Many divorces involve the resolution of significant issues related to property division, child custody, spousal support, child support, and other matters that make it important for each spouse to have an advocate. This process is often stressful and complicated, so it is useful to seek professional legal advice to help pursue your goals. With the guidance of an experienced family law attorney, however, Monmouth County residents can be sure that their interests and the interests of their children are fairly represented. At Goldstein Law Group, we are ready to assist you in tackling the issues that may arise during divorce.Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey
The state of New Jersey has both "fault" and "no-fault" divorces. There are two types of no-fault divorce. The first is based on a separation. Couples have to live apart for at least 18 months before the start of divorce proceedings. In the second type, the couple must have experienced irreconcilable differences for at least six months before starting proceedings. Irreconcilable differences are those that indicate there is no chance of reconciliation.
There are also a number of grounds for "fault" divorces. In this situation, it is alleged that one spouse acted in such a way that the marriage fell apart. These grounds include extreme cruelty or domestic violence, abandonment, mental illness, and substance abuse.
During divorce proceedings, the spouse who files to dissolve the marriage is the plaintiff, while the other spouse is called the defendant. It does NOT make one party the “good” party and the other one the “bad” party, based upon who files first. As to the question of “should I file or let my spouse file?” it is, in most cases, a matter of who wants to move the case along sooner or who may need access to the court system for some relief. If, for example, one spouse liquidates all the marital funds and refuses to contribute to the expenses of the household, the other spouse would need to apply to the court immediately for financial relief. In order to do so, there must be a pending divorce complaint. This is an example of why and how one spouse may then have to file immediately instead of waiting. The complaint is, in effect, the entry into the court system which then enables a divorce litigant to seek necessary relief from the court during the pending litigation (known as the pendente lite phase of the case). Sometimes, there is a compelling reason to file as soon as possible as the filing date of the divorce complaint is, generally, the bright line cut off as to the parties right to share in each other’s respective finances, subject of course to the ongoing duty to maintain the economic status quo during the pendency of the divorce case.
The plaintiff starts the divorce process by filing and serving a complaint for divorce. Either the plaintiff or the defendant must be a New Jersey resident for at least 12 consecutive months before the complaint is filed (there are certain limited exceptions to this rule). A plaintiff will need to file in the county where the reason given for the divorce happened, even when the plaintiff no longer lives there. For example, if one spouse deserted the other, the complaint must be filed in the county where the deserted spouse last lived at the end of the 12-month period before filing.
Your attorney and your spouse's attorney can try to reach a settlement before appearing in court. If a settlement is possible, they will prepare a settlement agreement that will become part of the Judgment of Divorce. In some cases, no agreement can be reached. In that case, the court will order the spouses to attend an Early Settlement Panel. If they do not settle their issues at the ESP, the next step in the process is known as Mandatory Economic Mediation. This is another level of mediation sponsored by the court system and is intended to provide the litigants the benefit of a mediator that is focused solely on the parties’ one case, as opposed to the early settlement where the ESP panelists will typically handle 3-5 cases per ESP session, therefore, by default, cannot dedicate the same time to your specific case.Discuss Your Family Law Concerns with a Middlesex County Attorney
The attorneys of Goldstein Law Group understand how difficult it can be for families to go through divorce proceedings. In addition to being skilled traditional litigators, we also serve as arbitrators and mediators. We serve individuals in Freehold, Old Bridge, and Red Bank, among other communities If you need a zealous divorce lawyer to guide you through proceedings in Middlesex County or elsewhere in the state, contact us at 732-967-6777 or via our online form.
Useful Resources to Help Those Going Through Divorce and Separation