An Overview of the Divorce Process


Austin Divorce Attorney, Austin Child Custody, Austin Family Law Attorney, Family law Attorney Austin

The divorce process can seem overwhelming and confusing. With terms like case management, economic mediation, and default hearings it is understandably difficult to understand exactly what is happening. This page is designed to give you an overview of the divorce process, describing what happens after a complaint for divorce has been filed with the court.

First, one party will file the complaint with the court. This party is known as the Plaintiff. The court will assign a docket number to the complaint and return a copy back to the Plaintiff. At that point, the Plaintiff must serve a copy on the other party, the Defendant, within ten days of having received it from the court. The Plaintiff must also file proof with the court that they have in fact served the Defendant with a copy of the complaint.

The Defendant then has 35 days to file an answer. It is common for a Defendant to file a counterclaim for divorce. If a counterclaim is filed, the Plaintiff has 20 days to file an answer to the counterclaim.

If the Defendant fails to file an answer within the 35 day period, the Plaintiff may file a request to enter default. In some cases a Defendant may not file an answer because the terms of a settlement are already agreed to and reflected in a property settlement agreement. If this is the case, a default hearing is conducted and the settlement agreement becomes part of the divorce. If there is no signed settlement agreement and the Defendant has not answered the Plaintiff must serve the Defendant with a notice of the proposed final judgment at least 20 days before the default hearing is scheduled.

At the default hearing the Court can enter judgment for the Plaintiff and conclude the divorce litigation.

If the Defendant does file an answer, the initial pleadings are complete and the New Jersey Superior Court Family Part will begin scheduling the matter. For more information on different events during the divorce process please click on any of the links below:


Case Management Conference

Early Settlement Panel

Economic Mediation

Custody Mediation

Intensive Settlement Panel