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Frequently Asked Divorce Questions
by Jeffrey R. Brown of Jeffrey R. Brown, Attorney at Law


Are there different kinds of alimony?
Yes. New Jersey has four different kinds of alimony- limited duration, rehabilitative, reimbursement, and permanent. These four different kinds of alimony can be awarded individually or in any combination as warranted by the circumstances of the parties.

Will I have to pay alimony or am I entitled to receive alimony?
Like so many divorce related issues, one?s entitlement to alimony depends on the unique facts and circumstances of their particular case. New Jersey?s alimony statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23, sets forth 12 non-exclusive factors for the court to consider in determining an appropriate alimony award. Some of these factors include the need and ability of the parties to pay alimony; the length of the marriage; the age and health of the parties; the standard of living established in the marriage and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living. In addition to the 12 non-exclusive alimony factors, the court may consider any other factors it deems relevant.

How much will a divorce cost?
The cost of a divorce will ultimately depend upon the number of hours the attorney must spend representing his client. Representation may take the form of attending Court appearances, drafting legal pleadings, required financial disclosure documents, motions, letters, and telephone calls with both the client and the opposing attorney. It is therefore usually impossible for an attorney to inform the client at the start of the case how much his or her legal fees will ultimately amount to.

How quickly can I be divorced?
Although this is one of the most frequently asked questions by clients contemplating divorce, it is also one of the most difficult to answer. Once the divorcing parties reach an agreement as to all of the issues in their case, an uncontested divorce hearing can usually be scheduled within a matter of weeks. Of course, in some divorces the parties can reach a settlement in a very short period of time; in other cases, the process can last for months to over a year.

Is it better to settle my case or go to trial?
While this depends upon the unique facts and circumstances of your individual case, the vast majority of New Jersey divorce cases are ultimately resolved through settlement rather than trial, and the Family Court system itself is designed to encourage settlement rather than litigation.

What are the grounds for divorce in New Jersey?
Although there are 8 different grounds for divorce in New Jersey, the most frequently cited grounds for divorce include 1) extreme cruelty; (2) separation for 18 months in different habitations with no reasonable prospect for reconciliation, and (3) adultery.

What happens if we cannot reach a settlement?
If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will ultimately be scheduled for trial before a Superior Court judge. The judge will make determinations as to all unresolved issues including equitable distribution, custody and visitation, and child support and alimony.

Am I automatically entitled to a temporary restraining order?
No. Before a court can issue a TRO, the court must find that an act of domestic violence has been committed and that restraints are necessary to protect the life, health, or well-being of the victim; that the victim is in danger of further domestic violence, or upon good cause shown.

How long does a final restraining order remain in effect for and what factors might a court consider in dissolving it?
Unlike some other states, a New Jersey Final Restraining Order does not expire after a certain period of time but rather remains in effect indefinitely. Upon "good cause" a final Order may be dissolved or modified upon an application to the Court, but only if the judge who dissolves or modifies the order is the same judge that entered it, or has available the complete record of the hearing or hearings on which the order was based.

What happens after a temporary restraining order is entered?
A hearing is usually scheduled within 10 days after a TRO is issued to determine whether the TRO shall be converted to a Final Restraining Order. At this hearing, the court may hear testimony from both parties as well as witnesses. The victim must prove his or her allegations by a preponderance of the evidence.

What kind of conduct constitutes domestic violence?
Under New Jersey law, domestic violence means the occurrence of one or more of the following acts: homicide, assault, terroristic threats, kidnapping, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, lewdness, criminal mischief, burglary, criminal trespass, harassment, and stalking.

What kinds of relief can I expect if a final restraining order is issued?
The Court has the authority to issue various forms of relief and the list below is meant to be illustrative and not exhaustive.

Where can I obtain a temporary restraining order?
During regular court hours, a victim may file a complaint with the clerk of the Family Part of the Superior Court. During times when the Superior Court is closed, such as evenings, weekends, or holidays, a victim may contact the police department and attempt to obtain an Order through a Municipal Court judge.

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