What are my Options for Divorce in NJ?

Hackensack NJ Divorce and Mediation AttorneysWhen an individual or a couple makes the decision to divorce, it can often be a difficult one. Unfortunately, it is the first of many difficult decisions that will need to be made. There are several distinct ways of actually pursuing a divorce in New Jersey and Bergen County, and also several different ways for that divorce to be ultimately resolved. Below we will discuss these various options for divorce in Bergen County, and discuss some of the benefits and disadvantages to each method.

Mediation Attorneys Bergen County, NJ

An increasingly popular option for divorcing couples is that of mediation or Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). ADR in general seeks to help couples more amicably resolve their divorce outside of the court system through open and honest communication between the parties. Mediation is a specific type of ADR which involves only a single attorney acting as a neutral mediator between the divorcing couple. This divorce mediator will help the couple to resolve the key divorce issues of child custody, child support, division of marital assets and debt, and alimony, and when an agreement has been reached, present the resulting divorce settlement agreement to the courts to be finalized. Mediation cannot work for every couple as it requires a desire from both parties to work together to arrive at a final solution, but if you and your spouse are both committed to the process, regardless of whether or not you are in agreement over exactly how to resolve certain issues, mediation can be an extremely beneficial alternative to a traditional divorce.

No Fault Divorce Lawyers Ridgewood, NJ

If you do not believe mediation will work in your unique situation, you will then need to decide what kind of divorce to pursue, specifically a no-fault divorce, or a fault-based divorce. No-fault divorces tend to be the more common option, as the principal benefit of a no-fault divorce is that, once you and your spouse have come to terms regarding the key divorce issues of child custody, child support, division of assets, and alimony, a no-fault divorce will always be granted by the state (given you and your Ridgewood no fault divorce attorney have followed all of the proper steps and procedures).

A no-fault divorce can be filed for in New Jersey as long as you and your spouse have lived in the state for the last 12 months consecutively, have experienced “irreconcilable differences” for at least 6 months, and believe there is no reasonable chance for you to resolve those “irreconcilable differences”. Irreconcilable differences is an important legal term, and refers to any difference you have with your spouse which causes you to believe the marriage should end. This can be anything from disagreements over whether or not to have children or how to raise them, to the simple fact that one party wants to divorce, and the other does not.

As previously noted, the main advantage to a Bergen County no fault divorce is that the divorce cannot be denied once the key divorce issues have been settled in your divorce settlement agreement. Of course, it is highly recommended that you retain the counsel of an experienced Hackensack divorce attorney during this process in order to ensure that your divorce settlement agreement properly reflects your unique needs and concerns, both in the short term and the long term, as it can be difficult to modify those terms after your divorce once they are in place.

Fault Based Divorce Lawyers Fort Lee, NJ

The other potential  type of divorce in New Jersey is that of a fault-based divorce. Fault based divorces are much less common than no-fault divorces, as the plaintiff (the person filing for the divorce) will need to prove that their spouse committed certain actions which directly lead for the plaintiff’s desire for a divorce. Should you be unable to prove that the fault exists, your divorce can be denied by the courts.

Fault grounds for divorce in New Jersey are outlined in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2 and include:

  • Adultery
  • Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
  • Drug or Alcohol abuse for at least 12 months
  • Abandonment for at least one year

The advantage in a Fort Lee fault-based divorce lies in the alimony component of that divorce. In a fault based divorce, alimony is often treated as a form of compensatory damages, meaning the greater the fault of your spouse, the more you will receive in terms of your alimony settlement beyond what you would expect in any no-fault divorce alimony settlement.

When pursuing a fault-based divorce, even more so than a no-fault divorce, it is highly recommended that you retain the counsel of an experienced Fort Lee divorce attorney to help ensure that you not only prove that the fault grounds exist, but that they warrant compensation in the form of an increased alimony settlement.

Contested or Uncontested Divorce, Bergen County NJ

Regardless of whether you ultimately choose to pursue a no fault or fault based divorce, you will need to give notice to the courts that you wish to begin the divorce process. This notice will then be served to your spouse, and they have the option to either answer your claim, or not respond. Should they answer your divorce claim, your divorce will become what is known as “contested”, and you, your Bergen county divorce attorney, your spouse, and their attorney will need to negotiate the terms of your divorce settlement agreement before the divorce can be granted.

Should your spouse not answer your claim however, your divorce will be considered “uncontested”, and it will be up to the courts to decide the terms of your divorce settlement agreement, generally much more in your favor as your spouse chose to not answer your claim and represent their interests in the process.

Contact our Hackensack Divorce and Mediation Attorneys Today

At The Law Office of Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients across Ridgewood, Fort Lee, Hackensack, and the greater Bergen County area to successfully resolve their divorce and its related issues in no fault divorces, fault based divorces, and the mediation process.

By practicing exclusively family and divorce law, our attorneys can focus on the issues most important to you, and providing you with the compassionate, effective, and attentive legal service that you deserve. We strive to keep our clients highly involved and informed throughout the legal process, as the better we understand your exact needs and concerns during your divorce or mediation process, the better we can work to achieve the resolution that best meets those needs.

To speak with our firm today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your divorce and what options may work best for you, please contact us online, or through our Hackensack office at (201) 397-1750.

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