How Long Does Divorce Take in New Jersey? Let’s Be Honest.


Listen up, lovebirds turned sour. I’m about to spill some piping hot tea on how long it takes to break the bonds of holy matrimony in New Jersey.

The divorce process in New Jersey can feel like a wild ride on a rollercoaster with no end in sight. Sure, you might think you can just file some paperwork and call it a day, but the truth is, it’s not that simple. On average, it takes well over a year to go from filing the divorce petition to getting that Judgment of Divorce signed and sealed. And if things get really ugly and you end up in court, well, grab yourself a snack and settle in for the long haul because things will likely take way longer than you’d like – and be way more expensive than you’d imagine. 

But hold on, my fellow soon-to-be divorcees, because the length of the process isn’t set in stone. It all depends on the type of divorce you’re going for – amicable or contested, along with a few important factors. Do you have kids or assets that need to be divided? Are you dealing with a high-conflict situation?  Is there feet-dragging or stonewalling by your ex?  All of these factors can make your divorce journey longer or shorter.

So, if you want to speed things up and get that ring off your finger ASAP, here’s some advice from yours truly:  Be prepared, be organized, and be willing to compromise. The more you can agree on with your soon-to-be ex, the smoother the process will be. And if all else fails, grab a stiff drink – and hang in there, because you’ll eventually reach the finish line.

Amicable (“Uncontested” or “Out of Court”) Divorce, AKA Your Least Messy Option

Amicable divorce = the holy grail of breakups. An amicable divorce, also known as an “uncontested” or “out of court” divorce, is a unicorn-like situation where both parties can put their differences aside and agree on everything, from who gets the house to who gets the dog. 

Now, before you scoff and say, “That’s impossible!” let me tell you, it’s worth a shot. Many couples choose this route because they want to maintain a civil relationship and avoid any unnecessary drama or headaches. Plus, it can save you a ton of time and money in legal fees.

The biggest perk of an amicable divorce is the quicker turnaround time. Since there’s no need for a trial, the process can be resolved through a settlement agreement or mediation, which can be way less stressful for both parties. And let’s be real, who wants to spend months – or even years – duking it out in court?

So, if you’re looking to split up without all the extra drama and chaos, an amicable divorce might just be the way to go. It’s a total win-win for everyone involved, including your children.

Contested (“Litigated” or “In Court”) Divorce, AKA Your Headache Waiting to Happen

Hold onto your seats, because we’re about to dive into the mess that is the contested divorce. This type of divorce, also known as a “litigated” or “in court” divorce, is what we in the industry like to call “a doozy.” It’s when both parties just can’t seem to agree on anything, and the only way to sort things out is to bring in the big guns – the court system.

Buckle up, because this ride can be complex, chaotic, time-consuming, and stressful AF. We’re talking a lot of legal proceedings, court appearances, and endless back-and-forth between both parties through their attorneys. It’s like a never-ending game of tug-of-war, and it can leave you feeling exhausted and emotionally drained.

So, what exactly does a contested divorce entail? Well, for starters, there’s the discovery stage, where both parties gather information and evidence related to the case. And then there are motion hearings, where you’ll have to duke it out with your ex in front of a judge to resolve specific disputes and request relief from the court. And let’s not forget about the grand finale – the trial. This is where you’ll present your case to a judge, who will make the final decision on the matter.

Now, brace yourself, because this process can take a lot longer than an amicable divorce. We’re talking many months, even years of legal proceedings and a whole lot of money spent on lawyers and court fees. The complexity and length of the legal proceedings will depend on the issues in dispute and the complexity of the case.

Now, now- don’t panic! With a great legal team and a solid support system, you CAN and you WILL get through this. Just remember to take care of yourself, stay organized, and keep your eyes on the prize – a measure of peace, away from your ex, and with no courtroom in sight.

Here’s What Will Make Your Divorce Feel Never-Ending

Complex Division of Assets: If you’re a high roller with loads of assets to split, such as a business, real estate, investments, or retirement accounts, buckle up for a lengthy ride. These assets are often difficult to value, requiring expert assistance from accountants, real estate appraisers, or business valuators. And that’s not all – reaching a settlement agreement or finalizing the divorce may take ages.

Child Custody: If you can’t agree on custody arrangements, be prepared to take it up in court. The judge must consider the best interests of the child, which may involve a thorough investigation of both parents and the children, and potentially a home study, to determine the optimal arrangement. The parties may also need to attend mediation or a custody evaluation, which can drag on for several months.

Domestic Violence: If domestic violence is involved, the court must investigate any allegations, which could involve a hearing and protective orders. Naturally, this will extend the length of the process.

High Conflict: If you and your soon-to-be ex have a difficult time communicating or are embroiled in a high level of conflict, expect a bumpy road ahead. You may have to attend several court appearances, mediation, or counseling to resolve your conflicts. And if you can’t reach an agreement, the case may have to go to trial, which can take months on end.

Is There a Waiting Period for Divorce in New Jersey?

The good news is that in New Jersey, there is no need to twiddle your thumbs and wait before filing for divorce. That’s right, no general waiting period for all the eager beavers out there ready to move on with their lives. However, hold your horses, as certain grounds for divorce require specific waiting periods before you can file those pesky papers.

For instance, if you’re planning on using the “desertion” ground to end your marriage, you better strap in because you’ll have to wait a minimum of one year. That’s 12 months of living your best life without your soon-to-be-ex while you gather the evidence needed to prove that they’ve been MIA. This is just an example. You can talk to your divorce lawyer and make a plan that works best for your family. 

That said, most unhappy soon-to-be-exes file for divorce under New Jersey’s version of “no fault” divorce:  Irreconcilable differences.  Although this requires that you’ve been having these differences for several months, you can probably point to some point along the way that you knew things were not going to work out and this means you can file right away.

Tips to Get This Thing Over With 

Listen up, lovebirds, if you’re headed towards Splitsville, there are a few things you need to know to make your divorce process a little less dreadful. First and foremost, communication is key, people! We’re talking about having the guts to communicate like adults, even if your ex is acting like a child.

Next up, don’t be caught with your pants down when it comes to preparing for the divorce. Get all your financial statements and tax returns in order, because let’s face it, money talks, and you don’t want to be left high and dry with nothing but a broken heart and an empty bank account.

And if you’re looking to avoid a messy, drawn-out legal battle, then it’s time to put on your big boy/girl pants and seek mediation. This way, you can hash out your differences without having to get your hands dirty in court. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper and less stressful. Who doesn’t love that?

And last but not least, it’s time to call in the big guns. No, not your crazy Uncle Joe who always starts fights at family gatherings. I’m talking about hiring a badass attorney who knows their stuff. Someone who can represent you in court, keep your rights protected, and negotiate on your behalf. Trust me, having a top-notch attorney on your side can make all the difference. 

Our Attorneys:  Your Safe Harbor Through This Sh*tstorm (haha)

Divorce is a messy business, and we know it all too well. [Siri, play Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well” 10-minute version.] But it’s going to be okay. Keith Family Law is here to help you navigate this treacherous terrain with grace and compassion. We’ve got a team of top-notch attorneys who are ready to give you the support you need during this extremely difficult time. 

Each and every one of you deserves to be heard. And you also deserve to have your and your children’s best interests represented.  We provide a safe harbor to protect you and a team to walk alongside you on this journey. So if you’re thinking about getting started with your divorce or if you’ve got any questions about the process, give us a call. We’re ready and waiting to guide you through every step of the way.

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