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Divorce in New Jersey

Divorce is one of the most difficult processes a person can go through. It can affect every aspect of their life, including their relationship with their children, professional life, and finances. Making it even more difficult is the flood of difficult emotions brought on by an impending divorce, like grief, the loss of future hopes and expectations, sadness, and betrayal. Understanding the legal process of divorce and everything that is involved can help divorcing individuals make their way through this challenging process. An experienced New Jersey divorce attorney and mediator can help. Contact the Law Office of Andrew R. Fischer for help and advice based on your unique situation.

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Talk To An Attorney And Get Your Legal Questions Answered

Residency Requirement and Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey

Before you can get a divorce in New Jersey, you must meet certain criteria. First, you must meet the residency requirement. This means you or your spouse has lived in New Jersey for at least one year.

Next, you must be able to show that you have legal grounds for divorce. New Jersey allows spouses to get divorced based on no-fault grounds, including:

  • Physical separation – The spouses have been physically separated for at least 18 months in a row.
  • Irreconcilable differences – The spouses have differences and their marriage should end based on those differences. The spouses acknowledge that there is no chance for reconciliation.

There are also fault-based grounds for divorce in New Jersey, including:

  • Adultery
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Desertion
  • Voluntarily induced addiction to a narcotic drug or habitual drunkenness
  • Institutionalization for mental illness
  • Imprisonment
  • Deviant sexual conduct

If you file under fault-based grounds, you must prove that your spouse is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage because of the ground you are asserting.

Filing a Divorce Complaint

The official beginning of a divorce begins when one spouse files a complaint for divorce (or “dissolution” as it is referred to in New Jersey). You will need to provide basic information about you, your spouse, and your wishes, including:

  • The legal names and addresses of each spouse
  • How long one of the spouses has been living in New Jersey (to establish you have met the residency requirement)
  • The date and place of marriage
  • What the spouse filing the complaint wants, such as certain property distribution, child custody, child support, and spousal support

Legal Issues Involved in a New Jersey Divorce Case

Property Division

The assets (and debts) you have accumulated during your marriage are generally considered marital property that is subject to division in case of divorce. There are some exceptions, such as if you have a valid prenuptial agreement that divides your property in some other way or you received an item as an individual gift.

You can either divide property with your spouse as you both agree, or you can ask the court to divide your property. If the court divides your property, it will try to divide the property “equitably.” However, this may not result in an even 50/50 division. The court considers many factors when dividing the property, such as:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The standard of living the spouses established during the marriage
  • Each spouse’s age and health
  • The economic circumstances surrounding each spouse
  • Each spouse’s separate property
  • The tax consequences of certain divisions
  • The value of property
  • The earning capacity and income of each spouse
  • The needs of a custodial parent
  • The debts and liabilities of each spouse
  • The contributions each spouse made to the marriage

If the court divides the property, it may require professional valuations be completed to determine the value of property. If some property cannot be divided, the court may order the parties to sell the property and split the proceeds.

Child Custody

If you and your spouse have a minor child together, you will also need to decide custody matters. Again, you and your spouse can reach your own agreement regarding child custody, or the court can decide it.

Legal custody refers to who has the power to make important decisions regarding the child, such as those concerning the child’s health, education, and religion. Physical or residential custody refers to which parent the child lives with and spends most of their time with.

There can be joint or sole physical and/or legal custody. If the court awards sole custody, it will usually award parenting time (visitation) to the other parent.

In New Jersey, the custody rights of both parents are equal, regardless of gender. There can be joint or sole custody for one or both types of custody. If sole custody is awarded, the other spouse will usually receive parenting time or visitation.

The court considers what is in the child’s best interests when making child custody decisions. This requires evaluating various factors, such as:

  • Any history of domestic violence
  • The relationship between the child and each parent and their siblings
  • The stability of each parent’s home
  • The parents’ ability to cooperate and communicate
  • The current arrangements
  • The child’s preference

Child Support

Child support helps ensure that a child’s financial needs are met, even when the parents are no longer together. New Jersey uses child support guidelines to determine the amount of child support that should be awarded in a case. Courts can sometimes deviate from the presumptive amount of support if the case calls for it.

Spousal Support

In some cases, the court may award spousal support if the spouses have different levels of income. Support may be ordered for a temporary length of time or for many years, depending on the specifics of the case. The court considers various factors when deciding whether to award spousal support, such as the length of the marriage and the earning capacity of each spouse.

Divorce Mediation

Divorce mediation can help you and your spouse reach amicable decisions regarding your divorce and help you proceed with an uncontested divorce. This approach is often much faster, cheaper, and more friendly than a contested divorce.

In mediation, a neutral third party helps the spouses identify key issues that need to be addressed. The mediator uses conflict resolution skills and effective communication so the spouses look at the big picture. If successful, the spouses leave with an agreement that they can present to the judge.

How an Experienced New Jersey Divorce Lawyer Can Help

If you are considering filing for divorce in New Jersey or you were recently served with divorce papers, a divorce lawyer can guide you through the process. An experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer can help with your case by:

  • Explaining the divorce process and New Jersey divorce laws
  • Walking you through each step of the process
  • Preparing your divorce complaint or answer
  • Preparing financial affidavits, discovery documents, and other documents relevant to your case
  • Answering any questions you have throughout the process
  • Representing your legal interests during mediation, if applicable
  • Negotiating for a fair divorce settlement
  • Advising you of your child custody and visitation rights
  • Representing your best interests at every stage of the case

If you have any questions about the divorce process or your legal rights, contact the Law Office of Andrew R. Fischer. We can provide a confidential consultation to review your case and explain how we can help.

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Talk To An Attorney And Get Your Legal Questions Answered

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