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DIVORCE 101 The New Jersey Divorce Process

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How do I start my divorce? & What should I expect? DIVORCE 101 The New Jersey Divorce Process 1 Presented by: Divorce & Family Lawyers in New Jersey


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Divorce 101: Disclaimer This presentation contains general information and does not constitute legal advice. Be sure to direct specific questions about your own situation to an attorney. 2


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Sections Divorce 101: The New Jersey Divorce Process Stage One: Beginning the Divorce Process Stage Two & Three: Case Management and Discovery Stage Four & Five: Early Settlement Panel and Economic Mediation Stage Six & Seven: Intensive Settlement Conference and Trial Post-Divorce Considerations Questions & Additional Help 3


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Divorce 101 The New Jersey Divorce Process ? Divorce 101: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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Stage One: Beginning the Divorce Process The typical New Jersey divorce begins when one spouse files a complaint for divorce: The “complaint” is legal paperwork that you or your attorney give to the courts to start your divorce process. It states grounds for divorce, either no-fault (such as irreconcilable differences), or fault (such as infidelity). It must be filed in family court, together with supporting forms. FOR A COMPLETE DESCRIPTION OF STAGE ONE, DOWNLOAD OUR PDF: Stage 1: Beginning the Divorce Process www.wlg.com/divorce-roadmap 5 Divorce 101 ? 1. Stage One: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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Q: Do I have to prove that my spouse did something wrong to get a divorce? A: No. New Jersey permits a no-fault divorce. 6 Irreconcilable differences is the most common type of no-fault divorce in New Jersey. Defined, generally, as the existence of significant differences between a married couple causing the breakdown of the marriage and for a period of at least six months, with no reasonable chance of reconciliation. Divorce 101 ? 1. Stage One: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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A Note about Private Divorce Mediation If you and your spouse can come to an agreement, consider private divorce mediation as a way to resolve your case. One of you will still need to file for divorce, but some divorcing couples choose to attend mediation first. Mediation can reduce costs. A divorce mediator does not represent either party, each of you may still need separate attorneys, unless you choose to represent yourselves. For more information, see our companion slideshow: Divorce Mediation 101. 7 Divorce 101 ? 1. Stage One: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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Initial Divorce Papers 8 Divorce 101 ? 1. Stage One: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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A Special Case: Default Judgments If no response to initial complaint within 35 days, the plaintiff can seek a default judgment. Example: You can’t locate your spouse. This can also be an intentional strategy, by agreement, as a route to uncontested divorce. 9 Divorce 101 ? 1. Stage One: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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10 Divorce 101 ? 1. Stage One: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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Stage Two & Three: Case Management and Discovery Within 30 days of the last date for filing an answer to the complaint (or to defendant’s counterclaim, if any) the court will schedule a case management conference (CMC) to: Fix deadlines for completion of discovery based on the number and type of issues in your case, and Determine if any expert reports will be necessary for trial (e.g. child custody expert). FOR A COMPLETE DESCRIPTION OF STAGES TWO AND THREE, DOWNLOAD OUR PDF: Stages 2 and 3: Case Management and Discovery www.wlg.com/divorce-roadmap 11 Discovery: This is the effort to discover facts relevant to the divorce case through requests for documents and information about things such as earnings, monthly budgets, assets, debts, etc. Divorce 101 ?2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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A note about Temporary Motions 12 Do you need immediate help from the court? You can file a pendente lite motion for temporary relief at any time during your case. This could be for: Divorce 101 ? 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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Do you have a custody or parenting time dispute? The court will send most cases involving custody or parenting time issues to court-mandated parenting mediation. 13 All cases involving parenting disputes are assigned to the priority track at the case management conference (CMC). The judge will set a hearing date within six months of the answer to the complaint or the counterclaim. Divorce 101 ? 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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The court will require you to try to settle your parenting issues: 14 Divorce 101 ? 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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Q. What if you can’t resolve your parenting issues through negotiation or mediation? 15 A. The court will want an expert opinion. Divorce 101 ? 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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Custody Investigations & Evaluations Family Division Investigations The judge can order a social investigation and “best interests of the child” report May include home inspections for shared parenting time May also include psychological, psychiatric, parental functioning assessments or mental health evaluations if necessary The judge can also interview the child in chambers Private Custody Evaluations Parents can jointly hire a mental health expert to conduct the investigation and prepare the report, or Parents can each hire their own expert Child custody evaluators must be neutral and follow uniform standards, regardless of who hires them 16 Divorce 101 ? 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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Dividing assets and debts Alimony (spousal support) Child support You may also need financial experts at trial if you are unable to settle your property or support issues: $ 17 Divorce 101 ? 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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A few examples of financial experts: 18 Divorce 101 ? 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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What is Discovery? 19 Parties file and exchange Case Information Statements (CIS) containing detailed information The court sets guidelines for additional “discovery” – a formal exchange of necessary information– at the Case Management Conference Divorce 101 ? 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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What does the Case Information Statement (CIS) include? 20 Divorce 101 ? 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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Additional discovery in a divorce case often includes: 21 Divorce 101 ? 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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22 Divorce 101 ? 2. Stage Two/Three: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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Stage Four & Five: Early Settlement Panel and Economic Mediation Trials are expensive and burdensome for both the parties and the courts. New Jersey courts require most divorcing couples to participate in a series of court-mandated settlement efforts before going to trial: FOR A COMPLETE DESCRIPTION OF STAGES FOUR AND FIVE, DOWNLOAD OUR PDF: Stages 4 and 5: Early Settlement and Economic Mediation www.wlg.com/divorce-roadmap 23 Divorce 101 ? 3. Stage Four/Five: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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What is the Early Settlement Panel? Two or three experienced volunteer family law attorneys review your issues and provide recommendations for resolution. If both of you decide to accept the panel's recommendations, you can go immediately to court to put your settlement terms on the record. A judge will grant your New Jersey divorce before you leave the courthouse that very day. 24 Divorce 101 ? 3. Stage Four/Five: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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What is Economic Mediation? 25 If you do not resolve your financial issues after presenting your case to the early settlement panel, the court will require you to choose an economic mediator to help you reach an agreement. Divorce 101 ? 3. Stage Four/Five: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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26 Divorce 101 ? 3. Stage Four/Five: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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Stage Six & Seven: Intensive Settlement Conference and Trial If you still cannot settle your financial issues after economic mediation, the court will ask you and your attorneys to attend an all-day settlement conference in a final attempt to avoid a trial. FOR A COMPLETE DESCRIPTION OF STAGES SIX AND SEVEN, DOWNLOAD OUR PDF: Stages 6 and 7: Intensive Settlement Conference and Trial www.wlg.com/divorce-roadmap 27 Divorce 101 ? 4. Stage Six/Seven: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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What happens if my divorce goes to Trial? If your case goes to trial, a family court judge will review evidence and hear testimony from you, your spouse, your experts, and any other witnesses, before ultimately making a final decision on all unresolved issues. Barring any appeals of the judge’s decision, you will have a judgment of divorce with final orders. 28 Divorce 101 ? 4. Stage Six/Seven: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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29 Divorce 101 ? 4. Stage Six/Seven: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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The New Jersey Divorce Process: Post-Divorce Motions for Enforcement 30 Divorce 101 ? 5. Post Divorce: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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Post Divorce Modifications 31 Divorce 101 ? 5. Post Divorce: The New Jersey Divorce Process


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Do you have your own or other questions? 32 Call us: (888) 888-0919 Divorce 101 ? Questions? Can We Help? Email us: info@weinbergerlawgroup.com


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Schedule your FREE confidential legal consultation to discuss your Divorce in New Jersey www.wlg.com info@weinbergerlawgroup.com The process and information contained in this presentation pertains to New Jersey Divorce Law. This presentation is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For guidance on your specific situation, please contact a divorce attorney. (888) 888-0919 33 Divorce 101 ? Questions? Can We Help?


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