There is no set time limit for a divorce to reach completion. The length depends on many factors and each spouse’s willingness to agree regarding marital property, child custody, and division of assets.
Theoretically, a couple could divorce in New Jersey relatively quickly. Unlike many other states that require a minimum time period of separation after a divorce filing, New Jersey has no such requirement. Couples who have been married only a short time, have no shared property, assets, or children, and reach an early agreement could actually divorce in a matter of weeks. Realistically, however, this scenario rarely occurs.
The majority of couples do have shared assets and children which must be considered and divided. Typically, divorces take several weeks or months, and the New Jersey court system strives to complete divorce process in less than a year.
What Are the Phases of the Divorce Process in New Jersey?
While each divorce has unique aspects that require variation in procedure during the divorce process, all divorces must follow some basic common steps by law in New Jersey, some of which take much longer than others to complete. The basic steps of divorce include:
- Filing: First, one spouse files a divorce complaint against the other spouse with the court. The complaint must contain each spouse’s name, addresses, contact information, the marriage date, and the grounds for divorce. Filing for divorce is quickest stage of the divorce process.
- Response and counterclaim: Once the complaint is filed and served, the receiving spouse must respond and provide any counterclaims. The length of this step is mandated by state law, which requires the defendant’s response by a designated date. It is imperative that the receiving spouse follow this requirement. Failure to answer by the deadline allows your spouse to then file a default and the divorce will proceed without you.
- Discovery: The discovery phase of the divorce proceedings will form the basis of a settlement or final divorce agreement. During discovery, both spouses must provide all information regarding assets, marital property, income, budgets, debt, insurances, and more, generally through detailed forms and supplement documents, or the attorneys may opt to depose each spouse under oath.
- Settlement: During discovery, the attorneys may begin working together in efforts to develop a settlement agreement and prevent the divorce from going to trial. This stage of the divorce process is one of the most time-consuming stages, especially if the marriage was lengthy with many assets or is a complex high-asset divorce. Settlements typically include decisions such as division of property, child custody and support, spousal support, asset allocation, and any other pertinent information detailing what each spouse will take from the marriage. In some cases, the settlement process requires the use of outside consultants, such as forensic accountants or valuation experts, which can increase the amount of time spent on the settlement phase.
- Mediation: If a settlement agreement cannot be reached by this point, you may be required to obtain a mediator to work with you, your spouse, and each attorney in an attempt to reach a settlement agreement. Each party’s willingness to agree or not dictates the amount of time this phase takes.
- Settlement conference: If no settlement agreement is achieved during the mediation process, the divorce may proceed to a settlement conference with the court in a last-ditch effort to avoid a trial.
- Trial: If all efforts to agree on a settlement fail, the divorce process enters the final stage – the trial. A family court judge will hear testimony from each spouse, witnesses, and experts, review the evidence and make a settlement decision, finalizing the divorce.
The length of the divorce process depends on the circumstances but is largely dependent on each spouse’s willingness to agree. Spouses refusing to cooperate and agree on terms end up dragging out the divorce process much longer.
Whitehouse Station Divorce Lawyers at Tune Law Group Attorneys at Law Advocate for Clients Throughout the Divorce Process
Divorce is considered one of the most stressful experiences in the adult life, and many want the process to end quickly. While understandable, rushing a divorce is not a good decision. The divorce lawyers at Tune Law Group, Attorneys at Law, understand how emotional getting divorced can be and we provide our clients with the upmost support throughout the divorce process. Call us to schedule an initial consultation at 908-434-1061 or contact us online. We serve clients in Whitehouse Station, Tewksbury, and throughout Hunterdon County and Monmouth County.