Steps in a Typical New Jersey Divorce
The New Jersey divorce process varies from client to client. Even so, there are several steps you can expect to encounter if you find yourself facing divorce:
- Complaint: Plaintiff files a complaint; the defendant is served with the complaint.
- Response: Defendant has 35 days to respond to the complaint and file a response. If the defendant does not file a response, the court schedules a default hearing.
- Case information statements: Both parties file case information statements (CIS). A CIS consists of each party’s income, expenses, debts and assets. This must be filed within 20 days of the defendant’s response to the plaintiff’s complaint.
- Notices of Motion: An application to the court for an order to temporarily resolve issues such as property, support, custody, or parenting time. The requests are referred to as pendente lite, which is a Latin term for the requests that need to be attended to on a provisional basis in the months leading up to a formal hearing. As a result of these requests a motion hearing is scheduled and litigants can attend.
- Orders to show cause: These orders are filed in cases of emergencies, such as a pending foreclosure on a home.
- Case management conference: At this time the court schedules a case management conference. During this hearing the judge will set a discovery period – the time when both parties share all information required to resolve the case.
- Discovery: During this period personal and real estate property is appraised, evaluations are scheduled (when custody is an issue), both parties are interviewed and necessary documents must be produced.
- Early settlement panel: When discovery is complete, a matrimonial early settlement panel (MESP) will schedule any contested financial case for hearing. The MESP will only assist the parties in resolving financial issues. If the parties cannot resolve their issues the judge will order mediation.
- Settlement conference: A settlement conference can be scheduled with the court at any time. Both parties must be present with their lawyers for such a proceeding.
- Trial: If both parties cannot settle the case, a trial date is set to take place before a Family Law Division Judge.
- Judgment: After the trial a final judgment will be handed down. This judgment will detail the settlement terms of all issues regarding the termination of the marriage.
How long each step lasts and what exactly is involved is difficult to predict. That is why choosing the right family law attorney to stand by your side at all times matters. As your advocate, your divorce attorney will help you understand what is happening, what will come next, and what it means for your future. Prepared for Anything Before You Get Divorced
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I move to another state, only 45 minutes away, if I'm going to share child custody with my ex-spouse?
You can move to another State; however, your request to relocate out of New Jersey will be an issue during the divorce. In New Jersey, a party is free to move throughout New Jersey without the consent of the other party or a Court Order (unless agreed upon otherwise). Where parties share joint legal custody by virtue of an agreement or court order, the parent of primary residence must obtain the permission of the other parent or of the family court in order to relocate to another state with a child.
This is also the case where no custody order has been entered but custody is “in dispute,” such as if a custody case or divorce is pending. There is no strict definition of what “in dispute” means, though, so if the other parent expressly tells you he or she does not agree to a relocation, that is generally enough to mean “in dispute.” In order to obtain permission from the family court, you must demonstrate that the proposed move is made in good faith and that the move will not adversely affect the child. If you are able to meet those two prongs, then the Court will likely have a hearing in which the following factors will be considered:
- The reasons given for the move;
- The reasons given for the opposition;
- The past history of dealings between the parties insofar as it bears on the reasons advanced by both parties for supporting and opposing the move;
- Whether the child will receive educational, health, and leisure opportunities at least equal to that which is available here;
- Any special needs or talents of the child that require accommodation and whether such accommodation or its equivalent is available in the new location;
- Whether a visitation and communication schedule can be developed that will allow the non-custodial parent to maintain a full and continuous relationship with the child;
- The likelihood that the custodial parent will continue to foster the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent if the move is allowed;
- The effect of the move on extended family relationships here and in the new location;
- If the child is of age, his or her preference;
- Whether the child is entering his or her senior year in high school, at which point he or she should generally not be moved until graduation without his or her consent;
- Whether the non-custodial parent has the ability to relocate; and
- Any other factor bearing on the child’s interest
From your post, it is difficult to provide you a response, as this is a very fact sensitive issue. It would be necessary to discuss your case with an experienced family law attorney, as these matters are very complex and you need somebody to protect your interests.
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:25-29(d) the court may dissolve or modify a final restraining order “upon good cause shown.” Generally, a court may dissolve an injunction where there is a “a change of circumstances [whereby] the continued enforcement of the injunctive process would be inequitable, oppressive, or unjust, or in contravention of the policy of the law.” The Court will consider a number of factors when determining whether good cause has been shown that the final restraining order should be dissolved upon request of the defendant:
- whether the victim consented to lift the restraining order;
- whether the victim fears the defendant;
- the nature of the relationship between the parties today;
- the number of times that the defendant has been convicted of contempt for violating the order;
- whether the defendant has a continuing involvement with drug or alcohol abuse;
- whether the defendant has been involved in other violent acts with other persons;
- whether the defendant has engaged in counseling;
- the age and health of the defendant;
- whether the victim is acting in good faith when opposing the defendant’s request;
- whether another jurisdiction has entered a restraining order protecting the victim from the defendant; and
- other factors deemed relevant by the court.
You may have a case to dissolve the FRO, as you may be able to prove that Plaintiff does not fear you, nor did she ever fear you. The Court must analyze all factors, so it would be necessary to discuss your case at greater length. You should consult an experienced family law attorney to ensure that your interests are protected.
New Jersey acquires jurisdiction over your divorce action once you have resided in New Jersey for a year, so it is recommended that you file for divorce in New Jersey, in the county in which you reside.
Schedule Your Consultation at Our Nutley, NJ, Office
For more detailed information on what the divorce process will look like in your situation, call The Micklin Law Group, LLC at 973-562-0100 or contact our New Jersey law firm online. We will discuss your situation and answer your questions during a consultation.