My husband and I are starting the process of divorce in NJ. We're planning to file a no-fault divorce citing irreconcilable differences, uncontested. We are already in agreement on what assets to split but I'm overwhelmed with where to start from a legal process. Is filing the paperwork an easy thing to do that I can handle on my own or would it be better to have an attorney file for us to keep track of everything? I'm just not sure where to start and need some guidance.
The process can be confusing and a little daunting. I would consider at least having a consultation with a family law attorney in your area (you will be filing in the county where you reside). Many offer free consultations.
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I agree with Ms. Weinberger. There are forms already available either at the Hudson County courthouse or online at NJ Courts Online under the Family Law section. But aside from the filing of the complaint and answer (and an answer isn't necessarily required), you may want to formalize your agreement regarding the division of assets. Sometimes there might be issues you are unaware of like how to handle debts, possible assets, things like filing your tax returns and so on, that might be better left to at least a consultation with a family law attorney.
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You cannot have one attorney file for "us" (both parties). One big question is whether or not this is actually going to be an uncontested divorce. You are off to a good start if you and your spouse really are in agreement about how to divide things up (that includes assets, as well as debts; there could be other issues involving the two of you such as alimony and health care, to name but a few, and if you have any children then there are several other issues involved as well). Best thing you can do is to go to an attorney and have a consultation so that attorney can identify the issues that pertain to your situation. Once these issues are identified, the next step is to find out how you intend to have all these issues resolved. A Property Settlement Agreement (PSA) can then be drafted, your attorney can review it with you to make sure you approve it, and then it can be sent out to the other party. If the other party signs the PSA (signature must be notarized), then you sign it, and you have an enforceable PSA that can be attached as an exhibit to a Complaint for Divorce to prove that this is actually an uncontested divorce. You would be best served by obtaining an experienced Family Law attorney to represent you. Good luck to you.
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It's great that your husband and you have agreed to use irreconcilable differences as the grounds for your divorce, and that you are already in agreement on what assets to split.
The two of you need to have a well-drafted Marital Settlement Agreement, which comprehensively and properly resolves (among other things): (1) alimony (even if neither of you will be getting alimony) and (2) the equitable distribution of both your assets and any liabilities. If the two of you have any children, the Marital Settlement Agreement also needs to resolve child custody, parenting time and child support.
To do all of this--and then to properly prepare, file and serve a Complaint for Divorce, and to put through the divorce on an uncontested basis, you need more than just a "free consultation." it would definitely be a wise investment for you to retain an attorney who has many years of experience and devotes his/her entire practice to NJ Divorce and Family Law matters.
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The divorce process is confusing to one not familiar with court procedure, and although the Hudson County court staff can give you "procedural assistance," they cannot give you legal advice. It's always better to do it right the first time! It's the things that aren't done correctly - or at all - that come back to haunt you. Even if you don't hire an attorney, it would be well worth your while to consult with an experienced matrimonial attorney.
It is not possible for one attorney to represent both of you. However, one attorney can be retained to represent one party. That attorney can prepare the requisite paperwork (including a written Marital Settlement Agreement) incorporating your agreement on all issues and send it to the other spouse. Splitting up assets may only be one aspect of the issues that need to be resolved. Every case is fact sensitive. It is critical to understand, however, that the attorney retained will only have allegiance to one party. The other party should seek counsel as he or she deems appropriate. There are forms online as one person has already noted. There is no requirement to have legal counsel. It is, in my opinion, highly recommended.
The response does not create or establish an attorney/client relationship. The information provided is only intended to be general and brief. No case-specific advice is to be inferred from my response. Further, I am only licensed to practice law in the State of New Jersey and any comments made by me should not be interpreted as providing legal advice related to or any other jurisdiction.
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