Every divorce is different, but here are the fundamental elements to the dissolution of your New Jersey marriage
From the onset, you should know that I'm hesitant to reduce the New Jersey divorce process to only 10 steps. No two divorces are exactly alike, and a strong majority of divorces end at an uncontested hearing rather than a trial. A wide array of factors can impact the length, expense, and difficulty of your divorce. That being said, here's a pretty good summary from the Essex Vicinage of the New Jersey Superior Court:
Complaint: filed by the plaintiff. The defendant is then served by the Sheriffs' Department.
Answer, appearance, or counterclaim: Filed by defendant within 35 days after service of the complaint. If no response is filed by the defendant, a Notice of Default is filed by the plaintiff's attorney or the plaintiff (if self-represented) and a default hearing is scheduled by the court.
Case Information Statement (CIS): Required to be filed by each party within 20 days after the filing of an Answer or Appearance if the case is contested and custody, support, alimony, or equitable distribution is an issue.
Notices of Motion: An application to the court for an order to resolve certain issues such as property, support, custody, or shared parenting time. Pendente Lite is a Latin term used to address requests that are made before a formal hearing or final judgment is entered. Motions must be filed 16 days in advance of the hearing date for oral argument. Litigants are permitted to be present during the motion hearing.
Orders to Show Cause: May be filed in case of emergencies. (Such as a party taking the children out of state or mortgage foreclosure)
Discovery: Includes the answering of interrogatories, depositions, appraisals and evaluations. It must be completed within 150 days from the filing of the complaint.
MESP: After completion of discovery (6 months from the date of filing), the contested financial case should be scheduled for hearing by a Matrimonial Early Settlement Panel (MESP). If the case is settled, a divorce will be granted the same day.
Case Conference with the Judge: A Case Management Conference (discovery scheduling), or Settlement Conference may be scheduled with the Court at anytime. Litigants (parties) must be present with their lawyers.
Trial Date: If both parties cannot settle case, a trial date is assigned to allow both parties to give testimony before a judge makes a decision on the issues.
Final Judgment: A judgment granting the divorce and stating the settlement terms of all issues pertaining to the dissolution of the marriage is submitted to the Court for signature by a Family Division Judge.
Experienced counsel can put you in the best possible position to navigate the dissolution of your marriage and achieve an optimal outcome in line with your goals. If you or a loved one has questions regarding the New Jersey divorce process, or a specific topic like the all-important Case Information Statement (CIS), please contact the child custody attorneys at DeMichele and DeMichele. For a confidential consultation to discuss your situation with one of our New Jersey custody attorneys, you can also call (856) 546-1350. _______