Expert Guidance On Filing For Divorce In The State of New Jersey
Taking The First Step
The decision to move forward with a divorce can be extremely difficult. You are facing the many emotions that come along with the potential termination of the marital partnership. You are also facing unknowns with regard to your post-divorce life and lifestyle. Moreover, the divorce process itself and even the process of moving forward can seem overwhelming. However, it does not have to be.
Complaint For Divorce
There are several options for initiating the divorce process. The most common option is to have an attorney file a Complaint for Divorce on your behalf. The Complaint for Divorce will set forth the addresses of the parties to establish proper venue—in other words, that the Complaint has been filed in the correct State and County. The Complaint will also set forth a cause of action for divorce. The most common cause of action for divorce is based on irreconcilable differences existing between the parties with no prospect of reconciliation.
The Complaint for Divorce will establish a “cut-off” date. With certain limited exceptions, assets and debts acquired prior to the cut-off date are considered marital in nature and subject to equitable distribution (i.e., division) between the parties. Assets and debts acquired after the cut-off date are considered non-marital and not subject to equitable distribution.
If you decide to file a Complaint for Divorce, you can frequently avoid having the Complaint personally served on your spouse. Rather, you can have your attorney write a letter to your spouse with a request that your spouse or his attorney sign an Acknowledgment of Service of the Complaint. If this Acknowledgment is signed, personal service of the Complaint can be avoided entirely.
Once your spouse is served with the Complaint or acknowledges service of the Complaint, he or she will have 35 days to file a responsive pleading. This responsive pleading may simply be an Answer to your Complaint, or it may include a Counterclaim for divorce, setting forth a cause of action for divorce on behalf of your spouse.
If you do not wish to file a Complaint for Divorce, there are other options. In certain cases, attorneys agree to keep the case outside of the court system by entering into a Cut-Off Agreement. The Cut-Off Agreement serves the same purpose as the Complaint, in that it provides for a marriage “cut-off” date. However, the Cut-Off Agreement is not filed with the court, such that the divorce process can move forward without litigation in court.
If you are considering a divorce, you should discuss the facts of your case with an attorney who can advise you on the best approach for moving forward with the divorce in your case. Every case is unique, and the way you approach the beginning of your case could impact upon the tenor and direction of your case through its conclusion.