When you get married, divorce isn’t the first thing on your mind. It’s hard to imagine your loving relationship falling apart. Life is unpredictable, though, and relationships change.
People get divorced for many reasons. Sometimes, people simply grow apart. Other times, something occurs that becomes an irreconcilable issue and divorce is the only viable option. No matter the reason, divorce is often overwhelming, and the unknown can be even more so.
What can you expect from the divorce process in New Jersey and how will you get through it in one piece?
The Divorce Process in New Jersey
New Jersey allows couples to file either a no-fault or an at-fault divorce. Most couples prefer no-fault divorces because it is the most straightforward path to divorce.
There are two options for no-fault divorce in New Jersey:
- Live as a separated married couple for 18 months. The idea is that during those eighteen months, you learn how to live apart or figure out how to make the marriage work together. If you still choose to live apart after 18 months, you can get a no-fault divorce.
- Claim irreconcilable differences. To successfully file this claim, you must show that you and your spouse are experiencing differences that you cannot solve, that these differences have lasted for six months or more, and there is no reasonable chance that you might reconcile..
However, you don’t have to file for a no-fault divorce. There are options for anyone who wants to file for an at-fault divorce. However, it’s important to note that at-fault divorces are often contested and require more proof to courts.
Bases for an at-fault divorce includes:
- At least 12 months desertion. This must be a willful desertion. It also can’t be the result of a person being detained against his or her will.
- Extreme cruelty or abuse (mental or physical) that makes it unreasonable that you should continue living with your spouse
- Institutionalization for mental illness
- Deviant sexual behavior
No matter how you file, you’ll have to decide whether to represent yourself or work with an attorney. If filing for a no-fault divorce, you’ll need to show that you or your spouse lived in New Jersey for at least one year prior to filing the divorce. If filing an at-fault divorce, either you or your spouse have to live in New Jersey at the time of the filing.
Providing the correct documentation is essential, and this is something your attorney can help you with. After the paperwork is filed, your spouse will have approximately thirty-five days to answer your complaint.
You can try to resolve your case through mediation or another amicable method, or you can continue the process through the court system and go to trial. Over 97% of divorce cases in New Jersey settle.
Regardless of which path you choose, the end goal is the same: A matrimonial settlement agreement (often called an “MSA”), which includes a child custody and child support if there are children involved, or a favorable outcome from the Courts.
Will I Get Through the Divorce Process in New Jersey Intact?
Divorce is a challenging time for both parties, but by remaining focused on a peaceful resolution and a positive future, you can bring your divorce to a successful conclusion without unnecessary pain.
It’s important to work with an attorney you trust and who is skilled at keeping you informed and calm and so you can manage the inevitable emotions. The right attorney can make sure you’re well represented and prepared for the process. You don’t have to go through the process alone.
If you are in the process of a divorce or starting one, and need help navigating the process, the attorneys at Keith Family Law are here to help: contact us.