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Bergen County Divorce Lawyer

The decision to divorce is not an easy one to make, and responding to a spouse’s petition for a divorce can be even harder. What spouses need in these times is an experienced Bergen County divorce lawyer who understands the process, all it entails, and what to expect moving forward. That’s why we’re here. 

TMO Law Firm was founded to bring together partners who have over 75 years of combined experience handling New Jersey divorce cases in Bergen County. We guide clients through each stage of the divorce process and deal with issues that come up along the way. 

Call our law office today at (201) 308-0383 or reach out here online. Our service area covers all of Bergen, Passaic, Morris, Essex, and Hudson County, and sweeps up through northern New Jersey. 

What are the Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey?

New Jersey is a no-fault divorce state. This means the petitioning spouse need not provide a reason for why they seek to terminate the marriage. Simply citing “irreconcilable differences” can be enough. 

It is still possible to file on what are called “fault-based” grounds. A spouse can cite grounds that include adultery, addiction, extreme cruelty, and more, as the legal basis for the divorce. A spouse might choose this path to set the framework for a coming discussion on child custody

However, spouses should know that fault alone—even if proven—will not impact the property division. The only way fault impacts the division of debts and assets is if it could be shown that the at-fault spouse’s behavior impacted the value of the total property. An example might be a spouse who spent lavish sums on a partner they were having an affair with. But generally speaking, fault and property division do not cross paths. 

How Much is the Divorce Court Fee in NJ?

The New Jersey family court requires a $300 filing fee to file a divorce complaint. If you are seeking child custody or parenting time, a parenting workshop costs an additional $25 fee. If you are filing an Answer or Counterclaim to a Complaint for Divorce, the filing fee is $175.

There is a way to get out of paying the divorce court fee: you can apply for a fee waiver. To be eligible for a fee waiver, you must have an income at or below 150% of the federal poverty level.

If you are eligible for a fee waiver, you must apply to the court. The application will ask for your income, assets, and expenses. 

You will not have to pay the divorce court fee if your application is approved.

You'll also need to pay for things like:

  • Process server fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Court costs
  • Mediation costs
  • Parenting coordination costs

And if you have a contested divorce, things can get expensive. So, before you file for divorce, it's essential to factor in all potential costs.

Reach out to TMO Law Firm today by calling (201) 308-0383 or by filing out our online contact form. LGBTQ couples welcome. 

Filing & Responding in a New Jersey Divorce Process

A spouse that wishes to file for divorce in the state of New Jersey needs to have resided here for at least 1 year. The extensive paperwork that their Bergen County divorce attorney will handle, includes a statement of Non-Collusion and a Certificate of No Pending Divorce Proceedings. These respective forms verify that nothing fraudulent is being attempted with a third party, and that there no other ongoing legal issues involving the other spouse. Once the divorce is officially filed, the other spouse must be served papers within 30 days. 

The responding spouse then has 35 days to provide a formal answer to the Bergen County court. The response—officially called an Answer—provides the other spouse the vehicle for disputing any claims that were made in the Petition and make clear their intention to speak up regarding property division and other issues traditionally worked out in the settlement. If the other spouse fails to answer in the 35-day window, the Bergen County court has the option of simply granting the divorce. 

In New Jersey, it doesn't matter who files for divorce first. The person who files the complaint first is the plaintiff, and the other spouse is the defendant.

However, there are a few potential benefits to filing for divorce first in NJ:

You Get to Set the Tone for the Divorce. 

  • By filing first, you can present your version of the case to the Bergen County court and your spouse. This strategy can be helpful if you want to control the divorce narrative and avoid being on the defensive.

You Have More Time to Prepare. 

  • Filing for divorce can be a complicated and time-consuming process. By filing first, you give yourself more time to gather your financial documents, research your legal options, and hire a Bergen County family law attorney.

You May Have a Choice of Venue. 

  • In New Jersey, typically, divorce cases are filed in the county where either spouse resides. However, if you file for divorce first, you may have the option to file in a different county if that is more convenient.

Of course, there are also some potential downsides to filing for divorce first. For example, your spouse may be surprised or even angry when served with divorce papers. This example can make it more challenging to have a cooperative and amicable divorce.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to file for divorce first is a personal one. There is no right or wrong answer. It is critical to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks carefully and to make a decision that is best for you and your family.

Can My Spouse Make Me Pay Her Divorce Attorney Fees in NJ?

Short answer: Yes, but it depends.

In New Jersey, the court can order one spouse to pay the other ex-spouse's attorney fees. This law is known as a pendente lite award. The judge will evaluate several factors when determining whether or not to grant a pendente lite award, including:

  • The financial resources of each spouse
  • The ability of each spouse to pay their attorney fees
  • The complexity of the divorce case
  • The needs of the children, if any

If the court finds that one spouse is financially disadvantaged, they may order the other spouse to pay some or all of their attorney fees. This decision ensures that both spouses have equal access to legal representation.

Of course, no two divorces are the same. So, it's impossible to say whether you will be ordered to pay your spouse's attorney fees. If you're concerned about this, you should talk to our experienced divorce lawyers in Bergen County, NJ.

Settlement Issues With a NJ Divorce

When the divorce goes forward, the spouses, and their Bergen County divorce lawyers have much to work out. The division of assets and debts in an equitable manner will be necessary. If there are children involved, plans for child custody and child support have to be put into a legally binding agreement. If the divorce will put one spouse at an economic disadvantage, a spousal support (alimony) plan will have to be negotiated. 

  • “David was fierce yet compassionate in handling my complex case.” - Balaji
  • “Everyone should have a lawyer of this caliber. He wasn't just my ally. He was my hero.” - Elana

    A Time for New Beginnings

    Divorce can be hard, but through that pain can also come the opportunity for a new beginning. TMO Law Firm is here to work out the kind of settlement that can put that new beginning on a solid foundation. 

    Call our Bergen County law office today at (201) 308-0383 or contact us online to set up a consultation. 

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