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Bergen County Divorce Lawyer Doing What It Takes To Protect Your Rights

Bergen County Divorce Lawyers

Divorce Lawyers Serving Northern New Jersey

The ending of a marriage is understandably a very stressful and emotional time for many. Often, one’s desire is simply to get the process over with as soon as possible and begin the process of starting a new life. It’s important to realize, however, that the court orders made in a final judgment of divorce do more than just dissolve a marriage; they affect property rights and custodial rights that greatly impact the lives of the divorcing couple and their children immediately and for years into the future.

A combination of a strong support system and a good divorce attorney in Bergen County, NJ will help guide you through these emotional and difficult times and make sure that your rights are respected and your needs are met. From legal separation to name changes to questions of paternity and legitimization, Herbert & Weiss has the answers to your family law issues and needs.

Now is the time to hire skilled and knowledgeable legal professionals who will make sure that you make the right choices that are best for you and your kids – not out of emotion or anxiety but with your best interests at heart. The skilled family law attorneys at Herbert & Weiss, LLP are here to guide you through this process, make smart, well-informed decisions and represent your interests in every aspect of your New Jersey divorce.

Call us at (201) 500-2151 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our divorce attorneys in Bergen County, NJ.

Most Common Types of New Jersey Divorce

No-fault or “irreconcilable differences”: A person seeking divorce does not need to cite any specific reason other than that there has been a breakdown of their marriage that has lasted at least six months. No-fault divorce allows divorces to proceed much more amicably, without having to dredge up dirt in order to seek divorce.

Contested Divorce: If a couple is unable to agree on all terms of the divorce they will proceed through litigation to resolve any outstanding issues. A judge will be assigned to the case to rule on motions and specific issues, and ultimately resolve any particular point of disagreement.

Mediation: A form of “alternative dispute resolution” that provides divorcing parties with a less contentious venue for working out their points of disagreement. Mediation involves hiring a neutral third party to facilitate divorce discussions. The mediator will not make any final decisions for the parties but instead will help the parties resolve disagreements and find common ground in order to avoid a battle in court. If mediation fails, the parties can always go back to court.

Arbitration: Married couples can choose to resolve their differences via arbitration. Like mediation, the couple will hire a neutral third party to facilitate amicable discussion and resolve issues. Unlike mediation, the parties also agree that the arbitrator can and will make final decisions on issues about which the parties cannot agree. The arbitrator’s decisions will be legally binding.

Collaborative divorce: The spouses will each meet with their attorneys to discuss their respective needs. Then, the parties will meet in a series of four-way discussions to resolve outstanding issues. The parties will bring in experts such as mental health professionals and financial experts to help resolve specific issues. Once the parties come to an agreement, the attorneys will file the ultimate settlement with the court as an uncontested resolution.

Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey

The grounds for divorce can be classified into two main categories: fault-based grounds and no-fault grounds. New Jersey law recognizes a number of different grounds for divorce in a fault-based divorce, including:

  • Extreme cruelty (physical or mental abuse)
  • Adultery
  • Desertion/abandonment
  • Drug or alcohol addiction
  • Institutionalization
  • Imprisonment

Since 2007, however, couples have been able to obtain a divorce without having to prove that one of the spouses was at fault for causing the breakdown of the marriage. A no-fault divorce in New Jersey is available if the couple has lived apart in separate residences for 18 months, or if they claim they have had irreconcilable differences for at least six months. This latter no-fault ground is the most common ground for divorce in New Jersey.

In addition to claiming or proving the appropriate ground for divorce, at least one of the spouses must have been a resident of New Jersey for at least one year before filing for divorce in the state.

What Does “Irreconcilable Differences” Mean?

In New Jersey, parties may file for divorce based on “irreconcilable differences” by alleging that the parties have experienced significant marital problems and that those problems have caused the breakdown of the marriage. The differences are “irreconcilable” in that there is no reasonable belief that the marriage can be fixed and that the parties will reconcile.

Irreconcilable differences is New Jersey’s version of “no-fault” divorce–neither party needs to claim the other did something wrong. One or both parties simply needs to allege that the marriage has broken apart and cannot be fixed.

Requirements for Divorcing Based on Irreconcilable Differences

For a party to file for divorce based on irreconcilable differences, the following must be true:

  • Either spouse must have lived in New Jersey for at least 12 consecutive months before filing;
  • The couple has experienced irreconcilable differences for at least 6 months;
  • The irreconcilable differences have caused the breakdown of the marriage, such that it appears the marriage should end; and
  • There is no reasonable chance of reconciliation.

Parties may also divorce based on “separation” without alleging any sort of marital fault. Separation requires that the parties have lived separate and apart for 18 consecutive months and that there is no reasonable chance of reconciliation.

Does Fault Ever Matter?

Alleging fault in the divorce will not, for the most part, make a difference. Proving that your spouse committed adultery will typically not affect your share of marital property, your alimony award, or your child custody rights. There are limited exceptions, though. For instance, a history of spousal or child abuse will affect a party’s custody rights. Wasting marital assets by, for example, spending thousands on gifts, rent, or vacations for an extramarital paramour might affect a party’s share of the marital property upon distribution. Outside of these limited exceptions, fault does not matter in a New Jersey divorce.

Difference Between Contested and Uncontested Divorce in NJ

Contested and uncontested divorce in Bergen County have different implications for divorcing spouses in the time and expense required for each.

Contested Divorce in New Jersey

Sometimes, divorces serve as an acrimonious culmination of the fighting that spouses have been doing for years. In a contested divorce, spouses are unable to agree on most or any of the issues that must be settled in a divorce, such as whether one spouse will keep the marital home or whether it will be sold, how custody will be shared between parents, how personal items will be allocated, and whether alimony will be paid.

Contested divorces are often held before a judge, though they can also be decided by a mediator or arbitrator. Most contested divorces settle before spouses go to trial. Regardless, contested divorces do last longer than uncontested divorces. They also involve greater costs in the form of court filing costs and attorneys’ fees, as well as potential costs of hiring expert witnesses or forensic accountants to testify in court.

Uncontested Divorce in New Jersey

An uncontested divorce may be an option for spouses on relatively good terms who have simple financial circumstances. Uncontested divorces still go before a judge, albeit briefly, in order to be finalized, and spouses must create a legally-binding marital settlement agreement that lays out their agreed-upon division of assets and custody. Not all divorces are characterized by endless battles over how property will be divided and custody shared. When a divorce is uncontested, divorcing spouses are able to reach an agreement between themselves on how they wish to divide their assets and debts and how they will share parenting responsibilities.

Uncontested divorces are often faster and less costly. An uncontested divorce may be an option for spouses on relatively good terms who have simple financial circumstances. Uncontested divorces still go before a judge, albeit briefly, in order to be finalized, and spouses must create a legally-binding marital settlement agreement that lays out their agreed-upon division of assets and custody. A Bergen County divorce attorney can assist during an uncontested divorce by ensuring that spouses have covered all important issues and by assisting in the final filing process to make the divorce official in the eyes of the state.

Help with Contested and Uncontested Divorce in New Jersey

A divorce does more than just dissolve a marriage; the court when granting a divorce will also make final orders regarding a number of different topics, including:

  • Division of marital property – Assets and debts acquired during the marriage are marital property owned equally by each spouse, and the judge’s job is to divide that marital property as equally as possible between the spouses, or in a manner that is “just and right.”
  • Alimony – The judge may require one party to pay alimony (spousal support or maintenance) to the other party with limited or open duration to allow each former spouse to maintain the standard of living they had during the marriage. Courts may also award rehabilitative alimony to help a former spouse get on one’s feet financially or reimbursement alimony to pay back an ex-spouse for contributions made to the other’s education or career.
  • Child Custody – If the couple has children together, the judge must decide whether and how the parents will share physical custody of the children and the responsibility for making legal decisions regarding the children’s upbringing.
  • Child Support – The court will order the noncustodial parent to pay a weekly amount to the parent with primary custody to help support the children. The amount of child support is determined according to a statutory formula which serves as a guideline for the judge in deciding the appropriate amount.

Our Bergen County Divorce Lawyers Can Help

If with the assistance of the attorneys, both spouses can agree on how all of these issues should be resolved, then your attorney can prepare a marital settlement agreement to be incorporated into the divorce judgment. The New Jersey divorce attorneys at Herbert & Weiss, LLP are skilled at finding creative solutions and can help you work with your spouse to obtain a divorce agreement that satisfactorily resolves all applicable issues in the divorce.

In the event that any issues are contested and cannot be resolved, our New Jersey divorce lawyers are prepared to represent your interests in court and advocate strongly for a result that respects your rights and meets your needs. We offer high-quality, professional advice and representation reasonably priced to give you the help you need while going through a difficult time.

For sound advice and excellent representation in your New Jersey divorce, contact Herbert & Weiss, LLP at (201) 500-2151 for a consultation with experienced, knowledgeable, and dedicated Bergen County divorce attorneys.

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