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New Jersey Divorce Process
Preparing the Divorce Papers

The Complaint for Divorce/Dissolution starts the action, and New Jersey courts have four types of divorce complaint forms. The plaintiff may either file for a no-fault or a fault divorce.

Read more about New Jersey divorce forms

Filing the Paperwork with the Court

Filed with the complaint are:

  • A Filing Letter to the Court - Complaint Form (form 6) that says the plaintiff is filing for divorce and paying the filing fee or requesting a waiver from paying the fee.
  • Certification of Insurance (form 2), where listing all insurance coverage (life, auto, health and homeowners).
  • Certification of Notification of Complementary Dispute Resolution (form 2B), which says the plaintiff is aware of mediation.
  • Family Part Case Information Statement (form 3A) which is filed if there are issues on custody, support, alimony, division of debt or assets, and also requires the listing of income, assets and debts.
  • Confidential Litigant Information Sheet (form 3B).

The plaintiff makes at least three copies of the complaint and related divorce paperwork. The court requires one original and two copies and a self-addressed stamped envelope so the court can return a copy of papers. The copy is marked filed.

Read more about New Jersey divorce facts

Serving the Documents

Once the court returns a copy of the complaint stamped filed, the plaintiff completes the summons and attaches proof of service (form 7). The defendant must then be served with the divorce paperwork by one of the following methods:

  • Receiving a copy of the petition from the county sheriff where the defendant lives or works.
  • Receiving a copy of the divorce paperwork by U.S. mail, using certified mail, restricted delivery, return receipt requested.
  • Contacting the attorney and ask if he or she will agree to accept a copy of the divorce paperwork, (if the defendant has an attorney)

The defendant has 35 days after receipt of the divorce paperwork to do one or more of the following:

  • file an "Appearance," which means the defendant does not object to the divorce, but may object to what the plaintiff is asking for, in terms of divorce-related issues like custody or support
  • file an "Answer," in which the defendant agrees or disagrees to the statements in the complaint.
  • file a "Counterclaim," in which the defendant can state new reasons for the divorce - there is a court filing fee for the counterclaim.

Read more about New Jersey process service

Disclosing Financial Information

In New Jersey both spouses must exchange certain financial documents and information within 45 days after the divorce complaint is served.

Each spouse must provide the following:

  • Federal and State income tax returns for the last three years;
  • Bank account statements for the last three years;
  • Retirement account statements for the last three years;
  • Investment account statements for the last three years;
  • Four most recent pay stubs;
  • Documentation of current health insurance;
  • Copies of any loan application made in the last three years;
  • Copies of any financial statement prepared in the last three years; and an updated financial statement.

Once a spouse has provided the mandatory financial disclosures, they are allowed to make follow-up discovery requests through Requests for Documents, Requests for Interrogatories, and Depositions.

It is important to note that the financial statement is one of the most important documents in any divorce.

Care should be taken when completing and exchanging the initial financial statement since it can have an effect on the rest of the case.

Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce

New Jersey has taken some of the bitterness and frustration out of divorce through two laws: no-fault divorce and uncontested divorce.

No-fault divorce is an important tool for helping divorcing spouses move on with their lives and start planning for the future instead of focusing on the past. In New Jersey, a family court judge does not have to place blame or fault on one spouse in order to grant a divorce and allow both spouses to start their new lives. The only requirement in New Jersey is for one spouse to state that the marriage is broken down and cannot be fixed. This frees up resources the spouses would have otherwise used on proving who was right or wrong. Instead, resources can be used on designing a mutually beneficial financial division of assets and liabilities and developing a comprehensive parenting plan for the children.

For those spouses who are willing and able to work together on moving forward with their lives, uncontested divorce is the quickest, easiest, and most cost-effective option.

Finalizing the Divorce

NJ does not have a required waiting period after filing for divorce. They allow a no-fault divorce based on the fact that the parties have been living separate for six months.

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If the divorce is being filed under one of the seven fault grounds (including extreme cruelty, adultery, abandonment, substance or alcohol addiction, institutionalization, deviant sexual conduct and incarceration), the 18 month separation period, required for a no-fault divorce, is waived. However, each ground for divorce has its own stipulations.
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