New Jersey Divorce Process
It is normal to feel overwhelmed by the divorce process. It may help to talk to someone with extensive experience navigating New Jersey’s family law system. At Arons & Solomon, our family law attorneys in Bergen County have 150+ years of collective experience helping clients like you navigate the process of getting a divorce.
When you contact our law firm, we will listen to your story first. After hearing your concerns and the unique facts of your case, our attorneys will work with you to create a plan.
Managing expectations can decrease anxiety. When coping with overwhelming stress, it may be helpful to know what to expect.
At Arons & Solomon, our Bergen County divorce lawyers can tell you what to expect from the New Jersey divorce process. You will be equipped with the knowledge and confidence as you make important decisions about your family’s future.
Overview of the Divorce Process
New Jersey recognizes marriage, civil union, and domestic partner relationships.
To end a marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership in New Jersey, a spouse or partner can file for a divorce, also called dissolution.
When Can You File a Divorce in New Jersey?
New Jersey law features a residency requirement for a divorce or dissolution. To get a divorce or dissolution in New Jersey, at least one of the partners must be living in New Jersey and have been living in New Jersey for 12 consecutive months before the divorce is filed.
Couples who entered a domestic partnership or civil union in New Jersey but no longer live in New Jersey can also file in the New Jersey county where they entered the union.
What Are the Grounds for Divorce in NJ?
New Jersey recognizes both fault-based and no-fault divorce. The time required to get a divorce or dissolution depends on the grounds for divorce.
There are many reasons to choose a no-fault divorce even if one spouse is actually at fault.
New Jersey recognizes these fault-based grounds for divorce:
- Domestic Violence
- Extreme Cruelty
- Certain events of institutionalization or imprisonment
Proving a fault-based divorce can be difficult. An attorney can discuss with you whether it is in your best interest to seek a no-fault or a fault-based divorce.
When neither spouse blames the other for the relationship breakdown, it is called a no-fault divorce. No-fault divorce petitions cite “irreconcilable differences” between the parties. To get a no-fault divorce, the irreconcilable differences must have existed for at least 6 months.
Divorce can also be granted based on separation. To get a divorce based on separation, parties have to be separated for 18 months or more.
Issues to be Resolved in a Divorce
In a divorce case, courts can decide issues of child custody, child support, alimony, and division of property. Arons & Solomon focuses its practice on New Jersey family law and we can handle all aspects of a divorce.
Dividing Property and Debts
Property purchased during a marriage is marital property. New Jersey courts use the principle of equitable distribution to divide marital property. Under equitable distribution, the property is divided fairly, but not necessarily equally.
Personal property owned before marriage is not marital property. Spouses are entitled to receive their personal property, such as any antique furniture, heirloom jewelry, or specialty tools brought into a marriage.
These factors include, but are not limited to:
- The standard of living during the marriage
- Each party’s premarital income and its present value
- Each party’s financial situation, including their earning capacity and income
- The total debts and obligations of the marriage
- Each party’s personal debt
The court can consider any relevant factors when deciding the fairest way to split debts.
Alimony or Spousal Support
Alimony, or spousal support, is money paid by one spouse to the other spouse to help that spouse stay in the lifestyle they enjoyed during the marriage. In New Jersey, the amount of alimony and the length of time it is paid depends on the length of the marriage.
For marriages longer than 20 years, a spouse can be awarded open durational alimony. For shorter marriages, the duration of alimony cannot be longer than the length of the marriage.
The right to receive alimony can end upon the occurrence of a certain event, like the receiving spouse’s remarriage. If a terminating event occurs or if financial circumstances change, either partner can request to end or change alimony.
Child Custody and Visitation
Child custody includes physical and legal custody. Legal custody means the authority to make decisions and the responsibility for the child’s health, education, and welfare. Physical custody, also called time-sharing, is the time each parent spends with the child.
Custody issues can be handled out-of-court when parents are motivated to make a deal. When parents want to settle disputes agreeably or keep financial information private, we use alternative dispute resolution methods to meet our clients’ needs.
Our New Jersey divorce attorneys achieve client results through negotiation and mediation, when possible.
If parents agree on a custody schedule, our attorneys can help develop a Parenting Plan that meets the needs of the children and the parties. A parenting plan that is detailed and carefully drafted can build a foundation for co-parenting success.
Parenting plans can describe a process for resolving co-parenting disagreements. They can also state which parent has the authority to make decisions, for example, about school or sports. Parenting plans should define the time-sharing schedule.
Parents are not always able to agree. In New Jersey, all custody decisions are based on the best interest of the child. In these cases, our trial lawyers have years of experience with divorce litigation and we advocate for the custody our clients deserve.
For cases involving domestic violence, we secure protective orders to keep our clients safe. If your case involves certain issues, such as:
- Educational, behavioral, or psychological issues,
- Alcohol or drug abuse, including prescription medications
- Domestic violence
A court-ordered custody evaluation can help the court understand the family dynamics. A court-ordered custody evaluation involves additional time and expense, but it helps the court better understand complicated family conditions.
Both parents have an obligation to support their children in New Jersey. Each parent owes child support in an amount proportional to their income. When parents are married, they put their incomes together and use a portion of their total income on expenses for the child.
Children should be able to enjoy both parents’ incomes after a divorce. But, after a divorce, the parents might not agree to the amount owed to the child. Child support allows children to enjoy both parents’ incomes even when the parents are divorced.
For most families, the amount of child support will be determined by the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines. To determine child support, the guidelines use the family’s combined monthly income and the number of children needing support. Income used when calculating child support includes:
- Wages, tips, overtime, second jobs
- Salaries, bonuses, commissions
- Passive income from all sources (trusts, annuities, royalties)
- Rental income
- Social Security, Workers’ Compensation, and Disability benefits
An accurate child support award depends on the income information available. When one spouse exercises primary financial responsibility, the other spouse may be concerned about hidden assets.
An experienced attorney knows the details of New Jersey child support rules. In high net-worth divorces, judges have significant discretion in awarding child support. College tuition can even be included in child support in some cases. We help parents get all the support their child deserves.
How Domestic Violence Can Factor into Your Divorce
When our clients are ready to escape from abusive situations, we help them obtain a protective order. A protective order can force the abuser to move out of the family home temporarily until a hearing can be held. After the hearing, the court may issue a final restraining order to protect a child or parent from domestic violence.
In New Jersey, abusive spouses can be liable for expenses directly related to the abuse. If your abuser owes financial support, you deserve a lawyer who will be your champion.
Retaking Maiden Name
Traditionally, a bride surrendered her maiden name at the time of her marriage and took her husband’s surname. Now, it is quite common for women to keep their given name even in marriage. If you elected to use your husband’s surname and would like to use your maiden name again, our experienced attorneys can walk you through the process to restore your maiden name.
Representing Clients in Divorce Disputes Throughout Bergen County
At Arons & Solomon, our family law attorneys represent clients in divorce matters all across Bergen County, NJ, including:
- Franklin Lakes
- Upper Saddle River
- Old Tappan
- Saddle River
Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team to discuss your legal options today. We’ll gladly meet you at our law offices, conveniently located in Hackensack and Madison, at a time that’s convenient for you.
Call Arons & Solomon For Help With the New Jersey Divorce Process
We can help with any New Jersey divorce case because we adjust our strategies to meet the needs of our family law clients at Arons & Solomon. Our Bergen County divorce attorneys start every case by listening to our client’s story. We hear and understand their needs before we offer any advice.
We can work quickly and collegially with other collaborative divorce clients to settle cases discreetly, amicably, and out of court.
When a more assertive style is required, we take all appropriate measures to achieve our clients’ goals, including:
- Full financial disclosure from the opposing party
- Thorough consultation concerning the benefits and drawbacks of custody evaluations
- Working with financial specialists to ensure transparent accounting, fair business valuations, and accurate appraisals when dividing marital property
We take every necessary step to get the best achievable results for our clients in every case.
We support our clients through every step of the process. We explain what a client can expect. We welcome questions and we want to help our clients understand their case.