New Jersey Divorce Laws
The state of New Jersey has unique divorce laws for people who wish to terminate their marriage.
We are providing this online divorce information to you as an easy divorce reference guide to help you while you are doing your own divorce. This information (and much more) is available inside your personal 3StepDivorce account area in order to help you understand how New Jersey addresses the most important issues in the divorce process and certain elements throughout your divorce forms.
The following overview of New Jersey divorce laws will help you understand the filing procedure and other primary issues concerning your divorce. Please keep in mind that our New Jersey online divorce service and support staff will make the process easy for you from start to finish. We take the difficulty out of doing your own divorce.
Residency Requirements: In order to file for a divorce in New Jersey, you or your spouse must meet the strict residency requirements. These requirements permit the court to have jurisdiction of your case, resulting in allowing you to use their judicial system. These requirements are only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or plan to relocate in the near future. They are as follows:
Jurisdiction in actions for divorce, either absolute or from bed and board, may be acquired when process is served upon the defendant as prescribed by the rules of the Supreme Court, and
1. When, at the time the cause of action arose, either party was a bona fide resident of this state, and has continued so to be down to the time of the commencement of the action; except that no action for absolute divorce shall be commenced for any cause other than adultery, unless one of the parties has been for the 1 year next preceding the commencement of the action a bona fide resident of this state; or
2. When, since the cause of action arose, either party has become, and for at least 1 year next preceding the commencement of the action has continued to be, a bona fide resident of this state.
The divorce is typically filed with in county in which the filing spouse lives. (New Jersey Statutes - Title 2 A - Chapters: 34-8, 34.10)
No-Fault Grounds: Most uncontested divorce cases are filed according to a "no-fault" ground. We are using the term "no-fault" in a generic fashion by labeling all grounds that do not actually declare a "fault" as "no-fault". In the state of New Jersey the "no-fault" grounds are as follows:
1. Irreconcilable Differences (marital breakdown for at least 6 consecutive months).
2. 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. (New Jersey Statutes - Title 2 A - Chapters: 34-2
Filing Party Name: The Plaintiff. This is the spouse who is recognized as the initiator of the divorce and is the one who actually files the Complaint for Divorce with the county court.
Non-Filing Party Name: The Defendant. This spouse plays a lesser role in an uncontested divorce versus a contested divorce. He or she will be required to sign and/or respond in a timely fashion to the documents filed by his or her spouse.
Family Law or Domestic Relations Court: Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, __________ County. All divorce cases in the state of New Jersey are facilitated through this court for that particular county.
Clerk's Name: All correspondence with a New Jersey clerk of the court should formally address him or her as follows: Clerk of the Superior Court.
Property and Debt Division: New Jersey is considered an "equitable distribution" state. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on how the marital property will be divided, the court shall use a three step process. First, it will determine what property is marital. Second, it will put a value on the marital property. Third, it will divide the marital property in an equitable fashion, which is not necessarily equal, but rather what is considered to be fair.
In making an equitable distribution of property, the court shall consider, but not be limited to, the following factors:
1. The duration of the marriage; 2. The age and physical and emotional health of the parties; 3. The income or property brought to the marriage by each party; 4. The standard of living established during the marriage; 5. Any written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage concerning an arrangement of property distribution; 6. The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property becomes effective; 7. The income and earning capacity of each party, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children, and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage; 8. The contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other; 9. The contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, as well as the contribution of a party as a homemaker; 10. The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party; 11. The present value of the property; 12. The need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence and to use or own the household effects; 13. The debts and liabilities of the parties; 14. The need for creation, now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse or children; 15. The extent to which a party deferred achieving their career goals; and 16. Any other factors which the court may deem relevant. (New Jersey Statutes - Title 2 A - Chapters: 34-23)
Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony: Determining the amount of spousal support, if any, is not as objective as determining child support. Spousal support, whether permanent or temporary, is typically decided on a case-by-case basis, because it is very likely that unique circumstances and factors regarding the marriage and the property award will play a significant role in allowing the court to arrive at the appropriate amount.
The court shall consider when making a support award, but not be limited to, the following factors:
(A) The actual need and ability of the parties to pay;
(B) The duration of the marriage;
(C) The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;
(D) The standard of living established in the marriage and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living;
(E) The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties;
(F) The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance;
(G) The parental responsibilities for the children;
(H) The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the availability of the training and employment, and the opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
(I) The history of the financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities;
(J) The equitable distribution of property ordered and any payouts on equitable distribution, directly or indirectly, out of current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable, just and fair;
(K) The income available to either party through investment of any assets held by that party;
(L) The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a non-taxable payment; and
(M) Any other factors which the court may deem relevant. (New Jersey Statutes - Title 2 A - Chapters: 34-23)
Custody and Visitation: Shared or joint child custody has become more and more popular with the New Jersey courts. If you and your spouse request to have joint or shared "legal" custody, it will almost always be granted. As for joint or shared "physical" custody, the court will examine this a bit more closely to determine if it is a realistic choice that would result in an arrangement that is best for the children.
A child custody determination made by a court of this state that had jurisdiction under this act binds all persons who have been served in accordance with the laws of this state or notified in accordance with section 8 of this act or who have submitted to the jurisdiction of the court, and who have been given an opportunity to be heard. As to those persons, the determination is conclusive as to all decided issues of law and fact except to the extent the determination is modified.
In determining the appropriate sole or joint custody arrangement the court will consider the following factors, but not limited to: 1. the physical, emotional, religious and everyday needs of the children 2. the wishes of the child is deemed to be of sufficient age and maturity. (New Jersey Statutes - Title 2 A - Chapters: 34-23)
Determining Child Support: The basis for determining a monthly support amount is best achieved by referring to the New Jersey child support worksheet. The worksheet utilizes the child support guidelines that are defined by state law. The court will use this same worksheet as a building block for determining the support obligation, that is if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on this issue.
In determining the amount to be paid by a parent for support of the child and the period during which the duty of support is owed, the court in those cases not governed by court rule shall consider, but not be limited to, the following factors:
(1) Needs of the child;
(2) Standard of living and economic circumstances of each parent;
(3) All sources of income and assets of each parent;
(4) Earning ability of each parent;
(5) Need and capacity of the child for education, including higher education;
(6) Age and health of the child and each parent;
(7) Income, assets and earning ability of the child;
(8) Responsibility of the parents for the court-ordered support of others;
(9) Reasonable debts and liabilities of each child and parent; and
(10) Any other factors the court may deem relevant.
(New Jersey Statutes - Title 2 A - Chapters: 34-23)
Copyright Notice: These New Jersey divorce laws above are copyrighted by Divorce Source, Inc. This abbreviated and revised version of the state laws has been compiled from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction in any fashion is prohibited. Violation of this copyright notice may result in immediate legal action.
A Simple Divorce Process
Visit Our Support Sites - Divorce Support & Divorce Source
Disclaimer: This is a quality non-lawyer self-help divorce solution. The 3StepDivorce Documentation software and service is not a substitute for the advice of a lawyer. Divorce Source, Inc. does not practice law and does not give out legal advice. The software and service allows you to represent yourself in doing your own divorce. If you need or desire legal representation we recommend that you hire a lawyer. Click here to learn more about our service.