FAMILY LAW

New Jersey Divorce Lawyer

couple speaking with divorce attorney

Divorce is among the most complicated and emotional legal matters many people ever experience. The outcome of a divorce can have immediate and long-lasting consequences. During this challenging time, having a knowledgeable, compassionate attorney on your side could make a significant difference in your case and your future.

Since 1929, the firm of Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman has successfully advocated for clients facing a range of legal matters, including those related to divorce. Our experienced family law attorneys can help you navigate the legal system and pursue the best outcome possible. Contact our firm today to speak to one of our divorce lawyers serving the Princeton area and statewide in a confidential consultation.

Our Divorce Lawyers Are Ready to Help You

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The family law attorneys at Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman know that every case we handle is unique, so we take the time to get to know our clients and understand their needs and concerns. Our attorneys have a reputation for providing a personalized approach to even the most complex matters.

Over the decades, our divorce attorneys have handled thousands of matrimonial cases and helped countless New Jersey families navigate some of life’s most heart-wrenching challenges. Our insightful and compassionate approach ensures our clients feel heard and remain in control at each stage of the process. As a result, the vast majority of our clients find us through personal referrals from friends, family members, and loved ones.

Why You Should Choose Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman

divorce decree with rings and gavel

Our firm is large enough to devote considerable legal and financial resources to all types of cases, yet it has the ability to provide personalized representation for each and every client. We have extensive experience handling divorces for high-net-worth individuals, as well as complex cases involving business owners, professionals, and individuals with complicated finances. In short, the divorce attorneys at Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman serving the Princeton area and statewide are prepared to fight for your best interests, and we know how to get results.

Our divorce attorneys primarily focus on litigating cases in Central New Jersey counties, including Mercer, Burlington, Middlesex, Somerset, Camden, Monmouth, and Hunterdon. We know the judges and know the opposing counsel. We employ divorce attorneys who clerked for family law judges. All family law judges have their own approaches. Knowing what to expect from a particular judge is vital for success. In the counties where we practice, we know, based upon years of experience before the particular judge, what outcome can likely be expected from that judge on issues of custody and parenting time, child support, alimony, division of marital assets, and the client’s responsibility for payment of counsel fees, expert fees, and other costs. That is a very valuable tool to help our clients make informed and educated decisions from the beginning to the end of a case.

From our clients

Lydia

You are an incredible advocate.

You fought like hell and were ready to deal with thick and thin in a very conflicted environment.

You put in the hours and then some.

You truly care for your clients, and their well being.

You hung in there till the end and made sure every T was crossed and every condition was thoroughly thought through, considered, explained and documented.

You went the extra mile every step of the way personally, emotionally and professionally.

You were fair and reasonable in your billing.

Best of all, I came to respect and admire you.

TH

I would highly recommend Lydia to any family, friends, & co-workers. I would recommend Lydia is she’s tough as nails, she brings her A-game in service of her clients from beginning to end, and Lydia genuinely cares for the wellbeing of her clients and defends them with integrity, passion and honor alike.  Trust your Instincts, Ask plenty of Questions, If you want a reliable, and hard working, passionate lawyer look no further than Lydia Fabbro Keephart. You will not be disappointed.

TO

I have and will continue to recommend Lydia to whomever can benefit from the services she offers. She is an expert in her field, a true “ally” in every sense of the word.  She is empathetic, and no non-sense. Time is and always was of the essence as I am a very busy physician. Her efficiency and dedication to detail were and are priceless. To this day, some of the best money I’ve spent was retaining Lydia as my attorney. Lydia was always available. She responded to emails at random hours of the day/night and she was able to accommodate my unpredictable and dynamic schedule. I found comfort in knowing that Lydia was by the book. She has a high moral and standards code. No matter how difficult the situation; it’s always important to play by the rules. I really appreciate someone who embodies integrity. I am forever grateful to Lydia and her firm; they helped me transition through a very difficult time. I came out on the other side better, and stronger than ever.

AJ

In the matter of my painful divorce after decades of marriage, Lydia not only looked out for my legal interests in a fierce, dedicated way, but she helped teach me the life lessons I need to survive as a strong, happy divorcee.  I will never forget her and I recommend her to anyone who needs to fight for their rights and life after the shock of having your foundation crumble.  You can move on with joy when you have good counsel.

CP

As an international client I thoroughly researched matrimonial attorneys prior to choosing John Hartmann at Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman. Mr. Hartmann is excellent in judging matters beforehand and a Master in following through. The firm exceeded my expectations in handling my divorce and post judgement actions, which took place in New Jersey. I would recommend them without hesitation.

AW

I found John Hartmann, Esq. and the law firm of Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman to be extremely professional and well organized. Their knowledge of the landscape of the divorce process was truly impressive. John and his team listen intently, understand the situation and offer practical counsel.

JM

When my wife shocked me with papers for a divorce, I checked with colleagues and learned that I could never find better representation than John Hartmann and his team of family lawyers. My Ex spent far more money on her lawyer than I did and got nothing more than John told me to offer on day one! I can say unequivocally that the bill I received from Pellettieri was the best money I have spent in my life and I would have gladly paid double for the results I got. John and his legal team were there for me every step of the way on a true emotional roller coaster. His reputation as the toughest, most brilliant divorce lawyer on the scene today is well earned and fully matched by his younger partners, associates, and paralegals. The Pellettieri team is second to none!

MD

Mr. Hartmann is a thorough professional with decades of experience. I just had to explain what my expectations were, and Hartmann was able to put together detailed paperwork and backed it with relevant legal references and presented the case in an irrefutable manner. Hartmann’s staff was very diligent in following up every step of the way. Overall, my experience with the Hartmann’s team was very positive and promising. I have recommended Hartmann to several of my friends over the years and would definitely recommend him to friends and family in future.

SB

I was represented by John Hartmann and Nicole Huckerby in a divorce case in which my husband believed I should pay him support even though he closed a successful company and decided he no longer wanted to work. The matter was settled with a favorable outcome for me which my husband then appealed. Not only was my PRA team successful in the trial Court but was also successful in the appeal. PRA is dedicated to obtaining the best result for their clients and as a result I have recommended many friends and colleagues to PRA.

MD

Understanding the Basics of New Jersey Divorce Law

divorce decree with wedding rings on it

New Jersey’s legal system calls divorce “dissolution,” which refers to the legal process of terminating a marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership. The dissolution process is essentially the same for ending all three types of legal relationships.

Either partner in a marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership is eligible to file for divorce in New Jersey, provided at least one partner lives in the state. You or your partner must have lived in the state for at least one year before filing. However, there could be an exception if you are filing for divorce on the grounds of adultery.

When you file for dissolution in New Jersey, you must present grounds or a legitimate legal reason for the separation. New Jersey allows for dissolution on both no-fault and fault grounds. In a no-fault divorce, each spouse agrees to separate without blaming the other for the breakdown of the relationship. In a fault-based divorce, one or both spouses accuse the other of wrongdoing that contributed to the relationship’s breakdown.

sad elderly couple at home

You must meet all the following criteria to obtain a no-fault divorce in New Jersey:

  • Either you or your partner has lived in New Jersey for at least 12 consecutive months before you file for the dissolution.
  • You have experienced irreconcilable differences in your relationship for at least six months before you file.
  • The irreconcilable differences are reason enough to dissolve your marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership.
  • You feel confident there is no foreseeable way to reconcile your differences.

When you file for dissolution due to irreconcilable differences in New Jersey, you do not need to accuse your partner of wrongdoing. Accusations of marital misconduct do not impact the outcome of a no-fault divorce or related issues like alimony, property division, or child support.

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Attorneys Dedicated to High Net Worth & Complex Divorces

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Cases Settled Directly or Through Mediation

The Family Law department has handled thousands of cases . Our attorneys demonstrate an intelligent, insightful and caring approach toward our clients during these emotional times when family disputes evolve into family crises, striking a strong balance between litigation and negotiation. 

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Understanding New Jersey Fault-Based Divorce Law

upset couple at home

On the other hand, you can file for an at-fault divorce in New Jersey on any of the following grounds:

  • Adultery – Adultery occurs when one spouse or partner engages in voluntary sexual relations with someone other than their spouse or partner.
  • Abandonment – Abandonment occurs when one spouse willfully leaves the marital home for 12 consecutive months or longer.
  • Addiction – Addiction or habitual drunkenness occurs when one spouse is regularly intoxicated by alcohol or narcotics for 12 consecutive months or longer.
  • Deviant sexual conduct – The term is not well defined by state law but generally occurs when someone commits deviant sexual acts upon their partner without consent.
  • Extreme cruelty – Extreme cruelty occurs when someone treats their partner in a way that endangers their life, health, or emotional well-being.
  • Imprisonment – Grounds for divorce due to imprisonment exist when one spouse receives a jail sentence of at least 18 consecutive months.
  • Institutionalization – Grounds for divorce due to institutionalization exist when one spouse is hospitalized for mental illness for at least 24 consecutive months.
  • Separation – Legal separation occurs when spouses or partners stop living together in the same home for at least 18 consecutive months, and there is no reasonable possibility of reconciliation.

Fault-based divorces typically involve a dispute between partners. As a result, no-fault divorces are often preferable to save time and money and decrease stress. You can discuss your New Jersey divorce case with a knowledgeable family law attorney at our law firm to determine the best way forward in your specific situation.

Types of Divorce Matters Our Law Firm Handles

When you hire our attorneys, you can count on us to handle the following types of divorce-related issues:

Child Custody

The top priority in any child custody case is the best interests of the child or children involved. When these cases end up in court, they are among the most contentious and emotional matters we handle. Our attorneys can help you reach the custody arrangement that works best for your family and handle disputes with skill and compassion. If your custody matter needs to be litigated, we will recommend the appropriate experts to be retained to ease the process.

Parenting Time

Visitation or “parenting time” is another common issue in divorce cases involving spouses with minor children. Our divorce attorneys serving the Princeton area and statewide are dedicated to protecting each child’s best interests and your rights as a parent to participate in your children’s lives. We are prepared to take legal action on your behalf when necessary.

Child Support

New Jersey courts are guided by the principle that children are entitled to financial support from both parents. However, there are many vital considerations and exceptions when calculating child support payments up to specific earning guidelines the court must impose. The attorneys of Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman are prepared to help you protect your finances and fight for the best interests of your kids.

Child Relocation Issues

If you wish to move your child out of state after divorce, you will need to consider existing child custody or support orders. You will need help from a legal professional who can guide you through the process.

Alimony

If there is unequal earning power between spouses, the courts will often make an award of alimony, taking into consideration many factors, including the standard of living. Temporary support is generally available prior to final resolution. Whether your ex is demanding payments, or you are seeking support yourself, our divorce attorneys can help protect your rights.

Annulment

An annulment is different from a divorce judgment. An annulment effectively declares that a valid marriage never took place. To obtain an annulment in New Jersey, you will need help from a family law attorney to prove that the marriage was void due to bigamy, incest, fraud, or other legally cognizable reasons.

Equitable Distributions

In simple and complex cases the division of marital assets must be accomplished. Our attorneys are trained and knowledgeable in this area and will suggest the right professionals if needed for valuation purposes.

Property Settlement Agreements

Property division is one of the most critical considerations in most New Jersey divorce cases. We can help you develop a comprehensive negotiated agreement that addresses the specifics like marital assets and debts, alimony payments, child custody, and child support payments.

Same-Sex Marriages

In 2013, New Jersey approved legislation guaranteeing same-sex couples the legal right to marry. Despite the progress made in this area of the law, same-sex spouses continue to face unique family law issues, especially concerning child custody and parenting rights. Our experienced family law attorneys are here to help you navigate through these difficult and heart-wrenching issues.

Civil Unions

A civil union is legally equivalent to a marriage under New Jersey law. However, the same cannot be said for federal law. If you and your partner are joined together in a civil union, you could face legal issues if either of you travels, lives, or works in another state. Our team understands these challenges and is prepared to provide practical and effective legal solutions.

Domestic Partnerships

Many same-sex couples, age 62 or older, formally registered as domestic partners before New Jersey recognized same-sex civil unions in 2007. Today, domestic partners can choose to either continue living as domestic partners or enter into a civil union or same-sex marriage. However, the dates marking the beginning of the domestic partnership vs. the civil union can have significant legal consequences for asset division and support later on. A knowledgeable family law attorney can help you find an arrangement that works best for you.

Post-Judgment Enforcement and Modification

If you need to have the court change or enforce an order or judgment related to divorce, support, or custody, your attorney will file a motion seeking relief. Some common examples of post-judgment enforcement and modification applications include altering support payments, relocating children, or reimbursement for expenses.

Appeals

You have the right to appeal any final order or judgment from a family law court within 45 days of the decision. Remember that just because you can file an appeal does not mean you will successfully overturn a court decision. Appellate practice is a very specialized area with a unique set of procedural and legal rules. Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman family law attorneys all are experienced in and knowledgeable about appellate practice. They will initially help you evaluate your chances of success on appeal and, if you decide to pursue appeal, our attorneys are skilled at appellate brief writing and oral argument. We are also proficient at defending a trial-level order or judgment in the appellate court when your adversary appeals.

Common Types of Divorce Cases Our Firm Handles

person taking off wedding ring

The family law team at Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman is prepared to handle all types of New Jersey divorce cases, including the following:

  • Contested divorces – Cases involving partners who disagree on one or several divorce-related issues, such as property division or child custody
  • Uncontested divorces – Cases involving partners who agree on the legal matters related to their dissolution
  • High-net-worth divorces – Cases involving partners who own real estate or other assets with substantial monetary value
  • Divorces with or without children – Cases involving partners with children in common and those without
  • Collaborative divorces – Cases involving partners who wish to work together with their lawyers to craft out-of-court legal solutions

Do I Need an Attorney for a Divorce in New Jersey?

You can represent yourself in a divorce case, but doing so is almost certainly not in your best interest. You should not expect any special treatment from the court as a pro se litigant, and you will need to follow the court rules regardless of whether you are familiar with them.

Filing for divorce is difficult enough without having to navigate the court system alone. Furthermore, remember that you will have to live with the outcome of your case for a long time post-divorce. It pays to get things right the first time around, which is why it is best to work with an attorney in any divorce case.

At Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman, our divorce lawyers serving the Princeton area and statewide provide skilled representation and experienced guidance to help our clients make fully informed decisions every step of the way. Our team recognizes that every divorce case is unique. Many cases can be resolved without ever setting foot in a courtroom, while others may need to establish a litigation posture to enable reaching an appropriate outcome. Regardless of the circumstances, it is our job to support you through each stage of the process, helping you define your goals and develop a clear strategy to achieve them.

Considerations for Selecting the Right Divorce Lawyer

handing over ring divorce

When you consult with a divorce lawyer, you have specific and immediate concerns that are important to you and your family, such as financial issues, child custody, parenting time, and planning for the future. It is vital to choose the right attorney.

At Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman, our divorce attorneys are all trial lawyers. Not all divorce attorneys regularly try cases. Some clients have hired us as counsel when their previous attorney would not try their cases. In divorce matters, adversaries know whether an opposing attorney will eventually cave in to avoid trying a case, which is a weakness that impacts outcomes. Clients can obtain the best result in a settlement when they are represented by an attorney who is capable of going to trial if necessary. The capability to try cases in court allows us to successfully settle about 98% of cases outside of court.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Attorney

couple considering divorce

When you work with the lawyer who’s right for you, you’re far more likely to achieve a favorable resolution that withstands the test of time. If you are not sure where to start, consider the following factors as you make your family law attorney selection:

  • Experience – Keep in mind that not all attorneys have the right skills or experience to handle complex divorce cases. Find an attorney whose primary focus and expertise are in family law. Hiring an attorney without significant family law practice under his or her belt will put you at a significant disadvantage. A lawyer with detailed knowledge of New Jersey divorce law and extensive experience in the local family law court system will likely be an asset to you.
  • Availability – Ask about your prospective lawyer’s caseload and the amount of time he or she will have to devote to your case. Inquire about your attorney’s accessibility to answer questions or address your concerns in a timely manner.
  • Candor – The best lawyer in any situation is one who will tell their clients what they need to hear, not just what they want to hear. You want a lawyer who will evaluate your case frankly and candidly, so you have an accurate and realistic idea of what to expect.
  • Results – An attorney’s record of success in court is another critical factor to consider because if negotiation and settlement fail, litigation is a possibility. Therefore, ask about the prospective lawyer’s experience in court and the results they have achieved for their clients.
  • Rapport – You should feel comfortable with your attorney and feel you communicate openly and effectively with each other. The match has to feel right to you. An attorney who is right for your friend may not be right for you.

What to Expect When Meeting with a Divorce Lawyer from Our Firm

couple discussing divorce

During your consultation with the divorce attorneys at Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman, we will:

  • Meet with you in person or on Zoom
  • Review all the documents relevant to your case
  • Complete an analysis based on the facts you present
  • Discuss what the best option is to settle your case and make a proposed settlement to the other side
  • Explain what is likely to happen if the matter goes to trial, given the existing state of the law regarding issues such as custody, parenting time, child support, alimony, division of assets, the client’s responsibility for counsel fees, expert fees, and other costs
  • Explain the procedural steps once the case is in the court system
  • Provide you with practical measures to implement while the matter is pending to safeguard your interests as the divorce action proceeds – for example, financial protective measures, measures to implement for issues concerning children, significant documents you will need, and protecting your personal property
  • Present alternative dispute resolution options and the pros and cons of each

Tips to Prepare for Your First Meeting with a Divorce Attorney

divorce in dictionary with rings

You can maximize the time you have with the attorney at the first consultation by doing the following:

  • Bring pertinent documents such as prenuptial agreements and any existing family court orders or judgments.
  • Identify your primary and secondary goals. In other words, write down what you want as your outcome and the next best thing.
  • Write down any questions you have for the lawyer. It can be difficult to remember what you want to ask when you are absorbing so much information. A list of essential questions is a helpful way of keeping your concerns organized.

Talk to Our Divorce Lawyers Today

With one of the largest family law departments of any firm in central New Jersey, Pellettieri Rabstein & Altman has the experience and resources to handle every detail of your divorce case. Contact our divorce lawyers serving the Princeton area and statewide today to learn more about how we can help you. We are here to support you and help you achieve your goals.