New Jersey Law Facts

1. How long do I have to live in the state before I can file for a divorce?
2. How soon can I get a divorce?
3. How will the custody of my children be determined?
4. Can I remove my child from the state?
5. How is child support determined?
6. Will I receive alimony?
7. What happens to my property when I get a divorce?
8. If my spouse or significant other is abusive, what help is available?


How long do I have to live in the state before I can file for a divorce?
In New Jersey, the Court has jurisdiction over a divorce action where either party is a resident of New Jersey for at least twelve months prior to the filing of the divorce complaint. (Back to top)

How soon can I get a divorce?
In New Jersey, the process of divorce is initiated by the filing of a complaint for Divorce in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, on either fault or no fault grounds. If a party files for divorce on no fault grounds then the requirement must be met that the parties have lived in separate residences and have not engaged in sexual relations with one another for eighteen months. Under no fault grounds, a party cannot file a divorce complaint until after the eighteen month period has run. If a party files for divorce on one of the common eight "fault grounds" (extreme mental or physical cruelty, adultery, desertion, habitual drunkenness or drug use, imprisonment, institutionalization and/or deviant sexual behavior) then the timeframe for obtaining a divorce may be shorter depending on the particular grounds for divorce that is alleged.(Back to top)

How will the custody of my children be determined?
In New Jersey, custody is considered as a two-tiered concept. The first tier is the decision making responsibilities of the parents. This is referred to as "legal custody." The second tier is the physical custody of the child. To obtain custody, a parent must file a complaint seeking child custody. Courts will base their custody decision on what is in the best interests of the child. (Back to top)

Can I remove my child from the state?
In New Jersey, if the child is a native of the state or has resided in New Jersey for five years, they may not be removed from the jurisdiction without the consent of the parents or an appropriate court order. (Back to top)

How is child support determined?
In New Jersey, the state has promulgated guidelines for the court to use in determining the amount of child support. The guidelines apply in all cases where the combined net income of the parents is $150,800 or less. (Back to top)

Will I receive alimony?
In New Jersey, Courts award either permanent or rehabilitative alimony. When the dependent spouse is of a certain age without the training or skills to become self-supporting or to learn new skills to become self-supporting, courts will award alimony on a permanent basis until death or remarriage. When the dependent spouse is able to learn skills to become self-supporting, the Court will award rehabilitative alimony for a period of time sufficient to enable the spouse to obtain the requisite skills. In deciding whether to award a party alimony, courts consider the following factors: (1) the actual need and ability of the parties to pay; (2) the duration of the marriage; (3) the age, physical and emotional health of the parties; (4) the standard of living established in the marriage and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living; (5) the earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties; (6) the length of absence from the job market and custodial responsibilities for children of the parties seeking maintenance; (7) the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the availability of training and employment, and the opportunity for future acquisition of capital assets and income; (8) the history of the financial or non-financial contributions to the marriage by each party including contributions to the care and education of the children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities; (9) the equitable distribution of property ordered and any payouts on equitable distribution, directly or indirectly, out of current income, to the extent this consideration is reasonable, just and fair; and (10) an other factors which the court may deem relevant. (Back to top)

What happens to my property when I get a divorce?
In New Jersey, marital property is divided by what is known as equitable distribution. Equity is a term for fairness and courts will base their decisions on who gets what property based upon what the court believes is a fair outcome for the parties. In making this decision, courts consider the following factors: (a) the duration of the marriage; (b) the age and physical/emotional condition of the parties; (c) the income or property brought to the marriage by each party; (d) the standard of living established during the marriage; (e) any written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage concerning an arrangement of property distribution; (f) the economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property becomes effective; (g) the income and earning capacity of each party, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children, and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage; (h) the contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other; (i) the contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, as well as the contribution of a party as a homemaker; (j) the tax consequences of the property distribution to each party; (k) the present value of the property; (l) the need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence and to use or own the household effects; (m) the debts and liabilities of the parties; (n) the need for creation , now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse or children; and (o) any other factors which the court may deem relevant. (Back to top)

If my spouse or significant other is abusive, what help is available?
In New Jersey, domestic violence is defined as the occurence of one or more of the following criminal acts committed by an adult or an emancipated minor: assault, terroristic threats, kidnapping, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, lewdness, criminal mischief, burglary, criminal trespass, harassment and/or stalking. A victim of domestic violence can be any person, regardless of age, who has been subjected by a person with whom the victim has a child in common, or with whom the victim anticipates having a child in common, or who has had a dating relationship with the other person. Victims of domestic violence my file a complaint alleging an act of domestic violence. A domestic violence hearing must be held within 10 day of the filing of the complaint.