Following the decision to get a divorce, it’s common to feel afraid, overwhelmed, and confused by the process.
“Where do I begin?”
“What should I expect during the process?”
“How complicated will it be?”
Many people seeking a divorce have these questions and more when they start the process. Knowing what the initial steps for filing for divorce in New Jersey and what the process looks like can help ease the uncertainty you may be feeling right now. Our Chester divorce lawyers are here to guide you through the process with this guide on how to file for divorce.
To file for a New Jersey divorce, you must meet the residency requirement and complete the “Complaint for Divorce” document that states details about each spouse and their marriage as well as includes the grounds for divorce.
First, the residency requirement must be met in order to start the process of divorce in New Jersey. Either spouse must have lived in New Jersey for at least one year before filing for a divorce. However, there is an exception to this rule. If you're filing for divorce because your spouse committed adultery, only one spouse must be a New Jersey resident. This can be for any amount of time or less than one year.
Complaint for Divorce
The official Complaint for Divorce is what you will need to file with the court to get the process started. In this document, you will need to provide the following information:
The names and addresses of you and your spouse
The date and place of your marriage
Whether your marriage ceremony was civil or religious
The names of any children born or adopted during your marriage
List any previous court proceedings, like domestic abuse matters
The grounds for divorce
Any other essential information
In addition to the complaint, you will need to fill out the Confident Litigant Information Sheet, Certificate of Insurance Coverage, and the CDR Certification. Once all of these forms are completed, you will be able to file them with the court.
Grounds for Divorce
When you file for divorce, you must state what the grounds are, also known as the reason you are seeking a divorce. The grounds for divorce can be fault or no-fault based.
New Jersey accepts the following grounds for divorce:
Irreconcilable differences - there is a breakdown of the marriage due to not getting along for six months or longer, and there is no reasonable belief that there will be a reconciliation. This is considered to be a “no-fault” divorce.
Adultery - when one spouse cheats on the other.
Abandonment - when one spouse leaves the marital home for 12 months or longer.
Extreme cruelty - when one spouse treats the other in a way that is endangering their life or health, or it is unbearable to continue living with them. If filing under these grounds, there must be a three month waiting period between filing and the date of the last incident of cruelty. However, if you are counterclaiming your spouse’s divorce petition, you do not have to wait for three months to include this ground.
Separation - when the spouses do not live together in the marital home for at least 18 consecutive months or longer, and there is no reasonable belief that there will be a reconciliation between the two.
Addiction to drugs or habitual drunkenness - when one spouse has substance abuse issues that goes on for 12 or more consecutive months after marriage and before filing for divorce.
Institutionalization for mental illness - when one spouse is in a mental institution for 24 or more consecutive months after marriage and before filing for divorce.
Imprisonment - when one spouse is sentenced to jail for 18 or more consecutive months after marriage and before filing for divorce. This ground can be filed after the spouse is released from jail, but it must be proven that the spouses didn’t cohabitate together after they were released from jail.
Deviant sexual conduct - when one spouse commits deviant sexual conduct on the other without their consent.
Serving the Divorce Papers
After your paperwork is processed, you will receive copies of them that you will need to serve to your spouse to let them know you are filing for divorce. Be sure to make copies of everything before you do this. There are a few different methods you can use to deliver your divorce papers, like sending it through certified mail or their attorney. If you are unsure about the best delivery method, your attorney will be able to assist you with this.
Once the papers are served, you will need to obtain proof of service to ensure they were delivered. At this point, your spouse will now have 35 days to respond to your complaint. They can respond in a few different ways. One option is by filing an appearance if they object to what you are asking for, or they can answer the complaint if they agree or disagree with any of your statements. Lastly, they may file a counterclaim in which they state new grounds for divorce.
With the Complaint for Divorce filed and served and your spouse’s response or lack of response is accounted for, you are ready to begin the New Jersey divorce process. From this point, you will start gathering information about your finances, property, and children that are relevant to the legal matters involved in a divorce.
The goal is to reach a settlement agreement. Once this is made, your divorce will be finalized in New Jersey. Depending on the case, this process can range from relatively simple to overly complicated. Spouses that ended terms amicably are more likely to reach a favorable settlement, which means the process will be pretty straightforward.
However, if you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, you will need to go through meditation or an intensive settlement conference. Reaching an agreement through these methods will prevent you and your spouse from needing to go to trial. Unfortunately, in some cases, this does not work out, and going to trial is the only option left.
Protect Your Best Interests with a Skilled Divorce Attorney
During this process, you need to be entirely sure that you have filled everything out correctly and accurately. The divorce process can be very complicated, and making any errors could cost you more time and money in the long run.
Because of this, it is in your best interest to seek legal advice from a Chester divorce lawyer. By speaking to an attorney with experience in handling these types of matters, you can be certain that you are following the best course of action for your case.
At Edens Law Group, we understand how overwhelming all of this information can be, and you shouldn’t have to go through this difficult life-changing process alone. Our firm is dedicated to providing you with experienced and compassionate counsel from start to finish in order to achieve the results you need to move forward.
Divorce doesn’t have to destroy. Call Edens Law Group today at (908) 259-6565 for superior and caring representation.