There is no such thing as a simple divorce. However, in some circumstances divorcing couples are able to agree to the terms of their divorce without actual courtroom litigation. When this is the case, the divorce will be considered an “uncontested divorce”, and may allow for the divorce to be finalized and granted in a much quicker manner than is the norm in New Jersey.
There are several different ways for a divorce to be considered uncontested (which we will discuss in the sections below), but perhaps the most important thing to understand is that a divorce can start out as “contested” and still later become “uncontested”, the terms simply refer to whether or not the spouses agree to final terms for their divorce settlement, and how much court involvement is necessary for reaching a final divorce settlement agreement.
At Jacobs Berger, we highly encourage our divorce clients to try to resolve their divorce without courtroom litigation, and as such focus on providing each of our clients with highly effective negotiations, mediations, and even divorce arbitration when appropriate. We take pride in offering dynamic and personalized legal solutions for individuals going through any kind of divorce, be it contested or uncontested, and have extensive experience securing fair and constructive divorce agreements for clients and families.
Call our office today for a confidential and comprehensive case assessment to discuss your unique needs and concerns when it comes to your divorce, your options for resolving your divorce, and how exactly we can help you to find creative and constructive legal solutions to divorce issues like child custody and visitation, child support, alimony, and the division of marital assets.
Uncontested Divorce Lawyers Define Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce
When a person files for a divorce in New Jersey, the spouse who receives this divorce complaint can either answer the divorce complaint, or choose not to respond.
In certain situations, the divorcing couple may already have worked out terms for their final divorce settlement agreement. If this is the case, the person receiving the divorce complaint can choose not to respond to the complaint, at which point their divorce will be considered “uncontested”, and the agreed-upon divorce settlement will be sent to a family court judge for expedited review and approval.
However, in the majority of cases, it is highly recommended that the divorce complaint is “answered”, allowing for the negotiation of a final divorce settlement agreement before it is ultimately approved. This is simply due to how impactful a divorce settlement agreement can be in both the short-term and the long-term for all involved parties as it will address the key issues of child custody, child support, alimony, and marital asset division. It is extremely important to make sure that the divorce settlement you agree to is fair to you and represents your unique situation, needs, and concerns, as modifying these agreements after your divorce has already been settled can be difficult, expensive, and time-consuming.
Should the initial divorce complaint be answered, the divorce will then be considered “contested”, and the parties will have to negotiate the terms of their final divorce settlement agreement before the divorce can be granted. However, it is important to understand that a contested divorce does not mean the divorce has to be acrimonious or embattled, and that there a number of ways to peaceably resolve a contested divorce without requiring the parties to actually go to court: namely pre-trial negotiations, divorce mediation, or arbitration.
Should you and your spouse be able to come to an agreement through any of these methods, it may still be possible to submit this agreement to the courts and have it placed on the same expedited legal track as an uncontested divorce.
Expedited Divorce, Uncontested Divorce Lawyers
Our Randolph uncontested divorce lawyers understand that for many of our clients, the sooner their divorce is finalized, the better. While New Jersey courts are not world-renowned for their efficiency or expedience, our state is in the middle of the pack when it comes to how long it takes for divorces to be granted once a settlement agreement has been submitted to the courts.
However, even if you are able to successfully agree to a final divorce settlement agreement without relying on courtroom litigation, in order for your divorce to be placed on an expedited legal track in New Jersey, the following statements all need to be true:
- The marriage lasted a maximum of five (5) years
- A signed agreement exists between the two parties
- There is no need for pretrial considerations including the divorce discovery process (i.e. no dispute exists over income, the value of marital and individual assets, etc)
- You and your spouse have settled any potential disputes about child custody, child support, equitable distribution, alimony, etc.
- Both partners have agreed to file the divorce as uncontested (i.e. both spouses are happy with the current agreement, whether it was reached before the divorce was filed, or was reached through some form of pre-trial settlement)
If My Spouse and I Are Not in Agreement, Can We Still File for an Uncontested Divorce?
When it comes to resolving the key divorce issues of child custody, child support, alimony, and the equitable distribution of assets without relying on courtroom litigation, there are several potential options available to you:
Pre-Trial Negotiations – Every divorcing couple is given the opportunity, and is encouraged by the family court system, to resolve their divorce before going to trial through pre-trial negotiations. These negotiations will typically involve each party’s divorce attorney understanding what it is that their clients want, what is is that their spouse wants, and then negotiating to find solutions which represent those needs. The more each side is willing to cooperate and work together to find fair solutions, the more successful this negotiation process will be.
Mediation – Mediation differs from negotiation in that it typically only involves a single attorney, acting as a neutral “mediator” between the two parties. Our qualified Morris County mediation attorneys are often able to resolve even the most complex and contentious legal issues out of court through our unique mediation process. Of course, in order for the mediation process to be successful, each party needs to trust that the other is acting in good faith (i.e. fully and accurately disclosing financial information), each party is willing to communicate and compromise with the other and that the divorce mediator remains neutral and impartial throughout the entirety of the mediation process.
Arbitration – Similar to mediation in the sense that a successful arbitration will result in a divorce settlement agreement which does not require any kind of court involvement, arbitration differs from mediation in that the “divorce arbitrator” makes the final decisions for the divorcing couple, rather than helping them to reach their own agreements. To learn more about the arbitration process and its advantages and disadvantages, please view our divorce arbitration page.
So while there are several different ways to achieve an uncontested divorce in New Jersey, there also may be situations where one party or the other is simply unwilling to negotiate or compromise at which point courtroom litigation will become necessary. For this reason, we believe it is important to work with a Morris County divorce attorney who will favor a negotiation-centric approach to resolving your divorce, but at the same time will ultimately be prepared to litigate on your behalf to a family court judge should it become necessary.
Contact our Uncontested Divorce Attorneys Today
At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys believe that the added convenience and benefits make uncontested divorce a great option for many of our clients.
Our unique approach to family and matrimonial law focuses on creating “family life plans out of family law problems”, meaning we strive to find solutions that will protect your family’s finances and relationships despite whatever issues you are currently facing. If you are considering an uncontested divorce, you can feel confident leaning on our experience to guide you through the legal process knowing that our goal is to find an amicable resolution to your divorce without unnecessary litigation.
To speak with our legal team today in a comprehensive and confidential case assessment regarding your divorce, your options for securing an uncontested divorce, or how we can help you to constructively resolve your divorce while still protecting your individual needs and interests, please contact us online, or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 710-4366.