I am considering divorce. How long will it take with all these court vacations?

Q. I keep hearing that there are not enough judges. I was thinking of getting a divorce but I haven’t met a lawyer yet. How long should a divorce take – there are no children involved – and will the shortage of judges make it worse?

— Spouse, for now

A. You are correct that there are a large number of judicial vacancies in New Jersey.

This has enormous effects across the state, severely limiting New Jerseyans’ access to the courts.

In divorce court, 10 counties are unable to hear divorce trials because they lack judges, Jeralyn Lawrence, family law attorney at Lawrence Law, told Watchung. In four other counties, trial dates are distributed, but sparingly and extremely infrequently, she said.

“There’s a vacancy for six judges,” said Lawrence, who is also president of the New Jersey State Bar Association. “We are at historic levels of judicial vacancies with no relief in sight as the Governor and Legislature do not act quickly enough to fill these vacancies.”

If you are able to settle your divorce case and sign a Marital Settlement Agreement, resolving all the issues of your divorce, your divorce can be processed by submitting the divorce documents by mail to the court and without ever having to go to in court, Lawrence said. .

“This process of getting a final decree of divorce on paper and by mail used to take four to six weeks from the time you signed an agreement,” she said. “It can now take up to 10 weeks to get your final decree of divorce signed and filed with the court, but you can still divorce and within a reasonable time.”

If, however, you are unable to resolve your divorce amicably and require court intervention, you will likely be in a very long line of litigants waiting for their day in court and your case. divorce will drag on until a judge is available to hear your case. , she says.

“The judicial vacancy disaster is wreaking havoc on families, children and people who need access to the court. It robs people of the ability to rely on the courts to resolve disputes,” Lawrence said. “However, if you are able to do it on your own, you will be able to divorce despite this terrible situation.”

Send your questions to [email protected].

Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboos column for NJ Advance Media and is the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Follow NJMoneyHelp on Twitter @NJMoneyHelp. To find NJMoneyHelp on Facebook. Register for NJMoneyHelp.comit is weekly e-newsletter.

About the author