Anatomy of a Divorce Series: Getting Started Part II

I explained in the first part of this series how you can get your divorce started without filing a Complaint, which gets the court involved. I also explained some of the advantages of doing that. However, there are times when the opposite is true. There are times when you should NOT hold off on filing a Complaint. Here are a few of the most common examples:

  1. You are about to get a grant of stock or stock options or other large entitlement. The date a Complaint for Divorce is filed is the official end date for the marriage, with few exceptions. That means that whatever accrued during the marriage (money, assets, debt) is “in the pot” to be divided between the parties. That means that if you are about to get a financial windfall, you will want to ensure that the cut off date happens before you get the windfall. There are some exceptions to this, which is why I emphasize consulting with an attorney to advise you. Do not rely on this article to decide if you need to file a Complaint.
  2. Your spouse is taking money out of accounts, not paying bills, or creating other financial emergencies. Both parties to a divorce are expected to play nice in the sandbox. That means that you both continue to have the same access to money, cars, the house, health insurance, the kids, and various other things. Sometimes people don’t do that. If your spouse has cut you off from funds, credit cards, bank accounts, the children, the house, or otherwise severely disturbed the status quo to your detriment, it’s very important that you seek the advice of an attorney and take appropriate action.
  3. Your spouse has taken the children from the home without your consent. If your spouse has moved out of the home with the children or is otherwise interfering with your parental rights, you should consult with a divorce attorney and take appropriate action. That may involve filing a Complaint to get the court involved. You may need to obtain a Court Order designated the custody and parenting time arrangement or even compelling the other spouse to return the children to the home.
  4. You are the victim of domestic violence.Most cases involving domestic violence are not recommended for mediation because there is an inherent power imbalance in the relationship that makes mediation ineffective. You can talk to your attorney further about this and make a decision together about whether negotiation with your spouse is appropriate and if so, under what circumstances.
  5. Your spouse has moved to another state. If you want to ensure that the litigation happens in your state, you may need to file a Complaint in New Jersey right away before your spouse establishes jurisdiction in another state. Otherwise, you could potentially be stuck litigating your divorce in another state.

As you can see, the decision whether to file a Complaint right away is an integral part of the overall strategy of your case. Not filing right away can have serious adverse consequences for you depending on the specific circumstances of your case.

If you have any questions about this process or you need someone to assist you in getting your divorce started, we have experienced attorneys at Netsquire that can help you do that. Get started with us by scheduling your Client Vision Meeting .

About the Author


John Nachlinger is a co-founder and managing attorney of Netsquire, a family law firm focused on streamlining divorces through effective mediation, settlement drafting, and court filing assistance. As a New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney and Qualified Mediator, John guides couples toward equitable agreements without the cost and stress of litigation.

Recognized as a New Jersey Super Lawyer for over a decade, John’s client-focused approach aims to foster understanding during challenging transitions. With a background spanning top law journals, judicial clerkships, and boutique family law firms, John now applies his analytical skills to create workable solutions for all parties. His mediation services reshape the divorce journey by prioritizing compassion and compromise.

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