Divorce is a long and often expensive process that can leave both parties exhausted – and very ready to get it over with. Yet so-called “quickie divorces” aren’t generally advisable (hastily-drawn divorce papers will likely come back to bite both of you). Still, our East Brunswick divorce lawyers know there are several ways parting couples can speed things up.
As noted in a Reader’s Digest article, one bit of good news is that New Jersey courts are comparatively faster in granting divorce than many others. The typical benchmark cited by most divorce lawyers is one year from filing to decree. However, it could be over much sooner if the decision to split is mutual and you both agree on all legal matters. Couples that had a relatively short marriage, no children and few financial entanglements could see their divorce resolved within just a few months.
It is when issues are contested that it takes much longer to resolve. Commonly contested matters include child custody and support, property division and alimony.
But even for those with a more complex situation, there may be several ways to speed up a divorce. They include:
- Opting for a “no-fault” divorce.
- Keeping the lines of communication open.
- Avoiding needless battles.
- Resolving easy battles first.
- Exploring mediation.
Here, we explore these one at a time.
Perhaps the best tool we have for a faster divorce is New Jersey’s “no-fault” divorce law. Grounds for no-fault divorce are based on “irreconcilable differences,” which is just an ostentatious way of saying you can’t get along anymore and there is no reasonable chance you’ll work it out. The causes of action for divorce are listed in N.J.S.A. § 2A:34-2.
Fault-based divorces were intended to discourage any rash decisions that would end a marriage. They may still have some value, particularly when one party is attempting to gain a greater share of certain assets or when there are concerns pertaining to child custody. However, no-fault divorce allows spouses to end their marriage without being forced to expend time and emotional energy on embarrassing public accusations.
New Jersey was one of the last states to adopt an option for no-fault divorce.
Open Lines of Communication.
Even when marriage doesn’t go the way you expected, it’s a good idea if possible to maintain open lines of communication. The problem with refusing to talk with your ex is that it impedes your ability to resolve matters as quickly as possible.
If you are finding this prospect difficult, it might be worth the time and money investment for you (individually or together) to meet a few times with a therapist who can help you carry on calm, productive conversations with each other. This may be especially important if the two of you have children and will need to cooperate on a parenting plan.
Avoid Needless Battles.
Our New Jersey divorce lawyers are always committed to fighting for the rights and best interests of our clients. We do warn, however, that if the goal is an expedited ending, choosing your battles wisely is key.
For example, if both of you are fit parents who live nearby and want to be fully engaged in your child’s life, the court is unlikely to award “full custody” of the child to one or the other. New Jersey parenting time, as outlined in N.J.S.A.§ 9:2-4, most likely will result in a joint custody arrangement. Therefore, fighting for “full custody” may be a needless battle you are best to avoid. We always give our clients cost effective advice and are not here to waste your time or money.
Resolve easy battles first.
The more disputes you can resolve out-of-court, the more control you have over the outcomes – and the faster the rest of your case will proceed. Examine what issues you both agree on, put them in writing, have a lawyer look them over, sign them and then move on to other issues that may require additional negotiation.
If you can get a “yes” on smaller, less consequential issues, the more momentum you may build up to help you work through thornier problems.
Make mediation work.
In New Jersey, divorcing spouses attend court-mandated mediation. There is nothing that says you can’t entirely resolve your divorce through mediation.
While judges are the decision-makers in litigation, in mediation, those involved are the ones in control of outcomes on important issues like debt division, child support, child custody and alimony. Mediation is often less expensive and less time-consuming than litigation.
Another thing to keep in mind is that because the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly slowed the litigation process in New Jersey and beyond, mediation may be much faster. Most mediators were already using Zoom and other secure online conferencing apps (particularly for far-away participants), which has made the transition to all-virtual communications for mediation that much smoother.
Contact us at (732) 810-0034 or email us through our website.