New Jersey Divorce Law
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Divorce Residency Essentials to Get Divorce in New Jersey
- One of the spouses must be a resident of New Jersey for at least one year prior to filing for divorce or
- When the cause for divorce is adultery and took place in New Jersey, one of the spouses must have been a resident (no time limit).
The divorce may be filed for in any county in New Jersey. [New Jersey Statutes Annotated; Title 2A, Chapters 34-8 and 34-10].
Reasons for Divorce in New Jersey
There are mainly two reasons of divorce in New Jersey those are fault and general. In order to file for divorce in New Jersey, the proper grounds must be established. Both spouses are involved in establishing these grounds, and both must substantiate and agree upon these, unless the divorcing spouse is trying to prove otherwise to the court.
No-fault reasons for divorce in New Jersey include:
- Living separate and apart for 18 months and no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. [New Jersey Statutes Annotated; Title 2A, Chapter 34-2].
General reasons for divorce in New Jersey include:
- Imprisonment for 18 months;
- Unnatural sexual behavior before or after marriage;
- Alcoholism and/or drug addiction;
- Confinement for incurable insanity;
- Willful desertion for one year;
- Cruel and inhuman treatment;
- Separation for two years caused by confinement for mental illness; and
- Extreme cruelty. [New Jersey Statutes Annotated; Title 2A, Chapter 34-2].
Custody of the Children in New Jersey
Sole or joint custody may be awarded based on the following factors:
- The physical, emotional, mental, religious, and social needs of the child and
- The preference of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity.
No preference is to be given because of parent’s sex. A father may not forcibly take a minor child from a mother’s actual physical custody. [New Jersey Statutes Annotated; Title 2A, Chapter 34-23 and New Jersey Case Law].
Property Distribution in New Jersey
New Jersey is an “equitable distribution” state. A spouse’s separate property acquired before a marriage is retained by that spouse. All of the spouse’s other property (except that acquired by gift and inheritance) is divided equitably, based on the following factors:
- The value of each spouse’s marital property;
- The value of the separate property of the spouses;
- The length of the marriage;
- The age and health of the spouses;
- The amount and sources of income of the spouses;
- The liabilities and needs of each spouse and the opportunity of each for further acquisition of capital assets and income;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- How and by whom the property was acquired;
- The tax consequences to each spouse;
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker;
- The economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective;
- Any written agreement between the spouses;
- The income and earning capacity of the spouses;
- The educational background, training, and employment skills of the spouses;
- Any custodial responsibilities;
- The length of absence from the job market;
- The time and expense necessary to enable the spouse to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage;
- The need for the parent with custody of any children to own or occupy the marital residence;
- The need to create a trust fund for the future medical or educational needs of a spouse or children; and
- Any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the spouses. [New Jersey Statutes Annotated; Title 2A, Chapter 34-23.1].
New Jersey Spousal Support Guidelines
Either spouse may be ordered to pay alimony, without regard to marital fault, based on the following factors:
- The duration of the marriage;
- The actual needs, obligations, and ability to pay of each spouse;
- The standard of living established during the marriage and the likelihood that each spouse can maintain a comparable standard of living;
- The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education and training to enable the spouse to find appropriate employment and that spouse’s future earning capacity;
- The age of the spouses;
- The physical and emotional conditions of the spouses;
- The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the spouses;
- The length of absence from the job market;
- Any child custodial responsibilities of the spouse;
- The availability of training and employment;
- The opportunity for the future acquisition of capital and income;
- The history or financial and non-financial contributions of each spouse to the marriage, including the contribution of each spouse to the care and education of children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities;
- The equitable distribution of property and any payouts from this property, if a consideration of this income is fair and just [however, income from retirement benefits which are treated as an asset for purposes of equitable distribution are not to be considered];
- Any investment income available to either spouse;
- The tax consequences of any alimony; and
- Any other factor the court deems just and equitable. [New Jersey Statutes Annotated; Title 2A, Chapter 34-23].
New Jersey Child Support Guidelines
The court may award child support for the care, maintenance, and education of a child. The factors for consideration specified in the statute are:
- The needs and liability of the child;
- The standard of living and economic circumstances of both parents;
- The financial resources, needs, and obligations of both the non-custodial and the custodial parent;
- The earning ability of each parent, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, custodial responsibility for the children, cost of childcare, and the length and cost of education and training to obtain employment;
- The need and capacity of the child for education, including higher education;
- The age and health of the child and the parents;
- The income, assets, and earning ability of the child;
- The responsibility of the parents for the support of others; and
- Any other relevant factors.
There are specific New Jersey Supreme Court child support guidelines contained in New Jersey Civil Practice Rules, Appendix IX. [New Jersey Statutes Annotated; Title 2A, Chapter 34-23].
There are no legal provisions in New Jersey for divorce mediation.