Tanya L. Freeman

Divorce: We Help You Transition Confidently Out of Your Marriage

By Tanya L. Freeman, Attorney at Law

Tanya L. Freeman wants to help you transition out of your marriage. Our team removes barriers to moving forward, taking on the legal and administrative responsibilities of divorce while you focus on your wellbeing.

We know that every divorce is different, so we listen closely to you and customize a strategy that fits your unique situation and your goals for life after your marriage. Whether your divorce is amicable or contentious, complex or high-profile, you deserve experienced legal advocates who strategize tirelessly on your behalf.

Tanya L. Freeman focuses her practice on:

  • High-profile and complex divorces

  • Child support and child custody

  • Alimony or spousal support

  • Negotiation, mediation, and arbitration

  • LGBTQ+ divorces

  • Division of marital assets

Even in the case of an amicable divorce, having a lawyer helps you understand your rights under the law and gives you confidence about the terms of your divorce settlement. We believe everyone deserves to move on from divorce with an experienced team by their side. Work with us because we want the best for you and we know how to make it happen.

For a No-obligation Consultation

Learn about Divorce in New Jersey

Separation and divorce are emotionally taxing processes. Normal emotions like anger, grief, anxiety, and fear are released when a marriage dissolves. Even if talking to your soon-to-be ex-spouse is the last thing you want to do, cooperation and communication make divorce better for both of you. You can divorce without a lawyer, but the process is complicated from a legal standpoint. Going at it alone could be challenging, especially if your spouse has legal counsel.

Tanya L. Freeman, Attorney At Law, represents the client’s rights while handling the divorce’s pertinent financial and parenting concerns. We thoroughly go over the legislation and your legal options with you. People who seek to obtain a divorce without the assistance of a lawyer find it more challenging due to the complexity of the legal process, which entails a lot of paperwork, waiting periods, and form-filling requirements. Let us help you get a fair divorce while maintaining a good relationship with your family.

We're here to guide you through the legal process.

What You Need to Know About Divorce in
New Jersey

Divorce Options

If you have concluded that going through a divorce is the best course of action for you, it’s exceedingly important to understand the legal process in New Jersey thoroughly. Fortunately, there are different alternatives available to you in the state.

1. Uncontested Divorce

This type of no-fault divorce allows you and your spouse to terminate your marriage with less tension and conflict. If you’re interested in pursuing a cost-effective and peaceful way to divorce in New Jersey, it’s certainly worth familiarizing yourself with this type of divorce. Even if your issues are complicated, it’s possible to have a no-fault divorce in New Jersey if both parties are willing to work together, communicate effectively, and act rationally.

To achieve an uncontested divorce in New Jersey, both you and your spouse will need to agree on all outstanding issues. During the process of a divorce, it is crucial to address several important issues that require careful consideration. These issues include alimony, child custody, child support, and the fair division of all marital assets. When dividing marital property in a divorce, assets to be considered include your home, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and business interests.

2. Contested Divorce

In a contested divorce, both parties are unable to come to an agreement on the terms of their divorce. These particular issues may be straightforward, but the parties involved may not be able to agree on how to solve them. As a result, some or all of the decisions pertaining to divorce must be made by a judge. 

We acknowledge that going through a divorce in New Jersey can be a complicated process. It involves taking into account both legal and emotional aspects. Decisions that affect your children, assets, and future require careful deliberation and planning. Therefore, it is crucial to have skilled contested divorce lawyers evaluate all aspects of your divorce case to determine the best possible course of action.

3. Alternative Dispute Resolution

In the State of New Jersey, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) allows disputing parties to settle their differences outside the courtroom. It aims to reduce litigation costs and speed up the resolution process. These are the various types of alternative dispute resolution available in New Jersey:

  • Negotiation

Negotiation allows all parties involved to meet and quickly reach an amicable agreement. It is often the leading method of dispute resolution in New Jersey. Through constructive discussions and negotiations, you and your partner can assume control over the process of divorce. This enables you to make pivotal determinations concerning essential issues such as financial support for your children, custody arrangements, spousal support, as well as the equitable division of assets and liabilities.

  • Mediation

The purpose of mediation is to attain a harmonious resolution to conflicts that arise during a divorce. Qualified mediators help reach an amicable settlement by using skillful negotiating methods. Unlike litigation, mediation allows for a more open and communicative environment where both parties can express their concerns and work together to find a mutually agreeable solution. Mediation can be especially beneficial in cases involving children, as it allows for a more child-centric approach to decision-making. Overall, mediation offers a more constructive and less adversarial approach to resolving legal disputes in the realm of family law.

  • Collaborative Divorce

When going through a divorce, it’s important to consider the best approach for resolving conflicts. A low-conflict collaborative method prioritizes healing and involves both parties forming a team with trained divorce attorneys, financial advisors, and child custody specialists. By working together, the team aims to achieve positive outcomes for both parties and their children without any major conflicts. This approach can lead to a more amicable separation and a smoother transition for everyone involved.

  • Arbitration

Arbitration can be a solution for couples who cannot reach an agreement through negotiation. This method is similar to a trial but with simplified rules of evidence. In New Jersey, an arbitrator, agreed upon by both sides, is responsible for making the final decision. While it limits your control during a divorce, arbitration can be a more cost-effective solution compared to lengthy court battles.

It’s crucial to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each approach before making a decision, and consulting with a legal professional can provide valuable insight.

Grounds for Filing a Divorce

The state of New Jersey is a no-fault divorce state. This means that neither party must establish guilt or misconduct in order to be granted a divorce. Irreconcilable differences, defined as a breakdown in the marriage that cannot be remedied, are the most common grounds for divorce in New Jersey. This is frequently referred to as “irreconcilable differences,” which is a “no-fault” reason for divorce.

Nevertheless, New Jersey recognizes a number of additional grounds for divorce, including:

  • Adultery

If one spouse has proof that the other committed adultery, the injured spouse can file for divorce on the grounds of adultery. Acceptable forms of evidence of adultery include witness testimony and photographs.

  • Desertion

Desertion is another ground for divorce in New Jersey. It occurs when one spouse abandons the other for a continuous period of at least 12 months without justification. The abandoned spouse must be able to prove that the other spouse intended to end the marriage and did not provide any support or communication during the 12-month period.

  • Extreme Cruelty

This refers to physical or mental cruelty that endangers the health or safety of the injured spouse. Examples of extreme cruelty may include physical abuse, verbal abuse, or emotional abuse. The injured spouse must be able to prove that the cruelty was severe and ongoing, and that it caused them to fear for their safety or wellbeing. If the injured spouse can prove these claims, they may file for divorce on the grounds of extreme cruelty.

  • Separation

It occurs when the spouses have been living separately and apart for at least 18 consecutive months with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. This means that both spouses have been living apart from each other and have not engaged in any sexual activity or attempted to reconcile during the 18-month period.

The concept of separation can be tricky in New Jersey divorce cases because it requires a physical separation between the spouses. Merely living in separate bedrooms in the same house may not qualify as a legal separation. Additionally, if the spouses engage in sexual activity or attempt to reconcile during the 18-month period, the clock will reset, and a new 18-month period must begin before the spouse can file for divorce on the grounds of separation.

  • Irreconcilable Differences

The state of New Jersey made a significant change to the laws surrounding divorce. In 2007, they included “irreconcilable differences” as grounds for divorce, which is commonly referred to as a “no fault” reason. This change followed the example of many other states and permitted couples seeking divorce to pursue legal proceedings in a more peaceful manner. It eliminated the need for specific allegations that could lead to a more contentious divorce. Essentially, the term irreconcilable differences means that the marriage has broken down, and this situation has persisted for a minimum of six months.

What are the Expectations During the Divorce Process?

Any divorce is difficult and stressful, no matter the reasons. After all, you must go through a complex legal process and emotional and financial challenges. Although no two divorce cases are the same, most go as follows:

1. Filing Divorce Documents

A divorce petition is the first step in the divorce procedure. One spouse—the petitioner—must submit a formal petition to the court asking the court to dissolve the marriage, whether or not the other spouse consents to the divorce. Both parties are required to pay a filing fee. The following must be included in the petition:

  • A Statement That at Least One Partner Has Met the State’s Residency Criteria to Obtain a Divorce

Most states require that at least one spouse reside there for a minimum of ten days to six months in the county where the petition is filed and for a minimum of three to twelve months in the state. Therefore, before the court accepts the case, the spouses must meet the state’s residency requirementst

  • A Valid Cause of Divorce

Depending on your state, you may petition for an at-fault or no-fault divorce. The reasons for blame are adultery, abandonment, impotence, infertility, criminal record, emotional or physical abuse, substance abuse, and mental illness. On the contrary, irreconcilable conflicts, incompatibility, and irreparable breakdowns are examples of no-fault causes.

2. Apply for Temporary Judicial Orders

The courts are aware that it may not be practical to wait months for a divorce decision in some situations, such as when a stay-at-home parent is raising the children and is financially dependent on their spouse. Therefore, when you file for parental divorce, you can ask the court for temporary rules governing child custody, child support, and spousal maintenance.

After you petition for a temporary order, the court will hold a hearing, hear both spouses’ testimony, and decide. The temporary order is typically made quickly by the judge. It is in place until the divorce is finalized or the court makes another judgment.

3. Submit the Proof of Service

When you file for divorce, you must provide your spouse with a copy of the divorce papers and ask the court for temporary orders. You must also show the court proof of service. This document can demonstrate to the judge that the steps for “serving” a copy of the divorce petition on your spouse were followed. The judge cannot continue your divorce case if you improperly served your spouse and did not present the certificate of service.

This stage could be easy if your husband is on board with the divorce and willing to sign an acknowledgment of service. However, serving the papers can be problematic if your husband opposes the divorce or tries to make the procedure more demanding for you. Working with a skilled attorney who delivers documents to difficult parties is advised.

After obtaining the documents, your spouse, the respondent, has a set period to submit a response to the divorce petition. Inadequate responses may result in a “default” decision, which can be difficult and expensive to change. In addition, the allegations in the petition, the grounds for an at-fault divorce, and the decisions on child custody, property division, spousal support, and similar issues are all subject to challenge by the respondent.

4. Enter into Settlement Talks

You must negotiate a settlement if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse cannot agree on custody, support, and property division. The court may schedule a settlement meeting for you, your spouse, and your attorney(s) to discuss your case. In addition, the court will occasionally schedule mediation sessions with a third-party mediator to resolve any unresolved issues.

Mediation can be a valuable technique to lessen stress, expenditures, and time spent on the divorce process, even though it is not always required. All divorce records are retained in the county courthouse in which the divorce took place. Anyone can access them because they are public records. They are in the courthouse’s records office as well as occasionally in the records office of another county.

5. If Required, Proceed to Trial

If talks go down, the court must intervene, forcing a divorce trial. Trials are usually held in front of judges, though they occasionally take place in front of juries. In every case, evidence and testimony from both parties support the arguments for child custody, child support, property division, and other divorce-related matters.

Before rendering a final and binding decision, the court considers all the testimony and evidence. Remember that divorce cases are expensive, time-consuming, and require extensive planning. Therefore, looking into alternate dispute resolution techniques, including mediation, collaborative divorce, or private arbitration, is typically prudent.

6. Finalize the Judgment

When the judge signs the divorce decree, the procedure is complete, regardless of whether the divorce was amicable or required a trial. The divorce court’s final judgment is contained in this legal document. It ends the marriage and specifies how the assets and debts will be split up and who will be responsible for paying child and spousal support and scheduling parenting time. It is also known as a dissolution order. If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse agree on a settlement, the lawyer for the spouse who initiated the litigation frequently drafts the judgment. But the court will have the final say if the divorce is tried.

What Sets Apart Separate Property From Marital Property?

Only during a divorce may a judge decide how to split up marital assets. Even if only one person used or cared for a piece of property, it may still be regarded as marital property. Before marriage, a person possessed independent property not included in the marital estate. After a divorce, the spouse who got the gift or inheritance will still be the property’s sole owner, also referred to as “separate property.”

Separate property may occasionally become marital property. Separate property may no longer be protected if one spouse improves or raises its value. For instance, a house that a person owned before getting married would be considered separate property. A judge should rule that the house is now marital property if that person’s spouse moves in, contributes to the mortgage payment, and works to preserve the property. An experienced family lawyer could elucidate the distinction between separate and marital property.

What Distinguishes Community Property From Common Law Property?

The state’s property ownership structure determines who gets what in divorce regardless of whether the property is considered separate or marital during a marriage. The two systems are equitable distribution and community property, also called common law. In the event of a divorce, all debts and assets accumulated during a marriage are treated as joint property and distributed equally. The standard law system of property ownership is in force in several states. In these states, the division of marital property and income is done “fairly,” though occasionally not evenly. New Jersey is not a community property state.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Fast Can I Get Divorced in NJ?

The process can conclude in as little as 3-6 months if you have no problems (such as no children, property, or debts). However, if you and your husband cannot come to a compromise because of complex concerns, it could take up to 14 months or longer to finalize your divorce.

What is the Easiest Way to Get a Divorce in NJ?

An uncontested divorce is the most straightforward process because it allows you and your spouse to agree on the split of your assets and, if you have children, the arrangements that will be made for them.

How is a Divorce Finalized in NJ?

When a judge signs a divorce decision and the clerk files it with the court, the divorce is considered final in New Jersey. Copies of the divorce judgment will be given to each party. You can then declare that you are legally divorced at that point.

Your Trusted Divorce Attorney

Tanya L. Freeman, Attorney at Law, is your trusted divorce attorney who helps clients protect their legal rights and improve their lives after the divorce. We have represented and assisted many people from varied backgrounds throughout their judicial proceedings. Given the emotionally charged nature of divorce, we play the role of an objective third party, assisting clients in maintaining composure and striving for the best result possible. Connect with us to schedule a confidential consultation.

Looking for a Divorce Law Firm?
Call Tanya L. Freeman, Attorney at Law
at (973) 939-0100

Tanya L. Freeman, Attorney at Law
100 Eagle Rock Avenue, Suite 105
East Hanover, New Jersey 07936
(973) 939-0100