New Jersey No-Fault Divorce Law

Divorce – State Law Summary – New Jersey

Notes: This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive summary of the laws of divorce in New Jersey, but does contain basic and other provisions.

No-fault Grounds
New Jersey law allows for no fault divorces based upon the parties having lived separate and apart without cohabitation for an uninterrupted period of eighteen (18) months or irreconcilable differences which have caused the breakdown of the marriage for a period of six months and which make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.  The general grounds upon which a divorce may be obtained are:
1. Adultery
2. Willful and continued desertion for one year
3. Extreme cruelty
4. Drug/alcohol addiction
5. Institutionalization for mental illness for 2 or more years
6. Imprisonment for 18 months or more
7. Deviant sexual behavior  NJSA 2A:34.2

Residency Requirements
In order to file a no-fault divorce in the State of New Jersey, at least one of the parties to the divorce must have been a bona fide resident of the State of New Jersey for a period of at least one year prior to the filing of the action.  NJSA 2A:34-10

Name of court and title of action/parties
Divorce actions are heard in the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Family Part.  The title of the action initiating the divorce is a Complaint for Divorce, while the title of the action granting the divorce is referred to as a Judgment of Divorce.  The party filing the action is referred to as the Plaintiff, while the other party is referred to as the DefendantNJSA 2A:34-8

Where to File- Venue
The proper place to file an action for divorce shall be the county in which the plaintiff resides at the time the cause of action arose, or, if the plaintiff does not reside in New Jersey, then the county in which the defendant resides at the time the cause of action arose.

If neither party was domiciled in New Jersey at the time the cause of action arose, then the proper venue is the county where the plaintiff is domiciled when the action is commence, or, if the plaintiff is not domiciled in new Jersey, then the county where the defendant is domiciled when service of process is made.  NJSA 2A:34-10

Property Division
New Jersey is an equitable distribution state in which the court, if the parties have not entered into a settlement agreement, will divide the marital property equitably between the parties, taking into consideration many factors such as; the duration of the marriage, the standard of living established in the marriage, etc.  NJSA 2A:34-23

Alimony comes in several different forms in the State of New Jersey. Either party may be awarded one or more of the following types:  Permanent alimony, rehabilitative alimony, limited duration alimony or reimbursement alimony.  In making an award of alimony, the court will consider the following factors:
1. The actual need and ability of the parties to pay;
2. The duration of the parties;
3. The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;
4. The standard of living established during the marriage and the likelihood of the parties maintaining a comparable standard of living after the divorce is final;
5. The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking alimony;
6. The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties;
7. The parental responsibilities for the children;
8. The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment;
9. The contributions to the marriage of both parties;
10. The ordered equitable distribution of the marital property;
11. The income available to either party through investments;
12. The tax consequences to the parties;
13. Any other factors the court deems relevant. NJSA 2A:34-23

Child custody
The courts in New Jersey may make any such orders as to custody of any children of the marriage as the court deems reasonable and just after consideration of the circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case.  NJSA 2A:34-23

Child support
In determining the amount and term of any child support order, the court will consider the following factors:
1. The needs of the child;
2. The standard of living and economic circumstances of each parent;
3. All sources of income and assets of each parent;
4. The earning ability of each parent;
5. The need and capacity of the child for education;
6. The age and health of each parent and child;
7. The income, assets and earning ability of the child;
8. The responsibility of the parent for court-ordered support of others;
9. The reasonable debts and liabilities of each parent and child, and;
10. Any other factors the court deems relevant and just.  NJSA 2A:34-23

Parents’ Education Program
The State of New Jersey has established a mandatory education program to be known as the “Parents’ Education Program.”  The purpose of the program is to promote cooperation between the parties and to assist parents in resolving issues which may arise during the divorce or separation process, including, but not limited to:

1. Understanding the legal process and cost of divorce or separation, including arbitration and mediation;
2. Understanding the financial responsibilities for the children;
3. Understanding the interaction between parent and child, the family relationship and any other areas of adjustment and concern during the process of divorce or separation;
4. Understanding how children react to divorce or separation, how to spot problems, what to tell them about divorce or separation, how to keep communication open and how to answer questions and concerns the children may have about the process;
5. Understanding how parents can help their children during the divorce or separation, specific strategies, ideas, tools, and resources for assistance;
6. Understanding how parents can help children after the divorce or separation and how to deal with new family structures and different sets of rules; and
7. Understanding that cooperation may sometimes be inappropriate in cases of domestic violence. 2A:34-12.3

The court shall order every person who has filed an action for divorce, nullity or separate maintenance where the custody, visitation or support of the minor child is an issue to complete the program prior to entry of judgment. Failure of a party to participate in the program shall be considered as a factor by the court in making any custody and visitation determinations. Each party shall attend separate sessions of the program.

The court may exempt a party from attending the program only if the court finds good cause for an exemption.

The court shall not refer a party to the program if a temporary or final order restraining either party from contact with the other has been issued pursuant to the “Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991”, or if either party is restrained from contact with the other party, or a child of the other party, under the criminal or civil laws of this or any other state. 2A:34-12.5

Name change
The court, upon or after granting a divorce, may allow either party to the marriage to resume any name used by the party prior to the marriage. NJSA 2A:34-21

Inside New Jersey No-Fault Divorce Law