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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.
Filing the Paperwork with the Court
Filed with the complaint are:
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.
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:
The defendant has 35 days after receipt of the divorce paperwork to do one or more of the following:
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:
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.
New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the division of property in a divorce is to be done fairly, not necessarily equally. The court can take into consideration any factor it deems relevant when dividing property, but it must consider certain factors, such as how long the couple was married and the age and health of both spouses, the income or property brought to the marriage by each spouse, the standard of living that was achieved during the marriage, and the extent to which one spouse may have deferred career goals, among others.
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