If you and your spouse have decided to divorce and agree on all the issues of a divorce — alimony, property division, and child custody and support — you may qualify for an uncontested divorce. The most common ground for an uncontested divorce in New Jersey is “irreconcilable differences,” which is akin to no-fault divorce in other states.
Uncontested divorce cases proceed to a final hearing before a judge, who reviews and signs the final decree. Usually the only time you will need to appear in court is on the date your divorce is finalized.
A contested divorce means that you and your spouse cannot agree on one or more issues and opt to have a judge make the final decision. The judge may recommend mediation in which both sides try to resolve their differences outside the courtroom. This is less expensive than a trial and is usually encouraged.
One of the biggest benefits of mediation is that both parties have control over all the decisions and the final outcome of their case. The mediator is there to facilitate decision-making, not to make the actual decisions for you and your family. Because you retain control of what goes into the final agreement, it is much more likely that all parties will follow the final order.
Contrary to popular belief, mediation can help high conflict couples work through their differences and reach a reasonable solution in a private setting. Even if you think you can’t even sit in the same room as your spouse, in mediation you will work with a neutral third party — the mediator — who has the training and experience to help you focus on the issues and work together to resolve them.
If mediation is not an option for you, then a trial before a judge will be required. You and your attorney will gather evidence to support your claims for the division of property, alimony, and child custody and support. The judge will consider many factors as set forth in New Jersey divorce statutes; your attorney will go over these carefully with you in order to craft the best argument for your case.
The more complex your case — and most cases that go to trial qualify — the more you need to pay attention to the details. Make sure you read everything and make copies of all legal documents. Have an organized filing system so you can access your divorce paperwork when you need it.
It is important that you do not wait too long to retain an attorney when you are facing a family law issue. Delays can cost you valuable legal rights, and you want to make sure that you have the advice and support you need to make the best decisions for you and your family long after the divorce settlement is reached. Contact us today for your free consultation.