Divorce and family law is a field of law that deals with several issues including spouses, children, domestic partners, unmarried couples, same-sex partners and married couples. These cases are not only highly complex but are more often than not emotionally charged because of the subject matter. That is why Attorneys Judy Lansing and Eric Hannum believe family law cases are the most difficult, yet most rewarding areas of law. Only a strong yet compassionate lawyer can competently handle a family law matter and achieve the best resolution for the client.

Common Family Law Cases

At Lansing and Hannum, LLC our experienced family law attorneys assist clients throughout the State of New Jersey in all types of family court cases, including:

  • Divorce
  • Alimony
  • Equitable Distribution
  • Child Custody
  • Paternity Actions
  • Post Judgment Modifications
  • Prenuptial Agreements
  • Postnuptial Agreements
  • Relocation
  • Shared Parenting Time
  • Collaborative Law
  • Mediation
  • Grandparents’ Rights
  • Marital Settlement Agreements
  • Property Settlement Agreements
  • Domestic Violence Trials
  • Temporary Restraining Orders
  • Final Restraining Orders

All of these cases can cause a great deal of emotional trauma and financial difficulties for all parties involved. That is why our firm is dedicated to providing the guidance and representation our clients need from their family lawyer.

DIVORCE IN DETAIL

The team at Lansing and Hannum are here to handle your divorce.  We fully understand that that issues surrounding divorce such as alimony, the best interests of the children, custody, parenting time, child support and equitable distribution can be emotionally and financially draining.

We also know that choosing the right firm can make all the difference.  Our family law attorneys have earned the respect of our clients and the courts time and time again as more than half of our clients are referred by relatives, friends, co-workers and other attorneys.  We practice in all of New Jersey’s 21 counties with a primary focus in Ocean, Monmouth, Burlington Mercer and Middlesex counties.

We know that it can be a difficult time and many questions need to be answered when you are thinking about divorcing a spouse.  How long will it take to get divorced? How do I enforce a Court Order?  How much will it cost for you to represent me? Is the mother/father of my children allowed to stop me from seeing my children? Am I entitled to alimony?   Is there such a thing as legal separation?

One of the leading questions asked by many of our clients is can my husband/wife tell me that they refuse to get divorced?  Simply stated, everyone has the right to get divorced.

GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE

New Jersey requires that when the Complaint for Divorce is filed, it will include the reasons (grounds) for the divorce and additionally show that either spouse was a resident of the State of New Jersey for at least one (1) year prior to filing. New Jersey recognizes the following grounds:

Adultery
  • One spouse rejects the other by engaging in a personal relationship with any other person irrespective of sexual acts performed.
  • Plaintiff must state the name of the person with whom the offending conduct was committed.
Extreme Cruelty
  • Any physical or mental cruelty which makes it unreasonable and/or improper to expect that individual to cohabitate with their spouse.
Drug Addiction
  • Dependency on a narcotic or controlled, dangerous substance.
  • Can also include habitual drunkenness for a period of 12 or more consecutive months (immediately following the filing of the complaint).
  • Evidence must show:
  • Use of alcohol/ drugs was persistent and substantial.
Desertion
  • Willful and continuous desertion by one party for 12 or more months.
  • Reasonable proof that the parties ceased to cohabit (live as ) Husband and Wife constitutes desertion.
  • All parties must live in the same residence.
  • Desertion may be used as a ground after 12 or more months of a lack of sexual relations.
Irreconcilable Differences
  • The differences caused the breakdown of a marriage for 6 or more months prior to filing your complaint for divorce.
  • Separation not necessary.
  • Legal requirements to file under Irreconcilable Differences:
  • Both Husband and Wife must have resided in NJ for 12 consecutive       months before filing the Complaint for Divorce.
  • Must have experienced irreconcilable differences for 6 months prior to filing the Complaint for Divorce.
18 Month Separation
  • Husband and Wife must have lived separately in different houses at least 18 consecutive months.
  • No reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
Felony Conviction Or Imprisonment
  • Spouse has been imprisoned/ incarcerated for 18 or more months after the marriage.
  • parties cannot resume cohabitation after the imprisonment.
Deviant Sexual Conduct
  • defendant engages in deviant sexual behavior with out consent of plaintiff/spouse.

Divorce Timeline

Jurisdiction:

  • NJ Superior Court has jurisdiction over all causes of action for Divorce.
  • when either person is a resident of NJ at the time the action is started and have been a resident for 12 or more months.

Filing of Complaint:

  • filing of divorce starts the Divorce proceedings.
  • Complaint for divorce is filed in the county in which the plaintiff lived.

If plaintiff was not residing in NJ , then it would be filed in the county in which the defendant was living in.

Case Management Conference:

  • Scheduled by the Court thirty days after the last pleading is filed.
  • May be held via telephone conference or by Consent Order if necessary.
  • The purpose of the Case Management Conference is to address the timeliness of discovery and to determine if a trial date is necessary.
  • Non complicated Divorce cases often can be settled at the Case Management Conference with the assistance of the Judge.
  • If there are any custody issues in the Divorce, the Court will schedule a Child Custody Mediation date for the parties.

Discovery:

  • One of the most important parts of the divorce process.
  • Allows the parties to determine what assets they each have and what assets are a part of the marital estate.
  • Discovery includes interrogatories, depositions, production of documents, requests for admissions and copies of documents.

Request to Enter a Divorce by Default:

  • The defendant does not file an answer or an appearance to the Complaint for Divorce within the time prescribed by the Court.
  • Request for Default is governed by R. 4:43 and requires that the party requesting the default to make a formal written request for the entry of the default which must be supported by the attorney’s affidavit.
  • The attorney’s affidavit must state the manner of service of the Complaint for Divorce upon the defendant, date of service, and state that the time prescribed by the Court for the defendant to answer has lapsed.
  • Notice to request default must be filed within six months of the default.
  • If the plaintiff is seeking equitable distribution, alimony, child support or any other relief, an application for equitable distribution must also be filed.
  • The application for equitable distribution must be served upon the defendant twenty days prior to the hearing date.
  • The following must be included in the application for equitable distribution:
    1. Notice of the trial date.
    2. Statement of the value of each asset
    3. Amount of debt to be distributed.
    4. Proposal for distribution.
    5. Statement whether the plaintiff is seeking alimony and or child support and the amounts.
    6. Statement of any other relief sought.
  • Although a request for default has been entered, the plaintiff must still attend Court to obtain a divorce by entry of default.

Early Settlement Program (ESP):

  • A part of the alternative dispute resolution program.
  • Handles the financial and the distribution of property in a divorce.
  • The goal of ESP is to attempt to have the parties to settle all issues in dispute in their divorce in an efficient manner
  • Composed of family law attorneys. They are also known as panelists.
  • The panelists will hear both sides of the divorce and will then review the supporting documents.
  • The parties’ attorneys are required to draft an ESP memo which outlines all the issues in the divorce.
  • After listening to both sides, the panelists will make a settlement recommendation regarding the divorce.
  • Once the panelists make their recommendations, the parties have the option of either using the recommended settlement or not.
  • If the parties choose to use the recommended settlement, the divorce will then be placed on the record before the judge and will be divorced that same day.
  • If the parties choose not to take the recommended settlement, the divorce process will continue.

Divorce Trial:

  • Scheduled if the parties cannot reach a settlement during ESP or mediation.
  • Assigned two or more dates also known as settlement conferences.
  • At the settlement conferences, the judge will attempt to help the parties settle all issues in dispute.
  • If the settlement conferences are unsuccessful, then the divorce will be tried.
  • Divorce trials can be lengthy and very costly.
  • Generally most divorce trials are set for six months after the settlement conferences.

The team at Lansing and Hannum are here to help. If you are seeking hardworking, dedicated and knowledgeable attorneys, we encourage you to contact our office so we can discuss your unique issues and concerns.  We offer free initial phone or in person consultations and all discussions are confidential.