How long does a divorce take in Union County NJ?
Providing assistance to divorce clients across Westfield, Linden, Elizabeth, Plainfield, and Union County
Divorces can be complicated and time-consuming or they can be quick and easy to complete. The length of the case depends on the intention of the parties involved. In other words, if you are able to agree on most items with your spouse, the divorce will take less time and a trial will not be necessary. In most cases, a divorce will take less than a year. No matter the length of time it takes, all cases start with filing a complaint.
Filing a Divorce Complaint in NJ
Most divorce cases start by filing a complaint for divorce. The complaint will list the cause of action/grounds for divorce and request relief such as a judgment of divorce, custody of children, and support. You must serve the complaint upon your spouse and give him or her an opportunity to answer. If you negotiated the terms of your divorce before filing the complaint, it is possible to be divorced in under two months.
Mediation before Divorce Litigation
For example, in some cases, the parties attend mediation before divorce and resolve the issues before a complaint is filed. Sometimes it can be in the best interest of the divorcing couple to go to mediation before a divorce. This is because things often become contentious and difficult to resolve once the complaint is filed. Issues that once seemed minor turn in to major obstacles, creating a barrier to a quick resolution. Mediation can eliminate obstacles and force the parties to focus on what can be agreed upon.
If the mediator is successful, he or she can draft a marital settlement agreement. Of course, you should have an attorney review the agreement before signing anything to make sure that the agreement represents what you want and agreed to. After the attorney reviews the document and makes changes, it can be filed with the complaint for divorce. You can be divorced in less than two months if you agree on all the terms, provided that your spouse does not want to contest the divorce.
If Mediation Fails or is not an Option
However, if mediation is not an option or an agreement cannot be filed with the complaint, the case will take longer. In most divorce cases, the issues are not complex and the court expects the cases to be completed in 12 months from the date the complaint is filed. After filing the complaint and answer, the case begins to pick up speed when the court schedules a case management conference.
After the Divorce Complaint is Filed
After the complaint is filed, the other side must answer the complaint within thirty-five days. The Defendant answering the complaint can also file a counterclaim. At some point after the filing of the counterclaim, you will receive a notice for a case management conference. Often this is a scheduled telephone conference with the court and the attorneys only (no litigants).
The purpose of the conference is to set forth a discovery period of either 90 or 120 days. After the conference, the parties begin to exchange information and documents. Divorcing couples have the right to ask questions of the other person in the form of interrogatories. The purpose is to gather as much information as possible to make informed decisions or use the information at a trial.
After the case management conference, if you have children you will be ordered to go to mediation for custody.
Early Settlement Conference During the Divorce Process
Additionally, the court will schedule a date for you and your attorney to attend an Early Settlement Conference. At that time, you, your attorney and, your spouse and his or her attorney, will go before a panel of attorneys tasked with assisting in resolving your case. They tell you what they believe will happen if you go to trial and how best to resolve the case before a trial. If all goes well, you can be divorced that day. If not, the case will progress forward and you will be ordered to attend mediation outside of court. Each step is geared towards resolving your case, but eventually, if the parties cannot agree, a trial date will be given.
The Divorce Trial
At a trial, the court will hear testimony, review evidence, and make unilateral decisions about your claims. After the judge makes decisions concerning the claims, custody, property, and support, you will be divorced.
Getting a divorce is never easy because the situation is one you had not envisioned. However, despite the difficulties, you can make it easier by retaining an attorney.
Consult with a seasoned Union County Divorce Attorney Today
Lay your case in our expert hands of honest, hard-working, skillful attorneys who will handle your divorce and family law issues throughout Linden, Elizabeth, Scotch Plains, Westfield, Plainfield, and across Union County, New Jersey. We are familiar with the process and know what lies ahead for you. We can walk you through the process and give you the knowledge to make informed decisions.
At Law Office of Edward S. Cooper, we offer a private, free consultation in our offices located at 812 North Wood Avenue, Suite 303 Linden, NJ 07036 to discuss the issues involved in your case and explore your options. Call us at 908-481-4625 for a free consultation or check our online contact form.