With few exceptions, no one enters marriage anticipating the prospect of divorce. Yet, according to national statistics, the divorce rate across the country stays at about 50% year after year. Remarkably, the numbers climb for those who take second or third chances at marrying again.
No doubt divorce can be ugly. In best case scenarios, it does not have to be – but inevitably the issues leading to divorce cause friction and anger. Some may dig in their heels and make unreasonable demands when it comes to dividing assets and determining the best interests of the children.
Hurt. Resentment. Entitlement. Revenge. Unfortunately, these are all component of divorce. Inevitably, they all lead to frustration and impede the process.
Ultimately, how people handle the challenges associated with divorce or dissolution of a civil union matter significantly. Change is not always easy and often represents critical and painful crossroads. Meanwhile, the end of a marriage may also signify the advent of new beginnings.
Filing for Divorce in New Jersey
You do have the option to file for a no-fault divorce in New Jersey. Alternatively, you may feel you have grounds for divorce and want to list them in your divorce complaint. However, there is something critical you need to know.
The reason for your divorce typically has no impact on its final resolution. For example, you may file for divorce based on the fact that your spouse committed adultery. However, this will not change how the court determines equitable distribution, support payments, or child custody. If anything, it may add further angst to the process and thus, delay.
If you are the party filing divorce papers, you are known as the plaintiff. Upon receipt of the complaint, your former spouse has a specified number of days to answer the summons and complaint served upon him or her.
Although it isn’t always feasible, it is most cost-effective and less time consuming to work out your issues instead of bringing a case to trial. However, if you must litigate, it is crucial to have an experienced divorce attorney to advocate on your behalf.
Causes of Action for NJ Divorces: No-Fault
In a no-fault divorce, the parties have decided not to enumerate the reasons for their marital split. Under New Jersey law, you may file for a no-fault divorce or one based on specified grounds. In previous years, the statutory requirements for no-fault divorce required separation of the husband and wife for a minimum of at least eighteen months with no chance of reconciliation.
More than a decade ago, the Legislature approved divorce complaints based on irreconcilable differences. By far, this is among the most often reasons cited by those seeking a divorce. It is also considered the easiest means of obtaining a no-fault divorce.
A complaint based on irreconcilable differences includes one-year residency requirements for both marital partners. Additionally, the complaint must certify that the couple has experienced at least six months of irreconcilable differences and believe this means their marriage should end. Lastly, the complaint must indicate there is no chance for reconciliation.
At-Fault DivorcesIn an at-fault divorce action, the action often begins with one of contention as the complaint names actions that constitute reasons for divorce. NJSA 2A:34-2 lists the reasons spouses may file for at-fault divorces summed up as follows:
- Willful and continued desertion for the term of 12 or more months
- Extreme cruelty with a three-month waiting period as far as the last act of extreme mental or physical cruelty
- Voluntarily induced addiction or habituation to any narcotic drug, or an extended period of habitual drunkenness
- Institutionalization for mental illness for a period of 24 or more consecutive months subsequent to marriage and next preceding the filing of the complaint;
- Imprisonment for specified periods with special considerations
- Non-consensual and voluntary sexual deviation against the plaintiff
In some circumstances, either of the parties may feel that the marriage fits the criteria for annulment. This differs from annulments granted by some religious sects. The grounds for annulment in New Jersey are:
- Bigamy – One of the parties failed to disclose that they were still married to someone else
- Fraud – Proof of fraudulent statements made in conjunction with the marriage
- Age of Consent – One of the parties was under the legal age (18) to be married
- Incest – The parties married without realizing they were blood relatives
- Mental Incapacity – One of the parties did not have the mental capacity to make the decision to become married
- Impotence – There was no knowledge that one of the parties suffered from impotency
- Duress – There is a contention that one of the parties was forced into the marriage and subject to physical or mental harm
Issues in DivorceDepending on the circumstances, the end of a marriage or dissolution of a civil union presentsa number oflegal problems. These include:
- Division of Marital Assets or Equitable Division
- Child Custody and Parenting Rights
- Child Support
- Alimony or Spousal Support
- Domestic Violence or Restraining Orders
Contested Divorces in NJ
Either of the spouses has the lawful right to contest a divorce. The term itself suggests that either the husband or wife disputes the action.
As an example, one spouse may file a complaint based on adultery. The defendant may deny an extra-marital affair, thereby contesting or challenging the stated grounds.
In the meantime, disputes may arise concerning the proposed terms of the divorce. This includes disagreements regarding any of the issues stated above.
The parties may engage in various aspects of alternative dispute mediation and still not come to a successful resolution. In such cases, contested divorce cases are set for trial. This proves expensive and time-consuming. Furthermore, the inability to successfully compromise places personal life decisions in the hands of the court.
Retain an Experienced NJ Divorce Attorney
At the Law Offices of Sam Stoia, we advocate for reasonable solutions to all divorce-related problems. We are compassionate and firm when dealing with issues that mean the most.
We recognize that retaining an experienced divorce attorney is a critical decision. We offer an initial consultation at no charge. Call us at “973 539-4364 to learn more about our firm and how we can assist you. You can also use our website to establish contact.