Divorce can be a challenging process for anyone to go through. In New Jersey, there are specific steps you must follow to finalize your divorce. If you are considering ending your marriage, it’s essential to understand the process, where to file, and what to expect along the way.
Where to File for Divorce in NJ?
The first step in the divorce process in NJ is to file a complaint for divorce with the Superior Court of New Jersey, which is the state’s trial court. To file, you must meet the residency requirements for New Jersey. At least one spouse must have lived in the state for at least one year before filing. If the reason for the divorce occurred in New Jersey, such as adultery or extreme cruelty, then the residency requirement is waived.
The divorce complaint is filed in the county where either spouse lives. If both spouses live in different counties, the complaint is filed in the county where the plaintiff (the spouse filing for divorce) lives.
How Divorce Works in NJ
Once the divorce complaint is filed, the defendant (the other spouse) must be served with a copy of the complaint and a summons. The defendant has 35 days to file an answer to the complaint. If the defendant fails to answer within the allotted time, the plaintiff can request a default judgment, which means the court will grant the divorce without the defendant’s input.
After the answer is filed, both parties will begin the discovery process. This is when each side gathers information about the other’s finances, assets, debts, and any other relevant information. This is done through written requests for documents and testimony given under oath. The discovery process can be time-consuming and complex, and it’s essential to have an experienced divorce attorney to help you navigate this phase.
Once discovery is completed, the parties can attempt to negotiate a settlement agreement, which outlines the terms of the divorce, such as custody, child support, alimony, and division of assets and debts. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the case will go to trial, and a judge will make decisions regarding the terms of the divorce.
Finalizing the Divorce
If the parties reach a settlement agreement, it must be reviewed by the court to ensure it is fair and equitable. If the court approves the agreement, a final judgment of divorce will be issued. If the case goes to trial, the judge will make a final decision regarding the terms of the divorce, and a final judgment will be issued.
The length of time it takes to finalize a divorce in NJ can vary depending on several factors, such as the complexity of the case and whether the parties are able to reach a settlement agreement. On average, an uncontested divorce in NJ can take between 2-3 months. However, a contested divorce can take anywhere from several months to a year or more.
The divorce process in NJ can be complex and emotionally challenging. A divorce attorney will be able to help you navigate the legal system and ensure your rights are protected. If you are considering divorce in NJ, make sure you understand the process, residency requirements, and what to expect along the way. With the proper legal guidance, you can move forward with confidence and begin your new chapter in life.