Morristown, NJ Divorce Lawyers Offer Mediated and Litigated Solutions
Our goal at Smith & Doran, P.C. is to navigate divorce with dignity
Some couples can agree on child custody, division of property and spousal support with the help of a divorce mediator. For others, an amicable settlement isn’t possible. Even if a divorce is inevitably headed for court, the conflict and emotional trauma that often comes with litigation can still be minimized.
At the law offices of Smith & Doran, P.C. in Morristown, we believe that by explaining the process, educating and counseling our clients, and being there when our clients need us, we have a calming effect on the situation. Jane Ellen Doran, who heads our family law practice, has nearly three decades of experience as a divorce lawyer in New Jersey. All of our family practice lawyers focus on compassion, communication and effective representation. Together, we can help get you through this situation.
How divorce works in New Jersey
There are two types of divorce in the Garden State:
- Uncontested divorce or no-fault divorce: In an uncontested divorce, a mediator facilitates negotiations and helps spouses come to an agreement. At Smith & Doran, P.C. we will help you review your legal rights and obligations to ensure you understand the mediated agreement. We will also help you draft a comprehensive Marital Settlement Agreement based upon your mediated agreement. In addition to a mediated divorce, couples may also choose either a collaborative law process or binding arbitration. A 2007 law eased the requirements for a no-fault divorce, requiring only a claim of irreconcilable differences and with no 18-month separation requirement.
- Contested divorce: When the parties are unable to agree to a settlement, the court resolves the issues for them. It is common for a contested divorce to eventually be resolved through a negotiated settlement.
In a contested divorce, one spouse files a complaint for divorce and serves a summons. Within 35 days, the spouse receiving the summons must respond to the complaint. This is the start of a litigated divorce.
As part of our representation, we’ll review your finances, your family situation and other issues to determine how best to proceed. Our experience allows us to assist in the most complex of divorce cases, where there may be numerous assets, from 401(k)s and investments in software companies to ownership of estate homes in Chatham, Basking Ridge or Bernardsville. Our goal is to make certain that, you, as our client, emerge from the divorce process in the best position to grow and continue the rest of your life.
What is the process for a litigated, contested divorce?
There are many steps leading up to trial. These include the completion of case information statements, in which both parties exchange lists of their income, expenses, liabilities and assets. The case then moves into the discovery phase. During discovery, each party hands over requested documents and may be required to answer written questions called interrogatories. You also may be questioned under oath by your spouse’s attorney. This is called a deposition.
A next step is the early settlement panel, which is composed of volunteer attorneys. They help the court settle divorce cases by hearing the spouses and their attorneys and making a settlement recommendation. Many divorce cases are settled at this stage and do not go to trial.
If a settlement is still not reached, a hearing is set to address issues surrounding finances and parenting. If your case does go to trial, the judge listens to the facts and makes a ruling based on the evidence and the law.
The vast majority of divorces are resolved before trial, saving you the time, money and the emotional toll of going through a process that may take many months to complete. The decision on how to proceed is yours. At Smith & Doran, P.C. we provide experience in mediation, collaborative law and litigation and we discuss all your options so you can choose the course that’s best for you.
We are not just your divorce lawyers, we are your advocates
As family law attorneys with deep roots in New Jersey, we understand the courts and the process. We will counsel, educate and work with you to achieve your goals. More important, we understand that you need somebody who will stand up for you, your rights and the best interests of your children. To discuss your situation, contact us online or call us at [phone].
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