If you are going through a family law case in New Jersey, you may wonder what is happening with the backlog of cases. You may have also heard that things are moving slowly and that your case could be affected. In this blog post, our family law attorneys at DeTommaso Law Group, LLC will discuss the backlog of New Jersey family law cases and how it may affect your divorce or family law matter.
Current Case Backlog
As of May 2022, there are over 81,250 backlogged cases in New Jersey. This number started to decrease from the peak of cases in September 2021, when there were over 97,000 total backlogged cases.
This increase in backlogged cases in New Jersey is due to various factors, including:
- An increase in the number of family law cases being filed
- A decrease in the number of judges available to hear these cases
In New Jersey, judges have a mandatory retirement age of 70, so while some are retiring early due to the COVID-19 pandemic, others are reaching their retirement age and must leave their posts. This is creating many vacancies across the state, which are slowly being filled.
In addition, complex cases may take longer to resolve, especially if the parties involved depend on litigation to create solutions to their contested issues.
How Might This Affect My Family Law Case?
If you have a family law case that needs to be handled, you may face a delay. The current case backlog is causing significant wait times for families who wish to settle child custody disputes, file for divorce, or seek other legal remedies for their family law matters. Divorcing couples should expect that their divorce may take at least one year to finalize, as they will have to wait for a hearing date for the finalization of the divorce, no matter if they use tools such as mediation or arbitration to create agreements regarding their contested issues.
The county where your case will be heard will also affect the backlog and wait for your case. As cases are handled in the county of residence and filing, your county’s specific backlog will affect when your assigned hearing date will be.
As of May 2022, the total case backlog in each county includes:
- Somerset: 1,121 cases
- Hunterdon: 269 cases
- Warren: 359 cases
- Monmouth: 2,724 cases
- Essex: 26,347 cases.
The backlog listed above includes all cases in each county and does not provide for only family-law-related cases. To check the case backlog in your county, click here.
What Can Be Done?
If you are beginning your family law case, one of the most important things you can do is understand that it will take time to have a legal resolution. By approaching your case with the understanding that you will not have an immediate solution, it can help you navigate the court system and seek an agreement in your family’s best interests.
Another thing you can do to help speed up your case is to use tools outside of the courtroom and alternate dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or arbitration, if you need assistance working with your spouse to build agreements. Alternative dispute resolution methods are an effective way for both parties to discuss their priorities and build solutions to their contested issues that benefit them while staying out of the courtroom.
If you have an ongoing family law case, you can contact your attorney for updates regarding hearing dates and your case status. Your attorney might be able to provide you with more information regarding your assigned hearing case. While it can be frustrating that your case may take years to resolve, approaching it with patience can help you find the best possible outcome.
DeTommaso Law Group, LLC Family Law Attorneys
At DeTommaso Law Group, LLC, our attorneys have over 125 years of combined experience helping our clients seek their best possible outcome. With our strategic and aggressive approach, we can help our clients as they seek the results they deserve in their family law cases and work toward a final resolution.
Are you concerned about your current family law case and where it fits in the backlog? Schedule a consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys today by calling (908) 274-3028 to see how we can help you.