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Going through a divorce can be a difficult and emotionally taxing process. Before beginning the process of divorce in New Jersey, it is important to understand the steps involved. A divorce in New Jersey can be a complicated legal process, but knowing what to expect can help you to navigate through it with less stress.

The first step in getting a divorce in New Jersey is to file a Complaint for Divorce with the Superior Court of New Jersey. This complaint must be filed in the county where either spouse lives. The spouse who files for divorce is referred to as the plaintiff, while the other spouse is referred to as the defendant. Once the complaint is filed, the defendant must be served with the documents, giving them notice of the lawsuit.

Filing for Divorce in New Jersey

Filing for divorce in New Jersey involves several steps. First, you or your spouse must meet the residency requirement. To file for divorce in New Jersey, either you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least one year prior to filing.

Once that requirement is met, you can then file a Complaint for Divorce with the Superior Court’s Family Part in the county where either you or your spouse lives. This complaint includes basic information about you, your spouse, your marriage, and any children involved. You will also need to pay a filing fee.

After filing the complaint, you will then need to serve your spouse with a copy of the complaint along with a summons. This can be done through personal service, certified mail, or other legal methods.

Once your spouse is served, they will have 35 days to file an answer to the complaint. If your spouse fails to file an answer, you can request a default judgment from the court.

If your spouse does file an answer, you will then need to exchange a set of documents known as ‘discovery’. This includes financial information, such as income, assets, and debts. This process is used to ensure that both parties have a complete understanding of each other’s financial situation.

After discovery is complete, you and your spouse may try to negotiate a settlement or participate in mediation. If you are unable to reach an agreement, the court may schedule a trial to resolve any remaining issues.

It is important to note that divorce proceedings can be complex and emotionally challenging. It is highly recommended that you seek the advice of an experienced divorce attorney to guide you through the process and protect your rights.

Key Steps

  • Meet the residency requirement
  • File a Complaint for Divorce
  • Serve your spouse
  • Exchange financial information through discovery
  • Negotiate a settlement or participate in mediation
  • Attend trial if necessary

Meeting the Residency Requirements

Before pursuing a divorce in New Jersey, it is important to ensure that you meet the state’s residency requirements. Both spouses must meet these requirements before filing for divorce.

To file for divorce in New Jersey, either spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least one year prior to filing. If both spouses are residents, then the divorce can be filed in the county in which they live. If only one spouse lives in New Jersey, then the divorce can still be filed in the state, but it must be filed in the county where the resident spouse lives.

Additionally, if a couple was married in New Jersey and at least one spouse has been a resident of the state continuously for one year, they can file for divorce in the state.

It is important to note that if a spouse moves out of state after filing for divorce, they still retain their New Jersey residency status for the purposes of the divorce proceedings. This means that the out-of-state spouse can still be served with divorce papers in New Jersey and that the divorce can proceed in New Jersey courts.

Meeting the residency requirements is an important part of the divorce process in New Jersey. Be sure to consult with a qualified divorce attorney if you have any questions about residency or other divorce-related issues.

Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey

In New Jersey, there are two types of grounds for divorce: fault and no-fault. Fault-based grounds for divorce include adultery, desertion, extreme cruelty, drug addiction, and imprisonment. No-fault grounds, on the other hand, do not require either party to provide evidence of wrongdoing, and include irreconcilable differences and separation for at least 18 months.

While filing for a no-fault divorce is often the simpler and less expensive option, some couples choose to pursue a fault-based divorce for various reasons. For example, a spouse may request a fault-based divorce in order to obtain a larger settlement or to gain custody of children. It is important to note, however, that proving fault-based grounds can be challenging and expensive, as evidence must be provided in court.

If a couple decides to pursue a no-fault divorce, they must first meet certain requirements. In New Jersey, either spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least one year before filing for divorce. If one spouse has moved out of the state, the other must have been a resident of New Jersey for at least one year immediately prior to filing.

After filing for divorce, the couple must complete a verification of complaint and a property settlement agreement, which outlines how assets and debts will be divided. If the couple has children, they must also submit a parenting plan outlining custody, visitation, and child support arrangements.

In some cases, mediation or arbitration may be required in order to reach a mutually agreed-upon settlement. If an agreement cannot be reached, the case will go to trial and a judge will make a final decision on matters such as property division, custody, and support.

Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce

Divorce is a painful and challenging process that requires a lot of time, effort, and sometimes money. In New Jersey, there are two types of divorce: uncontested and contested. It is important to understand the difference between the two to determine the best option for your situation.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is when both spouses agree on all the terms of the divorce. This includes matters such as property division, child custody and support, and alimony. This type of divorce is typically less time-consuming and less expensive than a contested divorce.

In New Jersey, there are two ways to file for an uncontested divorce: the “no-fault” method and the “separation agreement” method. The “no-fault” method is when both spouses agree that their marriage has broken down irretrievably. The “separation agreement” method is when both spouses have lived separately for 18 months, and they agree on all aspects of the divorce.

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is when the spouses cannot agree on one or more aspects of the divorce. This type of divorce is often more time-consuming and more expensive than an uncontested divorce. In a contested divorce, the court will make the final decision on matters such as property division, child custody, and support, and alimony.

Contested divorces may be necessary in situations where there is a disagreement about significant matters, such as child custody or property division. When this happens, the court will hear evidence from both parties and make a ruling based on what is in the best interests of the parties involved and any children.

It is important to note that contested divorces can often be emotionally draining and stressful for all parties involved. In addition to the emotional stress, these divorces can be costly as legal fees and court costs can add up quickly.

In conclusion, understanding the difference between uncontested and contested divorce is crucial when considering divorce. If both parties can agree on all aspects of the divorce, an uncontested divorce may be the best option. However, if there is a disagreement, a contested divorce may be necessary, but can be a difficult and expensive process. It is always best to seek legal advice from an experienced divorce attorney who can guide you through the process and help you make the best decision for your situation.

Division of Assets and Debts

After couples decide to end their marriage, one of the most challenging aspects of the divorce process is the division of assets and debts. In New Jersey, marital assets and debts are divided equitably, which means a fair and just distribution, rather than a 50/50 split.

Some of the assets that may be subject to division include:

  • Real estate properties, including the marital home
  • Bank accounts
  • Retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s and IRAs
  • Stock options and investments
  • Personal property, such as vehicles and furniture

Debts that may be divided may include:

  • Mortgages and home equity lines of credit
  • Credit card debt
  • Car loans
  • Student loans

During the divorce process, both parties will be required to disclose all their assets and debts, either through negotiation or discovery. If the couple is unable to reach an agreement, the court will step in and make the final decision.

It’s important to note that not all assets are subject to division. For example, separate property, defined as assets acquired before the marriage or through inheritance, are usually not divided between the parties.

The court will take into consideration various factors when determining the division of assets, including:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The income and earning potential of each spouse
  • The standard of living of the couple during the marriage
  • The contributions made by each spouse to the marriage, in terms of both financial and non-financial contributions.

It’s essential to have the guidance of an experienced divorce attorney to help navigate the division of assets and debts process. A knowledgeable attorney can make sure that all your assets are fairly valued and divided, and that your rights and interests are protected.

Child Custody And Support

For couples going through a divorce in New Jersey, child custody and support can be one of the most contentious and emotional parts of the process. It’s important to understand the laws and guidelines surrounding these issues to ensure the best interests of the children are met.

In New Jersey, joint legal custody is typically favored by the courts, unless there are circumstances that warrant sole legal custody for one parent. Joint physical custody, where the child spends equal or near-equal amounts of time with each parent, can also be granted if it is in the best interest of the child.

Child support guidelines in New Jersey are based on a combination of the parents’ income and the number of children involved. The state provides a child support calculator to help parents determine how much they will need to pay or receive in child support.

It’s worth noting that child support is not optional and failure to pay can result in legal consequences, including wage garnishment and even incarceration. However, there are circumstances when child support payments can be adjusted, such as job loss or a significant change in income for either parent.

When determining custody and support, the courts will consider various factors to make decisions that are in the best interest of the child. These factors can include the child’s age, health, and relationship with each parent, each parent’s ability to provide for the child, and the child’s living situation and schooling.

It’s highly encouraged for divorcing couples to seek the guidance of an experienced family law attorney to ensure their rights are protected and their child’s needs are met.

Alimony and Spousal Support

One of the most contentious issues that comes up during divorce proceedings in New Jersey is the question of alimony and spousal support. This is because, in many cases, these payments can have a major impact on the financial stability of both parties involved.

In New Jersey, spousal support payments are determined based on a number of factors, including each spouse’s income and earning potential, the length of the marriage, and the standard of living established during the marriage. Additionally, judges may consider other factors such as each spouse’s age, physical and emotional health, and the contributions each spouse made to the marriage.

It’s worth noting that New Jersey law provides for multiple types of alimony. These include:

  • Open durational alimony – this type of alimony is generally reserved for marriages that lasted longer than 20 years. Open durational alimony has no set termination date and continues until either party dies or there is a material change in circumstances.
  • Limited duration alimony – this type of alimony is appropriate for shorter marriages and is set for a specific length of time, often a number of months or years.
  • Rehabilitative alimony – this type of alimony is designed to provide a dependent spouse with financial support while they acquire or improve upon job skills needed to become self-sufficient.
  • Reimbursement alimony – this type of alimony is meant to repay one spouse for financial contributions made to the other spouse’s education or career advancement during the marriage.

It’s important to note that alimony and spousal support arrangements can be modified if there is a substantial change in either party’s financial situation. However, it’s always best to consult with a qualified divorce attorney if you have any concerns about your alimony or spousal support agreement.

The Divorce Mediation Process

Divorce mediation is an alternative to the traditional litigation process and can be an effective way for couples to reach a mutually acceptable divorce settlement without having to go through a lengthy court trial. During the mediation process, a third-party mediator helps couples negotiate and resolve divorce-related issues, including child custody, child support, alimony, and property division.

Here are the steps couples need to follow to complete the divorce mediation process in New Jersey:

  1. Find a mediator: Couples must choose a mediator who has relevant certifications and experience conducting mediations in New Jersey. Some mediators may have a legal background, but it’s not necessary.
  2. Schedule a mediation session: Couples must schedule a mediation session with the mediator and attend the session together. During the session, the mediator will ask each partner to discuss their goals and concerns.
  3. Identify the issues: The mediator will help the couple identify all issues that need to be addressed. These may include parenting time, child support, spousal support, and property division.
  4. Gather information: Both partners must file financial affidavits that disclose their incomes, assets, and debts. This information is necessary to determine a fair settlement.
  5. Negotiate: The couple will negotiate the terms of their divorce with the help of the mediator. The mediator ensures that both parties have their say and works to facilitate an agreement that is in the best interest of all parties involved.
  6. Write an agreement: When an agreement is reached, the mediator drafts a settlement agreement. Both parties review the document and make any necessary revisions.
  7. File the agreement: If the agreement is approved by both parties, it is filed with the court.
  8. Finalize the divorce: After the agreement is filed with the court, a judge reviews and signs off on it. This results in the finalization of the divorce.

Hiring a Divorce Attorney in New Jersey

Finding the Right Attorney

Going through a divorce is often a difficult and confusing time. Hiring an experienced divorce attorney can make the process less stressful, but finding the right one can be a daunting task. A good place to start is by asking family and friends for referrals. It’s important to find an attorney who specializes in family law and has experience with cases similar to yours.

Researching Prospective Attorneys

Once you have a list of potential attorneys, research them online to learn more about their background, experience, and reputation. The New Jersey Bar Association website is a helpful resource for finding attorneys and checking their credentials.

Meeting with Attorneys

Schedule consultations with at least three potential attorneys. Come prepared with a list of questions and be upfront about your situation. It’s important to find an attorney who you feel comfortable communicating with and who understands your goals for the divorce.

Fees and Costs

It’s important to understand the fees and costs associated with hiring a divorce attorney. Many attorneys charge hourly rates for their services and may require a retainer fee up front. Be sure to ask about any additional costs, such as court fees or fees for expert witnesses.


Effective communication is crucial when working with a divorce attorney. Make sure your attorney is responsive and keeps you updated on any developments in your case. Let them know your preferred method of communication and how often you would like to be updated.

Specific Experience

It is important to find an attorney who has specific experience with divorce cases like yours, especially if there are unique factors to consider, such as child custody or support issues.

Track Record

While past performance is not a guarantee of future success, it can be useful to research an attorney’s track record with similar cases. Look for reviews and testimonials from former clients.

Personality and Approach

It’s important to find an attorney whose personality and approach aligns with yours. For example, if you prefer a collaborative approach to divorce, look for an attorney who emphasizes mediation and settlements over litigation.


Make sure the attorney you choose has enough time to dedicate to your case. If an attorney has a long list of clients or is too busy to meet regularly, it may be difficult to get the attention your case deserves.


In New Jersey, there are several steps to be followed to complete a divorce, including meeting the residency requirements, filing the appropriate forms, and attending court hearings. It is essential to consult with an experienced family law attorney to ensure that all legal requirements are met and to guide you through the various stages of the divorce process.

During the process, many decisions will need to be made, such as child custody arrangements, division of assets, and alimony payments. Each situation is unique, and the best outcome is achieved with the help of a qualified attorney who can provide impartial advice based on experience.

Although divorce is often challenging, it is essential to prioritize your emotional well-being while going through the process. Whether it is therapy, mediation, or support groups, taking care of your mental health can help you navigate and succeed in this difficult time.

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