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NJ Divorce FAQ

How much does the average divorce cost in New Jersey?

The cost of your New Jersey divorce depends primarily on whether your divorce is contested or uncontested. Uncontested divorces are resolved by mutual consent, usually rather quickly and inexpensively. Often, uncontested divorces are the result of the divorce mediation process. Uncontested divorces can typically cost under $2,000.00, provided all aspects of the parties' divorce are agreed to before filing the divorce complaint. Contested divorces can be much more expensive than uncontested divorces. Alimony, child support and child custody can be quite contentious issues to resolve if the parties are not on the same page. A significant number of divorces start as being contested and end up being resolved amicably. Less than a few percent of all divorce cases end up in trial. On average, a divorce that starts contested and eventually resolves itself my mutual agreement will cost somewhere less than $10,000 from start to finish.

How much does a divorce cost if both parties agree?

If both parties agree to all terms of the divorce, it is quite possible that the total costs for the divorce could be less than a few thousand dollars. When the parties agree on all issues, the divorce lawyers will simply need to memorialize the party's agreement in a formal document called a property settlement agreement or a marital settlement agreement. Once that agreement has been signed, the parties then need to process the divorce. The processing of the divorce consists of both the filing of the complaint and the response to the complaint. Immediately after that, the divorce can be finalized. A divorce wherein both parties agree can be accomplished from start to finish in approximately thirty days.

How long do you have to be separated before divorce?

In New Jersey, there is no requirement for any period of separation before filing a divorce complaint. New Jersey is a no-fault divorce state. In New Jersey, a couple can get divorced based on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, which means the parties no longer get along. You and your spouse do not have to live apart before filing for divorce. In a no-fault divorce, there is no need to assert that your spouse did something wrong. To file for divorce in New Jersey, you or your spouse must have resided in New Jersey for at least a year before filing the divorce complaint.

How can I get a quick divorce in New Jersey?

To obtain a quick divorce in New Jersey, you need to do a couple of things. The first of which is the confirm your agreements with your soon to be -ex-spouse in writing. The document that memorializes your agreement is called a marital settlement agreement or a property settlement agreement. An experienced lawyer can assist you in preparing the agreement. The attorney can draft the agreement in a few hours. Once the agreement is signed, the next step is to file a divorce complaint, and related affidavits which are prepared and filed with the court. Again, the documentation required to file for the divorce takes about an hour or so to prepare.

Additionally, a proposed final judgment of divorce will need to be prepared on your behalf. The final step in the process is scheduling the matter for an uncontested hearing. The entire process can be accomplished in as little as thirty (30) days.

What are the divorce steps?

The first step in the divorce process is deciding to get divorced. Once that is done, the next step is to retain a divorce lawyer to assist you in navigating your way through the process. Once the lawyer is retained, they will file the complaint seeking a divorce on your behalf. The complaint will set forth the reasons for the divorce and what you are looking to get out of the divorce. Once you file a complaint, it will need to be served on your spouse. Once served, your spouse will then file a response to the complaint. Subsequently, the case will be listed for a case management conference with the Judge, who will subsequently issue a case management order. The case management order is a scheduling order that sets time frames to accomplish certain things, such as obtaining an appraisal of the marital home. After that takes place, the case will be scheduled for mandatory mediation. If no settlement is reached, the case will eventually be set for trial.

How much does it cost to file for divorce in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, there is a required fee to file for divorce. It costs $325 to file a complaint if you have children, and it costs $300 to file if you do not have any children. Typically, these fees will be paid out of the retainer monies you pay to your lawyer at the onset of the divorce proceeding. The courts also charge fees each time you file paperwork with the court. You may also incur some fees in retaining a process server to serve your spouse with the divorce complaint.

What is the wife entitled to in divorce in New Jersey? 

New Jersey divorce laws are gender neutral. The law applies equally to both the husband and the wife. If the husband earns more money than the wife and the children will reside with the wife primarily after the divorce, there is a strong probability that the wife would be entitled to both alimony and child support in those circumstances. Most divorces involve three main legal concepts, those concepts being 1) the child-related issues – such as child custody and child support, 2) alimony- the determination of whether it is required for one spouse to provide financial support to the spouse who makes less money, or maybe no money, 3) the equitable distribution of the marital assets accumulated during the marriage- the marital home, investment accounts, retirement accounts are all subject to being divided during a divorce proceeding.

 Is New Jersey a 50/50 divorce state?

No, in New Jersey, the division of marital assets is determined by utilizing the state's Equitable Distribution laws. New Jersey is an Equitable Distribution State. Equitable distribution is defined as the division of marital property in a fair manner but not necessarily equal. In making such determinations the courts rely on various statutory factors such as the duration of the marriage, the age, physical and emotional health of the parties, the income or property both brought to the marriage, the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, the income and earning capacity of each party, as well as other factors which the court may deem relevant. The longer you are married, the greater the likelihood that the eventual distribution of the marital assets will be close to 50/50 types of an arrangement.

Who gets the house in a divorce in New Jersey?

Many factors can determine who gets the house in a New Jersey divorce. The residential custody arrangements for the children could impact such a determination. Whether the parties can agree on the value of the home could impact that determination. Whether one of the spouses can better afford the home and buy out the other parties' interests can also impact who gets the house. Often if the parties cannot agree on the house's value or who should get the house, the court will order the house to be sold. Suppose the house was purchased during the marriage. In that case, there is a strong likelihood that each spouse is entitled to receive 50% of the equity in the home at the time of the divorce.

How long does it take for a person to get served with divorce papers?

Divorce papers can be served relatively quickly after the filing of the complaint with the court. Typically, your divorce attorney will hire a process server to deliver the divorce-related documents to your spouse personally. Most process servers can effectuate the service of the complaint within a few days. Service of the papers means that the papers have been formally given to the defendant. Once served with the complaint, the defendant has 35 days within which to file a response.

What happens after divorce papers are served?

After the divorce papers have been served, the time frame within which the person served must answer the divorce complaint begins to run. In New Jersey, the individual who is served with the divorce complaint has 35 days to file a response to the complaint. In the event they chose not to do so, the divorce can be proceeded by way of default, meaning the divorce may be able to take place without the other party's participation. Normally, after the papers have been served, the other side files a response to the complaint with the court. In the response or answer, the defendant either disagrees or agrees with various aspects of the complaint filed.

Can you divorce within 2 years?

Yes, your divorce can be finalized within two years in the State of New Jersey. Most divorces are completed within New Jersey within one year from the filing of the complaint. A directive has been issued from the Supreme Court of New Jersey, which strongly encourages divorces to proceed through the system as expeditiously as possible. However, contested divorces that involve complex issues and/or custody determinations can last significantly longer than other types of divorces. The older the case gets, the more the court will become actively involved in trying to assist in resolving the outstanding issues that present themselves.

What constitutes legal separation in New Jersey?

New Jersey does not recognize legal separation. Therefore, the only way to end a marriage in New Jersey is through the divorce process. Although you and your spouse can choose to live apart at any time, couples that choose to do so may want to consider entering into a separation agreement that can address their respective responsibilities during the period of separation. When separated, you are still legally married.

Is cheating grounds for divorce in New Jersey?

Yes, under New Jersey law, cheating is grounds to obtain a divorce. Adultery is the formal legal term utilized to file for divorce when your spouse has been cheating. In New Jersey, there is rarely any financial benefit received by filing for divorce based on adultery. In some instances, filing a fault-based divorce could increase the costs of the proceeding as you will need to serve the person with whom your spouse had an affair. Therefore, filing a complaint alleging adultery may not necessarily provide you with a better result than if you had proceeded with your divorce on a no-fault basis.

Can you get a divorce without the other person signing in New Jersey?

Yes, you can obtain a divorce in New Jersey without the other person participating in the proceeding. However, to obtain a divorce without the other person participating, you must proceed by way of default. What this means is that you can still get divorced despite the objections from your spouse. To proceed with a default divorce, you must first file the divorce complaint and have your spouse served with the complaint. Subsequent to the expiration of the 35 day time frame that your spouse has to answer the complaint you can then file for default and request a default hearing. You must serve the defendant with the notice of the hearing date along with a proposed final judgment of divorce. The notices must be served 20 days before the hearing date. The Judge will take testimony relative to the fairness of the proposed final judgment during the default hearing.

When can you file for divorce after marriage?

You can file for divorce as soon as you want after your marriage. There is no requirement that you must wait a specific period. If you want to proceed by way of irreconcilable differences, you will need to wait six months. Suppose you are married for a very short period. In that case, you may also want to consider the potential for obtaining an annulment. 

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