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. Through VLJ’s Divorce Program, lawyers assist litigants with preparing the necessary pleadings to file for divorce or to respond to a pending divorce action. Lawyers also provide advice to litigants about how to proceed during each step in the divorce process. Litigants leave the program 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 at least 2 clinics 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. Attorneys 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 volunteer questions. The program is open to all financially eligible clients with divorce actions in Essex County. The Divorce Filing workshop 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 workshop is also held at the Family Court in Newark, but is held on the 1st Thursday of the month from 2:00-5:00. Metered street parking and private lots are available close to the court house and the building is close to the Newark city subway and Newark Penn Station.
How to sign up
To become a volunteer with VLJ’s Divorce Program, please fill out VLJ’s volunteer registration form.