Contesting a Divorce in New Jersey

By New Jersey Divorce Lawyer Santo V. Artusa, Jr., Esq. 

Abbreviated Guide to Contesting A Divorce in New Jersey

Important Points and Questions

If you spouse files for divorce in New Jersey and you have been served with divorce papers in NJ or New Jersey Divorce Papers in another state, you have 35 days to respond IN WRITING or a default will be entered against you.

While you may want a divorce in the Family Court in NJ (dissolution of marriage), you may not agree with what the Plaintiff is seeking. It is important to submit these papers (an answer, answer and counterclaim or an appearance) on time.

For instance, you may not agree with demands such as the following:

  • Alimony Demands/Spousal Support
  • Sole Legal Custody of the Children
  • Sole Physical Custody
  • Payment of the Plaintiff's Counsel Fees
  • A NJ child support amount you do not agree with
  • Relocating a child out of State
  • Equitable Distribution of Assets

Does it matter if I am a Plaintiff or Defendant in family law?

First, there is no difference in being a Plaintiff or Defendant in Family Court. In actuality, I believe it is better to be a defendant and that there are advantages to being a defendant in family court. As a divorce lawyer in NJ I have successfully represented both plaintiffs and defendants in the New Jersey Family Courts.

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Why Can it Better to be a Defendant in the New Jersey Family Court?  

If you go to trial, the Plaintiff has to start the case and show all of his or her cards. With that, you can adjust your game plan to have a stronger case. The Plaintiff cannot do that or if they adjust after you do, they will be under time constraints to do so and can only make minor adjustments.

The Plaintiff has the burden of proving their case first

The Plaintiff is asking for sole custody of the children and I do not agree at all. What can I do?

First, we have to submit our answer/opposition indicating what we want.

Second, we negotiate but there will be parenting plan and custody mediation at the court as well to try and resolve this important issue. Physical and legal custody will be explained by your lawyer but by the mediator as well.

The Plaintiff seeks alimony, do I have to pay that?

Not automatically. We have to exchange income information and other important information. Again, alimony claims are just that claims. The spouse must prove the marital lifestyle, standard of living and need. There are many factors when considering an alimony award.

I live in Hudson County and she lives in Essex County, does it matter where the case is filed?

If he or she has lived their for six months or more, the Plaintiff can file there.

The Plaintiff Seeks an Award of Counsel Fees for his or her lawyer, Do I have to Pay That?

If you file an answer, you can fight that as that is not automatic either.

What happens after we submit an answer to the divorce?

Usually 30-45 days after, A Case Management Conference Will Occur Where the lawyers or parties write what the legal issues are. If the parties reach an agreement in writing, the judge can issue a judgment of divorce on that day.

Do we have to go to trial?

No. At anytime during the case we reach an agreement, we can settle it and have a divorce granted.

If I agree to alimony or a certain amount of child support payments and make less money in the future, do I have to pay the same amount?

It depends on the difference in income. Either way, to change it you need to file a motion or reach an agreement in writing to reduce it. The sooner you do so, the better.

How long can a divorce take in NJ?

Can take 30 days to a year or more.

So if you face a divorce and have been served New Jersey divorce papers from your spouse, contact my law office in Jersey City for a free consultation to discuss your matter in full confidence. We can be reached on (201) 228-9815 Monday through Saturday by phone or business text.

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