What to Expect in a Short Hills Divorce

A relationship takes time to build. As such, the dissolution of any marriage, whether it lasted for three years or twenty-five years, can be an emotional and trying process. Issues regarding children and custody can further complicate matters, and without professional guidance, separating couples may find themselves steeped in unproductive battles driven by hurt and resentment.

Working with an experienced divorce lawyer could help you see the big picture and get to the other side of this challenging time as quickly as possible. Marriage dissolution also involves many legal technicalities which can be explained by an attorney. No matter where you are in your divorce process, the best next step is to bring a skilled legal professional on board. Understanding what to expect in Short Hills divorce proceedings could help separating couples navigate the system smoothly and move on with their lives.

Overview of the Divorce Process

Those pursuing divorce in Short Hills can expect a similar process as in other state counties. One party begins with filing the Complaint for Divorce, after which the other party would generally file an Answer and a Counterclaim. Both of these actions entail filing fees, which a local attorney could help manage. The court would then arrange a Case Management Conference to set deadlines for the process. The court’s goal throughout a divorce case is to keep everyone moving through the procedural steps as efficiently as possible.

Early Settlement Panel

After the Case Management Conference, the court will schedule the parties to attend an Early Settlement Panel. This is an opportunity for the litigants and their attorneys to appear before two volunteer divorce lawyers in court and give a recommendation of how they think their case should settle. It is often a successful and specific program because the volunteer attorneys know the judges in the county and have an idea of how the specific judge assigned to their case may rule. The people that volunteer in settlement panels must have at least ten years of experience or more, often in numerous counties.

Economic Mediations

If a case does not get settled in the Early Settlement Panel, the Essex County court may require mandatory economic mediation. The court wants couples to reach their own resolution with the guidance of their divorce lawyers. No one knows the nuances of their finances, custodial situation, and living circumstances better than the divorcing parties themselves.

Intensive Settlement Conference

If economic mediation is not successful, the next step is an Intensive Settlement Conference in which separating couples and their attorneys are brought into the courthouse for an entire day to have a settlement conference with the Court. The court would speak to litigants, answer their questions, and occasionally give them an idea of their thoughts about the case. This may help parties resolve their divorce on their own. However, the court does not give a ruling at this stage because they do not have all the facts in front of them.


If matters have not been settled by this point, the court will schedule a trial. At a divorce trial, each party and their legal counsel presents the facts of their case and the court determines how property is divided, what support gets paid, and how custody and parenting time is allocated.

Only one percent of the cases in the state go to trial. Between the filing of a complaint and trial date, it is likely that a separating couple will settle, often through a meeting of both parties’ attorneys and/or with the help of a hired mediator. Short Hills residents who are navigating the divorce process should seek skilled legal counsel in the area to help represent their specific goals throughout negotiation and mediation.

How Long Should Someone Expect a Divorce Case to Take?

Essex County divorce courts operate under best practices, meaning that they attempt to reach a resolution within a year from the date of filing. However, divorcing couples in Short Hills should expect timelines to vary. A case could take as short as three months or as long as five years. It depends on the specific issues in the case, the animosity between the parties, and any additional matters of custody and parenting time.

If parties are committed to working out their issues and reaching a resolution as quickly as possible, the divorce proceedings could be shortened. This could help separating couples save time and money if they are willing to negotiate or try divorce mediation. A dedicated lawyer with experience in Short Hills divorce cases could help a potential client find the best strategy for their situation and reach an agreeable, timely solution.

Call a Short Hills Attorney to Learn What to Expect in a Divorce Case

Divorce proceedings can be a long, drawn-out process, but they can also be shorter depending on the issues at hand and the strategies used to negotiate them. The variation between different situations is what can make litigation difficult, as the court has set procedures and typically follows predetermined deadlines to finish cases as quickly as possible.

A practiced divorce lawyer could help a potential client adhere to the court’s timeline while ensuring the particulars of their case are taken into account. If you are beginning court proceedings in Short Hills or are filing for divorce and want to know what to expect, reach out to our legal team today.

Let us know how we can help
Contact Our New Jersey Family Lawyers Today