Who Can File For Divorce in New Jersey?
Divorce, also legally known as a “dissolution” in New Jersey, is a legal process virtually the same as dissolving a civil union or a domestic partnership.
According to New Jersey divorce statutes, either spouse (or partner) in a marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership can file. However, one spouse (or partner) must live in the state at the time of the filing.
In almost every case, the decision to divorce is legally and emotionally challenging. Although New Jersey law does not require you to work with a qualified N.J. divorce lawyer, professional guidance will make the process significantly less complicated.
There are things that the New Jersey court can explain to you, such as answering simple questions about the workings of the court and providing you with examples of the forms involved, but much will be confused and left out. This leaves you alone to work through this complex legal, emotional, and detail-oriented process.
This is why, in most cases, the New Jersey court strongly recommends that anyone filing or considering filing enlist the knowledgeable, experienced, and empathetic help of a Morris County divorce lawyer.
How Do I Know If I Can File For Divorce, and Have the Legal Grounds To Do So?
If you intend to seek a divorce in N.J., first you must explain to the courts why you wish to divorce and support your request through the filing of a Complaint for Divorce.
Your Morris County divorce lawyer will assist you in gathering all the pertinent information required and effectively presenting it to the New Jersey court.
This information will provide the necessary legal grounds to proceed with your legal dissolution of marriage (as stated in the N.J. Legislature 2A:34-2).
Some of the most common reasons, or “grounds” for divorce are:
- Extreme Cruelty – Extreme cruelty is any form of physical, mental, or emotional abuse. Specifically, any physical or psychological cruelty that endangers your safety or health or makes it necessary to remove yourself from cohabiting with your spouse. Physical acts of violence or domestic abuse are apparent, but this “cruelty” can also include financial abuse, public or private verbal humiliation, controlling your behavior, and more.
- Adultery – Here, your spouse commits infidelity under New Jersey law. Your spouse (or partner) rejects you and enters into a personal, intimate relationship with any other person. However, when filing for adultery the other person must be named.
- Abandonment or Desertion – This is when your spouse leaves your residence or remains but is not physically involved with you for 12 months or more. In simpler terms, you have ceased cohabiting as a married couple (or partner).
- Addiction to Drugs or Alcohol – Here, by law, your spouse’s addiction to alcohol or a controlled substance contributes to the demise of your relationship. This is covered by N.J. law, and addiction or habitual drunkenness persists for 12 or more months.
- Deviation Sexual Conduct – Here, your spouse must have engaged voluntarily in deviant sexual conduct, and it was done without your consent.
Your Morris County divorce lawyer, versed in these situations and grounds for divorce, will explain that the above are only some grounds for your dissolution. Every case differs, must be analyzed thoroughly, and always presented properly and correctly to the New Jersey court.
Are Grounds for Divorce Always Necessary For a Divorce in New Jersey?
In many divorces, specific grounds for divorce may not be needed, except commonly in a “fault-based” divorce.
Before 2007, if you wanted to divorce in New Jersey, you must prove marital fault, such as extreme cruelty or adultery. In some cases, you had to undergo 18 months of separation before you could divorce.
However, in 2007, the New Jersey divorce laws were amended, including “irreconcilable differences” as one of the main grounds for divorce.
New Jersey is now considered a “no-fault” divorce state. So, in most cases, if you or your spouse want a divorce, you must provide significant evidence that irreconcilable differences are present.
This “no-fault” option usually provides you and your spouse (or partner) a much more cost-effective, less stressful, and amiable alternative to a litigated or fault-based divorce.
That said, however, there are still times when your spouse’s behavior significantly contributes to the deterioration of your marriage. If this applies to your case, you still may move to a fault-based divorce. Your experienced and skilled Morris County divorce lawyer will always guide you in what’s in your best interests.
Does Proving Grounds for Divorce Always Work in My Best Interests?
Every divorce case differs in its reasons, complexity, and more. So, there are times when a fault-based divorce may be in your best interests; your Morris County divorce law team will assist you in making that decision after all the facts are clear.
However, unless specific circumstances exist, the New Jersey courts will usually not consider fault when deciding on your divorce.
Let’s say, for example, that your spouse engaged in misconduct by misappropriating marital funds; in this case, filing a “fault-based” divorce may be in your best interests, and you may receive a more favorable division of assets.
Or, if you suffered physical abuse during your marriage, this fact could dramatically alter a child custody determination. Only by knowing the specifics and unique circumstances of your case will you and your detailed, thorough Morris County divorce lawyer know which path to take.
I May Have Grounds for Divorce and Need Help; How Should I Proceed?
Going through any divorce is always a highly stressful, emotional, and possibly dire experience that any family can experience. Also, as stated, each case differs in complexity, but the outcome may determine your family’s future for years to come.
Therefore, you must have the most in-depth, professional, and aggressive legal guidance possible.
The Edens Law Group has provided winning and empathetic legal help for decades divorcing Morris County clients. Call them today at (908) 529-0353, and whatever legal path your divorce, they will provide tireless, well-versed representation from the beginning to the end of your case.