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Divorce trials put on hold as governor, Democrats argue

In Essex County, New Jersey, ending a marriage has become temporarily harder. Anyone attempting to head to trial for a contested divorce will have to wait as politics get in the way of the legal system. The disagreement involves the governor and Senate Democrats.

According to reports, the Democrats were blocking some appointments to commissions and boards made by the governor. In retaliation, the governor has decided not to act on nominations for several vacancies in the Essex County Superior Court that were made by the Democrats. The disagreement has been growing for more than a year now.

Because of this spat, the chief judge decided earlier this month to postpone all trials that do not require speedy processing by law. This decision has not only affected divorce cases, but many other complex civil cases as well. Some of those included are medical malpractice suits that have yet to be decided.

The third-largest county in the state now has approximately 1,500 divorce cases that were active before being put on hold. This means that many couples are caught in a very awkward position, leaving them legally wed but emotionally separated. Some attorneys are worried that they may see a rise in the prevalence of domestic violence as many of these couples are forced to continue living in the same home as their divorce's future is left in limbo.

Hoping to mollify the political dispute, the Essex County Bar Association offered to host the two parties so discussions could begin. A Democrat that held up one of the nominations made by the governor refused to attend.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Politics Jam N.J. Court," Heather Haddon, Dec. 20, 2011

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