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UNCONTESTED DIVORCE HEARING IN NJ

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new jersey uncontested divorce hearingFor those going through or considering divorce the stress of litigation and court dates can weigh heavy on the mind; however, only 2% t0 3% of cases do not settle out of court and half of these settle either before or at trial. Once settled the other 97% to 98% of divorce cases end with a uncontested divorce hearing in NJ. Although the judge and attorneys (in litigated divorce) will be present, the process is relatively short and stress free.

Property Settlement Agreement 

In order for a divorce case to settle the parties must reach a mutual agreement. All cases are unique which means that the time it takes to reach this agreement is different for each couple. Equitable distribution and child custody/parenting time, if applicable, must be addressed. Equitable distribution includes the marital home, vacation homes and timeshares, tangible personal property, cars, bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance, credit card debt, income tax liabilities and any other property or assets not exempt under NJ law. In some situations experts are required to perform a valuation or assets or a custody and parenting time evaluation, further delaying the process. Parties may also find that one or both of them is not emotionally ready to settle the case and will delay the process until they have accepted the end of the marriage.

Once all of the issues have been explored and the case is ready for settlement, a contract stating the terms of the marital agreement is drafted by a NJ divorce attorney, divorce mediator or the parties themselves. This is known as a Property Settlement Agreement (PSA). The PSA should be tailored to cover the fact of the case and address all relevant issues of the marriage. This document will be binding so careful consideration should be given to its language and provisions. Future amendments of the PSA will require the consent of both parties or the filing of a motion in Court.

Uncontested Divorce Hearing in NJ

Once the PSA is carefully reviewed, approved and signed the divorce is ready to be finalized. A Complaint for Divorce stating the legal cause of action must be filed by one party. The most common cause of action in NJ, especially in uncontested divorce, is irreconcilable differences. If the PSA has been executed, the other party may waive the right to file an Answer for Divorce and the right to appear at the uncontested divorce hearing in NJ. In this case, the Plaintiff (the party who filed the Complaint for Divorce) will be scheduled to appear before a NJ Superior Court Judge and an uncontested divorce will be granted. The Judge will sign a Final Judgment of Divorce, legally dissolving the marriage and both parties will be bound by the terms of the PSA.

Mediation for Uncontested Divorce

Successful divorce mediation always ends with an uncontested divorce hearing in NJ. The process is cost-effective for couples who are open to settlement and are emotionally able to directly discuss the divorce with one another. The more ready parties are to settle, the less time they will need to attend mediation, thus lowered the cost of the divorce. Both parties must be present and willing to participate in all mediation sessions.

The divorce mediator guides the parties toward reaching a settlement and acts as a neutral party. Some cases may require the assistance of experts such as accountants or psychologists. Each party has the right to consult with their own attorney to review the PSA before signing; however, this attorney must not be from the same firm as the divorce mediator.

SAME-SEX DIVORCE MEDIATION IN NEW JERSEY

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The changing political landscape surrounding the rights of same-sex couples has led to difficulty for many simply wishing to commit to a marriage, or for that matter dissolve one. Fortunately, same-sex marriage in New Jersey was legalized in October 2013 allowing many long-term partners and couples already in a civil union to have the same rights as heterosexual married couples.

While this was a joyous victory for many in the state, it also opened up a multitude of legal questions concerning factors such as equitable distribution, alimony, and child custody, should a couple be seeking divorce. While these issues are identical to those seen in heterosexual divorce, tackling them for same-sex couples in New Jersey is more complex due to evolving laws. This can be especially difficult for couples who were in a committed relationship for many years before having the chance to enter a civil union pursuant to N.J.S.A. 37:1-28 to -36, the New Jersey Civil Union act (enacted in 2007) or marriage. Years of accrued assets and property and children of the relationship were not viewed by the law as they would be for married partners.

same-sex divorce mediation

Many same-sex couples who were in long-term committed relationships wanted to marry but were unable to do so until 2013. A majority of assets would have been accrued during the time before the marriage period, but under the law only those gained after the marriage in 2013 would be considered marital assets for equitable distribution. However, this does not mean that the appropriate divorce relief cannot be granted, only that the court process will likely be more challenging as many judges are not yet fully accustomed to handling same-sex divorce. The same applies to couples still in civil unions seeking dissolution.

BENEFITS OF DIVORCE MEDIATION FOR SAME-SEX COUPLES

Due to the complexity and newness of same-sex divorce, alternative approaches like mediation are highly beneficial. Mediation allows couples to work through their issues to reach a fair compromise without the stress of litigated divorce. Hour long sessions are conducted with a New Jersey mediation attorney, and if needed a third party professional such as a financial planner or psychologist. If a couple is able to work together and communicate effectively, the cost of mediation will drop as the amount of sessions needed decreases.

Same-sex divorce mediation allows couples to bypass the uncertainly of evolving laws and set their own terms. It can also be beneficial for children as it usually translates to parents with better communication skills who are more focused on problem solving than finger pointing.

Although same-sex divorce mediation is not right for everyone, for those who are open to working together it can be the least stress producing and most cost effective option.

5 TOP REASONS TO MEDIATE DIVORCE

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Divorce mediation is an increasingly popular method that allows couples to have more control over the issues in their divorce. During mediation sessions both parties, a mediation attorney, and, if necessary, third party professionals, will focus on coming to a settlement that is fair and appropriate. While mediation is not for every couple, there are some major benefits and reasons to mediate divorce that make it worth considering.

armour law firm divorce mediation

1) Flexible and Informal

The mediation process does not include the court, and instead a divorce mediator helps guide the parties through creating their own property settlement agreement, parenting plan, or any other necessary agreement. The absence of traditional divorce litigation allows mediation sessions to be flexible and informal. Sessions are scheduled at mutually convenient times allowing both parties to use their time effectively and work around one another’s obligations. Because the mediation environment is conducive to open communication and confidentiality, there is more room for creative and personalized solutions.

2) Relationships

Although divorce eliminates the marital relationship, it can be necessary for ex-spouses to keep in contact, especially when children are involved. Divorce mediation allows parties to lay the foundation for their new relationship as it focuses on developing communication, trust, problem-solving, and compromise. A 12 year divorce mediation study by Dr. Robert E. Emery found that couples who used mediation had better relationships with each other and their children than those who used litigation.

3) Stress

While stress is an inevitable part of divorce, mediation can help reduce it. Litigation is adversarial while mediation is collaborative. The thought of court involvement alone can cause additional stress for many people, so replacing it with the face-to-face contact and discussion of mediation can be highly beneficial. Having more direct involvement in sensitive issues such as parenting plans can also greatly reduce stress.

4) Cost

One of the more obvious reasons to mediate divorce mediation is its financial cost, which is generally much less than divorce litigation. Attorney and court fees can add up quickly, especially in contested divorce, but in mediation the focus is on working together, which includes collaborating to ensure modest cost. Cost can be greatly reduced by effectively using each session and shortening the length of the whole process.

5) Control

Since divorce mediation is a voluntary process it allows both parties to feel more in control of their financial and family lives. Unlike divorce litigation, mediation involves only one attorney who cannot give either party individual legal advice. Couples begin mediation with an agreement to be open and not withhold any relevant information. The intention is to solve issues without court intervention. This helps establish trust and comfort during sessions, which leads to a greater sense of control. Children may also feel more empowered knowing their parents are involved in a collaborative process and willing to compromise.