A Summary of New Jersey Divorce Laws
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Grounds for Divorce Under New Jersey Divorce Laws
Divorce Laws Specifically for the State of New Jersey
New Jersey laws allow for no fault divorces based on the following grounds: (1) you have been living apart without cohabitation for an uninterrupted period of 18 months or (2) there are irreconcilable differences which have caused the breakdown of your marriage for a period of six months with no possibility of reconciliation.
In addition to the no-fault grounds, here is a list of general grounds upon which a divorce may be obtained under New Jersey divorce laws:
- Abandonment of one party by the other for one year
- Extreme cruelty
- Drug/alcohol addiction
- Institutionalization for mental illness for 2 or more years
- Imprisonment for 18 months or more
- Deviant sexual behavior
In order to file a no-fault divorce in the State of New Jersey, either one or both of you must have resided in the State for at least one year prior to filing. For all other grounds, except for adultery, the person filing must be a resident of the State for at least one year before the court will hear your case.
If you are new to the State and cannot bare the thought of spending a year of your life, possibly more, waiting for your divorce hearing, you might want to consider looking into other options (or states).
Name of Court and Title of Action/Parties
If you are the person filing for divorce, you are the Plaintiff and your spouse is the Defendant. Divorce actions are heard in the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part. The action initiating the divorce is called a Complaint for Divorce, and the action granting the divorce is a Judgment of Divorce.
Where to File – Venue
The proper place to file an action for divorce shall be the county in which the plaintiff resides at the time the cause of action arose, or, if the plaintiff does not reside in New Jersey, then the county in which the defendant resides at the time the cause of action arose.
If neither party lived in New Jersey at the time the cause of action arose, then the proper venue is the county where the plaintiff is living when the divorce is filed, or, if the plaintiff doesn’t live in new Jersey, then the county where the defendant is living when service of process is made.
New Jersey is an equitable distribution state in which the court, if the parties have not entered into a settlement agreement, will divide the marital property equitably between the parties, taking into consideration many factors such as; the duration of the marriage, the standard of living established in the marriage, etc.
Alimony comes in several different forms in the State of New Jersey. Either party may be awarded one or more of the following types: Permanent alimony, rehabilitative alimony, limited duration alimony or reimbursement alimony. In making an award of alimony, the court will consider the following factors:
- The actual need and ability of the parties to pay
- The duration of the parties
- The age, physical and emotional health of the parties
- The standard of living established during the marriage and the likelihood of the parties maintaining a comparable standard of living after the divorce is final
- The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking alimony
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties
- The parental responsibilities for the children
- The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment
- The contributions to the marriage of both parties
- The ordered equitable distribution of the marital property
- The income available to either party through investments
- The tax consequences to the parties
- Any other factors the court deems relevant
The courts in New Jersey may make any such orders as to custody of any children of the marriage as the court deems reasonable and just after consideration of the circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case.
In determining the amount and term of any child support order, the court will consider the following factors:
- The needs of the child
- The standard of living and economic circumstances of each parent
- All sources of income and assets of each parent
- The earning ability of each parent
- The need and capacity of the child for education
- The age and health of each parent and child
- The income, assets and earning ability of the child
- The responsibility of the parent for court-ordered support of others
- The reasonable debts and liabilities of each parent and child
- Any other factors the court deems relevant and just
Parents’ Education Program
The State of New Jersey has established a mandatory education program called the “Parents’ Education Program.” The purpose of the program is help you work through any issues that may arise during the divorce or separation process, including, but not limited to:
- Understanding the legal process and cost of divorce or separation, including arbitration and mediation
- Understanding the financial responsibilities for the children
- Understanding the interaction between parent and child, the family relationship and any other areas of adjustment and concern during the process of divorce or separation
- Understanding how children react to divorce or separation, how to spot problems, what to tell them about divorce or separation, how to keep communication open and how to answer questions and concerns the children may have about the process
- Understanding how parents can help their children during the divorce or separation, specific strategies, ideas, tools, and resources for assistance
- Understanding how parents can help children after the divorce or separation and how to deal with new family structures and different sets of rules
- Understanding that cooperation may sometimes be inappropriate in cases of domestic violence
New Jersey divorce laws require completion of this program in any divorce case that involves minor children. Failure to participate in the program shall be considered as a factor by the court in making any custody and visitation determinations.
Each party shall attend separate sessions of the program.
The court may exempt a party from attending the program if there is good cause for them to do so.
If one person has a restraining order against the other they may not be required to participate in the program.
The court may allow either party to return to any name used by that person prior to the marriage.
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