce. Marital misconduct may only come into play when considering parenting issues.
Filing under no-fault is typically the best option. Filing under fault does little more than spark emotional issues that may drag out the divorce for months – or years.
2. Financial Disclosure is Required
As part of the divorce proceedings, you will be required to fill out a Case Information Statement. The court-approved form asks for specific information about your financial life, such as your liabilities, income, lifestyle expenses, assets, and health insurance benefits. Both parties must complete these forms.
Courts may use Case Information Statements when dividing property if the two parties cannot come to an agreement.
3. Traditional Divorce is Not the Only Options
Most divorcing couples assume a “traditional” divorce is the only option, but other methods exist: mediation, binding arbitration, and collaborative divorce.
These alternative methods are great options if both parties are cooperative and able to come to an agreement on most issues.
Divorce arbitration may be considered if you and your partner have reached a stalemate in the divorce negotiations. Rather than having the case heard in a public court, cases are heard in a private setting with an arbitrator. But unlike a trial at court, an arbitrator’s decision cannot be appealed in most cases.
Mediation may be the right option for couples who are willing to cooperate and work with one another.
4. If You Cannot Come to an Agreement on the Issues, the Court Will Do It for You
During a divorce, issues such as property division, alimony, child custody, and child support must be addressed and resolved. Parents are expected to create a parenting plan that both parties agree on.
If a divorcing couple cannot agree on the issues, the court will make these decisions on their behalf.
5. Be Prepared for the Case Management Conference
Shortly after filing for divorce, the court will schedule a court date, better known as a Case Management Conference.
Depending on the county, the Notice of Case Management Conference may be mailed right after the answer is filed.
The conference gives both parties a chance to discuss any issues related to discovery. The discovery phase is when full financial disclosure takes place, and both parties reveal their income, assets, debts, and all other financial information.
During the Case Management Conference, the parties set a discovery schedule in what’s called a Case Management Order. This order will also detail which experts will be needed for the divorce proceedings, who will be responsible for paying these experts, and when the documentation will be obtained.
In many cases, both parties will need to be present for the conference.
6. You May Be Required to Attend Mediation or Educational Courses
Some counties in New Jersey require divorcing couples to watch an educational presentation on how divorce affects children and receive a lecture.
Divorcing parents are typically ordered to attend some sort of program designed to help resolve parenting-related differences.
7. Consider Seeing a Counseling Before and During the Divorce
From anger to sadness, grief, denial and a myriad of other emotions, divorce can send you on a rollercoaster of emotions. These strong emotions can get in the way of you and your ex-spouse resolving your differences, and drag on the divorce proceedings.
Consider seeing a professional therapist or counselor before and during the divorce to work through these emotions and move through negotiations with a clear mind.
Letting your emotions affect your decision-making will only lengthen the divorce proceedings – making your lawyer richer and your wallet slimmer.
8. Prepare for Life after Divorce
Before you even file for divorce, start fleshing out a plan on what to do after the divorce is finalized. Will you need to change jobs (or find employment if you were a stay-at-home parent)? Will you need to move to a new home? What will you do to better yourself and enrich your life?
With so many uncertainties surrounding divorce, it’s easy to fall into a state of constant fear and anxiety. Having a plan to guide you may put your mind at ease and allow you to confidently move forward with your life.
The Micklin Law Group, LLC is a New Jersey law firm specializing in family law and estates. Attorney Brad Micklin was recently named to The National Advocates list of Top 100 attorneys from each state. Brad has a special expertise in working with high asset divorce. You can read more on this topic by visiting our divorce blog. To set up a consultation, call 973-562-0100.