How the N.J. court system backlog is affecting divorces

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

There is a significant backlog of civil cases in New Jersey. Someone who has been involved with the industry for nearly 40 years claimed that she had never seen a worse backlog in her life.

The impact this is having on divorce cases cannot be overstated. In some instances, trial dates are being set for years in the future. At best, people have to wait months even to get in court. This is very problematic for those who are interested in ending their marriages without such a significant delay.

Additionally, this is causing some financial uncertainty for these couples. They need the divorce to be finalized so they can see where they stand in a post-divorce world, after the division of assets and parenting time. But without any court orders or decisions on these fronts, they are left in limbo, living in uncertainty.

Why is this happening?

There are two main reasons why this is happening. The first is just that there’s a backlog that is reportedly around 75,000 cases. It just takes time to get through these, meaning that new cases are put at the back of the line.

But the root cause of that backlog is that there are a lot of vacancies in the judicial branch. There simply are not enough judges working in the court system, and those who have retired are not being replaced fast enough. This means that it’s very difficult for the limited number of judges that remain to get through all these backlogged cases, and the problem keeps compounding on itself.

It’s unclear exactly when this issue will be overcome, but it’s very important for couples who are getting divorced to know what is happening and what legal steps they can take.

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