Although New Jersey has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country according to several sources, divorces can and do take place. If you’re in New Jersey and you’re thinking about filing for divorce, there are some things you should know. Even if you believe your divorce will be amicable, people often do things in the heat of a divorce that they otherwise wouldn’t do. This is why it is important that you educate yourself on New Jersey divorce law before the process begins.
New Jersey Grounds for Divorce
New Jersey divorce laws state that there are both fault and no fault divorce. A no fault divorce is known as irreconcilable differences. It means that neither party is looking to prove that the other party did something wrong. They just don’t want to be married anymore. Often, no fault divorces are faster than other forms of divorce. However, with irreconcilable differences you and your spouse must be in disagreement for at least six months while living together.
Under New Jersey divorce law, the grounds for divorce are:
- Extreme mental and physical cruelty which is defined under New Jersey divorce law as any physical or mental cruelty which causes endangerment to the safety or health or makes it improper or unreasonable for the two parties to continue residing together.
- Desertion under New Jersey divorce law means that one spouse has left the marital home and has no contact for at least 12 months.
- Separation if the spouses have lived apart for at least 18 consecutive months and there is no reasonable hope of reconciliation.
- Addiction or habitual drunkenness for at least 12 consecutive months after the marriage but prior to filing for divorce.
- Institutionalization for a mental illness for 24 consecutive months or more after the marriage but prior to filing for divorce.
- Imprisonment for 18 or more consecutive months or more after the marriage but prior to filing for divorce.
- Deviant sexual behavior by the defendant without the permission of the plaintiff.
What Are the Requirements to File for Divorce in New Jersey?
Aside from meeting one or more of the grounds or choosing no fault under New Jersey divorce law, you must also meet the requirements to file for divorce. You must be a resident of the State of New Jersey for at least one year before you file for divorce.
When you make the decision to file for divorce, you must file your complaint with the county court where you reside as the plaintiff. The defendant must be legally served according to New Jersey divorce laws.
Do You Qualify for an Annulment in New Jersey?
Often, the idea of a divorce is devastating for many people. So, many people ask an attorney whether they would qualify to have an annulment under New Jersey divorce law. Annulments do exist in New Jersey, but there are limited to the following circumstances:
- You or your spouse had another spouse at the time of the marriage.
- You and your spouse are related closer than first cousins.
- The male in the relationship is impotent and the female did not know prior to the marriage.
- At least one spouse was not mentally competent or was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the marriage.
- The marriage was a result of duress of fraud.
- An annulment is requested by someone who was under 18 years at the time of the marriage, and this individual did not ratify the marriage when they became of legal age.
What Does New Jersey Divorce Law Say About Alimony and Child Support?
Under New Jersey divorce law, you may be ordered to pay alimony or child support. Alimony is also known as spousal support. This is money that is paid by one spouse to the other spouse in order to support them for a certain amount of time when a marriage ends. For individuals receiving public assistance, receiving alimony may affect your benefits. Alimony can be awarded to a spouse regardless of their gender.
New Jersey recognizes four types of alimony. Open durational alimony is usually only awarded if the couple was married for at least 20 years or if one of the spouses is unable to work for some reason, such as a disability. The person receiving open durational alimony may be eligible to receive it until they remarry, cohabitates, or the spouse paying retires or dies.
Limited duration alimony is temporary in nature. Usually, the recipient only receives this type of alimony until a certain event occurs. For example, the recipient finds employment. This type of alimony also doesn’t usually last longer than the marriage. So, if you were only married for two years, limited duration alimony likely would not be awarded past two years.
Rehabilitative alimony is another form of temporary spousal support. It enables the recipient to get training or education so that they are able to take care of themselves financially in the future.
Reimbursement alimony is awarded if one spouse supported the other while they finished school and the spouse who was in school had an increase in their income. This type of alimony is to help repay the benefit the educated spouse received as a result of the previous support.
Child support is a duty for both parents. The non-custodial parent pays a certain amount as determined by the court to help the custodial parent meet the needs of the minor child or children. Child support is determined according to the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. Child support may also affect the amount of public assistance a person is eligible to receive.
New Jersey Is an Equitable Distribution State
Under New Jersey divorce law, the state looks at equitable distribution when it comes to assets and liabilities of the marriage. This does not mean that the two spouses split everything right down the middle. Equitable distribution means that each party gets what is fair.
If you have questions about New Jersey divorce law, reach out to our experienced New Jersey family law attorneys to learn about your rights and obligations under the law.