Can you have an uncontested divorce with children?

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Can you have an uncontested divorce with children?

In New Jersey, divorces are either contested or uncontested.  In an uncontested divorce, the parties have been able to reach a resolution of their matter prior to proceeding to trial.  In a contested divorce, there is often significant litigation that must take place, the parties do not agree on the issues in their matter, and they proceed to trial.  Many people considering a divorce may wonder if it’s possible to have an uncontested divorce with children, especially if they have not yet broached the topic of divorce with their spouse.  There are many steps to help you achieve an uncontested divorce with children involved.

 

Parent Education Classes

First, the court in New Jersey requires individuals who choose to go through an uncontested divorce with children to attend the parent education class.  In this class, the instructors educate the parents about the divorce process and the impact that it may have on the children.  The instructors may offer some recommendations to the parties about how to co-parent through certain issues, suggest parenting time arrangements that might work for different types of families, and generally attempt to ease the parties’ minds about the divorce process.  This class is often very helpful in putting parents in the mindset of working with one another for the sake of their children.

 

Parenting Time Mediation

The court also sends parties going through an uncontested divorce with children to parenting time mediation with trained court personnel.  There, the parties sit with the mediators (attorneys are not permitted to attend this session) and try to work out a parenting time schedule that is agreeable to everyone.  This may be a shared parenting time schedule where the parties have 50/50 custody, an alternating weekend schedule, or any number of combinations in between.  If you are able to reach an agreement, the mediator will draft it for your attorneys to review and then, they will make it into a formal agreement.

 

What are the steps for an uncontested divorce with children?

There are a variety of ways that you can achieve an uncontested divorce with children involved.  If you and your spouse are amicable about the breakup, it’s possible that you may be able to resolve the issues regarding the children and your divorce prior to filing a complaint for divorce.  If you have resolved all of the issues, you may even be able to file the Complaint yourself and proceed without an attorney.  If you are not at that point in your relationship, you can file the complaint for divorce and attend the parent education class and mediation as described.

Your attorneys can assist you in further negotiations to determine the specifications for your parenting time schedule and other issues in your divorce so that you can proceed with an uncontested divorce.  You can reach a settlement of your case at any point after you file the complaint for divorce and then proceed with an uncontested divorce hearing.  How long an uncontested divorce with children takes in New Jersey is dependent on the parties themselves and how quickly they can set aside their differences and work towards a more peaceful resolution, which will likely be in the children’s best interest.

Once you have resolved your matter, your attorney will notify the Court that you have reached a settlement and need a date for an uncontested hearing.  In some counties you can submit the paperwork by mail rather than appear.  However, not all counties permit this and require that you appear for your hearing.  At your hearing, your attorney or the judge will question you about your marriage, your agreement, your children, and the support that has been agreed to with the children. Once you have answered the questions posed, the judge will sign off on your divorce and you will have successfully completed an uncontested divorce with children.

 

If you have questions about an uncontested divorce with children or an uncontested divorce hearing, contact to schedule a consultation.

Carolyn B. Hand
Carolyn Hand is a passionate and experienced litigator specializing in family law. In 2020, she was named partner at DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law. Carolyn represents clients in family court in all matters pertaining to divorce, custody...
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