Monmouth County Divorce Process

Most couples do not take the decision to divorce lightly. Knowing what to expect from the Monmouth County divorce process can help you make an informed decision and practical plans for your life after divorce.

When you have decided to end your marriage, contact a local divorce attorney. They can guide you through the process and help you achieve your goals so that you can begin your new life with confidence.

Initial Paperwork Must Include Grounds for Divorce

A divorce proceeding officially begins when one spouse residing in Monmouth County files a complaint seeking divorce with the Monmouth County Superior Court, Chancery Division – Family Part, in Freehold. If children are involved, the spouse must file in the county where the child primarily resides. One spouse must have lived in New Jersey as a bona fide resident continuously for at least one year before either spouse can file for divorce. The initial filing seeking a dissolution of marriage must include the grounds, or reason, for the divorce.

Many couples state irreconcilable differences as the grounds for dissolving their marriages. This is commonly known as “no fault” divorce. The spouse filing for divorce must affirm that the couple has been experiencing irreconcilable differences for at least six months and that there is no reasonable hope they will resolve their differences. Separation for at least 18 months is also sufficient grounds for divorce.

New Jersey law establishes multiple fault-based grounds for divorce, including adultery, extreme cruelty, and incarceration. A spouse considering filing for divorce on fault-based grounds should speak about the advantages and disadvantages of this process with a Monmouth County matrimonial lawyer. It may be more complicated than its worth to file on fault-based grounds because someone wanting a divorce based on fault must prove that fault to the court at trial. This is why most spouses choose to file based on irreconcilable differences, which does not require proving fault at trial.

No matter the grounds for divorce, filing a complaint for divorce without a previously signed agreement in place is considered a contested divorce.

After the complaint is filed, the Court will set deadlines for exchanging financial information, settlement panels, custody and economic mediations, and settlement conferences. If these proceedings do not result in a settlement, the Court will hold a trial and decide the issues.

Trying to Resolve Issues Before Filing

A divorcing couple must resolve issues concerning property division, alimony, child support, and parenting time before a divorce becomes final. When a couple can agree on all these issues in a signed agreement before filing a complaint for divorce, whichever spouse files for divorce can submit their signed agreement with their complaint. The court reviews the documents and, if all is in order, grants the divorce at a final hearing. This process is called an uncontested divorce.

A couple could work with a mediator or other professional to come to a fair signed agreement before filing for divorce. In more complicated cases, working with a collaborative divorce team consisting of lawyers for each spouse and professionals like financial advisors, social workers, child psychologists, and educational and childhood development experts can ease the divorce process for couples in Monmouth County that have complex issues in their divorce.

If a couple cannot communicate or cooperate to reach an acceptable agreement by whatever means, they may pursue a contested divorce. Lawyers for each spouse will seek and verify detailed financial information. The couple can continue to negotiate, and a judge will order the couple to mediation and other forms of dispute resolution. When alternatives to litigation are unsuccessful, the judge will make the final decision on the contested divorce issues after a trial.

Additional Requirements When a Couple Has Children Together

Regardless of whether spouses seek a contested or uncontested divorce, if they have minor children together, they must create a parenting plan. This plan is a detailed document describing how the couple will coparent their children. Parenting plans should include regular, meaningful contact with both parents unless there is evidence indicating this contact may pose a threat to the child’s wellbeing.

In an uncontested divorce, parents submit the plan they have agreed to. When the divorce is contested, the parents can submit an agreed-upon plan, or each submit their own proposed plans for the Court’s consideration.

A requirement of the divorce process in Monmouth County is that judges must review all parenting plans to ensure they are in the children’s best interests. When the parents have agreed on a plan, the judge presumes it is in the children’s best interests but still must conduct an independent review. Parents are much better positioned to create a workable parenting plan than a judge who has no personal knowledge of the family, so it is wise for them to work with their divorce attorneys, if necessary, to prepare a plan that clearly supports their children’s best interests. The overwhelming majority of agreed-upon parenting plans are approved by the judge. Rejecting these parenting plans is extremely rare.

Consult a Monmouth County Divorce Attorney About the Divorce Process

Understanding the Monmouth County divorce process before filing any paperwork can reduce your stress levels and help you plan for the future. Untangling your financial and personal affairs is complicated, but having a competent legal professional handle your divorce can make it easier. Make an appointment today to speak with an experienced family law attorney at Moskowitz Law Group.

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