Key Terms for Divorces in Short Hills

The end of a marriage can be difficult to process. To add to the burden, those who are beginning the divorce process may be overwhelmed by the complicated jargon surrounding court proceedings and legal documents.

A knowledgeable attorney could clear up much of the confusion around technical legal terms and help divorcing couples understand the relevant information for their case. For those beginning the divorce proceedings in Short Hills, reach out to a legal professional in the area to help explain these key terms in further detail.

What is a Dissolution of Marriage?

Dissolution of marriage is the key term used when the parties’ relationship is no longer a legal entity. This definition is not unique to the Short Hills area and is used across the state. In dissolving a marriage, one spouse first files a Complaint for Divorce—the lawsuit—which the other spouse answers to accordingly. That document tells the state that the parties wish to end the marriage.

Filing for divorce begins the process for the dissolution of a marriage. There are a lot of components that affect how parties will go about the dissolution process, such as issues of alimony or spousal support. Divorcing parents may also need to discuss child support and custody.

Spousal and Child Support

The larger wage earner in the dissolved relationship tends to have the obligation to provide the other party with support. However, if both parties have about the same amount of income, it may not be an issue and neither party would have to pay the other for alimony or spousal support.

Child support is determined by what both parties earn and how many overnights each party has with the children. This form of support could cover any costs associated with raising a child that one parent would not have available income for. Therefore, it could include any out-of-pocket expenses, health insurance, or work-related childcare.

Difference between Legal Separation and Divorce

In New Jersey, there is no such thing as legal separation. Some couples use the phrase colloquially to mean they do not live under the same roof. Whether or not parties live together or consider themselves “legally separated” before their divorce does not have any impact on how the matter is resolved. Dissolution is the only way to legally terminate their marriage.

Physical separation between divorcing spouses could create financial problems if they are maintaining two households instead of one. They will have to discuss this in the financial context of dissolving their marriage. However, it may not affect their ability to get a divorce.


Mediation is a term used in divorce to describe an alternative means to resolve certain disputes. It can be a useful tool in divorce proceedings if both parties want to be honest, maintain a level of trust, and keep costs down. Couples that wish to negotiate may hire a mediator to help them resolve their issues rather than having the court decide for them. The mediator does not represent either side and aims to bring both parties to an agreement. Mediation can help with quick, smooth resolutions, but it is only possible if both parties are willing to discuss their wishes and come to a compromise. A dedicated attorney could advise couples who are considering this option and help them choose a local mediator.


Arbitration in divorce differs from mediation because it tends to be binding. In arbitration, both parties agree to go to a specific individual who makes binding determinations as if they had gone to court. Even if a party says they have reached an agreement in mediation, they can still change their mind. Arbitration has a more definitive ending.

This process is also private and allows divorcing couples to have more control than if they go to trial with a judge who is assigned to them. Parties can decide on their own arbitrator rather than putting determinations solely in the hands of the court.

What is a Contested Divorce?

Contested divorce is another key term commonly used during the marriage dissolution process in Short Hills. It means that parties are not in agreement on specific issues relating to the dissolution of their marriage. Areas of disagreement could include:

Sometimes divorcing spouses are in agreement on most, but not all, of the issues. In these cases, their attorneys may try to help them focus on the contested matters to limit litigation and shorten the divorce process. An uncontested divorce means parties agree on everything and their legal counsel has put together a settlement agreement on every issue.

Call a Short Hills Attorney for Questions on the Specific Terms Used in a Divorce

In both contested and uncontested divorces, a skilled attorney could support and represent their potential client’s wishes throughout negotiations. They can also explain all key terms used during a divorce in Short Hills and available options to create a personalized strategy for each specific case. For more information on what is involved in divorce proceedings, contact our knowledgeable law team for a consultation.

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