Blog Archives

What you can expect to encounter during the divorce.

Experienced NJ Divorce Attorneys

When you are thinking about getting a divorce in New Jersey, it is only normal to want to know what you may be stepping into. In order to help you get a grasp of what is entailed in a divorce case, this post will go through the general steps you encounter during a divorce. Please keep in mind, however, that each divorce case is unique and your divorce may not follow these steps completely. This is just a general overview of what most divorce cases go through. Be sure to reach out to an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney to discuss the details of your specific divorce case.

The first step is the complaint for divorce form being filled out and submitted. This is when either you or your spouse send a request to a New Jersey court for a judgment of divorce. In order to do this, you must submit a Confidential Litigant Information Sheet which will give the court information about your identity, the grounds for the divorce like adultery, separation, extreme cruelty, etc., and an Affidavit of Insurance Coverage form which will go over your existing insurances like auto, homeowner, and other types of insurance. Once that has been all filed, your divorce case will be given a docket number and either you or your spouse, depending on which one of you filed the Complaint For Divorce form, will receive the divorce papers.

The next step will be what is known as discovery. Discovery is where both you and your spouse will give each other the information needed in order to proceed forward with the divorce. Some of the things you may be asked to exchange are credit card statements or business records. There may even be some written questions and a case information statement that will need to be completed. This will go over the couple’s monthly budgets, liabilities and various other financial information. A deposition may also be asked during this time. A deposition is a verbal, recorded conversation that is taken under oath that can be used in court. While this is all going on, your divorce attorney should be trying to reach a settlement to help possibly keep the divorce out of court.

If a settlement is not reached by a certain date which is scheduled by the court, an early settlement panel will be arranged. You and your attorney will need to be present in front of this panel and they will go over the issues that may be preventing you from reaching a settlement. The panel will give suggestions on how to reach a settlement and if both parties are satisfied, the divorce can be granted at that very moment. However, if there are still issues not resolved, then an economic mediator will need to be selected.

If the economic mediation still does not produce a settlement, a settlement conference will be held. These intensive conferences are held all day and both you and your spouse and both your attorneys will need to return to court to do this. This is considered the last option available to help reach resolution with your divorce without it going to trial. But, if there is still no resolution or settlement made after this conference, then the divorce case will go to trial. Once in trial, the judge will hear both sides and will make the final decision and finalize your divorce.

As you can see, having an experienced, professional New Jersey divorce lawyer during this process is a good investment. At the Law Offices of Jef Henninger, Esq., our aggressive divorce lawyers walk with you through these steps, and fight to reach a settlement that meets your goals and needs. And, if the case does go to trial, we utilize our decades of divorce law experience to protect your rights. Schedule a free initial consultation with our law firm today at 732-773-2768 and see what steps are needed for your unique divorce case and what our Passaic County divorce attorneys can do to help you.

Equitable Distribution in New Jersey

Equitable distribution is division of marital property or assets. In order to divide the property, we first have to identify the assets, then we value them and then they are distributed.  In general, it doesn’t matter who purchased the asset or whose name it is under as New Jersey law recognizes the spouses as an “economic partnership.”   However, equitable distribution applies to all assets acquired during the marriage and not assets that were owned prior to the marriage. Assets subject to equitable distribution include real estate, jewelry, mutual funds, stock options, bank and brokerage accounts, retirement assets, small businesses, all the way down to plates and forks.  

N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23 (h) and N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1 are the two major statutes that govern equitable distribution.  Theses statutes list fifteen factors but allows the court to consider any other additional factors it may deem relevant:

  1. The duration of the marriage;
  2. The age and physical and emotional health of the parties;
  3. The income or property brought to the marriage by each party;
  4. The standard of living established during the marriage;
  5. Any written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage concerning an arrangement of property distribution;
  6. The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property becomes effective;
  7. The income and earning capacity of each party, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children, and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage;
  8. The contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other;
  9. The contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, as well as the contribution of a party as a homemaker;
  10. The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party;
  11. The present value of the property;
  12. The need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence and to use or own the household effects;
  13. The debts and liabilities of the parties;
  14. The need for creation, now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse or children;
  15. The extent to which a party deferred achieving their career goals.

When a court makes a ruling on equitable distribution, the court must make specific findings of fact based on the three step process that I outlined  above, i.e., (a) what assets are part of the marital estate; (b) what is the value of each asset; (c) the manner in which it should be distributed.  The value of each asset is determined at the date of the complaint and not the time that the ruling is made.

Except real estate and other major items, courts generally do not get involved in dividing furniture and other small items.

If you need help dealing with equitable distribution issues in your NJ divorce case, call the team of aggressive Passaic County Divorce Lawyers today.