Drawn out court schedules, perpetual arguments, appealed decisions, and other factors all contribute to the stress and expense of litigation. Generally speaking, the more conflict that exists between parties involved in a divorce, the longer and more expensive the process will be.
The process of divorce litigation in New Jersey is made up of a series of steps that generally adhere to both court timelines and current laws.
During the initial stage, a divorce Complaint is prepared and filed by your attorney to the court. The Complaint is then served on your spouse, after which your spouse’s attorney prepares and files an Answer. Following the Complaint/Answer period, attorneys attend a Case Management Conference with the judge, where parties involved have an opportunity to agree to the terms or, failing that, receive court-ordered dates relative to the litigation proceedings. If child custody and/or support issues are involved with the case, parents are required to attend a parent’s education program and subsequent parent coordination meetings.
The next stage in divorce litigation in New Jersey is Discovery. During Discovery, case information statements are submitted to the court, Interrogatories and Notices for Demand of Documents are prepared and submitted then subsequently answered, third-pary documents are subpoenaed, depositions are conducted, and expert analyses are solicited and reviewed. A second Case Management Conference is also conducted with the judge and attorneys.
The final stage of litigation is the Settlement phase. Settlement begins with an Early Settlement Panel and the deployment of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, such as court-required mediation. If the resolution is deemed possible, alternative dispute resolution will continue until a settlement is reached and a trial will be avoided. If a settlement is not reached, your attorneys will prepare for trial before a judge, where testimony and evidence will be weighed and a decision ultimately made by the judge.