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Family Law

Political Spat Puts Divorcing Couples in NJ County in ‘Uncomfortable Purgatory’

Posted Dec 21, 2011 7:41 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A political spat over judicial appointments in New Jersey has put contested divorce trials on hold in the state’s busiest county court system.

Gov. Chris Christie has refused to approve candidates to fill six judicial vacancies in Essex County because Democrats have held up his appointments to boards and commissions, according to the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) and the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

Facing a judicial shortage, the county’s chief judge has suspended all cases that don’t require a speedy trial, including divorce cases. As a result, “Many separating couples are now locked in an uncomfortable purgatory,” the Wall Street Journal says. One family law lawyer, Francine Aster, told the newspapers she has a client who is still living in the same house as his wife until finances can be sorted out.

Such situations can bring conflict, Aster told the Wall Street Journal. "I'm afraid that we are going to see an increase of domestic violence,” she said. “We hope to heaven that it's not the case.”

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