Is there such a thing as a “quickie” divorce in New Jersey? Maybe. The answer depends on how you define “quick,” whether your spouse will fully cooperate, and how crowded the court docket may be in any given month.
As it stands right now, in most counties you still have to appear before a Judge and say the magic words in order to actually get divorced. Filing the proper paperwork to get scheduled, obtaining the necessary signatures, and waiting for a hearing date can be time consuming. A few counties have experimentally allowed for the entry of a Final Judgment of Divorce solely on the basis of certified filings, which would eliminate the need to make an appearance and therefore cut down on time, but these are the exception not the rule and none are in South Jersey.
Divorces in general take anywhere from six weeks to more than a year to complete. The quickest possible course would involve cases where there are prior agreements already signed, or where there is no property or children to address. In those instances, one party would file a complaint for divorce and once docketed, “serve” the other party. If that party signs an Acknowledgment of Service and waives his or her right to file any Answer to the Complaint, then the first party can immediately ask for default to be entered. If not, then thirty-five days must pass after service before default can be requested. Once the default papers are filed, the court will schedule a final hearing.
Filing and docketing the original Complaint generally takes about ten days to two weeks. Filing the default papers can take another week or so, then getting the hearing scheduled will usually be another two to four weeks. So, in general, a minimum of six weeks can be expected. If at any point in that process the issues become contested or one party elects not to cooperate, then waiting periods will markedly expand the time frames and all bets are off on getting things done quickly.
The bottom line is that a divorce is a lawsuit and that means due process and notice requirements must be adhered to. That means procedural delays even in the most amicable of situations. Plan accordingly and you will not be disappointed.
Drew Molotsky is a Certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Law Attorney and has over 20 years’ experience in Family Law, handling matters involving divorce, custody, alimony, child support, equitable distribution and domestic violence in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.