Pre-pandemic research indicates that, among adults, divorce was the #2 stressor and separation the #3 stressor behind the death of a spouse. This is not surprising. After building a life with someone, you are suddenly faced with dividing everything and moving on.
Divorce is complicated and emotional for couples, children, and even extended family members. It’s rare for anyone to emerge without losing something in the process. It is simply the nature of this life-altering event.
If you’re thinking about getting a divorce, have already filed, or have been served divorce papers, you shouldn’t try to work through such a stressful event without an experienced family law attorney on your side. Our team of attorneys at Schwartz, Hanna, Olsen, and Taus, P.C., have more than 80 years of combined experience representing individuals and families in legal matters, including divorce. If you live in Metuchen, New Jersey, or the surrounding counties, call our office today to schedule a free consultation.
To file for divorce in New Jersey, you or your spouse must have been a resident of the state for the past 12 consecutive months. If neither of you has lived in the state for that long, you will have to wait until you have before you can file. You must also be at least 18 years of age to file. If you are not, a parent or guardian must file for you.
New Jersey law accommodates both fault and no-fault divorces. Among the grounds for a fault divorce are adultery, willful desertion, physical and/or mental cruelty, endangering the health and safety of a spouse, and continuous drug or alcohol abuse for a 12-month period.
In a no-fault divorce, neither party needs to be accused of doing something wrong. They can file for one of two reasons:
They have been separated and living apart for the past 18 months
They have had irreconcilable differences during the six months before filing for divorce with no chance they will be able to reconcile and save the marriage
If spouses are unable to agree on the terms of their divorce on issues such as property division, child custody and support, or alimony, the divorce is contested and could potentially end up in a courtroom, where a judge will decide the contested issues.
Before they can go to trial, the law requires them to participate in three settlement conferences to provide them an opportunity to iron out disagreements and avoid a court battle:
The Marital Early Settlement Panel is a meeting between two neutral family law attorneys and the parties and their respective attorneys. The neutral attorneys review the facts and attempt to mediate contested issues with the parties and their legal counsel.
Economic Mediation involves a neutral third party attempting to resolve disputes about matters such as equitable property distribution and support.
The Intensive Settlement Conference involves the parties, their attorneys, and the judge, who reviews contested issues. The judge will meet with the attorneys to offer them an opinion regarding the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s argument.
The goal of the settlement conferences is to have the parties reach an agreement amicably instead of going to trial. If they cannot, the case will proceed to court and the judge will render final judgments.
An uncontested divorce, which is usually faster and less expensive, allows the couple to agree to terms via negotiations between their attorneys, or by using alternative dispute resolution methods including mediation, arbitration, and collaborative divorce.
Mediation and arbitration both involve a neutral third party helping the couple and their attorneys reach an agreement. In arbitration, however, the couple agrees in advance to abide by the arbitrator’s decision.
Collaborative divorce is a team approach to settling disputes, involving the parties, their attorneys, and other professionals such as financial planners and child support specialists.
Divorce is life-altering for everyone involved. How you divide assets and debts, care for your children, and for yourself will determine how you enter this new phase in your life. The gravity of the settlement agreement and implications for your future require knowledgeable and experienced legal counsel.
Whether you are considering divorce or have already started the process, seek help right away. At Schwartz, Hanna, Olsen, and Taus, P.C., we provide compassionate, comprehensive, and committed legal representation to clients in Metuchen, New Jersey, and throughout the state, including Middlesex, Somerset, Morris, Essex, Passaic, Bergen, Sussex, and Hunterdon counties. Call today to schedule a consultation.