Filing for Divorce in New Jersey
When couples go through a divorce, they tend to want to the process to be over and done with as fast as possible. And, when it comes to dividing the marital assets and settling ancillary issues to divorces like setting child custody schedules and determining alimony and child support amounts, both of the soon to be ex-spouses also tend to believe that they will get everything they want in the divorce. However, more often than not, divorces in New Jersey take longer than couples want and couples will find themselves compromising on issues to avoid them being decided by a judge. Because divorce does not always work in the ways people want or think it should, it is important to be able to manage your expectations if you plan to undergo a divorce. Adhering to the following tips will help you to manage your expectations as you go through the divorce process in New Jersey.
While getting a divorce in New Jersey is a quicker process than in most other states, divorces in New Jersey are not granted overnight. Divorces still take some time to finalize. Depending on the ground upon which you are requesting the divorce, the circumstances surrounding ancillary issues to the divorce like child support, alimony, and child custody, and the parties’ agreement on these issues, a divorce in New Jersey can be finalized in as little as one and a half months from the date of the filing of the divorce complaint.
However, divorces often take much longer to finalize because the parties cannot agree on how to divide their property or how custody of the children should be divided. Consequently, if you are undergoing a divorce in New Jersey, you should anticipate the process taking anywhere from one and a half months to a year or longer to conclude. For this reason, it is prudent that you exercise patience when going through the divorce process. Being patient and understanding the actual amount of time divorces generally take to finalize in New Jersey will help you manage your expectations because it will allow you to think clearly and logically about the issues in your divorce and to make sound decisions regarding those issues.
Don’t Expect to Win Everything in the Divorce
Although most spouses feel as though they should be entitled to everything they want in the divorce, spouses rarely, if ever, are awarded everything they want in the divorce. This is because the objective of divorce, from the standpoint of the law, is to reach a result that is fair to both spouses. One way divorce attempts to fairly resolve issues between spouses is through division of the marital assets. In New Jersey, courts use a process called equitable distribution to divide marital assets between the spouses. When equitable distribution is used, courts will analyze all of the jointly-owned property and go through a list of specific factors to determine which spouse gets each asset. Contrary to its name, courts need not divide marital assets evenly among the spouses when they use equitable distribution to divide the assets. Because New Jersey courts use equitable distribution to divide assets, it is often in parties’ best interest to make compromises with one another and to divide their assets among themselves before the issue is brought to the court to decide. Parties can do this by filing what is called a marital settlement agreement. Consequently, to be able to get the majority of assets you want in the divorce, it is prudent to go into the divorce thinking that you will not get everything you want in the divorce and be amenable to negotiating with your soon-to-be ex-spouse about division of the marital assets.
Understand that Alimony and Child Custody Awards are not Guaranteed
When spouses think of divorce, they often envision the breadwinner being ordered by the judge to pay alimony to the other spouse. While this practice was more common in the past, winning alimony awards, particularly long-term awards, is becoming rare in New Jersey. Keep in mind that the purpose of alimony is to place the spouses in a financial position that they were in during the marriage so that the dependent spouse could take steps to become self-sufficient. Today, it is commonplace for both spouses to work outside of the home. For this reason, New Jersey judges are less inclined to award alimony to spouses, and if they do award alimony, tend to only award it for a limited amount of time. Consequently, it is prudent that spouses not presume they will be awarded alimony for the reason that they make less money than their respective spouses.
In the past, it was common practice for judges to presumptively award child custody to the mother of the children instead of the father in divorce. Today, however, New Jersey judges no longer adhere to this presumption. Rather, judges will consider the best interests of the children when fashioning a custody award. For this reason, it is prudent for parents going through a divorce not to presume that they will be awarded custody of the children over the other parent.
Contact a Voorhees Family Law Attorney for a Consultation About Divorce in New Jersey Today
If you are thinking about filing for divorce, or if you have already started the divorce process and are dealing with another matter such as child custody, child support, or division of property you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Davis & Mendelson represent clients throughout the state of New Jersey, including Voorhees, Moorestown, Cherry Hill, and Mt. Laurel. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at (856) 627-0100 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 1200 Laurel Oak Road, Suite 101, Voorhees, NJ 08043.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.