Understanding How to Get a Fast Divorce in New Jersey Post-COVID
The top two questions people ask me when considering filing for a divorce in New Jersey are: How much is this going to cost? and How long does this take? The resounding answer from most lawyers is, it depends. We do not say this to evade your question or to be smart. The post-COVID world reality is that it truly depends on many factors, including your counties backlog, both parties expectations of their rights after the divorce, and your financial position risk and reward of having a divorce. Before you file your divorce, here is some helpful information you should consider in planning to file your divorce.
What Does “Backlog” Mean in Our Judiciary?
The best way to describe backlog is that it is the accumulation of cases in court that should already have been completed. There are internal guidelines in the court for every filing of a case. When the court does not meet its internal goals, it enters the case into “backlog.” These cases generally receive top priority.
What is the State of the Judiciary Now?
“We’re at crisis level,” according to an official in the N.J. courts. You do not have to be an expert to know this; just ask anyone you know who may be going through a divorce or strongly considering a divorce. Even the courts recommend that you obtain legal representation.
The decision to file for divorce is a difficult one, and having to work through the legal process on your own makes it even more difficult. For this reason, the court recommends that people considering filing for divorce, or those who are responding to a divorce complaint, seek legal counsel if they are able to do so.
According to U.S. News & World Report, New Jersey had the 7th-lowest divorce rate in the nation, at 6.3% divorced women per 1,000 married individuals immediately before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019. This stat places New Jersey as the sixth state with the lowest divorce rate in the United States. Please keep in mind the average length of marriage prior to a divorce is eight years, according to the U.S. Census.
Why Do Couples Not Divorce in New Jersey?
There could be many reasons people tend to stay together. In my experience, it’s often because it is too expensive to divorce in New Jersey, as it is one of the top ten most expensive states to live in. By the time people consider divorce, their lives are so intertwined financially that without a prenuptial agreement, it will hurt someone financially. Please review my article regarding prenups here for greater insight into why prenuptial agreements make sense even without substantial marital assets.
People also stay together because of their children. Without question, divorce takes a toll on children mentally. The good news is that the anxiety, self-esteem, and other issues kids tend to deal with during a divorce do not have to be permanent if done correctly.
How Long Will a Divorce Take?
I am going to be 100% honest with you. A divorce in New Jersey could easily take one to two years; in some of the most heinous cases, it may even take three years. Like any tough process, you need to remember your “why” when considering a divorce. For most people, the reason for divorce is simple: Freedom. The priceless notion of freedom to be themselves again is worth more to them than staying married.
How Can I Speed Up Getting a Divorce in New Jersey?
In my opinion, the number one way to speed up the divorce process is by getting a good lawyer. Now you may be thinking, “I can figure this out; it should not be that hard.” Or “I saw one of my friends do it, they had a simple case like me, so I can do it.” Without a doubt, I am confident you could figure out how to get divorced. However, it’s not so much what you know as it is what you do not know that can complicate and extend the process. Please bear in mind the court staff is very limited in what they can and cannot do.
The following is a list from the New Jersey judiciary of some things the court staff can and cannot do for you. Please read it carefully before asking the court staff for help.
New Jersey judiciary court staff
- Can explain and answer questions about how the court works
- Can tell you the requirements to have your case considered by the court
- Can give you some information from your case file
- Can provide you with samples of court forms that are available
- Can provide you with guidance on how to fill out forms
- Can usually answer questions about court deadlines
- Cannot give you legal advice. Only your lawyer can give you legal advice
- Cannot tell you whether or not to bring your case to court
- Cannot give you an opinion about what will happen if you bring your case to court
- Cannot recommend a lawyer, but can provide you with the telephone number of a local lawyer referral service
- Cannot talk to the judge for you about what will happen in your case
- Cannot let you speak to the judge outside of court
- Cannot change an order issued by a judge
I cannot tell you how many people I have spoken to that got terrible legal advice from a police officer, a “friend who worked at a law firm,” someone they knew who got a divorce in New Jersey before, et cetera. You need someone who goes to court day in and day out, practices law, and is familiar with your county to give you legal advice.
Next, please understand that even the greatest lawyers cannot control who you are divorcing. While it is comforting to know that less than ten percent of cases do not go to trial, you may be among the unfortunate few who will have to stay married throughout the divorce process. They endure the awkwardness of wanting to settle a divorce case with someone who is in no hurry to move on with their life. It is emotionally exhausting, which is why divorces can be frustrating. The good news is that if you know the type of person you are dealing with, you can expect and plan your life around dealing with this reality.
If you and your spouse are eager to move on with your lives, divorce in New Jersey should not take two to three months. Yes, this is even in the post-COVID judiciary backlog. If done correctly, where all hands are on deck, even in the seemingly most complicated cases, the right lawyer can move the case along. Now, I am not saying to rush the process because that is how mistakes are made. A good lawyer will thoroughly know what to watch out for and will guide you so that YOU can be decisive and confident in your position.
How Much Does a Divorce in New Jersey Cost?
t is essential to understand the type of person you are dealing with so that you can have a “lean” divorce. Find a lawyer who can trim the fat off your case and get right to the bottom line.
If you or someone you know are interested in a consultation, please contact us, or call A. Brown Esq. LLC. at 973-281-2388. We routinely help individuals with divorce in New Jersey and pride ourselves on making it an affordable, swift process.