When you’ve decided to end your marriage, it’s time to file the official dissolution of marriage.
The divorce process can be complicated and emotionally draining, so it’s crucial to follow all the steps so everything moves as smoothly as possible.
Read on to learn more about the steps for filing for divorce in New Jersey.
What Are the First Steps in Getting a Divorce?
If you have questions on the steps to take when preparing for a divorce, we’ve outlined the process of getting a divorce in New Jersey.
Determine Residency Requirements
The first step is determining whether you meet the residency requirements to file in New Jersey.
To be eligible for divorce in New Jersey, you or your spouse must have been a bona fide resident for at least 12 months before filing.
There is one exception that involves filing for divorce based on the grounds of adultery. In this situation, you only need to be a bona fide resident, even if it’s less than a year.
Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey
You must choose your grounds for divorce in New Jersey. The most common option is irreconcilable differences—essentially a ‘no-fault’ divorce—but the requirements are strict.
You must show that
- You have experienced irreconcilable differences for a minimum of six months;
- These differences are the reason for the divorce; and
- You’re sure there’s no reasonable likelihood of reconciliation in the future.
You don’t need to include any fault-based grounds when citing irreconcilable differences.
New Jersey also recognizes several “fault” grounds for divorce, including adultery. However, alleging fault grounds won’t necessarily impact the outcome of your case.
That’s one reason you should speak with a New Jersey divorce lawyer to help decide which grounds for divorce are best for you.
Choose the Correct Venue
Once you have determined that you meet the eligibility requirements for divorce in New Jersey, the next step is to choose a venue for your divorce proceedings.
In New Jersey, you can file for divorce in the county where you or your spouse reside.
Filing the Divorce Paperwork
The next step is to file your paperwork, including the complaint for a dissolution of marriage. This document initiates the divorce process and must be filed with the correct court.
You will need to file several additional documents. Your attorney can help you identify the documents you need and make sure they are filled out correctly.
You’ll need to fill out the Divorce Summons, which should be served along with the complaint to your spouse. Be sure to include the current address of your spouse.
The current filing fee is $300, which should be a check or money order. Include another $25 for the parenting workshop fee if you have children.
Sign all documentation and make at least three copies. Be sure to black out any personal identifying numbers on the papers you submit to the court.
Once you receive the complaint back with the case number, you can serve your spouse. You’ll need to provide proof that you served the documents before you can proceed.
Respond to the Complaint
The next step is to wait for your spouse to respond to the complaint. The law gives them 35 days from being served to respond.
Failure to respond means you might be able to proceed with a default divorce judgment after waiting 60 more days.
If your spouse answers the complaint, the amount of time needed to finalize the divorce will vary.
Depending on the circumstances of your divorce, you might need to attend a parenting workshop, mediation, or other alternative dispute resolution.
The court will decide if you and your spouse cannot agree on all outstanding issues.
Contact a New Jersey Divorce Lawyer Today
Filing and proceeding with a dissolution of marriage in New Jersey can be complicated. Fortunately, you don’t have to handle it alone.