The Discovery Process in a NJ Divorce
What is the discovery process in a divorce in the state of New Jersey?
When a couple is undergoing divorce proceedings, one of the main roles of their family law attorneys, mediators, and any involved New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part judge is to support the couple in equitably distributing their marital property.
Marital property is defined as all assets that the couple has obtained or added to together over the course of their marriage. This includes the marital home, shared savings and investment accounts, valuables and automobiles that are titled to both parties, investment properties, and even insurance and retirement accounts that both parties are contributing to.
Like many other states in the country, New Jersey follows the equitable distribution model of separation of marital assets. This means that, unlike the common law property model, which is active in a handful of states, marital property is not divided straight down the middle. Instead, a judge uses a set of factors to consider a fair and equitable split, or distribution, of the marital assets. Read on to learn more about the equitable distribution of assets in a New Jersey divorce, as well as the specific process by which marital property is identified, called the process of discovery.
What is the purpose of the discovery process in a New Jersey divorce?
For a marital property to be equitably distributed in a divorce, it must first all be identified. This is the process of discovery. During a divorce discovery process, each party’s family law attorneys gather, through various means, all of the information needed to determine what marital assets exist and what their individual values are so that a fair and equitable distribution of assets can be carried out. Each spouse can move forward with their life.
The discovery process is also an opportunity for each spouse’s legal team to gain information regarding the other spouse that could provide information regarding additional marital assets that are being withheld. Obviously, hiding marital assets, financial or otherwise, so that they are not counted in the equitable distribution of a couple’s estate is illegal. Still, it can even come with criminal charges.
How far back does discovery go in a divorce?
The information sought in the discovery goes as far back as the marriage. Because marital property is considered that which was obtained by the couple during the marriage or that which was contributed to by both partners during the marriage, the process of determining what marital assets exist includes the full length of the marriage.
It’s important to note that marital assets do not include that owned by a partner before the marriage or gifts received by one partner during the course of the marriage, such as an inheritance. However, if one partner received an inheritance, the couple bought a property with it. Then the spouse financially or otherwise contributed to the maintenance or development of the property, that spouse can have a claim to the fruits of the inheritance as marital property.
What is a step-by-step process of discovery?
There are multiple methods by which each party’s attorneys gather information during the discovery process:
- Case Information Statements: Case Information Statements (CIS) are a common piece of paperwork that all divorcing couples must complete. It includes a plethora of information such as employer contact information, personal income, marital income, and shared debt, among other things.
- Interrogatories: Often less objective and numerical in nature than a CIS, interrogatories come from the attorney of your ex-spouse and request additional information, sometimes more personal and subjective in nature. They set the stage for an attorney’s/client’s argument as to what is an equitable distribution of assets.
- Notice to Produce: In some cases, the New Jersey Superior Court: Family Part will request specific information from the spouses regarding marital assets and other information outlined in the CIS. The Notice to Produce requires proof of the information provided in the CIS, and the couple is required to pay for the demonstration of this proof.
How long does a discovery process take in Summit?
Given that both parties willingly participate, the discovery process usually takes between three and four months; though, depending on the extent of assets and the size of the estate, the discovery process can take longer. It can also be expensive, as experts may need to be brought in to determine the value of novel pieces or valuables, and the spouses are responsible for covering the costs of those appraisals.
Seek the guidance of an experienced Family Law Attorney in Linden, New Jersey
A family law attorney is an essential ally during the discovery process of divorce. Are you in the middle of a divorce proceeding? Have an experienced divorce lawyer at your back. We successfully represent clients in Plainfield, Roselle, Scotch Plains, Springfield, Fanwood, and across Union County to ensure the discovery process and ensure that they get their fair share in a divorce.
When it comes to protecting your assets in a divorce, it’s essential to have the skilled support of a family law attorney. Has your ex served you with divorce papers? Make sure you have an experienced guide on your side.
At The Law Offices of Edward Cooper, Esq, we understand the importance of protecting your hard-earned assets in a divorce.