Understanding “Contested Divorce”
One of the most common misunderstandings our Morris County divorce clients have is when it comes to the term “contested divorce“. While its name often implies the idea of a difficult and embattled divorce, the truth of the matter is that contested divorces are very often not this way.
So what exactly does the term “contested divorce” mean, and when might your divorce become “contested”? Let’s take a look.
What Is a NJ Contested Divorce? Chester Divorce Lawyers
When a person files for a divorce, they are required to give legal notice to their spouse of said filing. The person receiving the notice of divorce then has thirty-five (35) days to respond to this initial divorce complaint.
In some scenarios, the divorcing couple may already have agreed to terms regarding the key areas of a divorce settlement agreement, those being child custody, child support, alimony, and the division of marital assets. When this is the case, the person receiving the divorce notice could opt to not respond to the divorce complaint, thus causing their divorce to be considered “uncontested”. In New Jersey, uncontested divorces are placed on an expedited legal track, allowing for the divorce to be finalized based on the terms the couple has already decided on in a much quicker manner than otherwise.
However, as much as this expedited divorce process can appeal to many, it is extremely risky to resolve any divorce based on agreements made solely between the two parties without consulting with a divorce attorney. As well-meaning as both parties may be, the complexities and long-term implications that such critical agreements can have on each party’s finances, parental rights, and legal obligations make it so that it is almost always a much more prudent measure to have your Chester divorce lawyer, at a minimum, review your proposed divorce settlement agreement, rather than rashly sign a document which you can easily come to regret later on down the road.
Instead, most divorcing individuals opt to respond to the initial divorce complaint, thus causing their divorce to be considered “contested”. However, despite the name, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the divorce needs to be acrimonious or overly contentious, simply that the party receiving the divorce complaint wishes to further negotiate the particulars of their divorce settlement agreement before the divorce is actually finalized.
Morristown Contested Divorce Attorneys Provide a Variety of Options for Resolving Your Contested Divorce
So, now that your divorce has become “contested”, what options do you as an individual, and you as a couple, have for resolving your contested divorce without it actually being a “contest”?
First of all, divorcing couples are always given a pre-trial settlement period, in which the couple and their Morristown divorce attorneys can negotiate the various terms of their divorce settlement agreement outside of an actual courtroom. As long as each party is willing to compromise to a degree, and work in good faith towards fair and reasonable settlements, many divorces can be resolved through negotiations alone without needing to go to court at all. In fact, when a couple is able to agree to a divorce settlement through this process, there is an opportunity for their divorce to then still be placed on the same expedited track as an uncontested divorce.
Alternatively, many divorcing couples have found success through various Alternative Dispute Resolution methods such as mediation, divorce collaboration, and arbitration. Each of these methods has their own unique advantages, and disadvantages, so be sure to read our pages on each of these topics if ADR appeals to you.
The bottom line is that although your divorce may be referred to as a “contested divorce”, that by no means it needs to be overly stressful, contentious, time-consuming, or difficult, it is simply the legal term that is used when one spouse or the other wishes to more fully explore their rights and options during the divorce process, rather than creating their own agreement from the get-go which carries with it a great deal of risk for both parties.
Contact Our Morris County Divorce and Mediation Attorneys Today
At The Law Office of Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our attorneys have extensive experience effectively and fairly resolving our client’s divorces through negotiation, mediation, collaboration, arbitration, and litigation in towns across New Jersey and Morris County, including Chester, Morristown, Mendham, Chatham, Mt. Olive, Harding, Tewksbury, Morris Township, and more.
With all three of our founding partners being Certified Matrimonial Law attorneys, as well as a team of experienced and similarly accomplished family law attorneys, our firm is ideally suited to providing you with the knowledgeable, attentive, and highly effective legal counsel that you need and deserve when it comes to a matter as complex and life-changing as most divorces often are.
To speak with one of our attorneys today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your divorce, any specific needs or concerns you may have regarding a particular divorce matter such as child custody, child support, alimony, or the division of assets, any kind of post-divorce modification or enforcement matter, or any other kind of family law issue you may be facing, please contact us online, or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 840-8970.