In cases where the parties agree to a consensual divorce or there is a two-year separation and there are no economic claims, the parties may visit Uncontested Divorce Procedure and Forms to proceed with the entry of a divorce decree.
Contested Divorce Procedure and Forms
In cases where the parties do not agree to a consensual divorce decree or there are economic claims, the divorce/equitable distribution process is multi-level. A contested party must move for the appointment of a Hearing Officer. The Hearing Officers are appointed at random.
The Hearing Officer will first schedule a preliminary conference without clients unless a party is unrepresented. As a result of the preliminary conference, a settlement conference is set and a discovery order is entered. At the settlement conference, counsel appears with the parties and, if the parties reach an agreement, they can place the agreement on the record and the Hearing Officer issues a report and recommendation for the entry of a divorce decree.
If the matter does not settle, the parties may file a certificate of trial readiness and then will be placed on the trial list. The matter will not be scheduled for trial until the grounds for divorce have been established. The trial before the Hearing Officer is a full evidentiary hearing and matters on exception from the Hearing Officer's report are on the record created before the Hearing Officer at the time of trial.