What Are the Different Types of Divorce in New Jersey?

Divorce is the legal process of ending a marriage. Even though the process is similar, there are different types of divorce in New Jersey. Our Bergen County divorce lawyers discuss the most common types of divorce in New Jersey to help you understand more about the process. Understanding the different types of divorce in New Jersey can help you know what to expect if you file for dissolution of marriage in the state.

No-Fault Divorce

New Jersey divorce laws include no-fault grounds for irreconcilable differences. The filing requirements for a no-fault divorce are:

  • Either spouse must be a resident of New Jersey for at least 12 consecutive months;
  • Either spouse must have experienced irreconcilable differences for six months;
  • The irreconcilable differences are why the marriage should be dissolved; and,
  • There is no way to reconcile the marriage. 

The court does not require you to explain the irreconcilable differences, and the other spouse does not have to agree. It is sufficient for one spouse to claim they cannot reconcile with the other spouse to obtain a no-fault divorce.

New Jersey also has fault grounds for a divorce. Fault grounds under N.J.S.A. §2A:34-2 include adultery, desertion, extreme cruelty, imprisonment, and voluntarily induced addiction. If you file for divorce on fault grounds, you must prove your spouse is guilty of the “fault” for breaking up the marriage to obtain a divorce.

No-fault grounds are the simplest grounds for filing for dissolution of marriage in New Jersey. 

Uncontested Divorce 

An uncontested divorce means that the spouses agree to all terms of the divorce. They may begin the divorce process with a proposed agreement for the final divorce or work with their attorneys to negotiate a divorce settlement. Typically, the parties present a divorce settlement to the court for approval. 

However, you can also obtain an uncontested divorce if your spouse does not respond to the divorce papers. After the period for a response expires, the spouse filing for divorce asks the court for a default divorce judgment. If the person meets the requirements for a divorce, the court should grant the divorce even though the other spouse did not participate in the proceedings.

Contested Divorce 

A contested divorce is the opposite of an uncontested divorce. The spouses disagree on at least one issue related to the divorce. Issues addressed in a divorce action include:

  • Which parent will have custody of the parties’ children
  • Child support payments 
  • Whether alimony/spousal support is justified and, if so, how much alimony should be paid
  • Identification and division of marital assets for property division

A divorce may begin as a contested divorce, but the spouse could negotiate a divorce settlement before going to trial. If the spouses continue to disagree on any terms, the court schedules the case for trial.

At trial, each spouse presents their evidence to the court. The judge decides the issues based on New Jersey divorce laws. 

For example, New Jersey is an equitable division state for marital assets. Equitable division means “fair,” not equal. Therefore, the judge decides what is fair, which could mean one spouse receives a larger share of marital assets.

New Jersey judges decide child custody based on what is in the best interests of the child. Judges consider numerous factors to determine a child’s best interests, including a parent’s fitness and the child’s needs.

Alimony is not a right in New Jersey. The judge must find a need for financial support and the ability to provide financial support. The judge may consider other factors when deciding issues related to alimony.

Collaborative Divorce 

Spouses focus on creative solutions and polite interactions in a collaborative divorce. They work together to negotiate a fair divorce settlement with the help of their divorce attorneys. A collaborative divorce is appealing because the parties agree to keep the settlement negotiations confidential.

Collaborative divorce may include alternative dispute resolution techniques. A mediator may assist the parties in identifying goals and working toward resolving divorce issues in the best interest of the entire family. The non-adversarial nature of resolving conflict in a collaborative divorce can help the parties maintain a positive relationship, which can be beneficial when co-parenting. 

LGBTQ Divorce 

Divorce can be complicated for any couple. Same-sex couples going through a divorce are subject to the same divorce laws as heterosexual couples. 

Therefore, same-sex couples are subject to equitable division of marital assets and residency requirements for a divorce. An LGBTQ spouse must file for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences or prove one of the fault grounds for divorce. 

There are no special entitlements given to or imposed upon LGTBQ couples during a divorce. However, there are unique issues that same-sex couples face during an LGBT divorce or dissolution of marriage. For example, child custody issues can be more complicated in a same-sex divorce case, especially if the non-biological parent has not legally adopted the couple’s child.

An experienced Bergen County LGBTQ divorce lawyer can help you navigate the unique issues that could arise during a same-sex divorce in New Jersey. 

Military Divorce 

A military divorce involves at least one spouse serving in the military. Military couples are afforded the same rights as other couples. However, there are federal laws that could impact a military divorce.

For example, residency requirements are different in military divorces. Spouses and servicemembers can file in any state where their spouse resides, the servicemember is stationed, or the servicemember claims legal residence. 

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act gives military personnel certain privileges in a divorce action. For example, a default divorce judgment cannot be entered against an active servicemember unless certain conditions are met. The court may stay (pause) a divorce action to ensure the servicemember has adequate time to respond to the divorce papers.

Child custody and visitation have different rules in a military divorce. For example, New Jersey does not permit a final custody decision if a parent is absent for more than 30 days because of deployment or other service-related matters. Furthermore, a court must wait at least 90 days after a parent returns from deployment before making a final custody decision. 

Special custody and visitation rules ensure that a military parent is not deprived of their parental rights. The court will decide child custody issues based on the child’s best interest, but the law protects military parents from their service being used against them in custody cases.

Military retirement benefits are another complicated issue in military divorce cases. States can divide military retirement, but there are federal laws that apply that vary from typical state property division laws for retirement.

A Bergen County military divorce lawyer understands the unique laws related to military divorces and how those laws impact property division, child custody, and domestic support. 

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Bergen County Divorce Lawyers

Regardless of the type of divorce you may seek, you benefit from experienced legal advice and representation. Call Arons & Solomon Divorce Lawyers to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced Bergen County divorce attorney. We will work to obtain the best possible outcome for your divorce while protecting your rights and best interests.