Helfand & Associates are matrimonial lawyers located at 575 Route 10 East, in Whippany, New Jersey.

The primary issues in a divorce are custody, parenting time, alimony, child support, equitable distribution of assets, equitable distribution of debts, pre-marital property, life insurance, medical insurance, and college costs.

When a complaint for divorce is filed and served, and the other party ignores it and does not file an answer, a default will be entered. When this occurs, the party in default is left without legal protection. If one party ignores the divorce complaint, a default has serious long-term and, possibly, permanent consequences.

A default means that a party failed to address the complaint. The plaintiff can then, in those cases where equitable distribution, alimony, child support, and other relief is sought, serve the defaulting party a Notice of Proposed Final Judgment. If there has been no written Property Settlement Agreement (PSA), the Notice shall include a proposed trial date, a statement of the value of each asset, and the amount of each debt sought to be distributed, a proposal for distribution, a statement as to whether the Plaintiff is seeking alimony and/or child support and the amount, a proposed parenting schedule, and a statement as to the relief sought.

The Plaintiff is required to file a Case Information Statement (CIS) which is a detailed financial document indicating the income, assets, debts, family composition, and all aspects to be addressed by the court. If the court has jurisdiction over the defendant due to in-person or personal service of the summons and complaint, it can enter judgments as to all issues. If the court has in rem jurisdiction or quasi in rem jurisdiction, the court can enter binding judgments with respect to equitable distribution. This means that if the defendant could not be personally served, service is still good by personal service outside of the state, by mail, or by publication.

Plaintiff’s attorney will be able to provide the necessary proofs for an Affidavit to the court, specifying what has been done for the purpose of effectuating service and notice. Helfand & Associates have successfully assisted our clients in obtaining service and jurisdiction over evasive defendants or hard-to-locate defendants.

In some other cases, the defendant may have filed an answer and is not in default, but then fails to obtain counsel and agrees to things that he/she misunderstands and then later regrets. This can happen if the defendant just gets fed up and will sign anything. For example, parents have given their ex-spouses sole legal custody of the children; people have signed over property, such as a house, in which they are still liable on the mortgage; parties have agreed to non-modifiable alimony or support; they agree to allow the spouse to move anywhere with the children. Anyone who has agreed to improper terms will be bound and can seriously regret the consequences.

Parties in a matrimonial matter will need to make life-changing decisions. Future circumstances can change but if a person has not protected their legal rights and interests, the court will hold that person to their end of the bargain. It is very difficult to convince a court that a provision is unfair if a party has already signed it. For example, if a party agrees to more support than he/she can afford and does not pay the arrears, they will build up and will not be eliminated by the court.

In sum, if a party either defaults or answers but avoids addressing the issues in their divorce, it is likely that the matter will end up before the court. Helfand & Associates, located in Morris County, are experienced matrimonial attorneys. We seek to represent our clients to obtain fair terms for their divorce matters. We provide full knowledge of what our clients’ legal rights are in order to attain a road map for the future which is reasonable. Every divorce is unique and based on our experience a good divorce agreement can prevent post-judgment litigation.

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