So you’ve made the decision to end your marriage. If you’re planning on filing for divorce in NJ (New Jersey), there are a few important things you should consider before doing so. This will help you be better prepared moving forward, and hopefully make the entire process go a little smoother for you and your soon-to-be ex. Here are a few tips to get you on the right track.
One of the most important rules in filing for divorce in NJ is residency. In order to do so, you or your spouse must have lived in the state of New Jersey for at least 12 months consecutively. If neither of you meet this requirement, you may be required to file in the state in which you previously resided. There are exceptions to this rule, but you should speak to a professional to discuss them.
No-Fault vs. Uncontested vs. Contested
Before filing for divorce in NJ, you must determine what category your particular case falls under. No-fault divorce is basically just what it sounds like – both parties agree that neither is necessarily to blame for the divorce, and they’re both agreeing to go their separate ways. Uncontested divorce is similar, and it means that both parties are agreeing to the divorce and are willing to work together toward a settlement. Contested divorce happens when either one spouse is refusing to agree to the divorce, or neither party can come to an agreement on a settlement.
Choose Your Method
The next step in filing for divorce in NJ is determining the process by which you’ll reach a settlement. It’s important to note that you have several choices when it comes to this decision. You can go the do-it-yourself route, which can be risky unless you understand the intricacies of the law. You can litigate, which is expensive and time consuming because it involves hiring pricey lawyers and going to court. You can choose collaborative divorce, which doesn’t involve court, but is still quite costly. Or, you can mediate, which ultimately gets the same results in less time and at a fraction of the cost.
Select a Professional to Suit Your Budget
Unless you possess professional training, chances are you are going to choose one of the latter three divorce methods, each of which involves selecting at least one divorce professional with which to work. If you’re planning to hire attorneys, be forewarned that you will likely have to pay a hefty retainer upfront, and then be charged at a high hourly rate thereafter. Likewise, if you choose collaborative divorce, know that there are typically several third parties involved in the process, such as accountants and child advocates, all of whom require payment for their time. With mediation, you only need one professional – a neutral third party mediator that won’t represent either of you, but rather will help facilitate negotiation between you so you can reach a settlement.
Be Willing to Negotiate
Before filing for divorce in NJ, remember that when it comes to reaching a fair settlement, you’re going to have to compromise a little. Be prepared ahead of time, knowing what you want, what you’re willing to negotiate on and what you won’t budge on. Pick your battles and keep your eyes focused on the end result, which is a peaceful divorce and a bright and promising future, and you’ll be much better able to participate in the give and take necessary to reach an agreement you can both feel comfortable with.