NJ Family Law - What Happens After Filing for Divorce

Case Management Conferences

Within 30 days after the filing of the last pleading, the court shall schedule a case management conference which may be held via telephone conference. The purpose of the case management conference is to address discovery timeliness and ultimately determine a trial date if necessary to be determined based upon the case’s assigned track.

Discovery

New Jersey Court Rule 5:5-1 allows for discovery including interrogatories, depositions, production of documents, requests for admissions and copies of documents. There are certain limitations surrounding discovery in family actions including who may be deposed which are governed by R.5:5-1 and the Rules concerning discovery under R.4:12 - 4:17. The case management conferences may dictate by when discovery shall be completed.

Divorce By Default

Sometimes, the defendant fails to file an answer or an Appearance. A request for a default against such a party is governed by R.4:43. It requires the party requesting entry by default to make a formal written request for the entry of the default, supported by the attorney’s affidavit. The affidavit shall explain the manner of service of the complaint upon the defendant, the date of service, and that all time periods in which the defendant may file a pleading have expired. Such a request and affidavit must be filed together within 6 months of the actual default. Notice of such a request must be filed upon the defaulting party. This does not end the process if the plaintiff is seeking equitable distribution, alimony, child support or any other relief.

When equitable distribution, alimony, child support or any other relief is sought by the plaintiff, a Notice of Application for Equitable Distribution pursuant to R.5:5-2 is required prior to the entry of Default. This Notice shall be filed and served upon defendant 20 days prior to the hearing date and must include the following:

  1. notice of the trial date,
  2. statement of the value of each asset,
  3. the amount of each debt sought to be distributed,
  4. a proposal for distribution,
  5. a statement whether plaintiff is seeking alimony and/or child support and, if so, the amount, and
  6. a statement of any other relief sought.

As a result, the moving party must still attend Court in order to obtain entry by Default.

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