Filing for a divorce can be a complicated process. It is also emotionally charged for nearly everyone involved. The interplay of emotions can make it difficult to understand the logistics of how to divorce in NJ. Hopefully, this guide will help.
Why File for Divorce?
There are several reasons someone might file for a divorce. It is not usually a decision that is made lightly, but the reasons you are considering making such a major life decision will help you determine how to divorce in NJ.
How to Divorce in NJ: Grounds for Divorce
First, you will need to determine the ground/s (reasons) for your divorce. If you are the plaintiff (the person filing for a divorce), you have to decide if you are filing based on irreconcilable differences, something your spouse did that legally entitles you to a divorce, or a process for an uncontested divorce, which is provided by NJ law.
Irreconcilable differences in NJ
To say that a couple suffers from “irreconcilable differences” mean that neither spouse is at fault for the dissolution of the marriage. In other words, it is “no-fault divorce.”
This type of divorce can help decrease the level of animosity that can often occur when spouses are accusing and blaming each other for the failure of the marriage. You and your spouse may not agree on how your marriage is dissolved or what should be stipulated in your marital settlement agreement, but there will be less arguing if each party is not trying to prove reasons for the other party’s fault.
Although this type of divorce is attractive because it tends to reduce animosity, it is not always in the best interest of one spouse or a child to proceed in this way. For this reason, it is a good idea to talk about your divorce with an experienced NJ family lawyer before making a final decision about the reason for your divorce.
You could also choose to move forward with a fault-based divorce complaint. There are several legal reasons that one spouse may be at fault for the failure of the marriage. These are grounds for divorce; however, the plaintiff must prove that the reason is true.
Some of the fault-based claims a plaintiff can make against his or her ex-spouse are these:
o Adultery – an extramarital affair
o Abuse –physical abuse, mental abuse, or both
o Separation – one spouse has left for at least 18 months and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation
o Incarceration –incarceration for at least 18 months
o Institutionalization –institutionalization for mental health reasons for 24 months or more
o Drug or Alcohol Abuse – habitual use of alcohol or narcotics for at least 12 months
When determining how to divorce in NJ, you may find that an uncontested divorce is the easiest way to get divorced if you can be in agreement with your soon-to-be ex-spouse.
An uncontested divorce is a divorce in which both spouses agree to all the terms and conditions of the divorce and the marital settlement agreement. Everything must be completely agreed upon by both spouses to qualify for an uncontested divorce proceeding. If there is any disagreement at all, the divorce is not uncontested and will carry forward as a fault-based divorce or a divorce based on irreconcilable differences.
Again, just because an uncontested divorce is available does not mean it is the best choice for you. To learn about how these NJ laws apply in your situation, contact an experienced divorce lawyer in NJ.
Residency Requirements in NJ
In order to qualify to file for a divorce in the state of NJ, one or both of the spouses must have lived there for at least 12 months.
Where to File for Divorce in NJ
Determining what county to file for divorce in can be complicated if you or your spouse has moved into the state of NJ. As discussed below, where you will file also depends on the grounds for your divorce.
If you are filing for a divorce with a fault-based claim, it is customary to file for divorce in the county in which the alleged transgression that broke the marriage occurred.
If both spouses have moved out of the county where the transgression occurred, the plaintiff can file in the county where he or she currently resides. If the defendant still lives in the county where the alleged wrongdoing occurred, the plaintiff may choose to file in that county.
If you are filing for a divorce based on irreconcilable differences because neither spouse is at fault for the dissolution of the marriage, the plaintiff can file in the county of his or her current residence.
The county of residence of either spouse may be chosen as the filing location of a divorce in an uncontested NJ divorce.
How to Divorce in NJ: Hearings & Judgments of Divorce
Once you have filed for divorce, the court will schedule a series of hearings based on the complaint and grounds for divorce listed in the complaint.
During these hearings, the court will consider any evidence to determine which party is at fault for the divorce, if applicable. Documentation will be collected as to property, assets, financial data, and child custody arrangements from both parties.
Any agreement you and your spouse can come to regarding the child custody arrangements, support, division of property and assets will be incorporated into a marital settlement agreement.
If there are issues that you and your spouse cannot agree upon, the court will make a judgment as to the terms that could not be agreed upon and will include its decision about those issues in the judgment of divorce.
The Bottom Line: Determining How to Divorce in NJ
Determining how to divorce in NJ can be difficult, with tricky complications during a potentially emotionally charged time for you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse.
If you need help determining how to divorce in NJ or you have questions about NJ divorce law, contact me, Elizabeth Rozin-Golinder, by filling out my Contact Form or calling (732) 810-0034. Located in East Brunswick, I have years of experience as a NJ divorce attorney, including Middlesex County and Monmouth County, and I'll help you learn the best way for you to proceed.