More important, your attorney is ready. Ready for your New Jersey Early Settlement Panel. Ready to settle your divorce case and get on with your life.
When your case is scheduled for an ESP, you and your lawyer will show up at 9:00 in the particular judge's courtroom at the Monmouth County Courthouse, and the judge will give a description from the bench as to what the Early Settlement Panel program here in Monmmouth County is all about.
The Judge will explain that there are volunteer lawyers here today who have expertise in divorce law who are here to help anybody who may be struggling on one issue or 100 issues to try to come to an overall resolution of their Monmouth County divorce case.
Once the judge calls the calendar, the the lawyer for the husband will check in, the lawyer for the wife will check in, and once those two check in, the judge recognizes that that case is ready to go.
She will go through her whole list. There may be 10 cases on the list or there may be 30 cases on the list, but there are only a few panelists available.
This means that some people will be out of the courtroom by 9:15 am or so into the hallway looking for a conference room to start their panel, whereas other people will likely be waiting for an hour, or 2 hours, or 3 hours with nothing happening quite yet.
Those people who are waiting, very often will choose to get together in the hallway and try to negotiate any remaining issues so that they can try to get divorced that day, perhaps even before reaching their Early Settlement Panel.
Some divorcing spouses are well prepared and are even able to show up in court with a settled case What the judge normally does in this situation is once the whole list is called and she sees who is there and who is not yet there, and once the people who are scheduled for the ESP actually start leaving the courtroom and go to the panel rooms, the judge will normally call those people who are there with settled cases, and will actually complete the divorces for those people fairly immediately. Frequently there are one, two, three, or maybe four of those settled cases there and ready to be finalized in Court.
For people who have settled their divorce cases at this point in time it is usually (but not always) a very low key procedure. The hard part is behind them. The hard part was really negotiating the deal, but the uncontested divorce hearing is really the judge just getting an opportunity to listen to the lawyers question their clients about the voluntariness of the of the agreement.
The Judge wants to make sure that neither the husband nor the wife is feeling any duress, that neither of them are under any the influence of any medicine or alcohol or anything that could affect their ability to understand what is happening in Court or what the agreement says, that type of thing.
Once the judge is comfortable that those concerns have been properly addressed, the judge will normally grant the divorce.