If you have been researching divorces in New Jersey, you may have come across the phrase “simple uncontested divorce.” But what does that mean? And will it apply to your case?
Contested versus Uncontested Divorces
A simple uncontested divorce means that the divorce and terms of settlement have been fully resolved without the need for a trial. In some instances, the resolution of the matter may be reached well in advance, even before a Complaint for divorce is filed. In others, you may engage in litigation for a period of time prior to resolving your matter. Ultimately, though, if you have reached a resolution prior to your assigned trial date, you will be assigned an uncontested date, which is when your divorce will be made final and signed by the judge. If you and your spouse are unable to resolve all of the issues in your case, it is considered a contested divorce and will proceed to trial. You have much less control over the outcome of your matter if you proceed with a contested divorce, as the judge is limited to what he or she can decide based on the factors that apply to your contested issues. You have more flexibility in coming up with creative solutions when you reach a settlement in a simple uncontested divorce.
Timing and Average Cost of an Uncontested Divorce
An uncontested divorce attorney cannot guarantee the cost or timeline for the divorce process because it is largely dependent on how much cooperation there is from the other side. However, in an uncontested divorce in New Jersey, it is likely that your trial date will be within a year of filing the Complaint for divorce. If you want to resolve your case and proceed with a simple uncontested divorce, you would have to fully resolve all of your issues prior to that date. The uncontested divorce cost is also largely dependent on how quickly you and your spouse can reach an agreement as to the terms. If there are multiple motions filed to resolve the issues, this will increase the overall costs. If you can sit down with your respective counsel and agree to terms over the course of a few weeks, it will be a less acrimonious, and therefore cheaper, process. If costs are a concern, it’s important that you both understand what would cause the costs to increase prior to getting involved in litigation.
Uncontested Divorce Process
The uncontested divorce process can vary based on your specific facts and circumstances. In some cases, generally where the parties have already had discussions about what post-divorce life will look like, such as parenting time schedules, it may be more beneficial to work with your attorneys to reach a resolution of the entire matter and sign a settlement agreement prior to filing a complaint for divorce. This will allow you to work at your own speed and without looming court deadlines, which may increase your counsel fees due to the time the attorney will need to spend to prepare. If there is a reason that you need to file immediately, for example, because one spouse is spending marital money inappropriately, then a simple uncontested divorce may begin with the filing of a complaint in order to ensure quick access to the court in the event it becomes necessary. Filing the complaint will cause the court to schedule your pre-trial events, including custody and parenting time mediation, case management conferences, and Early Settlement Panel.
Do I Need a Lawyer for an Uncontested Divorce in New Jersey?
If you want to handle your simple uncontested divorce on your own rather than hiring an attorney, the court will allow you to do so. Be aware, though, that the Court cannot give you legal advice. It will be up to you alone to navigate the legal intricacies of a divorce and may result in your agreement not addressing some important details that will need to be resolved later.
If you are interested in pursuing a simple uncontested divorce, contact the attorneys of DeTorres & DeGeorge to schedule a consultation.