What Options Do Couples Have When Proceeding With A Divorce In New Jersey?
If a couple feels that they can work together, they can attempt mediation. There are many of court certified mediators that will assist the parties to reach a financial agreement before filing for divorce. However, when you participate in mediation, the mediator is a neutral party. The mediator cannot force to force either party into changing their position if they’re not in agreement with the mediator’s suggestions and no resolution is agreed upon. Many times the Parties get to a certain point and they cannot come to an agreement through mediation.
If your case does not get resolved in mediation there are several steps in your divorce case. The Divorce is started by one party filing a Complaint for Divorce. The other party then files an Answer and/or Counterclaim. The next step is the discovery period, where both sides exchange financial information to establish the parties financial situation. The parties will exchange a Case Information Statement, which is a listing of all of your income, expenses, assets and liabilities. The parties will also produce tax returns, bank statements and information about pensions and other retirement assets of the parties. The next step is that the parties will participate in an Early Settlement Panel Conference or ESP. Prior to the ESP each party will submit an ESP Statement, which sets forth each parties position on all issues, including Alimony, Child Support and other child related issues. The ESP Statement also includes each parties position on equitable distribution of the marital assets, which include the marital home, any other real estate, bank and stock accounts, automobiles, retirement and pension assets and liabilities. At the ESP Conference the parties and their attorneys will meet with two experienced matrimonial attorneys to discuss their case. The ESP attorney will review your ESP Statement, your Case Information Statement and any other information the parties and their attorneys want to present. At that point the ESP Attorneys will make a recommendation on each issue. The parties can either accept or reject all or some of these recommendations. If the matter is not resolved at the ESP the parties are then referred to Economic Mediation.
In economic mediation, the parties will meet with a single attorney who is trained in mediation. This attorney offers two free hours. One hour is used to review the financial information and any other information that the parties submit to the attorney for review. The other hour is used to work with the parties to assist in reaching a settlement. If you’re making progress after the first hour the Parties can agree to continue using the Mediator’s services, however, at that point, the parties have to pay the Mediator their normal hourly rate. The majority of cases are settled through economic mediation. It is certainly financially better for both sides to come to an agreement through economic mediation rather than going to trial. Going to trial becomes very expensive. You can spend anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000, if the matter has to go to trial.
However, there is one final step prior to trial. There is an intense settlement conference. At the intense settlement conferences, a judge will assist in helping the parties resolve the issues that are preventing the parties from settling their case. Sometimes, it takes all day to try to resolve the case with the assistance of the Judge, however, if the case is not settled, then the matter will be set for trial.
Does Fault Play Any Role In A New Jersey Divorce?
In New Jersey, fault doesn’t play a role in divorce. The court doesn’t take into account fault. You could be the worst husband or wife during the marriage. The Court will not punish you financially for being a terrible spouse. New Jersey is neutral when it comes to fault. Some people ask, what’s a no fault divorce? Well, that’s a term that comes out of California. Almost all divorce cases are filed on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, which means that the spouses haven’t gotten along for at least six months. Under irreconcilable differences, there’s a breakdown in the marriage to a level where the marriage needs to be dissolved, and there’s no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. About 95% of all cases are filed on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.
For more information on Options For Proceeding With Divorce In NJ, a personalized case evaluation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (732) 733-2830 today.
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