Steps in a Typical New Jersey Divorce
- Plaintiff files a complaint; the defendant is served with the complaint.
- Defendant has 35 days to respond to the complaint and file a response. If the defendant does not file a response, the court schedules a default hearing.
- Both parties file Case Information Statements (CIS). A CIS consists of each party’s income, expenses, debts and assets. This must be filed within 20 days of the defendant’s response to the plaintiff’s complaint.
- Notices of Motion: An application to the court for an order to temporarily resolve issues such as property, support, custody, or parenting time. The requests are referred to as Pendente Lite, which is a Latin term for the requests that need to be attended to on a provisional basis in the months leading up to a formal hearing. As a result of these requests a Motion Hearing is scheduled and litigants can attend.
- Orders to Show Cause: These orders are filed in cases of emergencies, such as a pending foreclosure on a home.
- At this time the court schedules a Case Management Conference. During this hearing the judge will set a Discovery Period – the time when both parties share all information required to resolve the case. During this period personal and real estate property is appraised, evaluations are scheduled (when custody is an issue), both parties are interviewed and necessary documents must be produced.
- When the Discovery is complete, a Matrimonial Early Settlement Panel (MESP) will schedule any contested financial case for hearing. The MESP will only assist the parties in resolving financial issues. If the parties cannot resolve their issues the judge will order mediation.
- A Settlement Conference can be scheduled with the court at any time. Both parties must be present with their lawyers for such a proceeding.
- If both parties cannot settle the case, a Trial Date is set to take place before a Family Law Division Judge.
- After the trial a Final Judgment will be handed down. This judgment will detail the settlement terms of all issues regarding the termination of the marriage.