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Responding to a Divorce Complaint

By Sarah Jacobs, Esq.

Responding to a Morris County Divorce ComplaintWhen a person files for divorce in Morris County or New Jersey, the person receiving the “divorce complaint” has thirty-five (35) days from being served with the complaint to respond before the default divorce process begins. If an individual chooses to not respond to a divorce complaint, they risk a great deal in terms of their final Divorce Settlement Agreement, specifically the potential for unfavorable or even unfair child custody, child support, alimony and division of assets agreements.

On the other hand, individuals are given a variety of options when it comes to how they want to respond to a divorce complaint, and in today’s article we will discuss these options, what they mean, and why it is generally a good idea to, at the very least, consult with an experienced Morris County divorce attorney before deciding whether or not to respond to a divorce complaint, and how exactly to respond to a divorce complaint in New Jersey.

Responding to a Morris County Divorce Complaint

As part of the initial filing of a divorce, the plaintiff (the person initiating the divorce complaint) will outline their reasons for requesting a divorce, and identify if there exists issues as to child custody and child support (if children are involved) as well as alimony (when applicable) and the division of marital assets.

In some situations, the divorcing couple may already have reached a mutual agreement in regards to these key aspects, but even when this is the case, it is still recommended that each party speak with a divorce attorney before proceeding with the uncontested divorce process.

On the other hand, and much more commonly, the defendant (the person receiving the divorce complaint) will want to contest the proposed terms contained within the divorce complaint, and in some situations may even want to contest the stated reasons for the divorce itself, or contest statements made about the marriage contained within the divorce complaint. When this is the case, the defendant is given the options to:

  • File an Appearance – the defendant does not object to the divorce itself, but still wishes to negotiate the final terms of their Divorce Settlement Agreement
  • File an Answer – the defendant disagrees with the reasons stated for the divorce (if filed as a fault divorce), or disagrees with statements made within the complaint i.e. statements regarding finances, statements made about either party, or statements made about the marriage as a whole
  • File a Counterclaim – the defendant can also file for divorce, and state new reasons for the divorce as part of this counterclaim

Contested Divorce Attorneys Madison NJ

When a person does choose to respond to a divorce complaint, their divorce will be considered a “contested divorce“. However, while the name contested divorce implies a difficult and contentious process, just because you wish to negotiate for fairer terms for your Divorce Settlement Agreement does not mean that you have to do so in an embattled or stressful manner.

In fact, divorcing couples are given many opportunities to come to final agreements before requiring actual courtroom litigation. Couples must first attempt to resolve their issues through court-ordered mediation, and are also given the chance to come to an agreement at any point through pre-trial negotiations.

This again is why, even if you and your spouse agree on the issues of child custody, child support, alimony, and the division of assets before filing the complaint for divorce, and even if you are planning on an uncontested divorce, it is still highly recommended that you speak with a Madison divorce attorney before choosing to not respond to the divorce complaint. If it becomes clear that the proposed divorce agreements are not actually fair to you, or put your long-term parental or financial future in jeopardy, you can answer the divorce complaint but still not have an overly “contentious” divorce.

Contact a Morristown Divorce Lawyer Today

At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients to file and respond to divorce complaints, and secure fair and reasonable divorce settlement agreements in towns across New Jersey and Morris County, including Madison, Morristown, Randolph, Florham Park, East Hanover, Morris Plains, Denville, Dover and more.

The unique approach of our law firm focuses on finding creative and constructive solutions to family law problems of all kinds. By pursuing a negotiation-centered approach first, we aim to reduce the cost, stress, and time associated with the resolution of divorce and family law matters, and do so in a way which protects the stability, and future, of your whole family.

To speak with our legal team today in a confidential and comprehensive case assessment today regarding your divorce, any of its related issues such as child custody, child support, alimony, or equitable distribution, any kind of post-divorce modification or enforcement matter, or any other kind of family law issue you may be facing, please contact us online, or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 710-4366.

Contact Our Morristown Attorneys Today

At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys are experienced in protecting our clients across Madison, Randolph, Tewksbury, Morristown, and the greater Morris County area in all family law-related issues.

To schedule a strategic planning session with one of our experienced team members regarding your particular case, please contact us online or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 354-4506.