Divorce in New Jersey: The Basics

The decision to seek a divorce is extremely personal and often very painful, especially when there are children involved.  Sometimes the divorce process itself can add to the stress because it can be confusing, with lots of paperwork and rules to follow. In a very basic, uncontested divorce action, the parties often are able to manage the paperwork themselves. The courts of New Jersey have made the rules and forms available for those who wish to do so.  

Every state in the USA has its own rules for divorce.  In New Jersey, divorce is called “Dissolution.” There are several steps and you have to file a lot of papers with the court.  Even though the process for getting a divorce is fairly straightforward, it can get complicated and it’s extremely important to follow each step carefully.  

Who Can File?

Either partner in a marriage can file for divorce in New Jersey as long as at least one member of the couple lives in the state. 

Grounds for Divorce

In New Jersey, you must state a reason for the divorce that is recognized by New Jersey law (called “grounds” for divorce):

1.  No Fault.   Most divorces are “No-Fault” divorces based on “Irreconcilable Differences”:  To file for divorce based on irreconcilable differences, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You or your spouse must have lived in New Jersey for 12 consecutive months before filing for divorce;
  • You or your spouse must have experienced irreconcilable differences for 6 months, and;
  • The irreconcilable differences are a reason that the marriage, civil union or domestic partnership should be dissolved; and
  • You are certain there is no way to reconcile.

In New Jersey, there is no need to accuse the other spouse of doing anything wrong when filing based on irreconcilable differences. In fact, making accusations of adultery or other “wrongdoing” will not affect the outcome of the divorce or improve your chances of getting more child support, alimony, or other financial arrangements.

2.  Separation: To file for divorce based on separation, the couple must have been living apart for at least 18 months.

3.  Extreme Cruelty: To file on the grounds of extreme cruelty requires proof of certain factors.  Divorce based on extreme cruelty is complicated and painful, and it is advised that you consult an attorney to see if this applies to your case.

4. Other grounds: Other “fault” grounds for divorce include adultery, institutionalization, and incarceration for an extended period.  

Uncontested Divorce

Uncontested divorces are those in which both spouses agree that they want to dissolve their marriage.

Contested Divorce

Contested divorce. If, on the other hand, the spouses disagree on certain things, like custody, child support, alimony, marital property, etc. then the divorce is considered contested.  The process for a contested divorce is complicated, and, we recommend that you have a lawyer to assist you.  In contested divorces the court will schedule conferences and other events to help the couple resolve disputed matters before a divorce order is entered by a judge.

Do I Need a Lawyer to File for Divorce?

The decision to file for divorce is a difficult one, and having to work through the legal process on your own makes it even more difficult. For this reason, it is a good idea to seek legal counsel if you are considering pursuing a divorce or if you have been served with a divorce complaint. Contact the Law Office of Gregory J. Eck for more information.