Unless you have been divorced previously, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed by all the information you need to process about getting a divorce in New Jersey. And while it can be complicated, it doesn’t have to be confusing. While you are in the process of choosing a divorce lawyer — and you should interview a few to find the right fit for you — the following information will be helpful for you to know:
Reason for divorce. New Jersey has both no-fault and fault divorce. The grounds for a no-fault divorce including living separately for at least 18 months or irreconcilable differences that have lasted at least six months. The grounds for fault divorce in New Jersey include adultery, desertion, extreme mental or physical cruelty, alcohol or drug addiction, imprisonment, institutionalization for mental illness, or deviant sexual behavior.
Residency requirement. At least one of you has to have been a New Jersey resident for at least one year in order to meet the residency requirement for filing for divorce in New Jersey. If you are claiming adultery, one of you must be a resident at the time of filing but there is no time limitation.
Practice patience. Depending on the complexities involved — assets, debts, children, etc. — a divorce can take 9-18 months to reach a conclusion. If there are significant disagreements, it can take several years. Don’t expect it to happen overnight. Mediation can speed up the process, and is less expensive than litigation, so should be considered.
Basis for custody decisions. Judges in New Jersey use the “best interest of the child” standard when making decisions on child custody, so don’t think you can threaten to cut off your children from your spouse as a way to punish him or her for bad behavior.
Keep expectations reasonable. Even if there is a lot of acrimony in your split, you need to remember to keep your expectations reasonable. Even if you feel you are entitled to more than half of your marital assets, you probably won’t get them.
Keep good financial records. You should have a good handle on your income and expenses, as these will be used to calculate support decisions by the court. Children are entitled to receive financial support from both parents until they reach the age of 19.
Spousal support is not guaranteed. Spousal support may or may not be awarded in your case. Spousal support may be awarded for a certain time period to allow one spouse to get the education or training needed to get a job that will support him or her.
Realize equitable doesn’t mean equal. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, which means that a judge will decide financial issues based on fairness.
Know what you want. Think about what matters most to you in your divorce while realizing that every divorce involves some compromises.
It is important that you do not wait too long to retain a divorce lawyer when you are facing a family law issue. Delays can cost you valuable legal rights, and you want to make sure that you have the advice and support you need to make the best decisions for you and your family long after the divorce settlement is reached. Contact us today for your free consultation.