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There are many reasons why once-loving couples end up in divorce, with most couples usually not enter into a marriage with the intention of getting a divorce. In fact, there are many religions that prohibit divorce, and in fact, our early laws on marriage and divorce were influenced by such religious views about the indissolubility of marriage. But, our laws have progressed over time to allow for the legal dissolution of a marriage. When couples can no longer remain together in a marriage, either party has the option of filing to legally divorce the other, in which an East Hanover divorce lawyer can be of use.

Why Choose A Divorce Attorney From Nitti & Nitti?

  • For over 30 years, Nitti & Nitti has been handling divorce cases with skill and compassion.
  • We have the resources to help you successfully navigate complex family law issues and pursue favorable results.
  • We understand how demanding and emotionally exhausting divorces and child custody disputes can be. For this reason, we provide skilled counsel with a personal touch, working closely with you to protect your interests and create customized solutions.
  • As a local, family-owned firm, we are able to offer the one-on-one service and caring assistance you deserve. You and your case matter to us.

If you need an East Hanover divorce lawyer, we are here to help. Call us now at 973-226-4141 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

Types of Divorces in New Jersey

Until 1971, divorce law in New Jersey required fault. There had to be a reason such as adultery, long separation or desertion, or mental illness attributable to one of the parties. Like many other states today, New Jersey does not require fault on any party as a reason for divorce. A couple that recognizes that they have tried to work out their differences and can no longer co-exist as a married couple can divorce on the ground often referred to simply as “irreconcilable differences.”

Uncontested Divorce – Some couples are able to achieve a clean separation in the sense that they can reach an agreement as to issues such as division of property or child support and custody if there are minor children from the relationship. Neither party blames the other for the breakdown of their marriage and they can separate on mutually agreeable terms.

Contested Divorce – Some other couples have more difficulty agreeing on the complex issues that arise from their divorce. For example, if the couple owned a business together, they may be in disagreement over the equitable division of the business. They may also be in disagreement as to what constitutes marital property and how such property should be divided between them. When there are minor children from the relationship, child custody and support issues can be very contentious.

Does It Matter Which Spouse Files For Divorce?

In New Jersey, it only requires one spouse to file for divorce. It doesn’t matter which party files first. The person who files becomes the Plaintiff and the other spouse is the Defendant, but it makes no difference which one is defendant and which is plaintiff in a divorce case. Once it’s filed and the papers served to the defendant, the defendant has 35 days to respond if they want their side of the case heard.

If you’ve been served divorce papers, the attorneys from Nitti & Nittie are ready to help prepare you for your response and guide you through the process of first filing a general appearance response or a counterclaim. A skilled attorney will advocate for you and help with the next steps, including filing the case information sheet with all of the relevant financial information in your case.

Getting a Divorce in New Jersey

Getting a divorce does not have to be contentious. Even a contested divorce can be achieved outside of the courtroom with the help of experienced mediators. In mediation, the parties are guided by a mediator who helps them work through their differences to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. The advantage of mediation is that it is a non-adversarial process. Contested divorces usually involve a lot of acrimony between the parties, especially if there are other reasons such as infidelity or abandonment involved. The adversarial nature of our court system only heightens negative emotions and involves a lot of time and expense.

Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey

Most couples in New Jersey and elsewhere file for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences since New Jersey doesn’t require either party to show fault. This is the simplest grounds for divorce, with neither party having to prove anything against the other. However, some couples choose to divorce on other grounds. New Jersey allows divorce based on the following grounds:

  • Irreconcilable differences (when both parties agree to part ways)
  • Adultery
  • Extreme physical or mental cruelty
  • Addiction or habitual drunkenness or drug abuse
  • Desertion
  • Constructive desertion (when a spouse must leave due to acts of cruelty and the offender is considered the deserter)
  • Imprisonment
  • Institutionalization
  • Sexually deviant behavior

What to Expect During Mediation

New Jersey courts do not require mediation before going to court for your divorce. However, mediation is a convenient and viable alternative to dividing assets and arranging custody in the courtroom. Whether you and your spouse agree on a no-fault divorce, or you hope to reach the most equitable arrangement outside of a courtroom, mediation is the best way to streamline the process with far less stress and acrimony. If the mediation is successful, you won’t have to appear in a courtroom at all. Because New Jersey doesn’t require a court to finalize your divorce decree, mediation may be all you need for your divorce.

Mediation can take anywhere from one to five scheduled appointments depending on the complexity of your case and how willing you and your spouse are to settle disputes. You don’t need an attorney, but some mediators allow them. Both parties can bring a support person if they need one. The first meeting is often just to fill out the required paperwork and discuss background information and relative facts. Then, in this or subsequent meetings, each side tells the mediator their side of each issue related to the following:

  • Division of property
  • Division of assets
  • Child custody
  • Parenting time or visitation
  • Child support
  • Spousal support (Alimony)
  • Health insurance coverage
  • Pet custody

Professional mediators such as those at East Hanover Divorce Attorney are highly skilled and experienced in suggesting compassionate, equitable solutions to all topics of mediation, often simple solutions the couple never thought of, but can make division of assets as smooth and easy as possible.

How Are a Couple’s Assets Divided When They Divorce In New Jersey?

Divorce law in New Jersey includes an “equitable distribution of assets.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that mediation or courts divide all assets 50/50, but instead, distributes assets between parties fairly based on many factors including the duration of the marriage, economic standing of each spouse, standard of living, and the age of each spouse.

Because the home is typically the most valuable asset, one of the first decisions you should make is whether or not you or your spouse plan to remain in the home after the divorce or if you plan to sell the home and split any profit.

Always talk to an attorney like the ones at East Hanover Divorce before you move out of the marital home. Moving out may affect many aspects of your divorce agreement including child custody, child support, visitation and spousal support.

Common Child Custody Arrangements in New Jersey

For parents with children, child custody is often the chief concern and most stressful aspect of their case. New Jersey courts favor joint legal and physical custody whenever appropriate. Physical custody refers to where the child lives and which parent they live with while legal custody refers to which parent can make financial and other major decisions for the child.

There are many options for joint custody arrangements including:

  • Alternate weekly schedule
  • 2-2-3 Alternating day within the week schedule
  • Sole physical custody with one parent with alternating weekends and holidays with the non-custodial parent
  • First, Third, and Fifth weekends of the month with the non-custodial parent

Most parents find that the alternating week schedule works well for older children, while the alternating day schedule works best for infants and young children so they don’t have to spend long periods away from either parent.

What If Mediation Fails?

When a couple is unable to come to terms during mediation a court must resolve the division of assets, custody, visitation, and support issues. A good mediator is able to predict the likely outcome of a judge’s decision on each issue. At times this prediction is enough to encourage a couple to resolve the issue themselves in mediation. Otherwise, the case proceeds to court where it takes much longer and becomes much more costly.

How Long Does a Divorce Take to Finalize in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, courts mandate that a divorce must resolve and finalize within 12 months, beginning from the first filing date. While an uncontested divorce proceeds and concludes in much less than 12 months’ time — especially if a couple chooses professional mediation rather than court — a contested divorce could take the full 12 months.

Unlike some states, New Jersey doesn’t require a period of separation before filing. The only exception is if you file for divorce on the grounds of separation, in which case the separation must be for 18 months or longer. If you file on other grounds, including irreconcilable differences, the court requires no period of separation which would necessarily make the case take longer than practical.

Most divorces in New Jersey resolve and finalize within three to six months, but may take longer if the case is complex.

Contact An East Hanover Divorce Lawyer Today

At Nitti & Nitti, we have the experience and expertise to help you through mediation or the courtroom. Our Managing Partner, Joseph Nitti, Esq., is a certified mediator. He is also trained in collaborative law. Both of these options can streamline the family law process and help you obtain timely results.

If you’re looking for an East Hanover divorce attorney, call us now at (973) 226-4141 or click here to schedule your free consultation.