Once you’ve made the decision to end your marriage, understanding how the New Jersey divorce process works will help prepare you for what lies ahead. While the attorney you choose to represent you will be helping you every step of the way and preparing you for what is to come, it’s still good to know what to expect.
At least one of you has to have lived in New Jersey for 12 consecutive months 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 the 12-month minimum is waived.
Grounds for divorce in New Jersey
New Jersey has both no-fault and fault divorce. The grounds for a no-fault divorce include:
- Living separately for at least 18 months with no chance of reconciliation, or
- Irreconcilable differences that have lasted at least six months.
The grounds for a fault divorce in New Jersey include:
- Desertion for 12 months
- Extreme mental or physical cruelty
- Alcohol or drug addiction
- Imprisonment for 18 months
- Institutionalization for mental illness for 24 months after marriage
- Deviant sexual behavior
Filing for divorce in NJ
Your attorney will file a Complaint for Divorce with the court and copies of the complaint will be provided to your spouse, who then has 35 days in which to respond to the Complaint. He or she will then file an Answer if they agree with everything in the Complaint, an Appearance if they agree to the divorce but disagree with some issues, a Counterclaim if they wish to provide more grounds for divorce, or they may choose not to respond at all. In that case, the court may enter a default judgment in your favor.
Uncontested vs. contested divorce
If you and your spouse agree on alimony, property division, and child custody and support, you may qualify for an uncontested divorce. These divorces proceed to a final hearing before a judge, who reviews and signs the final decree.
A contested divorce means that you and your spouse cannot agree on one or more issues and opt to have a judge make the final decision. The Court will order you to participate in mediation in which both sides try to resolve their differences outside the courtroom. This is less expensive than a trial and is usually encouraged.
If you have not resolved your issues through mediation, then a trial before a judge will be scheduled. You and your attorney will gather evidence to support your claims for division of property, alimony, and child custody and support. The judge will consider many factors as set forth in New Jersey statutes; your attorney will go over these carefully with you in order to develop the best strategies for your case.
can rely on Murphy & Cistaro to skillfully negotiate and mediate your
issues to a satisfactory resolution.
Should the need arise, you can also count on our experience for being
aggressive litigators if the situation calls for a more assertive
response. Contact us today for your free consultation.