Bergen County Divorce Lawyer
Because every couple’s marriage is unique, obtaining a divorce can be a complicated process. A Bergen County divorce lawyer may be able to dispel some common myths, explain in clear language the steps required, and tailor a plan that fits your needs.
Even after you receive the final divorce decree, there may be complex post-divorce issues that need attention. Spousal support, child custody, and child support may need modification due to changed circumstances. In all of these scenarios and more, a knowledgeable family attorney could help you before, during, and after your divorce.
Divorce Laws in Bergen County
Bergen County follows the “no-fault” rule of the state which means the filing party is not required to state the reason they are seeking a divorce. In a no-fault filing, the couple has established that they have no reasonable hope of reconciling and must have already lived apart for a pre-specified amount of time.
The length of time required to be separated and living apart depends on the reason for the divorce. If a couple was married for longer than six months or adultery can be proved, no waiting time is required. For no-fault divorces, however, the couple must live apart for at least 18 months prior to filing divorced papers.
Stating a reason for divorce that lays fault at the feet of another party may be beneficial. Especially when one party to a marriage feels wronged as the result of abandonment, adultery, abuse, or drug addiction, they may feel that it is best to cite these reasons as the justification for seeking sole custody over children, alimony payments, or a significant portion of the marital assets. A Bergen County divorce attorney could help identify the legal steps necessary to initiate a case in court.
Residency and Time Requirements for Bergen County Divorce
In order to file for divorce in Bergen County, New Jersey Revised Statute §2A:34-10 states that at least one spouse must be a resident of the state for a minimum of one year prior to filing. State law does not recognize common law marriage, where a couple behaves as if they are married without a valid marriage license and ceremony.
Most divorces can be finalized within a few months from the time the complaint for divorce is filed. Although the wait may be longer for very complicated cases, the Courts strive to complete divorce cases within 12 months. A divorce can become final after the parties execute a Marital Settlement Agreement or following a trial in which the Judge issues a decision. An experienced lawyer in Bergen County could help ensure all the necessary paperwork is filed on time for a divorce.
Settlement of Divorce Case VS. Trial
A trial as the end product of a divorce is never a good result. While it may be necessary for two parties to ask a court to make an independent ruling on matters, it is best for everyone to attempt to come to the settlement table to resolve their matters in the spirit of cooperation.
In a best-case scenario, this can bring a divorce to a close almost as quickly as it starts. If the parties are able to enter into a marital settlement agreement that addresses all aspects of the case, they can submit this agreement along with their petition for divorce. If a court approves this agreement, the case may end with a single appearance.
However, if it is essential that the case goes to court, working with a dedicated Bergen County divorce lawyer could help a spouse protect their rights. They can assist to gather evidence, complete all required documents, and make potent arguments concerning property rights and child custody matters.
Division of Property and Financial Support
New Jersey is an “equitable division” state, which means marital assets and debts are divided fairly and equitably—although it should be noted that this does not always mean a perfect 50/50 split. Marital assets and debts are those acquired by the couple during marriage, regardless of how the asset or debt is titled.
New Jersey Revised Statute §2A:34-23.1 provides the more specific criteria that a court must examine when making this equitable distribution. These include:
- The length of the marriage
- The age and emotional health of the parties
- The economic circumstances of the parties
- The standard of living during the marriage
- Any debts and liabilities of the parties
- The ability of each party to support themselves in the future
Under certain circumstances, alimony—or spousal support—may be awarded while a divorce is pending or after it is finalized. Spousal support is intended to meet basic needs and help maintain a lifestyle as close as possible to that which the recipient enjoyed while married. This support can be short-term to allow a spouse to become self-supporting, or long-term in cases where a of long duration dissolves. A knowledgeable attorney could help to assess the division of assets and what kind of alimony may be allocated during a divorce in Bergen County.
Child Custody and Support
Courts in Bergen County follow “the best interests of the child” system when awarding custody during the divorce process, as a well-versed attorney could help to explain. Some of the factors courts consider include parent involvement in the child’s life, parents’ work schedules, the child’s involvement in the community, geographic distance between the parent’s domiciles, and the location of other people who are actively involved with the child. The parent’s wishes may be considered but will always be secondary to what is best for the child.
Child support is calculated using state guidelines that consider custody, parents’ incomes, and other financial factors. Courts normally follow the mathematical formula unless there are special circumstances, such as large uninsured medical bills or unusual costs for the care of a child.
Talk to an Experienced Bergen County Divorce Attorney
Every couple’s financial and family situation is different. Drafting and submitting paperwork to the court requires knowledge of the law as it applies to each situation, and mistakes can be costly both in time and money.
A Bergen County divorce lawyer may be able to help you file paperwork efficiently and represent your best interests so that you can get on with living the next chapter of your life. Call today for a consultation.