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New Jersey Divorce Laws

If you plan on filing for divorce in New Jersey, you must become familiar with the divorce laws in your state. Of course, nobody expects you to understand the law like a divorce attorney would. However, it would help if you had a basic idea of how the divorce process works in New Jersey.

New Jersey law governs the legal requirements for divorce. It also dictates things like alimonychild support, and child custody. Whether you file a no-fault divorce or plan to cite specific grounds for divorce, you must abide by the New Jersey divorce laws.

Here, we’ll highlight the laws in New Jersey that govern the divorce process. We’ll also provide links to helpful divorce law resources. Finally, we’ll explain why it may be a good idea to consult a New Jersey divorce lawyer to help with your divorce case.

New Jersey Divorce Laws

New Jersey’s divorce laws are similar to those in other states. For example, to file a complaint for divorce in New Jersey, you or your spouse must be a New Jersey resident. New Jersey recognizes both fault-based divorces and no-fault divorces. Many people who pursue no-fault divorces do so based on irreconcilable differences.

Divorces are sometimes referred to as contested divorces or uncontested divorces. Fault-based divorces are often contested, while no-fault divorces often go uncontested. This refers to whether the other spouse disagrees with allegations made in the divorce. A divorce where there are terms that need to be decided by the court, as opposed to the parties reaching an agreement, is also often referred to as contested.

Visit FindLaw's Divorce section to learn more about divorce law in general.

Code Section

New Jersey Statute § 2A:34-1 et seq. governs the divorce process in New Jersey. There are separate statutes governing the following elements of a New Jersey divorce.

  • NJ Statutes Annotated Section 2A:34-10 - Residency Requirement

  • NJ Statutes Annotated Section 2A: 34-11 - Service of Process

  • NJ Statutes Annotated Section 2A: 34-23 - Child Support and Alimony/Spousal Support

  • NJ Statutes Annotated Section 2A: 34-23.1 - Equitable Distribution of Marital Property

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. You can click any of the links above for more information on NJ divorce laws.

Residency Requirement

The residency requirement in New Jersey mandates that either the petitioner or respondent must reside in-state for at least one year.

Waiting Period

There is no standard mandatory waiting period or cooling-off period for divorces in New Jersey. Depending on the ground of divorce you are filing on, there may be a period that must lapse before the court enters a final order dissolving the marriage.

A plaintiff filing on the grounds of desertion must show that desertion occurred for 12 months, while someone filing on the grounds of irreconcilable differences must allege that the differences led to the breakdown of the marriage over six months.

Other grounds may require separation of up to 24 months. See New Jersey Statute Annotated 2A:34-2 for additional information concerning the different grounds of divorce and any time requirements that may come into play.

No-Fault Grounds for Divorce

If you file for a no-fault divorce, you don’t have to cite specific grounds for divorce. You must certify to the court that you and your spouse have experienced irreconcilable differences for at least six months and that there is no possibility of reconciliation.

Grounds for Divorce

In a fault-based divorce, the petitioner must list grounds for divorce in the divorce complaint. The New Jersey courts offer eight grounds for divorce.

The grounds for divorce in the State of New Jersey include the following:

  • Adultery
  • Cruelty or domestic violence
  • Desertion for at least 12 months
  • Drug/alcohol addiction
  • Insanity/mental illness and institutionalization for at least 24 consecutive months
  • Imprisonment for at least 18 months
  • Deviant sexual conduct
  • Separation for at least 18 months

If you cite specific grounds for divorce, your family law attorney must submit proof that your spouse committed the act. For example, if you allege extreme cruelty in your complaint, you must provide evidence that your spouse was abusive. You can achieve this by submitting a copy of a temporary restraining order.

In many cases, divorces filed on fault grounds end up settling based on irreconcilable differences. Doing so can save the parties time and money.

Confused About New Jersey's Divorce Laws? An Attorney Can Help

If you're considering filing for divorce or your spouse has served you with divorce papers, seeking legal advice is a good idea. Your attorney will be by your side throughout the divorce proceedings. They’ll negotiate property division with your spouse’s lawyer to ensure you get your fair share of marital property. They will also fight to ensure you enjoy the same standard of living you had during your marriage.

Contact a New Jersey divorce lawyer today. They can help start the legal process and work with you toward securing a fair marital settlement agreement.

Research the Law

New Jersey Legal Requirements for Divorce: Related Resources

Note: State laws are subject to change through new legislation, higher court rulings, ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information, please consult an attorney or conduct legal research to verify your state’s laws.

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