HOW TO RESPOND TO A DIVORCE COMPLAINT

Responding to a Monmouth County Divorce Complaint

Sea Girt NJ Divorce Lawyer

Responding to a Monmouth County Divorce ComplaintWhen a person files for divorce in New Jersey, the complaint is delivered to their spouse, at which point that spouse has thirty-five (35) days to respond to the complaint before the divorce moves to the default divorce process. While there are a few situations where an individual may purposely not respond to the divorce complaint (i.e. as part of an uncontested divorce, discussed in the sections below), for the most part it is highly recommended that anyone who does receive a divorce complaint actually respond to the complaint, and not let their divorce move to the default divorce process.

Of course, there are several different ways to actually answer a divorce complaint, and this is the first of many reasons why it can be extremely beneficial to retain experienced legal counsel during any divorce process. An experienced divorce attorney can help you to understand the various options you have, help you to choose which options makes the most sense based on your unique situation and needs, and guide you through to the fair resolution of your divorce.

At the Bronzino Law Firm, we have extensive experience helping clients in Ocean and Monmouth County to file for, respond to, and ultimately resolve the many complex issues related to divorce in an attentive and highly effective manner.

Call us through our Sea Girt office or our Brick office at (732) 812-3102 to discuss your needs, concerns, and situation when it comes to your divorce in a free and confidential consultation with our legal team today.

Default Divorce Lawyers Neptune NJ

When a divorce complaint goes unanswered after at least 35 days, the plaintiff (the person filing for divorce) can file a request for a default divorce hearing. Members of the United States military are protected from default divorce judgements, so the plaintiff will have to also file an affidavit verifying that their spouse is not serving in the military.

As previously mentioned, some divorcing couples may opt for a default divorce, and purposely not respond to the divorce complaint in order to take advantage of the expedited uncontested divorce process. However, it is highly recommended that both parties involved speak with experienced legal counsel before choosing to proceed with the uncontested divorce process, as the agreements outlined will greatly affect many areas of their lives moving forward, and whether accidentally or intentionally, individuals often sign agreements which are actually quite unfair to them.

On the other hand, if there is no agreement in place between the divorcing couple, and the defendant simply fails to respond to the divorce complaint, it will be left to a judge to decide the key issues of martial asset division, child support, child custody, and alimony. While whatever decisions they reach will be “fair” according to the law, fair is often a very long way from accurately representing the individual needs and concerns of the individual not represented in such a hearing.

For this reason, as difficult as it can be to face a divorce, and all that it entails, it is extremely risky to leave your divorce in the hands of a judge who knows nothing about you, and as such a much more prudent step to actually contact an attorney, and respond to the divorce complaint in an informed and appropriate manner.

Divorce Complaint Attorneys Asbury Park NJ

When a person files for divorce, part of the requirements for doing so is to state their reasons for requesting the divorce, ask for support if they believe it is necessary (ala child support or spousal support), and propose a plan for the division of marital assets and debt.

The person who receives that divorce complaint (the defendant) can respond to it in a variety of ways. In some situations, they may wish to contest the reasons given for the divorce itself (can only be done if the divorce is filed as a fault-based divorce), in other situations they may wish to go so far as to file for divorce themselves stating their own facts and reasons for the divorce, while in others the defendant may not object to the divorce itself, but still objects to the requested amounts of support or proposed division of assets.

Legally, these different responses are known as:

  • Filing an Appearance – when the defendant does not object to the divorce, but wishes to negotiate and contest the proposed Divorce Settlement Agreement
  • Filing an Answer – when the defendant disagrees with the reasons stated for the divorce (in the case of a fault divorce), or disagrees with specific statements made within the complaint such as statements about the lifestyle, behavior, or relationships between either party or the marriage as a whole.
  • Filing a Counterclaim – when the defendant wishes to file their own divorce complaint containing their own reasons for the divorce

In general, the most typical response is to file an appearance. This is largely due to the fact that most divorces in New Jersey are filed as no-fault divorces, the grounds of which cannot really be contested (the fact that one spouse wants a divorce while the other does not is in fact one of the most commonly cited grounds for a no-fault divorce).

Contested Divorce Attorney Point Pleasant NJ

Responding to a divorce complaint by filing an appearance begins the contested divorce process (something we have discussed at great length on many different pages of our site). While some divorces may be particularly contentious (i.e. spouses have a very difficult time reaching fair divorce agreements), not every contested divorce needs to be “contentious”.

In fact, divorcing couples are given many opportunities to reach agreements regarding asset division, alimony, child support, and child custody before having to litigate these same issues in a court of law, specifically through court-ordered mediation, pre-trial negotiations, and other alternative forms of dispute resolution.

So while you may just want to “get it over with”, or feel that if you ignore a divorce complaint it will simply go away, the fact of the matter is that contesting a divorce is extremely important, and will allow you to reach agreements that accurately reflect you and your family’s unique situation and needs, both in the short-term as well as the long-term. On the other hand, a default divorce judgement in which the defendant has little to no say is extremely risky, and will almost never result in these types of situation-specific agreements.

Contact Our Wall NJ Divorce Attorneys Today

At the Bronzino Law Firm, we have extensive experience helping clients and families to fairly and effectively resolve their divorce in towns across Ocean and Monmouth County, including Neptune, Wall, Point Pleasant, Asbury Park, Manasquan, Toms River, Brick, Jackson, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and the surrounding communities.

Attorney Peter J. Bronzino strongly believes in providing highly attentive service to each of his clients as he understands just how important any family law matter can be to his client and their family, and that the more informed his clients are, the better he can work to achieve the types of results which best meet the unique needs and concerns of his clients and their families.

To speak with Peter Bronzino and our legal team today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your divorce, filing for divorce, responding to a divorce complaint, or any of its specific issues such as child custody, child support, alimony, or the division of marital assets and debts, please contact us online, or through either our Brick office or our Sea Girt office at (732) 812-3102.