The SC Law Firm
5 Things to Know Before Getting a Divorce in New Jersey
Although divorce should be looked at as a last resort, it is sometimes necessary when a relationship has failed or become detrimental to one or both parties. If you're considering getting a divorce in New Jersey, it is important to first educate yourself on New Jersey’s divorce process, as there are several nuances that could impact the outcome for yourself or your separating partner. Should you have any questions, the expert New Jersey divorce attorneys at Sanvenero & Cittadino are well-versed in the state’s divorce laws and are happy to help you navigate this difficult situation.
1. State Residency Requirement
The state of New Jersey requires that at least one spouse has lived in New Jersey, with primary residency established in the state, for 12 consecutive months, or one year, prior to filing for divorce in the state. While this requirement may seem insignificant for New Jersey natives or longtime residents, this can be important if you and your spouse recently moved. Fortunately, only one spouse must fulfill this requirement to proceed with the divorce process which can help couples who may have already separated with one partner moving across state lines.
2. State-Specified Divorce Reasons
New Jersey is relatively lenient as a ‘no-fault’ state when it comes to divorce, meaning that neither partner must prove that the other did something significantly wrong. However, the state does still stipulate 9 specific scenarios as ‘grounds for divorce’, and the divorce can only proceed based on one of these reasons.
New Jersey’s Grounds for Divorce
Each of the following grounds, or reasons, carry additional stipulations and requirements, so it is important to consult a New Jersey family law attorney for more information.
Deviant sexual conduct not otherwise included within adultery
Long-term separation of 18 consecutive months or more
Long-term drug and/or alcohol addiction of 12 consecutive months or more
Mental illness with institutionalization for 24 consecutive months
Imprisonment of 18 consecutive months or more
It should be noted that some of the more objective time-related grounds listed above may be circumvented by the more subjective reasons (irreconcilable differences, abandonment, etc.), that don’t require such a long period of time.
3. New Jersey’s Alimony System
The alimony requirements in New Jersey warrant their own, separate discussion due to the nuances and complexities, but there are a few main points to note. Your divorce attorney will help you understand and abide by these requirements.
The Types of Alimony in NJ
In New Jersey, there are four separate types of alimony, and each one depends on specific circumstances and carries unique requirements.
Open Durational Alimony
Limited Duration Alimony
How Long Alimony Lasts in NJ
Alimony duration in New Jersey depends on a multitude of factors, but one of the guiding principles determining alimony timeframes is the length of the marriage itself. Marriages lasting less than 20 years are only subject to alimony timeframes less than, or equal to, the length of the marriage itself. The state does specify extenuating circumstances that may supersede this principle, but these are largely subjective and typically determined by the presiding judge.
Alimony determinations in New Jersey can be frustrating, and due to their subjective nature, it is imperative to enlist help from an experienced NJ family law attorney to achieve amicable, but favorable results.
How to File for Divorce in New Jersey
Filing for divorce in the state of New Jersey isn’t an overly complicated process, but there are still several basics steps that must be taken to initiate the process.
The Initial Steps
Prior to engaging in any specific discussions surrounding your divorce’s unique circumstances, a few initial steps must be taken to ensure the divorce will be accepted by the state:
Ensure NJ’s residency requirements are met
Review the state-approved divorce reasons, and ensure you have proper grounds for divorce
Begin developing a list of your assets, other financial property, and any potential spousal support requirements
Filing for Divorce
With these initial steps completed, now the formal process begins. First, you must compile your documentation surrounding these initial steps. Next, file the divorce papers with the state and ensure a copy is sent, via certified mail, to your spouse or partner. Finally, await your partner’s response to determine if they will be contesting the divorce itself, or the terms you set forth during the initial steps. This will determine how the divorce process proceeds.
During this stage, an attorney can help prepare you for a ‘contested divorce’ should your partner choose not to agree to your specified terms, or the divorce itself.
5. Attorney Fee Responsibilities
In the state of New Jersey, attorney fee responsibilities for both parties are determined by the presiding family court judge either during the divorce proceedings, or at their conclusion. The judge will consider several factors in making this determination, and if one of the parties does not agree, he or she can file an appeal.
Can the Judge Require My Spouse to Pay My Attorney Fees?
In short, yes – the judge absolutely has the authority to do so. However, the judge will consider the financial situations of both parties before, during, and after the divorce proceedings in making this decision. While the judge’s determination is considered to be binding, it can be appealed.
Can the Judge Require Me to Pay for My Spouse’s Attorney Fees?
Yes – just as the judge may determine that your spouse should pay for your attorney fees, they have the authority to make this same determination in favor of your spouse, instead of you. It is a ‘two-way street’ in this case, and the decision will ultimately come down to the financial circumstances of both divorce parties.
The Final Verdict
Getting divorced is never easy, but by knowing these five things before proceeding, you can eliminate a lot of confusion and hassle during the process. Filing for divorce in New Jersey is more complicated than in some states, and the process is less complicated than others. The most important takeaways are to educate yourself and consult a top New Jersey divorce lawyer.
You do not have to deal with this complicated process on your own. The professional team of NJ divorce law experts at Sanvenero & Cittadino will guide you throughout the entire process and take a vested interest in ensuring you obtain the most favorable outcome possible. Contact our legal team today to schedule your consultation.