Category: Q&A

Frequently Asked Questions about Divorce

Many people have a lot of questions when it comes to getting a divorce. Here are some answers to common questions frequently asked.

What are the grounds for divorce?
Both parties must apply for this relief and can be later converted into a divorce action. In New Jersey, there are both no-fault grounds and fault divorce grounds. Fault grounds include the following:
* Extreme mental and/or physical cruelty
* Adultery
* Desertion
* Constructive desertion
* Alcohol/drug habituation
* Imprisonment
* Institutionalized
* Deviant sexual behavior
* Irreconcilable Differences. (parties may be living together when file for divorce if they can prove irreconcilable differences existed for 6 months or more)
* Divorce from bed and board (later can be converted to a final judgment of divorce)

Can I afford a divorce? How much will it cost me?
There are many variables that can cause the cost of the divorce to go up or down. More complex divorces and uncooperative/poorly behaved opposing parties will cost more, as well as child support and custody. Simply look at your case. Do you think the opposing party will be likely to argue most issues? If so, this means more attorney fees.

Do I absolutely need an attorney?
You may research on the internet and rely on word of mouth for information, but chances are the info you receive will be unreliable, incomplete, or/and not the “full picture”. To be 100% sure you are informed of every protection New Jersey state law has to offer, it is wise to retain an attorney.

Does New Jersey grant divorces base on marital fault?
Yes. The grounds for fault divorce include: adultery, desertion, alcohol/drug habituation, imprisonment, and deviant sexual behavior.

Can I get alimony or will I have to provide maintenance to my spouse?
Depending on the case, alimony can be granted to the dependent spouse. New Jersey offers limited duration alimony, permanent and/or rehabilitative alimony, reimbursement alimony, or a combination. If a spouse is unable to get skills or training required to get a job and support themselves, they may be entitled to permanent alimony. Although, if a spouse IS able to obtain training or skills necessary to support themselves, he or she may be granted rehabilitative or reimbursement alimony.

Can I get an annulment?
Annulments are granted and available when the following can be proven:
* Either party has another spouse at the time of marriage
* The parties are blood related and closer than first cousins.
* Male spouse is impotent and the other spouse was unaware prior to marriage.
* Either party lacked the capacity to marry at the time of marriage due to: mental condition, intoxication, and/or drug use.
* Lack of mutual assent to the marriage as a result of duress or fraud.
* The demand for an annulment is made by a spouse who was under the age of 18 during time of marriage AND he/she did not ratify the marriage after turning 18.

When can I file for divorce?
You or the party must reside in New Jersey for at least one year prior to filing. The only exception to this requirement is if adultery is in the grounds for divorce.

When is my case going to be over?
The time length of each case can vary case-to-case. Variations that lengthen the case can include (but not limited to) custody, support, property division, etc. If there are many issues involved and the parties are not cooperative, the case can take some time.

Do I have to go to court?
Yes. There are limited circumstances where it is possible to have permission granted to appear via phone. This is usually granted when you are a certain amount of miles away or hardship exists. However, it is all decided by the court and/or the judge you are assigned.

Attempts to serve my spouse did not work.. What should I do?
You must motion the court for permission to serve by publication. In order to receive permission, you also must prove you put persistent effort in trying to locate the defendant.

At what point during the process is it OK for a spouse to remarry or start dating?
You can start dating at any appropriate time depending on your personal situation and preference. You can only remarry once the divorce is finalized and a final decree has been issued.

What if my spouse does not want the divorce?
You must attempt to prove you have been separated for 18 or more consecutive months or that one of the fault grounds exist.

Do some issues (child support, custody, alimony, and property) have to be decided before the divorce is finalized?
Generally no. Consider divorce, child support and custody to be three separate things. Child support and custody is independent from a divorce and can be modified long after a divorce. In many cases, it is advisable for alimony and property issues to be determined in agreement with the divorce.

How long do I have to live in New Jersey to obtain a divorce?
Typically, one year except when adultery is involved.

After filing for a divorce, am I able to move out of New Jersey?
Yes, as long as you were a resident prior to filing.

What forms do I need to file a divorce?
A Summons, Complaint in Divorce, Affidavit of Verification and Non-Collusion, Affidavit or Certification of Insurance Coverage, Confidential Litigant Information Sheet, and an Affidavit of Notification of Complementary Dispute Resolution Alternatives.

How and where is a divorce complaint filed?
In the appropriate county, the Complaint is filed with the clerk of court.

How do I serve the divorce complaint to my spouse?
You can serve your spouse personally via the sheriff with both the Summons and Complaint. If this is unsuccessful, the plaintiff’s attorney or any uninvolved party (over the age of 18) may attempt service. If personal service is not successful after persistent attempts, service certified by mail is permissible.

How is a divorce granted? Will I have to go to court?
New Jersey requires the moving party to go to court in an uncontested divorce to testify on the record regarding the information presented in their complaint. If the defendant has filed an answer, he/she will also have to appear in court.

How do I prove fault for a divorce?
You will provide all present evidence and possible witnesses if a hearing on the grounds alleged for divorce is held.

Can a couple become legally married by living together as man and wife under the states laws (common law marriage)?
New Jersey does not recognize common law marriage.
Hope this can help resolve some confusion you might have. Feel free to leave comments or questions below!