The Five Key Parts of Every Divorce Case
Learn about the key divorce steps you should take when navigating divorce in New Jersey
Some relationships can be everlasting, such as those between a loving parent and a child, between caring siblings, or among close friends. Marriages can be similarly long-lasting, but this is unfortunately not always the case. For one reason or another, much like any union or partnership, marriages can run their course. Sometimes partners simply grow apart, or deeper, more personal factors can be in play. Deciding to end a marriage is thus a difficult decision, but it is hardly an uncommon one, and both spouses need solid guidance through the divorce process. We hope these divorce steps can help you navigate the divorce process in New Jersey.
When one or both spouses decide to divorce, they face a long, complicated, and often taxing road ahead. Because every marriage is different, no two divorces are quite the same. There are nevertheless a number of key divorce steps in the process that spouses can expect to encounter over the course of the divorce. If you decide to file for divorce, you need someone on your side who can patiently advise you through the following milestones.
- Before Doing Anything Else, You Need to Find an Attorney Who You Trust.
Because many lawyers will charge fees for consultations, you owe it to yourself to research the attorneys in your area first. This is arguably one of the most important divorce steps, so after you compile a list of divorce attorneys, seek consultations. In these meetings, you and an attorney will discuss the particulars of your case and begin to draft an action plan. If you know that your case is relatively simple, you might be better off with a less expensive attorney. However, if you are ending a long-term marriage, or you have children or significant assets, it may be worth it to hire the most experienced divorce attorney in Morris County you can find.
- You Will Have to File a Complaint—Unless Your Spouse Has Filed One First.
There are four types of complaints that you can file in the state of New Jersey: a “no fault” complaint because of either irreconcilable differences or at least 18 months of separation, or a “fault” complaint alleging desertion or extreme cruelty. If your spouse has filed a complaint for divorce, read over the complaint carefully and do not respond until you have reviewed all of the other party’s allegations and terms. Leave it to your attorney to serve divorce papers to your spouse.
- Your Entire Marriage Will Be Have to Be Open for Review During Discovery.
During the discovery stage of the divorce process, both parties gather data and information, especially regarding assets and finances. You will need to gather all the documents and data—especially financial information—that you will need to determine things like equitable distribution and alimony. You should start by gathering tax returns, bank and credit card statements, information on 401(k)s and other pension plans, and information on stocks and properties. You can help your divorce attorney by making photocopies and taking screenshots. You can ask your spouse directly for this information, or you can send subpoenas to banks, investment houses, or retirement asset companies.
- Much of the Nitty-Gritty Decision-Making Will Happen During the Early Settlement Panel Hearing.
During this stage, both parties and their attorneys meet to negotiate the terms of the divorce and the distribution of debts and assets. It is important to think about what you value—and what you might fight for—before you get to the settlement stage of a divorce. Start by making a comprehensive inventory with two columns, one for each spouse. Try to be reasonable about what items will go in each column. The court considers many factors when coming to a decision about how a couple will divide debts and assets in a divorce, so be prepared to advocate for yourself.
- If All Else Fails, a Trial Will Be the Final Tribulation.
In a contested divorce, parties disagree about the terms of divorce, including division of debts and assets, and child custody and support. This usually becomes clear during the settlement phase. If spouses cannot come to an agreement, they will proceed through a trial—lengthened by arguments and witnesses, as needed—and potentially an appeal. A judge will make the final decision about the terms of the divorce.
Going through a divorce can become a Herculean task. Unless both spouses can readily come to a clear agreement about how to dissolve their union and divide their assets, litigation can become arduous. During this trying time, remember that patience and a cool head are essential to persevering. Our experienced divorce attorney in Morris County will help to ease this process and ensure that you not only receive your fair share, but are able to move forward into the next stage of your life. We hope these key divorce steps help. If you’d like to schedule a free consultation, please contact us. In the meantime, you can also read our divorce guide for in depth explanation of the divorce process.
Christopher Leon Garibian, Esq. is a partner in the matrimonial and family law department of Weiner Law Group LLP. He has over 19 years of experience handling a multitude of Divorce and Family Law Matters throughout New Jersey. He is passionate about family law and takes pride in his ability to effectuate real change in the lives of his clients. He is certified by the State Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Attorney. If you are in need of an experienced Divorce Attorney or Family Law Attorney in NJ, contact us today for compassionate, long lasting legal solutions.