How to File a Motion in NJ Family Court

How to File a Motion in NJ Family Court

Family law matters can be complex and emotionally charged, often requiring legal intervention to resolve disputes. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to request a court order or modify an existing one, filing a motion in New Jersey Family Court is the appropriate course of action. This article will guide you through the process of filing a motion and provide answers to some frequently asked questions.

Step 1: Understand the Purpose of a Motion
A motion is a formal request made to the court, asking for a specific ruling or action to be taken. In family law, motions are commonly used to address issues such as child custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and modifications to existing orders. Filing a motion allows you to present your case to a judge and seek a resolution in your favor.

Step 2: Consult with an Attorney
While it is possible to file a motion on your own, it is highly recommended to seek the guidance of an experienced family law attorney. They will help you understand the legal aspects of your case, gather necessary evidence, and draft a persuasive motion that complies with court rules and procedures.

Step 3: Drafting the Motion
Your attorney will work closely with you to prepare the motion, which typically includes a written document outlining the facts and legal arguments supporting your request. This document must be clear, concise, and organized, providing the judge with a complete picture of your situation. Attach any supporting documents, such as financial records or custody schedules, that can strengthen your case.

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Step 4: Filing the Motion
Once the motion is prepared, it must be filed with the Family Division of the Superior Court in the county where your case is being heard. You will need to pay a filing fee unless you qualify for a waiver based on financial hardship. The court will assign a case number and return a filed-stamped copy of the motion to you.

Step 5: Serve the Motion
You must serve the filed motion on all parties involved in the case, including the opposing party or their attorney. Personal service is usually required, meaning the documents must be delivered by a third party, not involved in the case, who is over the age of 18. Proper service is crucial to ensure all parties have notice of the motion and an opportunity to respond.

Step 6: Responding to the Motion
After being served with the motion, the opposing party will have a designated period, typically 35 days, to respond. They can either file a written response or appear in court on the scheduled hearing date to present their arguments. It is important to review their response carefully and discuss it with your attorney to prepare counter-arguments if necessary.


1. Can I file a motion without an attorney?
Yes, it is possible to file a motion on your own, but it is generally recommended to consult with a family law attorney to ensure your rights are protected and that you present a strong case.

2. How long does it take for a motion to be heard?
The time it takes for a motion to be heard varies depending on court schedules and the complexity of the case. It can range from a few weeks to several months.

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3. Can I request temporary relief in a motion?
Yes, you can request temporary relief, such as temporary custody, child support, or visitation, in your motion. The court may grant temporary orders until a final decision is made.

4. Can I modify an existing court order through a motion?
Yes, if there has been a significant change in circumstances, you can file a motion to modify an existing court order.

5. What happens if the opposing party does not respond to the motion?
If the opposing party fails to respond within the specified timeframe, the court may proceed to make a decision based on the information provided by the moving party.

6. What should I do if I disagree with the court’s decision?
If you disagree with the court’s decision, you may have the option to appeal the ruling. Consult with your attorney to determine the best course of action.

7. Can I request a hearing date of my choice?
In most cases, you can suggest a preferred hearing date when filing your motion. However, the court will ultimately decide the scheduling based on availability.

8. Can I settle my case without going to court?
Yes, it is possible to settle your case through negotiation, mediation, or alternative dispute resolution methods. If an agreement is reached, the court can issue an order reflecting the terms of the settlement.

Navigating the legal system can be overwhelming, especially in family law matters. By understanding the process of filing a motion in New Jersey Family Court and seeking the assistance of a qualified attorney, you can effectively present your case and work towards a resolution that protects your interests and those of your family.

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