Just as every marriage is different, so is every divorce.
Before you file for a divorce, make sure you are a New Jersey resident for at least the last year. For New Jersey to have jurisdiction over your children, they will have had to lived in the state for at least the past six (6) months. If filing under the no-fault ground of Irreconcilable Differences in New Jersey, they must have existed for at least six (6) months prior to the filing of the Complaint for Divorce.
In New Jersey, there is no waiting period to proceed with your divorce once the Complaint for Divorce has been filed. Within sixty (60) days of receiving your filed Complaint for Divorce from the Court, your spouse must be served. Upon serving your spouse, he or she has thirty-five (35) days to file an Answer and Counterclaim or a Notice of Appearance. If your spouse fails to file either, you may be defaulted by the Court.
If you and your spouse cannot come to a custody agreement, you will be scheduled to attend parenting time mediation at the Courthouse. This is a free mediation service offered by the New Jersey Courts. The Court will also schedule an Early Settlement Panel or ESP, which is another free mediation service offered by the Court, where two to three experienced matrimonial attorneys will offer advice on guidance in resolving the outstanding financial issues in your matter.
While the above is ongoing and keeps the momentum in your matter going, you and your spouse can still work to resolve all of your outstanding issues without Court intervention. Your respective attorneys can help facilitate the settlement communications. You can also attempt to settle your matter through settlement conferences or private mediation.
A divorce gets complex, if it involves a lot of real property, business transactions, and a more than prickly custody battle. This means more money spent on legal and expert fees, also more filings. That is why each party must communicate honestly and cooperate to avoid running up these kinds of cost.
Divorces can usually take from six months to years. It all depends on how well you and your spouse communicate and get along or how reasonable their respective positions are. Be careful that you and your spouse do not get into a tense, conflict-ridden divorce. It will only harm the children, if you have them. Do not be unreasonable or act out of spite or revenge. It undermines the divorce process. The takeaway is to be reasonable and cooperative to preserve family harmony and estate value.