Divorcing in NJ: Here’s what you need to know — Forever 39 Podcast
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January is not just a time for making and sticking with resolutions, it's also the most popular month for divorces. Known as divorce month among family law lawyers, January has the most number of divorce filings, according to eDivorcePapers.com.
So while it's safe to say love isn't exactly in the air during the month of January, there are some things that couples need to keep in mind when thinking about breaking up for good. In this Forever 39 episode, we talk with a New Jersey family law attorney that lays out exactly what couples need to know when deciding to divorce in the Garden State.
Jennifer Millner has been practicing family law for three decades, and she's currently a partner with Fox Rothschild. She told us that in addition to January, February and September are also popular times for divorce filings.
So what's the driving force behind most divorces? You get a gold star if you said finances.
"The number one reason, or at least really far up on the list, is definitely financial problems. Over the course of time where we've had the Great Recession, or we've had other financial crises, we've definitely seen very significant increases in divorces," Millner tells Forever 39.
Millner said it's been her experience that even those that have cheated once or twice in their marriages, it's often because they are looking to escape a more deep-rooted problem, which is often finances.
And while finances is at the forefront for most couples, Millner said the bottom line is lack of communication.
"People get divorced for so many different reasons, and very often if comes down to a lack of ability to communicate with each other to solve problems."
So what do you need to know about divorcing in New Jersey? For starters, Millner said the cost of a divorce will vary depending on the complexity of the case. The length of time before a divorce is finalized also varies depending on the type of case before the judge. Millner said according to guidelines from the Administrative Office of the Courts, the goal is to finalize a divorce filed in the court system within 12 months of the initial filing.
And while there's certainly a lot of things to navigate in a divorce, there's four pieces of advice Millner said she stresses to all her clients. First, Millner always asks perspective clients if they have tried marriage counseling. Perhaps the marriage isn't over, and can be saved through counseling.
The second piece of advice Millner gives has to do with gathering information.
"The more information someone can find out about their finances, their assets, their debts — the easiest it is for their lawyer to help them," Millner said.
She said having access to a couple's financial records can help her give estimates about what they can expect in the process.
And if you guessed that cell phones might play a role in divorce proceedings, you're right. Millner said she always advises clients to never put anything in writing.
"Never put anything in writing, and that includes a text or an email, that you don't want to be seen by your grandmother or a judge."
And here's the kicker ... this includes anything you wrote on social media, sent in an email or text, or left as a voicemail, throughout your entire relationship. Millner said even something you posted on Facebook in the beginning of your relationship could be admissible in court. Oh boy!
Finally, she also tells her clients with children not to say anything negative about the other parent in front of the kids.
"No matter what horrible thing that other parent has done, their children still love their parents," Millner said.
So if you just can't seem to get on the same page with your spouse, and divorce is the only option left on the table, this episode of Forever 39 might just help you answer a few questions you have about the process.
— Annette and Megan, Forever 39
Join us for next week’s podcast when we chat about why so many parents are footing the bills for their adult children, curing the winter blues, and what experts say a healthy relationship looks like.