New Jersey men’s divorce attorneys provide answers to frequently asked questions with regards to divorce laws and the divorce process in New Jersey.
What are the grounds for divorce?
In New Jersey, there are no-fault divorce grounds and fault divorce grounds. The no-fault ground requires that the parties have been separate and apart for 18 consecutive months, indicating there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
Fault grounds in New Jersey include the following:
- Irreconcilable Differences. Here, the parties may be living together and file for divorce if they can show irreconcilable differences existed for 6 months or more.
- Extreme mental or physical cruelty
- Constructive desertion
- Habitual drunkenness or drug habituation
- Deviant sexual behavior
- Divorce from bed and board, which can later be converted to a final judgment of divorce.
Both parties must apply for this relief and it can be later converted into a divorce action.
What is a divorce going to cost me? Can I afford it?
The cost of your divorce depends entirely on the complexity of your case and the behavior and cooperation (or lack thereof) of the opposing party. If your case involves child custody and child support, the matter will be more costly.
If your case involves a complex marital estate the matter will be more costly. The less complex a matter, the more affordable it may be.
Nevertheless, look at your case. Is it very complicated and is the other side likely to argue over most issues? If so, you are looking at more attorney fees.
Do I really need to hire an attorney?
The only way to ensure you are apprised of every protection New Jersey state law has to offer to you in a divorce proceeding is to retain an attorney. Relying on Internet research and word of mouth is not reliable and almost always is incomplete or not a full picture of what you should expect.
Does New Jersey grant divorces based on marital fault?
Yes, as shown above, adultery, desertion, habitual drunkenness or drug habituation, imprisonment, and deviant sexual behavior are all grounds for fault divorce.
Can I get alimony or will I have to provide maintenance to my spouse?
In some cases alimony will be awarded to the dependent spouse. In New Jersey limited duration alimony, permanent and/or rehabilitative alimony, reimbursement alimony, or a combination thereof will be ordered.
For example, a spouse unable to get skills and training necessary to get a job and support themselves may be entitled to permanent alimony. On the other hand, a spouse may get rehabilitative or reimbursement alimony if he or she is able to get training or skills necessary to support themselves.
Can I get an annulment?
Annulments are available if one of the following can be shown:
- Either spouse has another spouse at the time of marriage.
- The parties are related and closer than first cousins.
- The male spouse is impotent and the other spouse did not know prior to marriage.
- Either of the parties lacked the capacity to marry at the time of marriage due to any of the following: mental condition, intoxicants, or drugs.
- There was a lack of mutual assent to the marriage as a result of duress or fraud.
- The demand for an annulment is made by a spouse who was under 18 at the time of marriage and he/she did not ratify the marriage after turning 18.
When can I file for divorce?
New Jersey has a one-year residency requirement. You or the other party must reside in New Jersey for at least a year prior to filing divorce. There is an exception if adultery is the grounds for divorce. In this instance, the one-year requirement preceding the litigation is relaxed.
When is my case going to be over?
Much like the cost of divorce litigation, the answer to this question is not predictable and depends on the facts of the specific case. It depends on how many issues are involved, such as custody, support, property division, etc.
Do I have to go to court?
Yes. In limited circumstances it is possible to get permission to appear via phone if you are a certain amount of miles away or some hardship exits. However, this is often at the discretion of the court or particular judge you are assigned.
If attempts to serve my spouse do not work, what is my next step?
You have to motion the court for permission to serve by publication. You have to prove you used due diligence in trying to locate the defendant in order to get permission.
At what point during the process can a spouse remarry or start dating?
You can remarry only once you are divorce and a final decree has been issued. You can start dating at the appropriate time depending on your personal situation, if you choose to do so.
What if my spouse does not want the divorce?
You must try to show you have been separated for 18 or more consecutive months or that one of the fault grounds exist.
Do the other issues – child support, custody, alimony, and property – have to be decided before the divorce is final?
Generally no. In many cases it is advisable for alimony and property issues to be determined pursuant to the divorce. Child support and custody are separate actions that can happen independent of a divorce and can be modified long after a divorce. Consider divorce, child support and custody to be three separate things.
How long do I have to live in New Jersey to obtain a divorce?
Typically one year unless claiming adultery.
After I file for divorce, do I have to continue to live in New Jersey?
No, as long as you were a resident prior to filing.
What forms do I need to file a divorce?
A Summons, Complaint in Divorce, Affidavit of Verification and Non-Collusion, Affidavit or Certification of Insurance Coverage, Confidential Litigant Information Sheet, and an Affidavit of Notification of Complementary Dispute Resolution Alternatives.
How and where is a divorce complaint filed?
The Complaint is filed with the clerk of court in the appropriate county.
How do I serve the divorce complaint on my spouse? How long do I have to wait to receive my divorce?
You can serve your spouse personally via the sheriff with both the Summons and Complaint. If the sheriff is not successful the plaintiff’s attorney or any uninvolved party over the age of 18 may attempt service.
If personal service is unsuccessful after good faith attempts, service by certified mail is permissible.
How is a divorce granted? Will I have to go to court?
New Jersey requires the moving party to go to court in an uncontested divorce to testify on the record regarding the information presented in their complaint. If the defendant has filed an answer, he or she will also have to attend.
How do I prove fault for divorce?
You may have to have a hearing on the grounds alleged for divorce. You will present evidence and possibly witnesses to corroborate your claims.
Can a couple become legally married by living together as man and wife under the state’s laws (common law marriage)?
New Jersey does not recognize common law marriage.