If you have decided to file for divorce, or are a party to a divorce proceeding, you may want to resolve matters, if at all possible, without the need to go to trial. Divorce litigation can be costly, in terms of time, money and emotions. There are options that will not only minimize stress, anxiety and expense, but will give you greater control over how your differences are resolved. This blog post looks at the ways you can avoid divorce litigation.

The first step to minimizing the risk of divorce litigation is to fully understand the costs of taking matters to trial. If you choose to dispute everything, and require a judge or jury to determine the outcome, you will necessarily go through a lengthy process. Once a divorce complaint has been filed, the court will establish a discovery schedule. This sets forth the amount of time that will be spent gathering all relevant information to determine child custody and visitation, child support, alimony or spousal support, and the division of marital debts and assets. In most instances, there will be requests for production of documents, as well as depositions of parties and other relevant witnesses. Your lawyer will expect to be paid for every task they handle for you. If they draft a request for production of documents, or a response to such a request, you will be billed. When they review all documents, you will be billed. When they appear on your behalf at a deposition, meeting or hearing, you will be billed. And, in addition to the expense, such actions take time.

Once you understand the cost of divorce litigation in terms of time and money, you should take a look at alternative means of dispute resolution, including negotiated settlements, mediation, and the collaborative approach to divorce. In a negotiated settlement, you and your counsel work directly with your ex-spouse and opposing counsel to work out agreements governing custody and support, as well as property matters. In mediation, you work with a neutral third party, who facilitates efforts to find mutually beneficial solutions. In the collaborative law process, you and your ex-spouse agree to try to resolve all matters without the intervention of the court. Your lawyers can also participate in the process.

The common component of successful negotiation efforts, mediation and collaborative law attempts is a willingness to work with your former spouse to find solutions that work for both of you. This means you may have to identify those items that are not negotiable and those about which you can be flexible. In all matters related to your minor children, however, you should always give priority to what is in their best interests.

Contact the Law Office of Taylor & Boguski

To schedule a free initial consultation with experienced New Jersey family law attorneys, contact Taylor & Boguski by e-mail or call 800-404-5299. To learn more about our practice, visit our practice area overview page.

Types of Divorce

From a legal perspective, New Jersey classifies the dissolution of a marriage simply as uncontested or contested. Divorce can be initiated by either spouse. Since the advent of no – fault divorce, the most common reason stated is simply irreconcilable differences. It is rare for the court to inquire as to the differences.

The legal distinction between types of divorce is simple, but in reality, each divorce is as unique as the individuals involved. Most dissolutions of marriage fall somewhere along a continuum, bounded by amicable agreement and all-out war.

Uncontested divorce

In an uncontested divorce, the couple works out an agreement on all division of assets and debt. This will include division of all property/assets, including retirement accounts, the family home, vehicles, investments and Aunt Sally’s blue china plate. It may include terms of any limited or permanent alimony, and a determination of how any debts will be settled. This agreement is formally written into a property settlement agreement (contract) which becomes part of the final judgment of divorce.

If the couple has children, the parents must agree on all details of child support, medical insurance, cost of education, sports, music lessons and other expenses. Their agreement must include decisions on legal and physical custody (sole, joint, combined), parenting time for a non-custodial parent, expenses involved in transporting the child between homes, and may involve agreements on special features such as video calls and religious instruction. If the couple can not agree then the Courts will make those decisions, something both parties should try to avoid as it is their children and they should do what is in the best interests of the child/children.

Related issues that may be included in the agreement include terms of temporary separation, grandparents’ visitation rights, and provisions for re-evaluating child custody post-divorce.

An important feature provided by uncontested divorce is privacy. In a contested (litigated) divorce, the record of court proceedings is a public record that may cause pain or embarrassment to the couple, their children and other parties.

Uncontested divorce is, compared to litigation (contested divorce), economical in financial and emotional terms. Attorney fees are kept to a minimum. There are no public arguments. Some couples with few assets and liabilities and no children even opt for do-it-yourself (DIY) divorce, preparing documents and presenting them directly to the courts. There are hazards, however, to DIY divorce, or budget attorney packages. Under the stress of emotional exhaustion or guilt, a party may agree to terms that are clearly unfair. The couple may overlook significant property or financial issues, fail to consider future changes in circumstances, or not understand the impact of the agreement on welfare or medical assistance payments.

Contested divorce (litigation)

In a contested divorce, the spouses fail to agree on some or all terms of division of property, child support and custody, and alimony. Spouses are represented by separate attorneys; the role of each is solely to protect the interests of his or her client. The litigation process may include discovery, investigations of marital assets, psychological evaluations of parents and children, motion practice, multiple court dates and postponements. The validity of a pre-nuptial agreement may be questioned. Ideally, divorce lawyers act as voices of reason in an emotionally charged space, helping their clients reach fair agreements on as many points as possible, only taking the most contentious issues to court. Finally a judge, working on the basis of court documents and proceedings, decides all terms of the divorce.

Child custody is the most complex and challenging issue in contested divorce. The law does not favor either parent as custodian, but will look at time away from home, living situations, the child’s relationship with each parent and the effect on the child’s education and social life when deciding custody issues.

Despite famous stories of contested divorce proceedings that devour the bulk of the marital estate or take years to resolve, most contested divorces are resolved in a reasonable fashion.

Legal separation, divorce from bed and board and annulment as alternatives to divorce

Some individuals, for religious or other reasons, choose not to divorce. Some choose instead a legal separation, living apart and limiting their financial relationships with their spouses. Others petition the court for annulment. An annulment is essentially a statement that the marriage did not exist. In New Jersey there are divorces from ”bed and board”-which allows the parties to live separate and apart, completely divide their assets and liabilities, determine alimony and child support, and allows for one spouse to keep the other spouse on their health insurance coverage. Neither party, however, can re-marry.

Contact us for a free attorney consultation, or visit our Practice Areas page for more information about Taylor & Boguski.

Mount Laurel Divorce Temporary Orders Attorneys

Divorce often involves recriminations, accusations, and feelings of betrayal. As a result, people can end up acting in ways they’d never thought they would in an effort to hurt the person who hurt them. Consequently, temporary orders are important in any divorce since they afford essential protections for both spouses and their children.

What are temporary orders? In New Jersey they are known as Pendente Lite Orders. They are orders pending the Final Judgment of Divorce. These orders are issued by a judge in order to establish the financial and parental rights and responsibilities of each spouse throughout the divorce process and to retain the status quo until there is a final hearing.

Why are Temporary Orders Important in My Divorce?

In New Jersey, spouses have a great deal of leeway to decide for themselves how to interact and make certain kinds of financial and parenting decisions prior to and during a divorce unless there is an Order of the Court placing restraints and limitations. This can leave both spouses vulnerable, for example if one or the other decides to sell property, max out credit cards, stop paying bills, emptying a bank account, or suddenly move out of town with the children.

In New Jersey, when the Divorce Complaint is filed there are no automatic stays except for the modification of insurances, life, heath, homeowners and car. An application must be made to the Court asking for relief, including but not limited to the support of a spouse and the children, temporary custody and parenting time, restraints on the disposition of assets, preventing a parent from moving out of state with the children, responsibility to pay bills etc. For these reasons, it’s important to ask your attorney to request that the court issue temporary/ pendente lite orders protecting your financial interests and parental rights.

Temporary Orders, Spousal Support, and Parenting Plans

While each divorce is different, in general, temporary orders do not change throughout a divorce. In fact, in most cases temporary orders may serve as the foundation for any final parenting plan or spousal maintenance order in a divorce settlement. This is especially important to remember in regard to parental rights during your divorce.
If your spouse intends to ask for full custody of your children, his or her attorney may ask for a temporary restraining order. If granted, this will affect your access to your kids and any final parenting plan approved by the court. Consequently, requesting temporary orders that guarantee you access to your children protects your long-term custody interests.

Contact Mount Laurel Divorce Temporary Orders Attorneys

Regardless of how well you believe you and your spouse resolve differences, don’t assume this will continue through your divorce. Once financial issues arise, your spouse’s divorce attorney could take a more aggressive approach, leaving you on the defensive. To protect yourself and learn how we can help you, contact Mount Laurel divorce temporary orders attorneys at Taylor & Boguski, LLC today to schedule an appointment and discuss your case.