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New Jersey Divorce Forms and Process

When your marriage is ending, it's important to know what to expect. Like many states, the New Jersey courts use the terms divorce and dissolution interchangeably. Both terms refer to the legal process for terminating a marriage.

Regardless of what you call it, your divorce papers must include grounds for divorce. Most people cite irreconcilable differences as the basis for their divorce complaint.

New Jersey law has legal requirements you must meet to qualify for divorce. For example, you must meet the state residency requirement. In New Jersey, you must live in the state for a year before filing unless you are filing on the ground of divorce of adultery.

While there is no mandatory cooling-off period, the courts often won’t finalize your divorce for at least 90 days from the filing date.

Like most other states, you must also serve your spouse with a copy of the complaint for divorce. This is true whether you file a contested or uncontested divorce. Your complaint must include your demands regarding alimony, child custody, and child support.

Here, we’ll briefly overview the New Jersey divorce process. We will also describe the various forms you must submit to the family law court in your county.

Where To File Your New Jersey Divorce Case

In New Jersey, the party that files for the divorce is the "plaintiff.” The other party is the "defendant." If you’re the plaintiff, you must file your complaint for divorce in the county where the events that caused the divorce occurred. This is typically your county of residence.

If you were living out of state when your marriage started to collapse, you can file in the county where you currently live. You must also pay the requisite filing fee of $300. There are additional fees if child custody issues are involved.

New Jersey Divorce Forms and Process at a Glance

One of the reasons it can be difficult to get a divorce in New Jersey is that you have to submit many forms to the court clerk. The New Jersey statute governing divorce is NJ Statutes Annotated Section 2A: 34. Below, you’ll find a list of the various chapters dealing with divorce.

You’ll also find a summary of New Jersey's divorce forms you must submit to commence a divorce action in the Garden State.

Statutes and Forms

Statutes (Laws)

  • NJ Statutes Annotated Section 2A:34:8 (Jurisdiction)
  • NJ Statutes Annotated Section 2A:34-10 (Residency)
  • NJ Statutes Annotated Section 2A: 34-11 (Jurisdiction by Answer, Acknowledgement, or Appearance)
  • NJ Statutes Annotated Section 2A: 34-12 (Counterclaim)



You must file a complaint to begin the divorce proceedings if you're the plaintiff. After the court clerk mails you a copy of the complaint indicating that they have filed it, you'll complete the Summons and attach proof of service.

New Jersey also requires that you serve the defendant (your spouse) with a copy of your legal papers. The defendant has 35 days after receiving the forms to respond in one or more of the following ways:

  • Filing an Appearance
  • Filing an Answer and possibly a counterclaim


Discovery is the period during your divorce proceedings when your divorce lawyer exchanges information with your spouse’s attorney. The court defines how long you have to complete discovery. This is often when the parties attempt to negotiate a settlement agreement.

Your settlement agreement should contain the following terms:

  • Child custody of minor children and parenting time
  • Equitable distribution of marital property/liabilities
  • Alimony/Spousal support
  • Child support

If you and your spouse cannot agree on these terms, the court may order you to attend dispute resolution alternatives (ADR). Specifically, the judge may order you to attend mediation.

If need be, you will go before an early settlement panel. This involves the spouses and their attorneys meeting with an impartial group and explaining their clients’ positions. The panel of two or more attorneys will explain how they would resolve the outstanding issues. Many couples settle their divorce cases during the settlement panel.


If the parties cannot resolve their issues, a trial will occur. This can take weeks or even months if the case is complex. The family division of the Superior Court has indicated that parties should resolve their divorce cases within 12 months. A case will rarely take longer than one year to become final.

During the trial, each side will have the chance to present their case. After both sides present their arguments, the judge will issue a final judgment. 

Speak With an Attorney About the New Jersey Divorce Process

The New Jersey divorce process is complex. With so much at stake, contacting a divorce lawyer to help with your case is in your best interest. Not only do they understand the court rules and processes, they are also familiar with the local family law judges.

If you’re considering divorce or need to enforce a divorce order, contact an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney. Visit Findlaw’s attorney directory to find a family law attorney near you.

New Jersey Divorce Forms and Process: Related Resources

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts that include federal decisions, ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information, please consult an attorney or conduct legal research to verify the state law(s).

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