Divorce Program - ESSEX COUNTY

The divorce process can be confusing and overwhelming for most people with lawyers.  Litigants need to resolve issues relating to child custody and parenting time, child support, alimony, and the division of marital debts/assets.  But in New Jersey and across the nation, the rate of self-representation in divorce matters continues to grow.  Countless litigants have their pleadings dismissed because of procedural errors or failing to meet court deadlines. VLJ's Divorce Program serves to assist these pro se litigants by holding legal clinics at the courthouses where volunteer lawyers provide advice on how to proceed during each step of the divorce process. Additionally, the lawyers assist with preparing the necessary pleadings to file for divorce or to respond to a pending divorce action. Litigants leave the clinics with completed divorce pleadings that they can file with the family clerk’s office. 

Who can participate?

Prior divorce experience is not required to volunteer for this program, although attorneys with family law experience are always welcome to volunteer with this program.  VLJ has training materials on divorce in New Jersey that must be reviewed prior to volunteering.  All new volunteers must commit to volunteering at least twice within 12 months.  Each new volunteer will shadow an experienced volunteer at his/her first clinic.  

What do volunteers do at the clinic?

Volunteers provide advice and prepare pleadings for clients who need help navigating the divorce process from filing to final judgment.  They help clients prepare initial divorce complaints and supplemental pleadings, discuss options for serving the other party, draft answers to divorce complaints, and prepare default documents and final judgments of divorce.  Additionally, attorneys advise clients regarding the court process and timelines.  A VLJ staff attorney attends every clinic and is available to answer volunteers’ questions.  The program is open to all financially eligible clients with divorce actions in Essex County.  The Divorce Filing clinic is held on the 2nd Thursday of the month at the Family Court in downtown Newark.  Volunteers should plan to be at the clinic from 2:00-5:00 pm.  The Post Filing clinic is also held at the Family Court in Newark, but on the 1st Thursday of the month from 2:00-5:00 pm. The court house is within walking distance of the Newark city subway and Newark Penn Station. There is also metered street parking and private lots available nearby.

Union County

VLJ’s Divorce Program in Union County is held on the fourth Thursday of every other month from 12:30-4:30 pm in Elizabeth.  The first segment of the program is a seminar about the divorce process in New Jersey led by an experienced matrimonial attorney. The seminar is held from 12:30-1:30 pm Immediately after the seminar, from 1:30-4:30 pm , clients  meet with volunteer attorneys, who assist them with initial pleadings as well as post-filing motions and provide them with advice and counsel regarding the divorce process.


VLJ’s Divorce Program in Union County is currently open to volunteers from Merck and Foley Hoag LLP. If you are, however, an experienced family law attorney and would like to volunteer at our Union County Divorce Clinics, we urge you to do so by completing the registration form.