There appears to be a phenomenon – a television phenomenon – that provides litigants with nothing more than unreasonable expectations about the time it takes to obtain a Final Judgment of Divorce. It is astonishing how the leading couple in a film can marry and divorce in two hours or less. No wonder so many litigants facing divorce are shocked to learn the length of time it really takes to divorce their spouse. Truth is, unless you and your partner can agree as to how to proceed on all issues including, but not limited to, custody, child support, equitable distribution, financial support, and retirement, before you walk into an attorney’s office for a consultation, you are facing, on average, a year of litigation. Yes, that’s right. I said it. One year. Do not let the movies fool you: it is never as it seems.

During litigation, discovery is exchanged where both parties have an opportunity to learn about the financials and respective positions with regard to custody, if applicable. This stage alone can take a couple of months. At the onset of the litigation for divorce, it is imperative that both parties complete a Case Information Statement, an important document which will specify yearly incomes, the marital lifestyle and list all of the assets and debt acquired during the marriage. The parties will also be required to attend a Case Management Conference with the Judge assigned to your case to review discovery end dates. The next phase of the litigation is the all-important Early Settlement Panel.

Early Settlement Panel is a mandatory event scheduled several months after the complaint for divorce is filed. At this event, both parties meet with two experienced matrimonial attorneys to discuss the outstanding issues. The panelists volunteer their time to help settle the financial aspect of your case only; custody and parenting time are not discussed. Many cases settle on this day after litigants hear the suggestions from the panelists.  If you settle at Early Settlement Panel, the Court will grant you a divorce on the same day and your case will be over.  However, if you do not settle, you proceed to the next stage: Economic Mediation.

At Economic Mediation, the parties meet with one matrimonial attorney who will work hard to mediate your differences. Usually, the mediator will focus purely on the economic issues but custody and parenting time can be mediated if requested. Many cases settle at this point. Both sides will hear about the probable outcome and come to terms that if they proceed to trial, the risk inherit in a trial and the risk of spending thousands of dollars on counsel fees for a trial, may outweigh any benefit.

In the event you are not settled at Economic mediation, you will be scheduled for an Intensive Settlement Conference with the Judge who will provide input as to how he or she may ultimately decide the disputed issues. A trial will be scheduled if you cannot settle your case. Many times, a trial will be scheduled months in advance due to the busy court calendar and you will be forced to return to Court throughout several different days to finish your trial.

As you can see, movies do not reveal the work it takes to get a divorce. In reality, divorce litigation is a lengthy process engineered to help litigants avoid the cost of trial to settle their case. There is no question, divorce is not as quick as the movies would have you believe. Don’t believe the hype. Talk to an experienced attorney to learn the truth.

If you have questions about a divorce and seek legal assistance, contact an experienced attorney at Iandoli & Edens, LLC at 908.879.9499. Make an appointment today. Click here to log onto www.iandoliedens.com for more information.