If you’re thinking about filing for divorce, you need to have an idea of the process you are beginning. While every divorce is different, here are a few of the things you can expect.

Complaint

To begin the process, you must file a complaint specifying the reason you are seeking a divorce. New Jersey recognizes both fault and no-fault divorces, so you can choose a specific reason that your marriage isn’t working. Your divorce complaint should specify what you are requesting, such as division of property, alimony, child support, custody or visitation. Once this complaint has been filed with the Court, a representative of the sheriff’s office will serve your spouse with it or it may be acknowledged by your spouse’s attorney. They have 35 days to respond.

Answer or Counterclaim

Your spouse usually responds to your complaint with an answer or counterclaim, which either disputes the terms of your complaint or accepts them, or simply enters an appearance requesting to be heard only on one or more issues. If your spouse does not answer, you may ask a judge for default judgment, which incorporates your proposed terms. If your spouse answers and does contest your proposed terms, you will go in front of a judge for a trial on those issues, in which the judge reviews and makes findings of fact and conclusions of law and enters a final Judgment of Divorce.

Court

In a contested divorce, you and your spouse will may attempt to resolve your dispute with a financial and/or parenting time mediator, who will try to find a compromise that satisfies you both. In many cases, this does work, and a satisfactory agreement is reached. However, in some cases, divorces do proceed to trial. Each spouse will present evidence to prove that the arrangement they have proposed is appropriate. For example, in a child custody dispute, each may call witnesses or submit documents to prove that they were the primary caretaker and best parent who should receive custody. Expert witnesses may also be called on your behalf or your spouse’s behalf to address these issues.

To make your divorce go as smoothly as possible, hire experienced divorce attorney Walter K. Schreyer. Attorney Schreyer can help you end your marriage amicably and fairly. Dial (888) 511-2837 to schedule a consultation in our New Jersey office.