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Divorce in New Jersey

Divorce in New Jersey



In the past ten years, New Jersey’s divorce laws and regulations have witnessed significant modifications, reflecting the state’s commitment to modernizing its legal framework and ensuring equity, transparency, and the welfare of families navigating divorce proceedings. This article offers a succinct overview of key updates in New Jersey’s divorce laws and regulations from 2013 to 2023, organized by the year of enactment.

2013: Alimony Reform Act

   – Implementation of the Alimony Reform Act, introducing guidelines for alimony awards based on factors such as duration of marriage and financial circumstances.

2014: Parenting Plan Considerations

   – Focus on parenting plans and custody arrangements tailored to the best interests of the child, encouraging shared parenting responsibilities.

2015: Collaborative Divorce Encouragement

   – Promotion of collaborative divorce as an alternative to adversarial litigation, emphasizing cooperative solutions.

2016: Child Support Adjustments

   – Adjustment of child support guidelines to ensure fair and appropriate financial support for children.

2017: Digital Documentation Adoption

   – Adoption of digital documentation and electronic filing options for divorce proceedings to enhance efficiency.

2018: Equitable Distribution Refinements

   – Refinements to the equitable distribution process, addressing the division of marital assets and debts.

2019: Child Custody Evaluations

   – Introduction of guidelines for child custody evaluations to ensure the child’s best interests are prioritized.

2020: Extended Waiting Periods

   – Extension of waiting periods before a divorce can be finalized to allow couples more time for reconciliation.

2021: Mediation Focus

   – Increased emphasis on mediation as a means of resolving divorce-related disputes.

2022: Military Divorce Considerations

   – Incorporation of provisions recognizing the unique challenges of military divorces, such as deployment and benefits.

2023: High-Asset Divorce Framework

   – Introduction of guidelines for high-asset divorces to address complex financial situations.

New Jersey’s commitment to updating its divorce laws demonstrates the state’s proactive approach to adapting its legal landscape to better serve the needs of families while promoting fairness and the well-being of all parties involved. As New Jersey continues to evolve its regulations, it remains essential for policymakers, stakeholders, and the public to engage in informed discussions that uphold principles of justice and equity, supporting families as they navigate the intricate process of divorce.

A Brief Guide To Divorce In New Jersey

Couples wishing to separate in New Jersey should be aware of the following things:

New Jersey State Divorce Laws

Except in cases of adultery, one or both parties must have been a resident in the state for one year before filing for divorce in New Jersey.

Grounds for Divorce

Couples filing for a no-fault divorce are not required to demonstrate wrongdoing to file for a divorce. Couples filing for a divorce in which the other party is at fault can cite grounds of:

• Adultery

• Abandonment of a year or longer

• Extreme mental or cruelty. The person filing for divorce must wait three months after any such act before filing for at-fault divorce.

• A period of separation lasting at least 18 months

• Continual drunkenness lasting at least a year or drug addiction

• Being institutionalized for mental illness for at least two years

• A partner’s imprisonment for 18 or more consecutive months

• Sexual misconduct

Legal Separation

Couples uncertain about filing for divorce in New Jersey do not have the option of a formal “legal separation” which allows couples to separate under binding legal agreements setting guidelines for child support, alimony or other issues. The New Jersey equivalent is a marital settlement agreement which is not binding in court.

Types Of Divorce

Couples who can agree on all the terms of their separation can file a joint petition for a no-fault divorce in New Jersey. If one party does not consent to a divorce or an agreement cannot be reached on division of assets or other matters, couples appear in court for contested divorce proceedings.

No Fault Divorce

No allegations of wrongdoing have to be made to obtain a no fault divorce. Couples must state they have irreconcilable differences which have lasted for at least six months and that there is no hope of reconciliation.

Steps in the Divorce Process

Except in the case of couples who file a joint petition for divorce in New Jersey, when one party files a complaint the other person has 35 days to respond. A telephone conference with a judge will be held to establish a timeline for resolving the case. If both parties are unable to reach an agreement before appearing in court, a judge will issue a ruling regarding division of property, alimony and other issues of contention.

Spousal Support

Parties who petition to receive temporary or permanent alimony will have factors including their health and working capacity taken into account.

Child Support

Based on financial records including tax returns and pay stubs, a judge will issue a decision as to child support arrangements. The ability of the non-custodial parent to pay will be taken into account along with other factors such as the length of the marriage and the standard of living the minor child is accustomed to.

Fathers’ and Mothers’ Rights

No preference is made based on gender in cases of divorce in New Jersey. While the wishes of the child and the parents’ ability to look after the child will be taken into account, in most cases “residential custody” (which parent the child lives with) will go to the mother.