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Contested or Uncontested?

Rutherford, NJ |

I am filing for a divorce in NJ and originally my husband was in agreement. Now that I have the papers ready to go, he is unwilling to sign them. We were married in December of 2007. I have property from well before the marriage and a 401K that I contributed to both before and during the marriage. I have prepared a property settlement agreement, but now he won't sign it and says that he wants to get an attorney -- but I don't think he's really going to do anything. Can I file a no-fault divorce and indicate that the attached property settlement agreement had been agreed even if he hasn't signed it? Do I have to attach the property settlement agreement with the original filing?

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Attorney answers 3


You should consult with a local divorce attorney before doing anything. Your property settlement agreement is not an agreement that is enforceable unless it is properly signed.


File for divorce, however, attaching an unsigned agreement will carry little weight with the court upon filing. Typically, a divorce complaint is not accompanied by such a document signed or unsigned. As the process proceeds, the court may require you to file a case information statement and at that point you can attach such an agreement. But, again because your spouse is unwilling to sign it may not carry much weight. I would suggest you consult with an attorney about your rights concerning the property acquired before the marriage and the contributions you made to your 401k.


Dear Rutherford,

It is much more likely that No signature = No settlement. Your case is contested until it is settled. Perhaps he wants to stay married so he is delaying trying to avoid the inevitable? You have a very short marriage. If your husband defaults you have to filed a notice for equitable distribution, provide both the court and your ex with a list all the assets and debts and your proposed distribution or settlement terms, provide proof to the court you served him at least 20 days before the hearing (yes this is in addition to the complaint) and hope he does not dispute. If he agrees, you will be divorced, if he disputes and filed his papers etc. your talking another 2 - 12 months, if you proceed properly before you will be divorced. Good luck.

Aniello D. Cerreto, Esq.