Bergen County Family Law Attorney
Frequently Asked Questions about Divorce
How long will my divorce take?
It is difficult to assess with reasonable accuracy how long a divorce will take. The length of time is dependent upon many factors, including but not limited to the complexity of the issues of the case, the motivations, personalities, and time constraints of the parties and lawyers involved. At the Radol Law firm, we are committed to the idea that once people decide to divorce, the process should be as painless and cost-efficient as possible. That is not always possible. However, there are divorces which take a minimal amount of time. This occurs when both parties are in agreement regarding the issues and are highly motivated.
How much will my divorce cost?
The cost of a divorce is impossible to predict with reasonable accuracy, which is why divorce attorneys bill at an hourly rate. A lawyer who attempts to predict the cost of a divorce is often setting a client up for disappointment. Similar to the length of time, the cost is dependent upon many factors, including but not limited to the complexity of the issues, and the motivations and personalities of the parties and lawyers involved.
On the other hand, there are ways a litigant can try to minimize the cost of a divorce. Before any action in a divorce is taken, a cost-benefit analysis should be done. Actions or motions in a divorce which will cost more than the benefit gained by the client should not be pursued. Our Bergen County Divorce Attorney believes that settling a case on reasonable terms is usually preferable than going to trial that is financially and emotionally draining. From the outset of any divorce litigation, an attempt will be made to settle the issues on reasonable terms. Most of the time, mediation is used to facilitate communication and aid in the settlement of the issues.
Can my spouse keep me from getting a divorce?
In New Jersey, as long as a spouse is prepared to testify under oath that a marriage has irretrievably broken down for a period of six months and that there is no hope for reconciliation of the marriage, they will be granted a divorce. There is nothing their spouse can legally do to prevent this.
What is involved in filing a divorce?
The first step in a divorce is the filing of a complaint. A complaint is a document which tells the court the parties who are involved in the case, who their children are, if any, and states generally what the person filing the petition is asking the court to do. A divorce complaint always asks that a divorce be granted and states the grounds for the divorce. In New Jersey, almost all Complaints For Divorce assert irreconcilable differences, utilizing the state’s “no-fault” grounds.
What do I do if I have been served with a lawsuit?
If you have been served with a Complaint For Divorce, you should speak with an attorney immediately, as you have only 35 days to file a response. It is not advisable to answer a lawsuit without having at least consulted with an attorney. The question of whether and how to file an answer to a lawsuit can be complex, and there can be serious consequences if the response is done incorrectly. Our firm is available during regular business hours and for your convenience, we offer evening and Saturday appointments.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a method which has become increasingly popular in divorce in order to reduce the extremely high costs of trying a case before a court. Mediation is offered in New Jersey by people who are trained to be fair and objective. Their function is to assist the process and they do not advocate for either party. In Mediation both parties can come with their attorney or chose to attend without an attorney.
However, if one party appears with an attorney, it is always advantageous for the other party to have an attorney present. The mediator will often attempt to explain the position of the opposing party, and even play devil’s advocate – arguing the position of the other party – if they feel that doing so will help in reaching a settlement. With a good mediator and prepared parties, mediation can be successful.
What if I know nothing about the property or accounts in my estate?
There is often an imbalance of information between spouses with regard to their financial affairs. This imbalance may be – and often is – so great that one spouse is completely in the dark as to the extent and nature of the marital assets. In such a case, an investigation into the nature and extent of the marital estate will become a high priority. This process is called “discovery.” Discovery includes but is not limited to the request for documents and information relevant to the case.
So, in a divorce where a spouse has little to no information about the estate, this would include requests for copies of all financial statements for several years prior, copies of all tax documents, copies of all documents pertaining to the spouse’s businesses, real estate, etc. The opposing party would be asked many questions about the estate while under oath, both in written form and in person. Finally, experts may be hired to aid in the investigation of the estate.
What if my spouse refuses to provide information about our estate?
In a divorce, spouses cannot refuse to provide information about the marital estate, if such information is pertinent, or reasonably calculated to lead to relevant evidence. If a spouse refuses to provide information, then the Court can be moved to compel the disclosure of the information. If the Court compels the information, and a party still does not comply, the Court has the ability to hold that party in contempt and set sanctions.
When will I see my children if I get divorced?
The answer to this question is highly dependent on the circumstances of the individual divorce case. Courts are given broad power to order any visitation schedule they deem to be in the best interest of children. Courts in New Jersey believe that both parents should have a continuing active participation in their children’s lives.
Unless adequate evidence can be presented to overcome this presumption, a Court will not deny a parent the right to see their child. The Courts of New Jersey have established parenting mediation programs right in the courthouse in order to assist parents in arriving at a visitation schedule that makes sense for both parties and especially the children.
How much child support will I have to pay?
The answer to this question is dependent upon the financial circumstances of the parties. In New Jersey, the legislature has set forth guidelines for courts to follow which are presumed to be in the best interest of children. They take into account the payment of work-related daycare and medical insurance for the children.
How does the marital property get divided?
In a divorce, the court has the power to divide all marital property in an equitable manner. In deciding what is just and right, the court may consider many factors, including – but not limited to – the relative earning power of the parties, the ages, the medical needs of the parties, the needs of the children of the marriage and the separate property of the parties.
More often than not, the parties to a divorce agree on the division of their property and enter into a Property Settlement Agreement. The decree of divorce, whether the terms of the decree are dictated by a judge, or agreed to by the parties, partitions the property of the spouses. The property awarded to each spouse legally becomes the separate property of that spouse. Qualified Domestic Relations Orders are used to divide retirement accounts.
Can I get alimony from my spouse?
In New Jersey alimony may be awarded to a spouse. However, it is dependent upon individual circumstances. The court may consider such factors as – how long a spouse has been out of the job market, length of the marriage, ages of the parties, the relative earning power of the parties, medical needs of the parties and who has custody of the children.
This is not to say that spouses, during their divorce and as part of a settlement, cannot agree to alimony or spousal support even when the above circumstances are not present.
What is collaborative law?
Collaborative law is a relatively new way to resolve family law matters and is designed to alleviate some of the acrimony which is inherent in family law litigation. The defining feature of collaborative law is the signing of an agreement whereby the parties commit to settling all issues in their divorce or other dispute without seeking the assistance of a court, and further agree to share relevant information freely and voluntarily.
The parties attempt to settle their issues in a series of meetings between the clients and their attorneys. Finally, the parties agree that if the process fails, such that an agreement cannot be reached, the parties will release their collaborative attorneys and will seek litigation counsel. The advantages of the collaborative process are obvious. However, the process is to some degree
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Dependent upon the forthrightness and goodwill of the parties. Consequently, it can be very beneficial for some clients and can be unsuccessful for clients whose personalities or relationship dynamics are not suited for the process. The decision of whether to use the collaborative law process is, therefore, a decision which should be carefully made with the aid and advice of an attorney. To discuss your legal matter further, contact The Radol Law Firm for a consultation.