The traditional adversarial court proceedings may be required for a variety of reasons. When parties cannot or do not want to agree on how to resolve their issues, a judge will decide for them.
Every divorce will eventually need to involve the court when a Complaint for Divorce is filed by one party against the other. A divorce is granted after an agreement is entered between the parties or a judge decides all issues between the parties. Sometimes court intervention is needed after the divorce for enforcement or modification reasons. Therefore, if an agreement cannot be reached or a party is being completely unreasonable, it is critical to have an experienced litigator to fight for your rights and to protect your interests.
The court affords spouses protection and muscle not provided by the mediation or collaborative divorce processes. The court has set procedures allowing attorneys to prepare for trial. There is formal discovery, which includes Interrogatories (questions that are answered under oath), compelled document production via Notice to Produce and subpoenas, appraisals, employment evaluations, custody evaluations, business valuations, etc. The court sets deadlines for accomplishing these steps leading to trial.
At the same time, because 98-99% of divorce cases in New Jersey settle before trial, the court encourages settlement by requiring parenting classes, custody and parenting time mediation, Early Settlement Panel discussions, Post-ESP mandatory economic mediation, and Intensive Settlement Conferences. If these processes fail, the parties will proceed to trial, where the judge will decide all issues for the parties.