Divorces, custody disputes, waiting years for hearings in New Jersey

You want a divorce, but you can’t go to a judge to work out all the details and officially move on.

For countless New Jersey couples, this has been the struggle for years, due to a significant backlog at the Superior Court level. Despite some progress earlier this month, nearly 60 Superior Court justice seats remain vacant in the Garden State.

“The state really needs to understand the impact this is having on families,” said Jessica Swenson, partner and chair of the family law department of Curcio Mirzaian Sirot in Roseland.

Swenson said his office saw a huge spike in divorce filings, as well as domestic violence cases, when the coronavirus pandemic hit New Jersey in 2020. That surge caused an already existing backlog to skyrocket.

Now, as the families wait to appear before a judge — Swenson’s office has heard some hearings may not be possible until the end of 2023 — they are left in limbo, with a far from complete family situation. ideal.

“You have couples who have decided to end their marriage, who are forced to stay in the same household, because people cannot afford to reside in two separate houses until the divorce is finalized”, a- she declared. “And when there are children involved in these scenarios, they are really the victims here.”

As is the case at the Supreme Court level, appointments for Superior Court judges are made by Governor Phil Murphy. The state Senate approved four names in the second week of August, but 59 seats remain vacant statewide and more justices are expected to retire by the end of the year, according to Swenson. .

Governor Murphy has named dozens of names for the Superior Court in 2022; most have been confirmed.

“He will continue to appoint qualified and capable individuals to the judiciary and to work with the Senate through the notice and consent process,” Murphy’s New Jersey office told 101.5 in July.

At the same time, three of New Jersey’s seven Supreme Court seats remain vacant.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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