Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
Filing for divorce in New Jersey can be a complex process. Not only are there a litany of i’s to dot and t’s to cross, but there are several key decisions which must be made early on in the divorce process. One such decision, which can be made together or separately, is whether or not your divorce will be considered contested or uncontested. Reasons divorces may be contested include disputes over the grounds for divorce or other issues such as division of marital assets, child custody, child support, alimony, and much more.
Our divorce attorney will identify the similarities and differences between uncontested and contested divorce, why each option is available, and how the divorce process can change depending on which path you choose.
Contested Divorce in Union County
The formal divorce process in New Jersey begins when a spouse (the plaintiff) files for divorce. Each divorce filing must include the grounds for divorce, supporting documentation, and may also include a proposed settlement agreement covering issues such as child custody, division of assets, etc. When divorce paperwork is filed, the other spouse (the defendant) is served with the divorce complaint. At this point, the defendant has four basic options:
- File a counterclaim challenging the grounds for divorce
- File an appearance challenging the terms of the proposed settlement agreement
- File an answer to dispute the statements laid out in the divorce complaint
- Offer no formal response
If the defendant responds via a counterclaim, appearance, or answer, the divorce is considered contested. This will kick off a litigation process within the Superior Court Family Division where both spouses will be granted the chance to argue their cases. This process may include a discovery phase, depositions, interrogatories, expert testimony, and more. However, it is important to understand that an amicable settlement agreement may be reached outside of court at any time during this process.
Uncontested Divorce: Elizabeth, NJ Divorce Attorney
Many divorcing couples are able to avoid potentially arduous contested divorces by seeking an uncontested divorce. By working with a qualified Elizabeth divorce attorney, it is often possible to resolve the disputes of divorce outside of the courtroom before filing. This may include negotiation or other alternative dispute resolutions methods.
The primary benefit of uncontested divorce is a dramatically reduced timeline. Rather than going through the legal process of arguing your cases, presenting evidence, and eventually hearing a judge’s decision, your divorce will be reviewed and you may be granted a final judgement of divorce much more quickly. A fringe benefit is saving both you and your family’s time, money, and avoiding unnecessary stress.
After reviewing the differences between contested and uncontested divorce, it may seem like a no-brainer that everyone should strive for uncontested divorce. This is not true for all divorcing couples. For spouses who simply cannot come to a fair or tenable settlement agreement, or for those who have major disputes regarding the grounds for divorce, it may be unavoidable to take your divorce before a judge. In either case, an experienced Elizabeth divorce attorney should be able to guide you through the legal process and secure a beneficial outcome for you and your family.
Contact a Linden Contested and Uncontested Divorce Lawyer Today
Divorce lawyer Edward S. Cooper, Esq. is proud to serve families from local Union County towns including Linden, Elizabeth, Westfield, Plainfield, Union, Scotch Plains, and all of Northern New Jersey. Attorney Cooper has extensive experience as a divorce and family law attorney, including spending time as a panelist on the Early Settlement Panel for family law mediation. Over nearly three decades of dedicated practice, our firm has built a reputation on providing honest, hardworking, and ethical legal services to our clients.
To learn more about your options for contested or uncontested divorce, please call our Linden, NJ offices by dialing (908) 481-4625 or contact us online today for a free and confidential consultation with a member of our qualified legal team.