Divorce laws in New Jersey require spouses (or at least one of them) to be New Jersey residents for a minimum of one year (Divorce laws in New Jersey residency) to file a divorce. The exception for that is adultery. In this case, New Jersey divorce laws allow filing divorce even if either spouse has lived in this state for a short period. Divorce law in NJ also states that there are two main types of divorce in this state: contested and uncontested. The first type occurs when spouses cannot come to an agreement and need help and also encompasses fault divorces (in case of adultery, different sorts of disagreements, criminal conviction, cruelty, etc.), when the other party has some complaints against their spouse or claims on their property. The second type of divorce might occur when both partners agree that they are incompatible and/or do not want to be together anymore. In this case, the spouses do not have any complaints against each other. Therefore, they can manage to resolve questions connected to alimony, the division of property, and childcare/support without any help of the court.
As said before, uncontested divorce happens when spouses do not have any complaints against each other. In this case, divorce laws in New Jersey allow spouses to choose between two options: “Irreconcilable Differences/Irretrievable Breakdown” or “Living Separate and Apart”. The second option becomes possible if partners have not been living together for at least eighteenth months. “Irreconcilable Differences” is the most popular ground for divorce because of its many advantages. First, it provides the right to file for a less expensive uncontested divorce. Second, “Irreconcilable Differences” does not place blame for the marriage’s breakdown on anybody. Third, it protects the couple’s privacy. Furthermore, this ground can help the couple reach an agreement in the most peaceful manner since there is no one to blame.
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A fault-based divorce is a totally different story. In this situation, the grounds of divorce might be: adultery (cheating), deviant sexual conduct (when the partner’s consent is absent), disagreements, abandonment (the partner has been away for 12 months or more), extreme cruelty, different kinds of addictions (for example, drug addiction), imprisonment, and institutionalization (one of the partners is institutionalized due to a mental disorder).
According to New Jersey adultery divorce laws, the plaintiff has to prove that his or her spouse has actually cheated. If it is impossible, NJ adultery divorce law states that the complainant has to at least prove the fact that their spouse has this inclination in general. As for deviant sexual conduct, this ground does not appear often since it the definition of “deviant” behavior is vague, and, therefore, it is problematic to prove it. The extreme cruelty ground is connected to many types of physical abuse or offensive behavior. Indicating a spouse’s imprisonment as a ground is possible if one of the partners was sentenced to at least eighteen months of imprisonment. The institutionalization ground is justified when one of the spouses was institutionalized for twenty-four months due to mental illness.
The New Jersey divorce process starts with completing two documents that initiate the divorce process. According to divorce laws in New Jersey, there must be two documents: the “complaint” and the “answer”. The first document may be filed by either spouse. The second is the response to the document that initiates the process. Therefore, the second document (“answer”) has to be filed by the other party. It is necessary to mention that although the intention of getting divorced is mutual, one spouse still needs to send a “complaint” to the court to ask for the divorce. Both documents are practically the same format. They must specify the grounds and/or the issues to resolve with their spouse (alimony, division of property, etc.). According to NJ divorce laws, the duration of alimony payments depends on the duration of the marriage. New Jersey alimony divorce law states that the sum depends on factors such as both parties’ finances, and the partners’ physical and emotional wellbeing.
It can be said that the divorce process in New Jersey (NJ) is complicated only in the case of contested divorces. In most cases, it is much easier, especially if couples can negotiate a settlement and agree on all aspects of the divorce on their own. Otherwise, couples who cannot reach an agreement might face a time-consuming and expensive divorce process in New Jersey, or in any other state. The most crucial and prolonged phase is called “discovery”. During this process, all financial information is investigated. Moreover, in the case of a contested divorce, the complainant needs to prove his/her partner’s fault (adultery, deviant sexual conduct, addiction, cruelty, etc.). In general, the discovery and the trial make this type of divorce incredibly time-consuming since it can take many months or even several years. Additionally, a spouse may refuse to file an answer or cannot be found. In both cases, default divorce might occur.
To sum up, in order to get divorced, spouses should go through a range of different steps to finally get divorced. First, they have to decide on the grounds for divorce. Second, they need to file two documents (the “complaint” and “answer”), even if the decision is mutual. In case of a contested divorce, spouses have to decide what they want the court to grant (e.g., alimony, division of property/debts, child custody, etc.). Then they should go through the discovery process, prepare for their trial, and get the Final Judgment of Divorce. In contrast, during the process of an uncontested divorce, couples are able to resolve all aspects of divorce on their own and present their final agreement to the court.