Going through a divorce is never easy, even when both spouses agree on all the terms. You must still go through the legal steps to end the divorce and obtain an enforceable order setting out the terms for property division, alimony, child support, and child custody.
Our Monmouth County divorce lawyers handle all types of divorces, and our legal team takes care of every aspect of your divorce from the beginning until completion.
We understand you have questions about the New Jersey divorce process. This guide answers many questions you might have about a divorce. Contact us at our law firm or call us at (732) 747-1882 to schedule a free, confidential case evaluation with The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill to discuss the specifics of your situation with an experienced family law attorney.
Beginning the Divorce Process in Monmouth County, New Jersey
Filing a divorce complaint is the first step in initiating the divorce process. The divorce complaint sets forth the grounds for the divorce.
In New Jersey, you can file for divorce based on irreconcilable differences. Even though you can obtain a no-fault divorce, you can claim other grounds for divorce, including:
- Desertion for a year or longer
- Extreme cruelty
- Separation for 18 consecutive months or longer
- Voluntarily induced addiction to a narcotic
- Habitual drunkenness for 12 or more consecutive months
- Being in an institution for mental illness for 24 or more consecutive months
- Imprisonment for 18 consecutive months or longer
- Deviant sexual conduct
You are not required to prove that your spouse did anything wrong unless you list a ground for divorce other than irreconcilable differences. Listing one of the grounds of wrongdoing does not speed up the divorce process or improve your position to argue better divorce terms.
New Jersey has a residency requirement for divorces. One spouse must be a state resident for one consecutive year before filing for divorce.
After paying the filing fee and filing the divorce complaint with the family court, the divorce papers must be served on your spouse. Typically, divorce papers are served by the Sheriff’s Office or professional process service. You must file proof of service with the court.
At The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC, we handle all types of divorces, including high-asset divorces and divorces for same-sex couples. Regardless of your situation, we are here to provide legal advice, support, and guidance. We listen to your concerns and work to get you the divorce settlement you need to move forward with the next phase of your life.
What Happens if I Cannot Settle My Divorce; Do We Go to Trial?
If your spouse does not respond to the divorce papers, you can file a request with the court for a default judgment. The judge reviews your complaint and decides the case based on your allegations without any input from your spouse.
However, if your spouse files an answer to your complaint, the case takes a different course. You and your spouse can negotiate to reach an agreement regarding the terms of the divorce. The court requires spouses to participate in the Early Settlement Panel and mediation as part of the divorce process.
If you cannot reach a settlement, the divorce case moves to economic mediation. Intensive settlement is the next process if economic mediation does not result in a settlement. Our attorneys work diligently to protect your best interests throughout each step of the divorce process.
Finally, if all attempts at settlement and mediation fail, the case moves onto the trial docket as a contested divorce case.
Contested Divorce vs. Uncontested Divorce in Monmouth County, NJ
An uncontested divorce is when both parties agree on the divorce terms. A divorce always begins as a contested matter, but the parties can settle at any point in time prior to trial.
If the case goes to trial and a judge decides the case, the divorce is contested. Each party presents evidence and testimony to support their allegations. Issues in a divorce case include:
“Fair” does not always mean an equal division of assets. A judge considers all factors related to property division. The judge considers the financial contributors to the marital assets, but the judge also considers non-economic factors, such as the contributions of a stay-at-home parent.
Alimony is not guaranteed in New Jersey divorces. A judge might grant alimony if the court finds a need for financial support and the ability to provide it. The judge also considers the duration of the marriage, the living standard of the spouses, and child custody.
The New Jersey alimony statute provides some guidance for determining the duration of support. Couples married for more than 20 years are subject to open-durational alimony. However, if the couple was married for less than 20 years, alimony is based on the length of the marriage absent exceptional circumstances.
The courts in New Jersey favor joint custody whenever possible. Parents share child custody to remain active participants in their children’s lives and maintain a close relationship with their children.
However, a judge bases custody decisions on the best interests of the child. If the evidence supports awarding sole custody, the judge may give one party sole legal and physical custody of their child, but this is not the norm.
Contested divorces can be costly and time-consuming. Furthermore, allowing a judge to decide the divorce terms might not result in your desired outcome.
Our lawyers have extensive experience mediating divorce settlements. We work with you and your spouse to reach a divorce agreement that resolves the divorce issues in the best possible way for all parties.
However, we are also aggressive trial lawyers. If your divorce case goes to trial, we fight to protect your best interest and achieve your desired outcome.
Modifications of Divorce Orders for a Change in Circumstances
If circumstances change after the divorce, you can petition the court for a post-judgment modification of the divorce decree. Judges can modify custody, child support, and alimony if you prove a substantial and permanent change in circumstances justifies changing the terms.
However, you have the burden of proving your case. Modifications are not retroactive. Therefore, talk with an experienced Monmouth County modifications lawyer as soon as possible.
Contact Our Office for a Free Case Evaluation With a Monmouth County Divorce Lawyer
The divorce process is complicated. Having sound legal advice throughout the divorce process is the best way to protect yourself and your children. Call our law firm at (732) 747-1882 to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced Monmouth County divorce attorney from The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC.