Getting divorced is rarely quick or easy. Even in a “no-fault” state like New Jersey, the process generally takes 12 months from filing to final decree, with some complex divorces taking 18 months or longer.
That said, there are things couples can do to make the divorce process simpler, faster and less painful.
Do Your Research
Preparation can go a long way towards speeding up the length of time a divorce will take. Doing your own research on how the divorce process works and what to expect can help you prepare mentally and respond more quickly.
Familiarize yourself with the proceedings and paperwork, including various documents like the divorce complaint, property settlement agreement and custody agreement. Identify potential legal obstacles such as your children, business interests and tax implications. Gather all relevant documents and meet with an attorney early on in the process to determine what additional information you may need.
2. Know State Laws
Since states have general control over marriage and divorce laws, some states make it easier than others. States with no-fault divorce laws, fewer filings and fees and shorter waiting periods offer a quicker path to ending your marriage.
In New Jersey, a “no-fault” divorce means that neither spouse has caused the marriage to end. The state has two types of no-fault divorce:
A divorce based on a separation, where the couple has been living apart for at least 18 months prior to the start of the divorce.
A divorce where the couple has experienced “irreconcilable differences” for at least six months before the divorce is started.
Knowing where to file for divorce can also save time and money. New Jersey law requires that one (1) party reside in the State for at least 1 year before filing. The complaint also be filed in the county where 1 party resides, even if you the other party does not live there any longer. If you were residing out of state when your marriage began to deteriorate, you can file in the New Jersey county where you now live.
3. Work With Your Spouse
The amount of conflict between spouses can directly correlate to the length of the divorce process. A contested divorce is likely to take far longer than a collaborative one.
Divorcing couples who have open lines of communication and can agree on the major issues of the separation have an easier time, both financially and emotionally. Sorting out legal issues on your own, as opposed to having them decided by a judge, can also shorten the time between filing and finalization.
4. File for an Uncontested Divorce
If you really want to save time, consider whether your divorce involves issues that truly need to be settled in court or if you and your spouse can resolve matters yourselves.
When you and your spouse or civil union or domestic partner are able to agree on major issues such as child custody, property division and spousal support, you can file for an uncontested divorce. The process is faster than traditional divorce litigation, usually allowing you to avoid multiple court appearances and fees as well as the time and effort it takes to prepare for court.
5. Consider Mediation
Along the lines of avoiding contentious court appearances, you and your spouse may decide to work with a divorce mediator. The mediation process reduces costs and animosity by encouraging the divorcing parties to collaborate to resolve critical issues without involving their attorneys. This helps pave the way for an uncontested divorce, which further reduces costs.
6. Consult an Attorney
Even the easiest divorces can be emotionally and legally complicated. An experienced divorce lawyer will be able to advise you on the legal requirements for finalizing your divorce and help expedite the process as much as possible.
If you are finding it difficult to understand your options or if negotiating with your spouse is not working, I can help. Please call me at 973-509-8500 x213 or email me at: LFarber@LFarberLaw.com.
The contents of this writing are intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion in any specific facts or circumstances.