Like many states, New Jersey uses the terms "divorce" and "dissolution" interchangeably; both terms refer to the legal process of terminating a marriage. If you're getting a divorce in New Jersey, you will encounter a process similar to what you would undergo if you were divorcing in another state. Part of the requirements for divorce involve filing forms in court and serving them on your spouse. These forms will differ depending on the type of divorce you're seeking.
If you do decide to divorce in New Jersey, certain considerations are necessary prior to filing. You must establish the proper grounds or reasons for the divorce (unless it's "no-fault") and you or your spouse must be a New Jersey resident for at least one year prior to filing.
Location of New Jersey Divorce Filing
The party that files for the divorce is the "plaintiff"; the other party is the "defendant." The plaintiff should file for a "fault" divorce in the county where the events that caused the divorce took place (if that's different from the county of residency). However, if you weren't living in New Jersey when the marriage started to collapse, then you can file in the county where you currently live.
New Jersey Divorce Forms and Process at a Glance
The intricacies of statutory language are best understood by an attorney. However, it's very easy to get the essence of the law with the help of a guide written in everyday terms. The chart below provides an overview of the laws related to New Jersey's divorce forms and process.
Statutes and Forms
If you're the plaintiff, you'll file the complaint to begin the divorce proceedings. After the court mails you a copy of the complaint indicating that it's been filed, you'll complete the summons and attached proof of service. New Jersey requires that your defendant spouse must be served with a copy of the forms in specific manners detailed in the statute.
Next, the defendant has 35 days after receiving the forms to respond in one or more of the following ways:
- File an appearance,
- File an answer,
- File a counterclaim.
- After the defendant spouse answers the complaint and case management occurs which determines the status of the divorce, the next step is discovery.
- The court assigns a time frame for this period where information is exchanged and investigations are conducted.
- Both parties complete a Case Information Statement form which include sources of income, assets, and debts.
- After discovery ends, you can attempt to reach a settlement before the case reaches the trial phase. The state has programs and mediation to try to achieve this.
- If a settlement can't be reached, a trial will occur. This may take weeks or even months if the case is complex.
- After the arguments are completed, the judge will issue a final judgment.
- After the judgment is issued, the divorce process is finalized.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
New Jersey Divorce Forms and Process: Related Resources
Speak with an Attorney About the New Jersey Divorce Process
The New Jersey divorce process contains various stages that involve a lot of time and effort. If you're dealing with divorce and want help with completing forms or any other part of the process, turn to an experienced divorce attorney for guidance.