On the heels of the global pandemic, there is now a historic state-wide New Jersey court crisis – not just in family court, but in the civil, criminal, and other divisions as well.
When the pandemic hit, buildings were closed to most in-person trials for more than a year. At the same time, the pandemic took the focus off nominating judges and the number of judge shortages has reached a catastrophic level as case backlogs increase.
As a result, the courts are overworked and understaffed. It is simply not possible to eliminate the backlog of cases with so many open judge seats. In New Jersey county courthouses, divorce and custody proceedings and trials are not getting scheduled for many months. And in many counties, no divorce trials are being scheduled at all.
What does all this mean for divorcing spouses?
Unfortunately, bitter spouses may become trapped living together, which can create a toxic home environment, particularly when there are children. Parents who might need a custody order to move out of state are unable to get into court.
And resolution on such important matters as custody and financial relief is simply not being addressed by courts in any timely fashion, which can create massive amounts of stress and uncertainty for families.
What are your options if you are considering or in the midst of divorce?
Fortunately, the vast majority of divorces settle out of court by legal agreements that resolve issues including child custody, parenting time, child support, college costs for children, alimony, and division of marital assets and debts.
Therefore, you might consider engaging a creative and experienced solution-oriented attorney to advise and assist you in expeditiously resolving the important issues in your divorce with out-of-court settlement negotiations.
Divorce mediation is another way to resolve differences with the help of a trained, impartial third party. Mediation is a confidential non-binding dispute resolution process designed to facilitate settlements in an informal, non-adversarial manner.
The mediator does not represent either spouse and does not offer legal advice. Therefore, you and your spouse should each have your own settlement-focused attorney to advise you in making informed decisions that support your interests and goals. Likewise, only an attorney can draft and file with the court the legal documents necessary for the court to grant a divorce.
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