The Cut-Off Agreement in June

When a potential matrimonial client has their first consultation with an attorney, one of the common questions asked is whether their spouse has a continuing right to their assets since separation. In New Jersey, even if the parties have been separated for several months or a year, the date on which a Complaint for Divorce is filed is presumed to be the “cut-off date” for purposes of determining the allocation of marital assets and debts in equitable distribution. Naturally, a potential client then often believes that the best option is to quickly file a Complaint for Divorce.

However, unless there is an urgent situation that might require Court intervention, the parties should also consider whether it is instead appropriate to enter into a private, written “Cut-Off Agreement.” 

Under the terms of a Cut-Off Agreement the parties can mutually agree upon the termination date of the marriage to establish clarification of financial obligations and for purposes of equitable distribution in lieu of filing a Complaint for Divorce. A Cut-Off Agreement can allow the parties to amicably exchange documents and negotiate settlement without the pressures of the Court to abide by administration deadlines and procedures. This can be an especially important option to consider in the month of June.

In New Jersey, the Court’s calendar year runs from July 1st until June 30th.  This means that there is more pressure to resolve cases by the end of June to lower the outstanding caseload before the next calendar year.  For example, if a party files for divorce in June 2024, the last two digits of their docket number will be -24.  In this case, by the time the Court’s calendar year ends in June 2025, the Court will want to have the matter resolved if possible. However, if a party files for divorce in July 2024, the last two digits of their docket number will be -25, signifying that the case commenced in the next calendar year. In doing so, the parties are able to “buy” themselves some additional time to amicably work towards a resolution.

In a judicial system still plagued with backlogs from the pandemic and judicial vacancies, the strategy of when and how to file a Complaint for Divorce can be very important.  If you are considering filing a Complaint for Divorce this summer, speak with an experienced attorney at Cohn Lifland about the benefits of a Cut-Off Agreement in June.