Divorce in New Jersey
Legally dissolving a marriage through a divorce will impact a person’s life. Among the most common and stressful divorce-related issues are financial disputes regarding the distribution of the marital property or alimony payments. Issues relating to child custody or child support may also be especially contentious. By making well informed decisions throughout the process, individuals can easily move on to the next phase of their lives.
Fault Grounds for Divorce
New Jersey courts will grant a divorce on either a fault or no-fault basis. In many cases, one spouse’s actions will cause the dissolution of the marriage. If one spouse is to blame for the marriage ending, the other spouse can file for divorce based on fault. Common fault grounds for divorce include:
- Desertion for at least 12 consecutive months
- Extreme cruelty, including violence or abuse against a spouse during a period of at least three months prior to the filing
- Addition to drugs or alcohol
- Insanity or mental illness resulting in confinement for at least 24 months
- Conviction of a crime resulting in a jail sentence of at least 18 months
- Engaging in deviant sexual behavior without a spouse’s consent
Obtaining a divorce based on fault can be advantageous to individuals involved in contentious custody disputes, property distribution disagreements, or alimony arguments. Fault can be one of the determining factors a New Jersey court will use in resolving those matters.
No-Fault Grounds for Divorce
Individuals filing for a no-fault divorce do not need to prove the other party acted inappropriately, causing the marriage to end. A no-fault divorce can be granted based on:
- Spouses living separately for a period of at least 18 months
- Irreconcilable differences between spouses for at least six months prior to the filing
Filing for divorce on a no-fault basis results in neither party bearing liability for the dissolution of the marriage.
New Jersey law requires individuals seeking a termination of marriage to fulfill several legal requirements. These include being a resident of the state for a least one year prior to petitioning for divorce and filing a signed Complaint for Divorce/Dissolution. As several different complaint forms can be used in New Jersey, it is best to consult with an experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer prior to initiating the process. Individuals petitioning for divorce must also provide information to the court pertaining to insurance coverage and attach the appropriate Case Information Statements, Confidential Litigant Information Sheet, and Certification of Notification of Complementary Dispute Resolution.
To ensure the individual being sued for divorce, also known as the defendant, properly receives a copy of the divorce complaint, the individual seeking the divorce, also known as the Plaintiff, must properly serve the Complaint on their spouse. This can be done by having the local county sheriff deliver the divorce complaint directly to the defendant or by sending it through certified mail, restricted delivery, with return receipt requested, where the defendant will have to sign. This can also be done by directly delivering it to the defendant’s attorney.
Property Distribution and Alimony
Two of the most important issues arising in divorce proceedings are property distribution and the determination of alimony. In New Jersey, property division is governed by the rules of equitable division. A judge will decide how to fairly divide the marital property, which does not necessarily mean the assets will be divided equally. The issue of eligibility for spousal support and the determination of the proper amount and length of time for alimony payments also can be decided by the divorce court.
Need for Legal Assistance
Navigating New Jersey divorce laws can be a complicated process. In many cases, a counterclaim is filed. When this occurs, a new basis for divorce may be asserted and new legal issues frequently arise. Disagreements over the equitable distribution of marital property or the proper amount of alimony also frequently become contentious.
With the assistance of Katie, an experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer, individuals can protect their rights during this difficult time. For more information, call Stockton Family Law today at 856-412-5052 to schedule an initial consultation or contact Katie online. Located in Moorestown, New Jersey, Katie serves clients from the surrounding areas.