Frequently Asked Questions About Family Law
You likely have a lot of questions right now. After reading through some of the questions and answers provided below, feel free to contact us with your own queries.
Do I need a lawyer?
You are not required to have a lawyer to represent you in court. If you appear in court without an attorney, you will be held to the same rules and requirements as a lawyer. My office can provide assistance to you if you decide to represent yourself through limited legal services (unbundled services). You can receive counseling on how to appear in court, assistance in drafting papers and research. Before hiring an attorney, you should consider what services he or she provides. South Jersey Divorce Solutions offers mediation and collaborative divorce services, as well as negotiated settlements and litigation.
How long will it take to divorce?
There is no simple answer. In a mediated or collaborative divorce, it depends on how well you and your spouse work at resolving your issues. If you are both motivated to move quickly, the divorce can be done in a couple of months. But the pace of the case can be set based on your needs. When going through the courts, the average is around 18 months from the filing of the complaint until it is completed. Depending on where you live, it could be longer. In cases where you have negotiated a settlement, the time to finalize the divorce is much less.
What are the grounds for divorce in New Jersey?
New Jersey has two “no-fault” options for divorce: irreconcilable differences and 18-month separation.
The “fault based” causes of action (grounds) are:
- Willful and continued desertion for a period of 12 months
- Extreme cruelty
- Addiction or habitual abuse of narcotics or habitual drunkenness for a period of 12 months
- Institutionalization for mental illness for a period of 24 months
- Imprisonment for a period of 18 consecutive months
- Deviant sexual behavior
What happens if my spouse already filed for divorce?
You should consult with a lawyer right away to discuss your options on how to proceed. It is important to do so quickly, as you have a limited time to respond.
What if I am already divorced?
There are many reasons why you may need to see an attorney after you are divorced. You may be retiring and need to discuss what happens with the alimony. Your child may be attending college and you and your ex are unable to agree. You may wish to move out of state. Or your spouse may not be paying all of his or her obligations. At South Jersey Divorce Solutions, we can assist you with any of these issues post-divorce. We can talk about your options in how to resolve your issues and work with you to help you resolve them either in or out of court.
What will happen to our children?
When you and your spouse divorce, there will be decisions made about the custody, care and support for the children. There will be opportunities and support for you and your spouse to try to resolve these issues together. If you are unable to come to an agreement regarding custody, parenting time, education, child support, etc. on your own, then the judge will make decisions for you both. In a contested matter, the judge may rely on experts to make his or her decision. Experts can be costly and take a great deal of time. There is no guarantee that the expert’s opinion will be in your favor. You lose control in the outcome. It is always in your best interest if you and your child’s other parent can come to a resolution on your own.
Will there be child support?
Both parents have a financial obligation to support their children. In New Jersey, the courts generally use the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. This is a calculation that is based on statistics as to how much families in similar financial situations spend on the children. Parents can agree to a child support amount that they both believe is in the best interest of the children, even if it is not the same as the Child Support Guidelines.
Will there be alimony?
There may be alimony in your case. If there is a significant difference between your earnings and that of your spouse, it is likely. The amount and term of alimony are determined by a number of factors. Each case is different, and it is fact-dependent. You should consult with an attorney to discuss the possibility of alimony and how that is determined.
How much will it cost to get divorced?
This is probably the question that gets asked the most. There is no easy answer. No two divorces are alike. Much of it will depend on you and your spouse on how much you cooperate with the process. Melissa can work with you to discuss ways on how you can lessen some of the costs associated with divorce.
What is a prenuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a contract you and your future spouse make to set out how assets and finances will be handled in the event of a divorce.