In New Jersey, to obtain a divorce from your spouse, you need to satisfy two preliminary requirements: (1) you must be legally married; and (2) you must be a resident of New Jersey.
New Jersey grants two types of divorces: (1) a divorce from bed and board; and (2) an absolute divorce.
To obtain a divorce, a Complaint for divorce needs to be filed with the court, setting forth the relief sought.
The relief sought in a Complaint for divorce can include:
(1) dissolution of the marriage (not applicable in a divorce from bed and board);
(2) equitable distribution;
(3) spousal support / alimony;
(4) child support;
(5) child custody and child visitation;
(6) damages as a consequence of personal injuries you suffered, or other torts committed by your spouse;
(7) attorney fees; and
(8) a request to change you name.
In addition to the relief sought, in a Complaint for divorce, the grounds for the divorce need to be identified. New Jersey recognizes the following ground for divorce:
b. Willful and continued desertion for the term of 12 or more months, which may be established by satisfactory proof that the parties have ceased to cohabit as man and wife;
c. Extreme cruelty, which is defined as including any physical or mental cruelty which endangers the safety or health of the plaintiff or makes it improper or unreasonable to expect the plaintiff to continue to cohabit with the defendant; provided that no complaint for divorce shall be filed until after 3 months from the date of the last act of cruelty complained of in the complaint, but this provision shall not be held to apply to any counterclaim;
d. Separation, provided that the husband and wife have lived separate and apart in different habitations for a period of at least 18 or more consecutive months and there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation; provided, further that after the 18-month period there shall be a presumption that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation;
e. Voluntarily induced addiction or habituation to any narcotic drug or habitual drunkenness for a period of 12 or more consecutive months subsequent to marriage and next preceding the filing of the complaint;
f. Institutionalization for mental illness for a period of 24 or more consecutive months subsequent to marriage and next preceding the filing of the complaint;
g. Imprisonment of the defendant for 18 or more consecutive months after marriage, provided that where the action is not commenced until after the defendant’s release, the parties have not resumed cohabitation following such imprisonment;
h. Deviant sexual conduct voluntarily performed by the defendant without the consent of the plaintiff;
i. Irreconcilable differences which have caused the breakdown of the marriage for a period of six months and which make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
Except when the cause of action for divorce is based on adultery, you OR your spouse must have been a resident of New Jersey for at least one full year before you can file for divorce in New Jersey.
Although only a judge can grant a divorce, you and your spouse can negotiate a settlement of the economic terms of your divorce. A settlement can be negotiated by direct negotiations; however, consideration should be given to the benefits of private Mediation and the Collaborative Divorce Process. If a settlement is not achieved, the trial judge will decide all issues presented during a trial. An alternative to a public trial is private Arbitration.
To discuss your specific situation, please call me, Paul G. Kostro, Esq., to schedule an appointment: 908-232-6500 or Paul@Kostro.com
Also, you may find the following Blog Posts helpful: Divorce Blog Posts