Having enough judges to make key decisions is critical to moving cases like divorce forward. For many people, the thought of having to put off the divorce for months is disheartening, but that has been the reality in New Jersey and could continue indefinitely going forward.

That’s because there is still a significant judge shortage in New Jersey. However, lawmakers have confirmed 24 Superior Court judges since January, which has dropped the vacancies from 58 last year down to 39, maintaining a significant gap. That gap means it will take longer for non-urgent matters, like divorce, to make their way through the court system.

At Jersey Coast Family Law, we can help expedite your divorce filing as well as offering alternative options. We highly encourage you to meet with our divorce attorneys in Toms River and Red Bank to discuss your New Jersey divorce.

The Impact of the Judge Shortage

There is a direct impact on the reduced number of judges on any case that is taken to court. The shortage of judges will mean longer wait times for any type of court hearing that must take place. It could also delay the finalization of many divorce cases.

This can lead to increased stress and frustration for divorcing couples who want to move on with their lives. Yet, the court can only move through so many cases with its available judges.

What to Expect During This Time

The New Jersey family law judge shortage is a serious concern for many people who want to move forward with their lives. There are a few key factors that will play a role in what happens in your case. We encourage you to stay on top of the process and to ensure you prepare for NJ divorce delays.

How long does a divorce take in NJ with a judge shortage? This will depend on various factors, but the typical NJ divorce process goes through these stages:

  • Filing a complaint for divorce: Filing your complaint gets the process started.
  • Case management conference: The court then determines what is involved with your divorce and sets up a meeting to do so, which outlines what decisions must be made.
  • Custody and parenting time experts and financial experts: Depending on the details of your divorce, there may need to be experts involved to assess the situation and create a clear path forward.
  • Discovery: Each spouse is given an opportunity to gather the details of the marriage and then work through negotiation. Discovery is a back-and-forth process that helps ensure all information is shared. It’s possible to reach a settlement agreement here.
  • Trial: After an early settlement panel is brought together to resolve any issues, the divorce can move forward. However, if decisions cannot be made through mediation, then hearings are set up and ultimately a trial can occur.

At each stage of this process, you may be waiting longer to set up appointments or work through processes if a judge needs to be involved. That means waiting longer for mediation appointments, more time between court dates, and longer wait times for final judgments to take place.

Strategies for Coping with Delays

This is certainly frustrating to hear. There are some steps you can take that could help you navigate the backlog in NJ divorce courts and move your case forward:

  • Open communication: Work aggressively towards coming to an agreement within the divorce proceedings. The objective here should be to ensure that you have realistic expectations with your spouse if that is possible. The more decisions you can make together, the fewer hearings and steps.
  • Gather all the necessary paperwork: Before you head into court or a hearing without the necessary details, make sure you gather everything needed. This includes any documentation to support claims you may be making within the divorce.
  • Explore alternative dispute resolution options: If you cannot reach any agreements with your spouse, consider other routes to a solution. This could include mediation or arbitration, if suitable.
  • Stay organized: There will be delays. There is no benefit to becoming frustrated over what you cannot control. Be patient but stay organized.
Seeking Legal Guidance

New Jersey divorce delays – even with a full lineup of judges – often happen due to missing information or a lack of understanding of the divorce process. Your divorce attorney may help you avoid most of those avoidable risks.

Working with an experienced New Jersey family law attorney will provide exceptional benefits to you. Choose a professional who can:

  • Navigate the court system with you effectively despite the backlog. Choose an attorney who is experienced with navigating the New Jersey court system.
  • Provide insight into any alternative resolution solution that may help you move your case forward without delays. This includes any alternative solution that allows you and your spouse to agree and circumvent some of the delays in the courts such as divorce mediation.
  • Advocate for your rights and interests. You need an attorney who understand the family law process and will fight for your rights and pursue the best possible legal option in your case. Even with a backlog, this is your future. You need to be sure your attorney will help you make the best decisions to protect you and your family’s future.
Hire a Trusted New Jersey Family Lawyer to Help You Navigate The Court Process

The New Jersey family law judge shortage is a very big concern for anyone ready to move forward with their lives. There is no way to know how much of an impact the NJ divorce delays will have on your particular case but having a highly experienced New Jersey family lawyer can make an incredible difference.

Contact Jersey Coast Family Law to discuss your divorce case. With offices in Toms River and Red Bank and serving clients throughout New Jersey, we are here to help you navigate this delicate and difficult family court situation. Contact us online or call 732-361-4718 for immediate help.

Where Family Comes First

Check out our other blogs: Ditching Dad’s Name: What’s Behind the Rise of This Coming-of-Age Choice?