Divorce is a harsh reality for about half of all marriages. The statistics seem bleak, but there's good news: not every divorce is bitter. We often only hear about terrible divorces because they make for a better story, but many divorcing couples end their marriage through the uncontested divorce process in New Jersey. Uncontested divorces occur when parties agree on everything. It's great when there's no disagreement but deciding how to divide up your lives together has its own set of difficulties. For example, you'll need to figure out how to split up:
- Real estate
- Personal property
- Child custody
- Retirement benefits
- Insurance benefits
Additionally, you may need to decide on:
- Spousal support
- Child support
As you might imagine, emotions can quickly override good intentions during the divorce or dissolution process. If you've decided to end your marriage or your civil union in New Jersey, you should speak to a family law attorney who's experienced with divorce and dissolution proceedings. Even if you believe you and your soon-to-be ex are on excellent terms, you should still have an attorney look over the Settlement Agreement. This is especially true when there are a lot of assets involved in the divorce.
Absolute Divorce Options in New Jersey
There are multiple ways to move through the divorce process in New Jersey. There's absolute divorce, and then there's limited divorce. A limited divorce doesn't result in the termination of a marriage and is not a commonly utilized legal process. Absolute divorces, on the other hand, serve to terminate a marriage entirely.
Uncontested divorces are a type of absolute divorce. Many mistakenly assume that an uncontested divorce doesn't have to involve the courts, but this isn't true. Because an uncontested divorce is also an absolute divorce, a judge will have to order the termination of your marriage. Accordingly, you'll still have to file for divorce in New Jersey.
Agreeing on Issues in an Uncontested Divorce
Uncontested divorces must be approved because there are circumstances in which one party might coerce the other party into an uncontested divorce. This false assertion of the parties' agreement wouldn't be equitable.
To qualify for an uncontested divorce in New Jersey, you need to demonstrate:
- How you intend to equitably divide marital assets and debts.
- How you intend to allocate spousal support.
- How you intend to handle child custody and child support if there are minor children involved in the divorce.
These prerequisite components required in an uncontested New Jersey divorce may seem simple enough at first glance, but in truth, they require the parties to hash out and agree on very sensitive topics.
Uncontested Divorces Require an Acceptable Reason for the Divorce
Not only do you both need to agree on the issues outlined above before you can qualify for an uncontested divorce, but you must also demonstrate to the court that you're seeking a divorce for a legally acceptable reason and that you both agree on this reason.
According to New Jersey laws, there are only so many acceptable reasons you can seek a divorce. These reasons include:
- Sexual misconduct
- Irreconcilable differences
While you could technically rely on any one of these reasons as grounds for filing for an uncontested divorce in the state of New Jersey, you can probably imagine that all but "Irreconcilable differences" would raise some eyebrows. NJ defines irreconcilable differences as having "caused the breakdown of the marriage for a period of six months and which make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation."
The Process for Seeking an Uncontested Divorce
Preparing your paperwork to file for a divorce will probably take a considerable amount of time. If your divorce is truly uncontested, then you'll have each reviewed each other's financial assets and obligations and performed a detailed accounting of marital assets and debts. If you're about to file for your uncontested divorce and you haven't been through the process I just described, then you need to stop everything and speak with an attorney right away.
When you prepare to file your divorce petition, only one of you will do the filing. This person will be the plaintiff in the divorce proceedings. You'll also file your Settlement Agreement along with your petition. This is the document that outlines all the issues you've agreed on. If all is well and good, you'll be on your way to a divorce. A word of caution, though: the process is complicated and full of red tape even when you and your ex agree on all the tough stuff.
You Still Need a Lawyer for an Uncontested Divorce
Too often, those seeking an uncontested divorce think they can skate by without hiring an attorney to work with. This is a mistake. For starters, there are a lot of legal missteps you might take if you don't have an experienced attorney guiding you. Determining which county to file your divorce in, for example, is complicated. If you do it wrong, you might have to start the whole process over again.
You must also consider the fact that relationships can sour halfway through the process. You might think you and your ex can agree on all matters, but often, one person develops resentment and ultimately begins down a course of disagreement. If you're already working with an attorney at this point, they'll help you negotiate, and correct course, or they'll help you continue with a contested divorce.
Wherever you are in your process, Attorney Joseph D. Lento can help you through your uncontested divorce in New Jersey. Mr. Lento has helped countless clients, and to learn how he can guide you through the divorce process in New Jersey, too, call 888-535-3686 today or contact the Lento Law Firm online.