NJ Divorce AttorneyDivorce is a period marked by many changes, not only for spouses, but for the entire family.
The impact can be financial, social, and psychological.
Divorce involves difficult decisions about your life and your family. However, the process does not have to be a devastating one. Handled properly, a divorce can be a manageable transition – it does not have to be emotionally or financially draining. Claire Scully, Esq. is a committed advocate for the best interests of the client and protecting the welfare of their children. Claire Scully, Esq. is dedicated to the idea that divorce must be handled with the utmost care, coupled with aggressive advocacy for the client’s best interests.
Mediation is a process that uses a neutral third party trained in mediation techniques who manages the discussion between spouses, helping them to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.
In addition to the no-fault grounds of irreconcilable differences and 18 months separate and apart, fault-based grounds is another way of obtaining a divorce in New Jersey.
These faults can include but are not limited to: adultery, desertion, addiction, Incarceration or institutionalization, extreme mental cruelty, and deviant sexual conduct.
Adultery: In the context of grounds for divorce, adultery is when one spouse rejects the other spouse by entering into a personal intimate relationship with another person.
Desertion: Desertion is defined as leaving the marriage for 12 months or more, without the other spouse’s consent and with no physical intimacy during that time. This does not need to be a geographical relocation; spouses can live in the same house, just not as husband and wife.
Addiction: The addiction can be to drugs or alcohol and is considered as grounds for divorce when the behaviors of the addictive spouse are at such a level, frequency and duration (at least 12 months before filing for divorce) that it is claimed those behaviors destroyed the marriage.
Incarceration or institutionalization: These can be grounds for divorce when one spouse is incarcerated for at least 18 consecutive months or is in a mental institution for at least 12 consecutive months.
Extreme mental cruelty: When one spouse suffers psychological or emotional abuse due to the other spouse’s belittling or controlling behavior for a period of at least three months before filing for divorce.
Deviant sexual conduct: This conduct (as defined by law) is considered as grounds for divorce when engaged in without the other spouse’s consent.
When it comes to divorce, nothing really matters but the children.
Not you, not him/her, not the dog, not the business, YOUR CHILDREN. Do not talk about your spouse to, in presence of, or anywhere within earshot of the kids. Even without the talking, they pick up on everything, you guys know that. And, they will remember…
At some point, they may be interviewed during the process, hopefully not, so keep it civil as much as possible. Stable as much as possible. Same routines, as much as possible. Daddy must remain “superman” and mommy “superwoman” in the eyes of the children. Believe me, it absolutely CAN be done. I know exactly how, and so do you.
Aided by a team of professionals, such as financial planners, psychologists, social workers and the spouses’ attorneys, the divorcing couple works cooperatively to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.
Early Settlement Panel (ESP) is a great opportunity to get a different perspective—other than your own– on settlement options for your case.
The word “Early” is ironic , because ESP usually happens about three months into your case, if you are lucky. The reason is that the process supposes that during the time before ESP you and the other side are exchanging financial and other information to answer any questions that may be lurking in one’s mind about the finances, credit card debts, and the like.
ESP is a date in which an experienced Family Law attorney or attorneys volunteer their time to take a look at the facts of your case, and make a recommendation to both sides as to how your Judge will likely rule if the case does not settle thus has to go to trial. Each attorney, or each divorcing party if they do not have attorneys, submits a brief case profile form to their ESP panelist before the actual ESP date. ESP deals only with the finances—not issues of custody.
ESP is most productive if, by the time of the date, the finances have been exchanged and each side has a list of questions or concerns ready for the asking, because ESP is a great opportunity to get some free legal direction—remember the attorney panelists are volunteers. Presumably, by ESP time, the panelists have read the Profile form already submitted, so they are familiar with the issues.
If the divorcing parties have attorneys, usually they have a brief discussion with the panelist first, to set the proverbial table. Then, the panelists usually meet with the parties and their lawyers to discuss the case, and different options for settlement. These are just informal suggestions made by experienced attorneys—they are not binding on either party. ESP is informal. Feel free to ask questions and raise concerns, as that is the perfect, relaxed time to raise them. Once the talk session is finished, if there are no questions by the panelists or anyone else, the panelists will make a recommendation as to how they believe your case should settle, with an eye toward fairness to both parties. Again, this is just a recommendation. ESP recommendations are oftentimes very eye-opening to divorcing people and their counsel.
Think about it—up until that point, each divorcing spouse is usually consumed only with what is the best “deal” they can get. So is their lawyer, if they are worth their salt. ESP has a way of bringing everyone right back down to earth. Some leave the meeting a bit shell-shocked, but that is not always a bad thing.
Pre-Covid, ESP was done at the county courthouse in which the case is being heard. These days, it is done via Zoom or Microsoft teams, or the like. Once the courthouses re-open, hopefully ESP will be done in person again. These are people’s lives we are dealing with – face time matters.
Litigation is the final step—it occurs when two divorcing parties cannot settle their matter by written Settlement Agreement. They need a Judge to decide all of what is at stake in their family’s lives.
Litigation is emotionally and financially draining. It takes months to finish a trial, and the divorcing parties lose all control of their destiny. Best to avoid litigation and settle your matter. Take charge.