Divorce Litigation Attorneys in New Jersey: The Challenge, the Cost, and the Need for Experienced Counsel

In some New Jersey divorce cases, divorce litigation — also known as “contested” or “in-court” divorce — is necessary to ensure the safety and protection of vulnerable parties. This happens most often when there is physical, emotional, or financial abuse or control, personality disorders, parental alienation, and other complex issues that need intervention by a judge. Litigation is a formal way for experienced divorce attorneys to present evidence, stand up for their client’s rights, and work toward fair and just resolutions.

While divorce litigation is challenging, time consuming, stressful, and can result in unpredictable outcomes, going to court provides a structured process to address complex issues and make sure everyone’s safety and interests are heard and taken seriously.

You Need New Jersey Divorce Lawyers Firmly in Your Corner

Facing the need for divorce litigation can be overwhelming and stressful. You might feel like you’re navigating uncharted waters, unsure of what lies ahead.

That’s where Keith Family Law comes in.

We handle every inch of your family law matters, including divorce proceedings, and guide you through every aspect of your case. We believe that everyone deserves personalized attention, transparent communication, and a team prioritizing your hopes for the future. Keith Family Law will stand side by side with you and your loved ones, helping you fight for your rights in the courtroom. Trust our New Jersey divorce attorneys, and don’t look back.

What Is "Litigation"?

Litigation is the adversarial legal process where conflicts are resolved in court. It involves two or more parties embroiled in a disagreement that they cannot resolve on their own, and they are seeking a legal remedy for their issue. The process typically begins when one party files a lawsuit against the other, outlining their grievances and what they want from the other party to make them whole. From there, both parties gather evidence through a process called ‘discovery,’ which may include depositions, interrogatories, and document requests.

Once the case proceeds to trial, each side presents his or her arguments and evidence to a judge or jury, who then makes a decision based on the facts presented. While litigation can be a lengthy and complex process, it’s often necessary to resolve severe disputes and ensure justice is served. It’s crucial to have a skilled divorce law litigation attorney by your side to navigate this process, protect your rights, and advocate for your interests.

In almost any litigation, the parties may “settle out of court.” This means they have managed to resolve their dispute privately, through negotiation or mediation. The case ends, and the parties sometimes record a consent judgment.

Divorce litigation is the litigation process that resolves disputes in dissolving a marriage. When couples are unable to agree on these matters, such as division of assets, alimony, or custody and parenting time, they must turn to the courts for resolution. In these situations, each party presents his or her case through their legal counsel, and a judge makes a final decision on all the issues based on the evidence presented.

There is no jury in divorce court. Your judge makes each and every decision in your case, from the first Case Management Conference and each Motion filed while the divorce is pending to presiding over Intensive Settlement Conferences and trial (including what evidence will be included or excluded) and rendering your final Judgment of Divorce.

In New Jersey, the required trajectory of a divorce case is the first Case Management Conference where discovery dates are set, mandatory parenting class, mandatory custody and parenting mediation, discovery demands (including Interrogatories such as Custody and Marital Lifestyle, Notice to Produce Documents, Subpoenas to banks and employers, Depositions of the parties and any third parties having relevant knowledge of the matter, and the like), any Motions and Cross-Motions filed, Early Settlement Panel, mandatory economic mediation, additional Case Management Conferences scheduled by the judge, full day Intensive Settlement Conferences prior to trial, and finally trial, which is usually multiple days (or mornings or afternoons, depending on the Court’s calendar) of testimony, including that of the parties, spanning over several weeks or months.

Divorce litigation requires a thorough understanding of New Jersey divorce law and court rules and procedures and strong skills in negotiation and settlement discussions. Our seasoned attorneys have represented clients in hundreds of litigated divorce cases and have helped many of our clients settle out of court on favorable terms.

Cassie and Brian's Divorce Litigation Story

To shed light on some realities of divorce litigation, let’s delve into the compelling story of Cassie and Brian. Their experience navigating the New Jersey court system shows the challenges, uncertainties, and the toll that an in-court divorce can take on individuals and their children and the critical need for a seasoned divorce lawyer in a divorce litigation.

Meet Cassie and Brian, a couple from New Jersey facing the unfortunate prospect of contested divorce litigation. Cassie, a stay-at-home mother, supported Brian’s successful career in finance while caring for their two children, Zoe and Zander. Brian, a VP at a major banking institution, showed little interest in staying at home or being involved with the family. Over time, Brian spent more and more time at work. He became increasingly erratic, working late hours, increasing his drinking, and sometimes disappearing for hours without explanation. Cassie complained to Brian and begged him to be more involved, but he responded angrily and sometimes even violently. 

As their marriage reached a breaking point, Brian, who controlled the finances during the marriage, canceled Cassie’s credit cards and refused to provide Cassie with any money for expenses. Cassie circled the wagons with her friends and family, began speaking poorly about Brian to the children, and vowed that she would get revenge through the courts.

Cassie and Brian each met with attorneys and entered the chaotic world of divorce litigation. The process, initially believed by both Cassie and Brian to provide resolution, quickly unfolded into a lengthy and emotionally draining ordeal for Cassie, Brian, and their children and extended families. Meetings with attorneys, demands for financial information, motions asking the Judge to compel Brian to provide support and financial documents, and cross-motions asking the Judge to compel Cassie to provide Brian with time with the children created a highly emotional environment for the entire family and an enormous strain on their finances. Brian began recording his conversations with the children to protect himself against accusations from Cassie, which he would later provide to his custody expert, and Cassie started recording the children to bolster her claim that Brian was parenting the children inappropriately and that she should have custody.

The Judge required Cassie, Brian, and their attorneys to attend multiple case management conferences, parenting mediation, Early Settlement Panel, and economic mediation. The Judge also required Cassie, Brian, and their attorneys to attend multiple Intensive Settlement Conferences, each lasting from morning until late in the afternoon. Cassie and Brian both refuse to settle.

Zoe and Zander, the innocent bystanders in this legal battle, experienced heightened anxiety and mental health issues due to the ongoing stress of their parents’ court proceedings. Brian ordered a custody evaluation, lasting months and costing thousands. Cassie disagreed with the outcome and ordered her own custody evaluation, lasting additional months and costing further thousands. The children were frightened and stressed, and the uncertainty of the judge’s decisions on critical issues like custody, support, and education expenses caused them problems at home and behavioral problems at school. Both children’s grades dropped significantly.

Cassie and Brian, once partners in life, now find themselves adversaries in court and at home. The expenses incurred in divorce litigation, including legal fees, expert opinions, and court costs, threaten to deplete their savings and potentially plunge them into debt. The fight for alimony, child support, and the division of assets, including the family home, a beach house inherited from Cassie’s family, and retirement assets, contributes to the escalating financial burden and emotional stress, all of which affect Cassie and Brian’s mental health and trickle down to Zoe and Zander.

New Jersey’s case backlog extends Cassie and Brian’s divorce case for many months longer than they expected. The uncertainty of waiting for a judge’s decision on critical matters extends the emotional strain on both parties. The legal battle, once seen as a means to resolution, is now a black cloud looming over them, causing emotional and financial exhaustion.

When their trial days finally arrive, Cassie and Brian come to court with their attorneys and their experts. Cassie is sworn in and testifies. She answers her own attorney’s questions for a long while to get her story out, and then she is cross-examined by Brian’s attorney, who tries to undermine her credibility and her position. Cassie’s custody expert also testifies, as does her financial expert. Cassie’s experts are also cross-examined by Brian’s attorney. When Cassie and her experts are finished on the stand, Brian is sworn in and testifies. His experts testify as well, and all are cross-examined by Cassie’s attorney. Binders of evidence are presented, one piece at a time, through testimony and are admitted into evidence for the judge to review. Their seasoned and capable divorce attorneys argue strenuously for their clients’ positions, taking positions and making allegations that cause Cassie and Brian to become even more angry with each other. The judge is Cassie and Brian’s ultimate decision-maker, and unless Cassie and Brian settle, the outcome is out of their hands. 

Finally, nearly two years after the Complaint for Divorce was filed, and two months after Cassie and Brian’s three-day trial (which happens piecemeal over the course of two months), the judge renders her decision. She surprises both Cassie and Brian by giving a result that, while consistent with New Jersey law, is not anything that Cassie or Brian would have agreed to give a choice. Brian is ordered to pay more alimony and child support than he believes he can pay and is also ordered to pay the majority of the children’s college costs. Against Brian’s wishes, Cassie is awarded primary custody of Zoe and Zander and ownership of the home, but Cassie has trouble refinancing the mortgage to remove Brian’s name and struggles to pay the existing mortgage even with alimony and child support, which Brian only pays sporadically. Cassie and Brian are both unhappy with the judgment and, in fact, go back to court several times over the following years seeking to modify the parts of the judgment that are unfavorable or enforce the parts that are, but which one or the other party does not abide by.

Let Us Provide Your Litigation Support

Don’t wait to get the support you need. Contact Keith Family Law today and let us guide you towards a favorable outcome. We’ll guide you through complex litigation processes and lead you to the best possible results.

When Litigation Becomes Essential: The Role of Skilled Divorce Attorneys

Cassie and Brian’s refusal to settle and their willingness to escalate the issues made their trial nearly inevitable, and the description above is just the tip of the iceberg as to their litigation experience. Keep in mind, at any time, Cassie and Brian could have settled privately and submitted their Marital Settlement Agreement to the court to obtain their divorce amicably, and the Judge would not have made any of their decisions for them.

However, not all New Jersey divorces can or should be settled. For example, when there is an imbalance of power between the husband and wife, financial or emotional abuse, danger to either party or personality disorder, intervention by the court is a vital tool to obtain a just result. Experienced divorce attorneys play a crucial role in presenting evidence, building a compelling case, and advocating for your rights in court. Seasoned divorce attorneys will advocate for your safety and seek just resolutions under the law. 

When you’re pursuing justice for yourself and your children, having a seasoned divorce lawyer by your side can make all the difference. Divorce litigation lawyers are skilled in navigating the complex legal system, protecting your rights, and advocating for your interests. They bring a deep understanding of the law, strong negotiation skills, and strategic insight to your case.

An experienced divorce attorney guides you through every step of the process, from gathering evidence and preparing legal documents to representing you in court and depositions, giving you the best advice along the way, and sometimes locking horns with your spouse’s attorney or even the judge. 

In the end, a divorce litigation attorney is your ally in your pursuit of justice. They stand by your side, fight for your rights, and work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome for you. Here are some additional scenarios where a divorce litigation attorney in NJ can help:

  • When a couple is unable to agree on the terms of their divorce, including the division of assets, debts, and alimony.
  • If parents cannot come to an agreement on custody arrangements or visitation rights.
  • In situations where one parent is refusing to pay child support or there is a disagreement about the amount of support required.
  • If there are legal challenges or disputes during the adoption process.
  • When the paternity of a child is in question and needs to be legally established.
  • In cases of domestic abuse, divorce litigation can help victims seek protective orders or restraining orders against the abusers.
  • If a divorcing couple cannot agree on how to fairly divide their marital property.
  • If a divorcing couple can’t agree on the necessity, amount, or duration of spousal support.
  • If a parent with custody wishes to relocate with the child and the other parent disagrees.
  • If a party fails to comply with court orders related to child support, custody, or visitation, or if there is a significant change in circumstances that requires modification of these orders.


Looking for dedicated divorce litigation attorneys in NJ? Look to Keith Family Law for the experienced matrimonial attorneys so you never go through this legal maze alone.

Trust Your Divorce Litigation to Keith Family Law Attorneys

At Keith Family Law, our divorce litigation attorneys in New Jersey are committed to standing by your side and advocating for your rights. With a wealth of experience, we can handle everything from complex assets and executive compensation schemes to contentious child custody disputes. Keith Family Law attorneys are well-versed in NJ divorce law and procedure, and we use this knowledge to strategize effectively on your behalf. More than your lawyers, we are your allies in your pursuit of justice. Take control today with the Keith Family Law team and get your consultation.

Do your circumstances make divorce litigation necessary? Our experienced legal team is here to guide you through the complexities, advocating for your safety and justice. Discover how we can help you navigate legal challenges. [Contact us]

Whether you need help understanding whether your case requires litigation or simply seeking reassurance and guidance, we’re here to help. Start your journey to your brighter future today by reaching out to us if you’re in the following NJ counties:

  • Union County
  • Essex County
  • Middlesex County
  • Warren County
  • Hunterdon County
  • Morris County
  • Hudson County
  • Bergen County
  • Monmouth County

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