How long do I have to have lived in New Jersey before I can file for divorce here?
Except in cases alleging that the spouse against whom the divorce is sought committed adultery, at least one spouse must have resided in New Jersey for one year. It can be either spouse; it does not necessarily have to be the spouse who is seeking the divorce.
My spouse and I live in different counties. Which county has jurisdiction over our divorce?
Both counties have jurisdiction, so you can file your complaint for divorce in either county. There may be reasons why it is should be in one county vs. another, such as forum non-conveniens. For example, if the parties children reside in one county with one parent, and the other parent resides in another county, if there may be a custody dispute and the witnesses live mostly in the county where the children reside, it should likely be venued in that county.
What is the procedure for filing for divorce, assuming that the residency requirement has been met?
Only a judge can legally terminate a marriage, so a spouse seeking a divorce must file a case in the court system seeking a divorce (or dissolution of a domestic partnership). Think of the filing of the complaint as your entry ticket into the system, a necessary first step to commence the process, and to secure a docket number for your case. This includes the complaint for divorce, along with several other documents such as a summons, an affidavit of verification and non-collusion, a confidential litigant information sheet, an affidavit of insurances, and other related paperwork.
Although New Jersey allows spouses to file their own complaint for divorce, it is best to consult an attorney if there are likely to be issues such as child support, alimony, and property division. Using information supplied by the client, the attorney will draft the papers and file everything with the court clerk.
The spouse against whom the divorce is sought must be served with process (i.e., given a copy of the complaint, with a summons) before the case can move forward. If the spouse cannot be found, there are procedures for giving notice in other ways, such as by publication in the newspaper.
Do I have to prove fault in order to get a divorce?
No. New Jersey law provides for a no-fault divorce. However, in order to qualify for a no-fault divorce, you and your spouse must have been living apart for at least 18 months prior to the filing of the divorce or dissolution papers.
Alternatively, you may allege irreconcilable differences as grounds, which requires the spouse seeking the divorce to show that the couple has experienced irreconcilable differences for at least six months prior to the filing of the divorce paperwork and that there is no reasonable prospect that you will reconcile.
Are there fault-based grounds for divorce in New Jersey?
Yes. These include desertion, extreme cruelty, adultery, deviant sexual conduct, habitual drunkenness, voluntary addiction to narcotics, institutionalization in a mental health facility, and incarceration. The burden is on the spouse alleging such grounds for divorce to prove, in court, that he or she is entitled to a divorce on the grounds claimed.
How do I hire an attorney to help me file for divorce?
The attorneys at Goldstein Law Group have decades of combined experience assisting New Jersey residents with a myriad of family law and domestic relations issues, including divorce, spousal support, division of property, child custody, and child support, and we are here to help you if you have decided to file for divorce. To schedule an appointment to speak to one of our knowledgeable New Jersey divorce attorneys, call us at 732-967-6777 and ask for a free consultation. We represent clients in Old Bridge, Monmouth County, and the surrounding area.
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