New Jersey Divorce Attorneys
From distressed to de-stressed
Planning for your future while taking the headache out of divorce
If you’re thinking about a divorce, you probably have a lot of concerns.
Wondering what’s going to happen to your house, your finances, everything you’ve worked hard for, and if your kids will be ok can be overwhelming.
We’re here to tell you that while divorce is undeniably hard, it doesn’t have to be a stressful, drawn-out legal battle. We focus on strategy and goal-oriented legal advice, so you can move on and be in the best place for you and your family.
At Jacobs Berger, LLC, our goal is to minimize your stress.
Our approach to divorce is to create a successful and solid foundation for your future.
Let us help you move toward the good things that lie ahead.
When it comes to divorce in New Jersey, there are a few things you should know about.
New Jersey divorces are all no-fault divorces. In these situations, neither party legally accuses the other of wrongdoing with the exception of cases of adultery. Instead, one or both parties can assert the marriage hasn’t been working for at least six months and that they don’t think it will change.
While there may be one spouse who doesn’t feel ready for the marriage to end, the merit of no-fault divorce lies in how it doesn’t require a trial (although that still may be the direction the divorce takes) based on the reason one or both parties are seeking a divorce.
Not drawing out the divorce process often helps it reach completion on more amicable terms. This benefits both spouses’ mental health, as well as making the experience less fraught for children. Since court divorce proceedings are generally a matter of public record, it also grants a greater level of privacy.
In an uncontested divorce, a couple works to finalize their Marital Settlement Agreement, instead of having a judge make the decisions. Uncontested divorce can be reached with the guidance of a qualified, neutral third-party mediator. However, attorneys can also negotiate a resolution without having to bring in a mediator or arbitrator.
Perhaps the most important thing to understand is that a divorce can start out “contested” and later become “uncontested.” The terms refer to whether the spouses agree to final terms for their divorce settlement or if court involvement is needed for resolution.
Working with a family law practice to come to an agreement is almost always more private, amicable, and can often be less expensive than going to court. Yet for any number of reasons, an uncontested divorce isn’t always possible.
We take pride in offering dynamic and personalized legal solutions, whether your divorce is contested or uncontested.
Our divorce attorneys have extensive experience securing fair and constructive divorce agreements for clients and families across New Jersey.
When a person files for divorce in New Jersey, their spouse has 35 days to respond to this initial divorce complaint. If they don’t respond, they’re then deemed in default. While they can get themselves out or participate in the hearing, they likely wouldn’t be able to make affirmative claims for relief.
Divorce affects a person’s financial and familial future. As such, we highly recommend talking with a divorce attorney if you receive a divorce complaint.
It’s also worth noting that a divorce process can begin as “contested” and then become “uncontested.” So even if you receive a divorce complaint, it’s still possible for you and your spouse to make decisions about finances and children through mediation or negotiation between your lawyers, rather than a judge in court.
If the spouses can’t agree on how to resolve one or more issues, a divorce will continue to be contested. In these situations, a judge makes final decisions that both parties must adhere to.
Order Modification & Enforcement
Divorce settlement agreements reflect each spouse’s circumstances at the time of divorce, but things change. People remarry, lose jobs, switch careers, and suffer illnesses. A former spouse may want to move out of state. Children may request to spend more time with one parent than another. In these instances, the conditions that determined the initial divorce agreement—such as child support or alimony—may shift.
Any of the following situations may create a need to modify a divorce order:
- Loss of employment
- Gaining employment, a promotion, or a raise
- Remarriage or cohabitation
- A parent or child suffering from an illness or disability after the initial divorce agreement
- A geographical move that would change the child custody arrangements
- Loss of a home
- A change in a child’s needs
- A change in a parent’s situation
- Cost of living changes
- Changes to federal income tax law
While unforeseeable at the time of divorce, life brings change. There are two ways to pursue a divorce order modification.
You can work with a divorce attorney to write up requested changes and ask your former spouse to sign the new agreement. Or, if your spouse refuses to sign and you cannot negotiate adjustments, you can pursue changes in court or agree to mediate.
Additionally, former spouses may sometimes hinder or ignore the details of a divorce settlement agreement. Child support, custody, and alimony payments are all areas where emotions can run high, causing unexpected behavior.
If your former spouse isn’t following the divorce settlement, a New Jersey divorce attorney can help you file an application for enforcement with the court. New Jersey courts and government institutions have a broad variety of authorities and discretions to ensure both parties comply with the divorce order.
Our New Jersey divorce attorneys represent LGBTQ+ couples throughout the state. LGBTQ divorce can encompass a spectrum of legal issues and concerns, including asset and debt division, child custody, spousal support, and more.
Family law matters are by nature personal, but we aim to make the divorce process as straightforward as possible.
Our experienced divorce attorneys work with spouses through mediation and litigation, according to what is needed.
Dissolution of Civil Unions
Originally, civil unions were developed to give LGBTQ couples a legal relationship status akin to marriage. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled LGBTQ marriage legal throughout the United States. Preexisting civil unions weren’t automatically converted into marriages. This means that if you have a civil union and want to dissolve your legal relationship, you must file for a dissolution, not a divorce.
In New Jersey, the dissolution of a civil union involves the same legal processes as getting a divorce. Settlement agreements address child support, custody, the division of debt and assets, and spousal support.
Because New Jersey didn’t create legislation for civil unions before 2007, there are many instances where couples cohabited and shared household responsibilities for years prior to becoming married under state law.
In our law office, we recognize that dissolving a civil union can be a tangled emotional process. Our divorce and family law attorneys work to make the experience as efficient and amicable as possible in order to help our clients move forward.
For practical and personal reasons, some New Jersey married couples choose to separate but aren’t ready to file for divorce. Often with the help of a family law attorney, couples who separate create a signed, legal document detailing how they’ll divide financial assets and responsibilities, as well as responsibilities to children—while still remaining legally married.
Although separation isn’t a requirement for divorce, for some couples, it’s a preferred step.
While securing fair and reasonable divorce agreements is much easier during the actual divorce process, there are cases in which divorce judgments can be appealed after the divorce has been finalized.
Reasons to appeal a divorce judgement can include:
- Improper rulings
- Failure to adhere to legal standards
- Other irregularities
Any decision to pursue a divorce appeal should be made—to the best of one’s ability—in a calm and informed manner, with a knowledgeable assessment of the costs and legal grounds for appealing.
The appeals process is heavily involved and legally complex, and we take pride in keeping up-to-date with New Jersey regulations and statutes to provide the highest level of legal service.
Our New Jersey divorce attorneys are dedicated to providing dynamic and personalized legal solutions.
The prejudgment phase of a divorce is essentially everything that comes before the divorce is finalized. It’s a formal process that involves a lot of paperwork and may include attendance at required court hearings.
It can be exhausting and time-consuming—and a lot easier to navigate with legal advice. One important document that is a keystone of the prejudgment process is the Case Information Statement (CIS). A CIS gathers information about your income, expenses, all assets, and debts. It creates a picture of your current financial situation, as well as how you’ve been spending money for the last several years.
Having a clear understanding of your marital lifestyle, as well as which assets are shared, is a fundamental part of the divorce process. While it may be tempting to under- or over-value this information, being dishonest will result in penalties down the line. A CIS looks at everything, including household expenses, such as groceries, for the last several years. Preparing this important document can be one of the reasons why it’s helpful to have guidance from a divorce attorney during the process.
It’s also worth noting that while a final divorce judgment will (if applicable) include provisions for spousal support and child custody, these matters may also need to be addressed during the prejudgment process.
At Jacobs Berger, LLC, our attentive and knowledgeable divorce attorneys are prepared to help you with prejudgment issues, including:
- Temporary spousal support
- Temporary child support
- Temporary child custody
- Allocating payment responsibilities for various family expenses and liabilities
- Preserving marital assets
- Compelling compliance with discovery and procedure processes
- The evaluation of assets
Annulments legally expunge marriages where one or both parties were deceived or acted illegally. By essentially voiding the marriage, annulments create a situation where legally it’s as if the marriage never took place.
This means that rights typically addressed during a divorce, such as child support or alimony, aren’t considered in an annulment. Instead, if parents are granted an annulment, any subsequent child custody hearings would proceed as if they’re unmarried parents, not divorced parents.
Many of our clients seek annulments for personal or religious reasons. Marriages may be annulled in the following situations:
- Bigamy: if one party was already married
- Incest: spouses are too closely related
- Underage participants: one or both parties were married while underage (18 in New Jersey, or 16 with parental consent)
- Fraudulent or deceitful circumstances led to the marriage
- Sexual issues, including impotence or infertility
- The marriage took place under coercion
- Lack of legal consent: mental disability, intoxication, or other reasons at time of marriage
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will my divorce take?
Experience has shown us that every relationship—and every divorce—is different. During the prejudgment phase of a divorce, which refers to everything up until the divorce is finalized, several key issues need to be resolved, including:
- Child custody, which refers to both legal and physical custody.
- Parenting time, including visitation. New Jersey courts believe it’s critical to the development of a child to have a relationship with both parents, so expect visitation time to be granted to a non-custodial parent in almost every case.
- Child support. New Jersey has a very defined method for calculating payments.
- Spousal support and alimony, including during the divorce process.
- Division of marital assets and debt, including a family home, family business, real estate, retirement, investments, credit card debt, and more. New Jersey’s equitable distribution laws mean that division needs to be fair, but not necessarily equal.
All of the above elements can add to the complexity of a prejudgment process. Our divorce attorneys aim to resolve these matters with open communication and cooperation between spouses. Yet we also recognize this isn’t always possible.
When a situation calls for more aggressive litigation, we do so in an intelligent and thoughtful manner. We identify the issues you’re most concerned about, then put together an effective plan for negotiation which takes your specific needs into account.
Is mediation a good alternative to divorce?
Going through a court trial where a judge makes decisions for the couple doesn’t make sense for all divorcing spouses. Instead, many people prefer to seek an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) method known as mediation.
In mediation, a specially-trained and neutral third party guides the couple through resolving all matters of their divorce, which can include but aren’t limited to the division of debt and assets, alimony, child support, and custody of children. The benefits of this process over a ruling from a judge are that the couple can, within reason, decide for themselves how they would like to proceed.
Mediation can be more private, amicable, and less expensive than a court divorce.
It can also be easier on children if they can be spared arguments and tension between parents. Living with extreme parental discord is generally understood to mark a greater upheaval for children than the breakup itself.
Contact an experienced attorney today!
If you’re considering divorce or are already in the midst of one, contact an experienced attorney at Jacobs Berger, LLC. We always aim to make the process as straightforward and civil as possible.
Because we know that divorce can be stressful, we set up our processes to minimize the impact for our clients.
Move from distressed to de-stressed—contact us to schedule a strategic planning session today.