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Whether it is consensual or not, divorce can be emotionally draining for the parties involved. The end of a marriage has consequences on all aspects of the lives of the parties. If they have children who are still minors at the time of the divorce, they must reach an agreement about child custody and child support. They must also reach an agreement as to the division of marital property. The first hurdle with this is agreeing on what constitutes marital property. If the parties are able to come to an agreement about their marital property, they must then decide how much property is divided between them. Some couples have to contend with the question of alimony. How much is fair for an economically dependent spouse to receive, and for how long should they receive financial support from their former spouse? These are some of the issues that make having a Livingston divorce lawyer on your side all the better.

Why Choose A Divorce Attorney From Nitti & Nitti?

Whether you are going through a contentious divorce or not, it is advisable to use the services of a competent divorce attorney to protect your legal interests.

  • For more than 30 years, New Jersey clients have trusted us with their family law concerns and other legal matters. You can, too.
  • Our Livingston family law lawyers understand how demanding and emotionally exhausting divorces and 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.

To set up a free consultation with one of our skilled Livingston divorce attorneys, call Nitti & Nitti at (973) 226-4141.

Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey

Until 1971, New Jersey law only provided for divorce on the grounds of fault. One party had to be found responsible for one of the reasons that allowed for divorce. Now, parties can file for divorce without having to show fault by either of them. Couples who want to file to dissolve their marriage in New Jersey can file for the following reasons:

  • Adultery
  • Separation of at least 18 months with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation
  • Physical or mental abuse by a spouse
  • Drug or alcohol addiction of a spouse
  • Mental illness requiring institutionalization for more than 24 consecutive months
  • Imprisonment of a spouse for 18 or more consecutive months after marriage
  • Sexual abuse and misconduct; and, the most often cited
  • Irreconcilable differences with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation

The Divorce Process

Couples who wish to dissolve their marriage can choose to do so either through a non-adversarial process such as mediation, or the litigated divorce process. With mediation, both parties, with the help of a mediator, try to negotiate and settle all outstanding issues that are consequences of the divorce. An experienced divorce attorney can help you understand your legal rights and obligations, and help you make the right decisions in mediation. Having an experienced divorce lawyer help you through the mediation process will ensure that your interests are protected especially when there is an imbalance of power between the spouses.

What to Expect from the Divorce Process in New Jersey

Your divorce experience in New Jersey will vary depending on what type of divorce you are going through. There are essentially two types of divorces: contested and uncontested. As the names imply, contested divorces are necessary when there is a dispute as to certain issues related to the divorce.

Generally, the steps in the divorce process are as follows:

  • The party initiating the divorce (the petitioner) must file a divorce complaint. A divorce complaint filed in court starts the process. It is a document that expresses the initiating party’s desire to dissolve their marriage. It also outlines what the initiating party wants at the end of the dissolution. These are known as reliefs. The initiating party must ask for what they want. For instance, spousal support or alimony, order for custody of minor children, child visitation orders, child support orders, and division of property.
  • Serve the defendant with the complaint and a summons. After a complaint has been filed, the non-initiating spouse, who is the defendant, must be “served” with a copy of the complaint and a summons issued by the court. Serving the defendant simply means giving them a copy of the complaint. The accompanying summons informs the defendant that you have taken action by filing a divorce complaint and invites them to respond to your complaint. There are rules about what constitutes proper service to the defendant. Failure to properly serve the complaint and summons could result in further delays in your case. This is another reason why you should consider using an experienced divorce attorney. Whether your divorce is contentious or not, the divorce process is a legal process and you must follow all the rules and procedures required by law. The courts make no exceptions about the rules for cases filed by non-lawyers.
  • Defendant’s Answer and Counterclaim. After being served, the defendant has the opportunity to answer and respond to the divorce complaint in writing. If they also have reliefs that they would like from the court, they would include those in their counterclaim. The next step depends on whether or not the defendant responds to the divorce complaint and the summons.
  • Default Judgment. If the defendant does not respond within the time they are allowed to do so, the petitioner can request a default judgment from the court. Generally, our legal system is structured so that every party in a dispute has an opportunity to defend themselves in both civil and criminal matters. In a divorce, as in other civil matters, a petitioner can get a default judgment in their favor when the defendant fails to respond and present or defend their side of the issues. But getting a default judgment is not automatic. The case must meet the court’s requirements and must follow all rules and procedures.
  • Going to Court. If the defendant responds, then there are different steps that must be followed before the case is either settled or it goes to trial before a judge. Couples are often given an opportunity to sort out their differences before a trial. Often, the courts will respect whatever divorce settlement the parties reach as to the issues between them and make orders in line with the settlement agreement.

Court processes can be tedious and confusing, but when you have the experienced professionals at Nitti & Nitti by your side, you can rest assured that your case is being diligently handled.

What is an Uncontested Divorce

When a couple has no issues to contest and are separating amicably, an uncontested divorce may be the way to go. Although it is always a good idea to seek the assistance of an experienced divorce attorney when you are ending your marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership, there is no law that requires you to use an attorney to do so.

An uncontested divorce is one where the couple are in agreement regarding all relevant issues relating to their permanent separation. When a couple decides to divorce, they must consider how to uncouple the life they built together. That may include making decisions about child custody and visitation, division of marital property, spousal support, and settlement of debts. For couples who entered the marriage with a prenuptial agreement, these issues may already be settled through the agreement. For others, the couple may be in agreement as to how they want to deal with these issues, leaving no contest between them as to how to handle the issues. In such cases, the couple can proceed with an uncontested divorce, provided they meet the requirements.

Who Can File for an Uncontested Divorce in New Jersey?

Either partner wishing to end their marriage can file for a divorce in New Jersey, as long as at least one of them resides in the state. For partners who established a domestic partnership or civil union in New Jersey, but are no longer resident in the state, either party can file in the New Jersey county where their domestic partnership or civil union took place.

Do I Need a Lawyer to File an Uncontested Divorce?

As already mentioned, although you do not need a lawyer to file an uncontested divorce in New Jersey, it is always advisable to do so. Using a lawyer is helpful in the following ways:

  • Ensuring that your divorce settlement protects your interest. Often when there is an imbalance in power between the couple, one party may agree to dissolve the marriage on terms that are not in their best interest. It is usually helpful to have a dispassionate third party review the terms of your divorce settlement before you proceed with the process. When the divorce has been finalized, the courts will be reluctant to revisit issues that have already been settled in the divorce settlement entered into court.

Avoiding delays in the divorce process. Whether you are filing on your own or using a lawyer, the divorce process is still a legal process and must follow the required procedures. Omitting to complete and submit all the necessary forms, documents, and certifications may delay your divorce. All forms and documents submitted must satisfy the requirements of the courts otherwise your case will face unnecessary delays.

Contact A Livingston Divorce Attorney Today

If your circumstances are more suited for litigation, your attorney will help you navigate the legal rules and procedures to ensure that you get a fair hearing in court. Your attorney will also help you gather all the necessary evidence to present a convincing case and protect your interests in court.

Whichever process you choose, the divorce attorneys at Nitti & Nitti have the skill and experience to get you the best results. Our Managing Partner, Joseph Nitti, Esq., is a certified mediator and is trained in collaborative law.

Divorce is a difficult process, but you don’t have to do it alone. Call us at (973 )226-4141 or click here to schedule your free consultation.