Chatham, New Jersey Divorce Attorneys
The New Jersey Divorce Process
Some couples can resolve many if not all of their issues outside of the courtroom. Others need a judge’s help to resolve disputes in court. The attorneys at Lazor Rantas, PC, can effectively represent you whether negotiating a deal in a conference room or litigating in a courtroom.
The Chatham divorce attorneys at Lazor Rantas, PC have nearly four decades of combined experience representing clients throughout New Jersey when they are facing divorce. We can assist you in matters such as equitable distribution, alimony, child custody, child support, and more. It is important to reach out and speak with an experienced divorce attorney who can effectively guide you through your divorce. For strong legal representation when you need it most, contact Lazor Rantas, PC today.
Grounds for Divorce in NJ
The divorce process is officially started with one party, the plaintiff, filing a Complaint for Divorce. Although you can assert a cause of action for divorce for various reasons, New Jersey is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that a couple can file for divorce due to irreconcilable differences, or separation of 18 months or more.
Case Management Conference
Serving a Complaint for Divorce on a spouse puts your matter on the court’s radar and triggers certain events. The first such event is, typically, a Case Management Conference, which allows the judge to assess what issues exist and determine whether your divorce process can be expedited. Some of the matters that can be addressed in the Case Management Conference include:
- Identifying disputed issues
- Establishing a pre-trial discovery process
- Scheduling an Early Settlement Panel date
- Identifying expert witnesses
Early Settlement Panel
If the court refers a case to an Early Settlement Panel, a team of attorneys will gather to recommend various ways to resolve any of the outstanding contested matters that are still present. The Early Settlement Panelists volunteer their time. If the parties decide not to accept these recommendations, they move forward to a more detailed mediation process, referred to as Economic Mediation, as another way to try and work through the remaining contested issues. If mediation is unsuccessful, the parties will have to go through the litigation process in court to have a judge decide on any remaining matters.
A motion is an application to the court made prior to a plenary hearing or trial (both addressed below) asking the judge assigned to your case to resolve issues prior to a final resolution. Issues that can be addressed by motion include child custody and parenting time, alimony, child support, “discovery” issues (addressing, for example, a party’s refusal to cooperate with the exchange of information necessary to settle your issues), and counsel and expert fee payments. If you are already divorced or have an agreement, order, or judgment in place, family law litigants can file motions “post-judgment.” In that scenario, the motion itself might be the only action pending (meaning no further proceedings or plenary hearing or trial may be contemplated). Post-judgment applications can include but are not limited to requests to modify existing support obligations based on a change in circumstance or to modify the parenting schedule in furtherance of the child(ren)’s best interest.
In family law matters, there generally is no jury and a judge alone decides how the disputed issues are resolved. The parties typically testify as to their respective issues. Experts may be called to testify especially where there are issues over child custody, tracing or valuation of assets, marital lifestyle, employability, and other areas where the judge needs specialized information to decide an issue.
Plenary Hearings are a type of “mini” trial. Typically, they arise post-judgment and center around a single issue such as college contribution or whether support should be modified or end due to retirement or other changed circumstances.
Final Judgment of Divorce
The last step in the divorce process is to have the court execute the Final Judgment of Divorce. The court is required to do this regardless of whether the parties had the divorce litigated or handled outside of court. It is important to note that if the divorce went through litigation, either party is permitted to appeal the judge’s decision.
Contact Lazor Rantas, PC
The Chatham divorce attorneys at Lazor Rantas, PC proudly serves clients in New Jersey while they navigate the divorce process in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, and Union counties. Contact Lazor Rantas, PC today to schedule a consultation.