The amount of time that a divorce will take to finalize in New Jersey depends greatly on whether or not it is contested. If a divorce is uncontested, a court hearing may be scheduled for the judge’s next date of availability. In some cases, a judge may have an opening to hear a divorce case in as soon as three months after the divorce complaint is filed.

A divorce that is contested will not be scheduled for the next available court date, so it could take much longer to finalize. Before a judge can hear the case, evaluations and reports may need to be completed. If the spouses involved have jointly-owned property, the court might need to appraise the value of that property before scheduling the divorce hearing.

Individuals may be able to speed up the divorce process by holding a conference with their attorney, their spouse and their spouse’s attorney. During a conference, a settlement agreement might be arranged that could become part of the ultimate Judgment of Divorce. Spouses may also attend an Early Settlement Panel in an effort to settle any unresolved financial issues that might exist. An Early Settlement Panel is a meeting that includes both of the spouses, their lawyers and two matrimonial attorneys.

The information in this blog does not encompass all of the variables that can complicate divorce proceedings, and it is not meant to be legal advice. With all of the important issues that are involved in a divorce, a spouse may have a hard time asserting their rights during property distribution without legal representation. A lawyer may be able to help a divorcing spouse to protect their rights and assets while avoiding a long, drawn out divorce process at the same time.

Source: New Jersey Courts, “Divorce/Matrimony”, November 04, 2014