What is a No-Fault Divorce?

“No-Fault” is a divorce in which the cause of action is irreconcilable differences, and separation for 18-months.

If a husband and wife or partners have lived separate and apart for six months, the can either file for and obtain divorce without being required to offer any evidence of the other’s fault such as adultery or extreme cruelty.

“No-Fault” should not be mistaken for an expedited divorce. The divorce case in many instances will be contested on the issues of custody and visitation of the children, distribution of the assets, alimony, or child support.

What do I do while my case is waiting to be decided or settled?

While your case is pending, the attorneys will collect and exchange information concerning all the various issues which are in dispute.

A very important part of this process will be your obligation, as well as your spouse’s, to collect documents and provide financial information to the Court and to one another.

Once the information has been gathered and exchanged by the parties, the attorneys will attempt to negotiate a legal document called a property settlement agreement which spells out the division of marital property and other financial matters. Negotiations concerning the property settlement agreement may be directly between the attorneys for the parties or in a series of meetings with your spouse and his or her attorney.

If an agreement is reached and signed by both parties, the agreement will then be submitted to the court for approval and made part of the Final Judgment of Divorce.

Will the Court Make Any Temporary Decisions?

In the time between when your case is first filed and the time you will actually get a divorce, there will in many cases be any number of matters which require temporary (Pendente Lite) decisions by the Court. Pendente Lite decisions are made upon written application (you will hear your attorney call this a Motion) to the Court supported by sworn statements (Affidavits) by you and any witnesses that may support your position. After the motion is filed your attorney will appear in court for the purposes of arguing the Motion, the court will not normally take testimony from you or any of your witnesses.

Pendente Lite decisions generally cover:

  • Temporary Custody and Time Sharing Issues;
  • Restraints on the dissipation of assets;
  • Payment of direct expenses for Shelter (Schedule “A”) and Transportation (Schedule “B”);
  • Direct Support (Alimony and/or Child Support) (Don’t forget to address the taxability of any alimony or unallocated payments);
  • Maintenance of medical and life insurance;
  • Payment of unreimbursed health care costs;
  • Payment of marital liabilities;
  • Sole possession of marital home;
  • Sole possession of certain vehicle(s);
  • Maintenance of other assets (e.g., rental or shore properties);
  • Production of discovery (if requirements of R. 1:6-2(c) have been met);
  • Appointment of Experts and Payment of their fees
  • Counsel Fees (both as to the motion and a pendente lite award)

*This is certainly not an exhaustive list.

The pendente lite will stay in effect until the court either makes a final determination of the case at the time of final hearing or alters its temporary decision on the subsequent Pendente Lite applications by you or your spouse.

How much will my Alimony be? Child Support?

Alimony and child support are calculated and decided differently from one another. Alimony is the amount of support which you personally will receive or which you may have to pay for the support of your spouse. Child support is the amount of support which is allocated to the children and their needs.

A. Alimony: The length of time your receive alimony and amount of the alimony likely will be an issue in your case. Alimony may be permanent (until death or remarriage) or for a fixed term of years depending upon the facts of your case. Generally alimony will be based on:

  • The Actual Need and Ability of the Parties to Pay
  • The Duration of the Marriage
  • The Age, Physical and Emotional Health of the Parties
  • The Standard of Living Established in the Marriage and the Likelihood That Each Party Can Maintain a Reasonably Comparable Standard of Living
  • The Earning Capacities, Educational Levels, Vocational Skills, and Employability of the Parties
  • The Length of Absence From the Job Market and Custodial Responsibilities For Children of the Party Seeking Maintenance
  • The Time and Expense Necessary to Acquire Sufficient Education or Training to Enable the Party Seeking Maintenance to Find Appropriate Employment, the Availability of the Training and Employment, and the Opportunity for Future Acquisitions of Capital Assets and Income
  • The History of the Financial or Non-Financial Contributions to the Marriage by Each Party Including Contributions to the Care and Education of the Children and Interruption of Personal Careers or Educational Opportunities
  • The Equitable Distribution of Property Ordered and Any Payouts on Equitable Distribution, Directly or Indirectly, Out of Current Income, to the Extent This Consideration is Reasonable, Just and Fair
  • Any Other Factors Which the Court May Deem Relevant.

B. Child Support: New Jersey has Child Support Guidelines which, in the majority of cases will determine the amount of child support. Your attorney will explain to you how alimony and child support differ in their legal implications and tax ramifications; your attorney will explain these differences to you as your case progresses.

How effective is the stay?

The automatic stay takes effect immediately upon the filing of a bankruptcy petition, and regardless of any formal notice by the court or actual knowledge on the part of the creditor. The consequences of violating the stay may vary depending on the actual knowledge by the transgressor.

Is the stay permanent?

The automatic stay is not intended as a permanent or immutable bar. The basic purpose of the stay is to provide a temporary relief to the debtor in order to permit an orderly reorganization or liquidation of the assets without the disruptive and inequitable results of allowing a race of diligence between creditors. As opposed to the discharge, the stay is intended to affect rights on a temporary and procedural basis.

Can I negotiate stay relief with the debtor or trustee?

Yes, but then remember that your only relief will be against any insurance policies available to cover your claim. . Many Chapter 7 trustees will consent to lift the bankruptcy stay if the plaintiff waives its claim against the bankruptcy estate and limits recovery to available insurance. Before making a decision to waive a claim, you must know if there is insurance coverage. If you cannot negotiate an order, you will need to file a motion with the bankruptcy court to obtain an order to lift the bankruptcy stay.

How much income will I receive if approved?

The client always wants to know the bottom line (how much am I going to get) and the simplest answer is that what a client might potentially receive in social security disability income is equivalent to what they would receive at retirement age. This is because the entire purpose of the SSDI (social security disability insurance) program is to allow individuals who have become insured for SSDI benefits to receive them early if they become disabled and unable to work.

Do I need an attorney to file bankruptcy?

Our Monmouth County bankruptcy attorneys have years of handling bankruptcy cases. There are many things to consider when filing bankruptcy. Therefore, it is important that you have competent legal counsel guide you when filing. Our Monmouth county bankruptcy lawyers can help you decide which chapter to file under the Bankruptcy Code. Which exemptions should be used to help you maintain protected assets. These are just a few among many other important financial decisions which must be made when filing for bankruptcy.