What are Divorce Documents?
Once you or your spouse determine that you will be seeking a divorce in New Jersey, certain divorce documents must be filed to begin and then to continue the divorce process. You or a lawyer can file the documents with a New Jersey Family Court. The person who files the initial divorce paperwork becomes the “plaintiff” in the proceedings and the other spouse is known as the “defendant”.
The Initial Filing Documents
The first document that must be filed by the plaintiff is known as a Complaint for Divorce. The document will include the names of both spouses and their addresses, if living together or separately. It must include the date and location of the marriage, and should indicate whether it was a civil ceremony or a religious ceremony. It must contain the names, ages and dates of birth for any children resulting from the marriage. If children were adopted during the marriage, they must be included as well. If there were any previous court proceedings involving the couple, such as an adoption or an issue of domestic violence, it must be listed as well.
Finally, and most importantly the Divorce Complaint must indicate and illustrate the grounds for divorce. In New Jersey, there are several grounds for divorce accepted by courts. You can read more here about the possible grounds for divorce in New Jersey.
In addition to this document, the plaintiff must file a Confidential Litigant Information Sheet. This supplies the court with each spouse’s specific personal information. It must contain all of the following pieces of information:
Date and place of birth for each spouse
Social security number for each spouse
Driver’s license number for each spouse
License plate number for each spouse
Mother’s maiden name for each spouse
Children’s social security numbers
Medical information for each spouse
The final document in the initial documents phase that the plaintiff must file is called a Certificate of Insurance Coverage. This document provides the court with information pertaining to all types of insurance that the divorcing parties are covered by at the time of divorce. It should indicate health insurance, life insurance, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, car insurance and any other insurance policies that have been taken out for each individual. All contact information for each insurance provider must be listed as well, along with all policy numbers and the names of all parties, including children, covered by the insurance.
Attorneys will also ask clients to sign a Complementary Dispute Resolution Certification before these documents are submitted to the court. Both the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s attorney sign this document, which states that the plaintiff has been given information about the alternatives to a court divorce, such as mediation.
Defendant’s Answer or Counterclaim
Once the plaintiff has filed all of the initial court documents, copies are served to the defendant. This is often called “being served” with divorce papers. Once the defendant is served, he or she has the right to file a response document. The defendant can make what is known as an appearance. The appearance form states that they have received the divorce paperwork and will participate in the divorce proceedings.
The defendant can respond with an Answer to the divorce paperwork. An Answer is a type of court filing that allows the defendant to admit or deny the plaintiff’s claims and allegations in the initial Divorce Complaint. In some instances, the defendant might want to make what is known as a Counterclaim. This is a document where the defendant presents his or her own grounds for divorce that they want the court to formally recognize. When this happens, the defendant then has to complete all of the initial divorce proceedings paperwork as well and it is served to the plaintiff.
Consult with a NJ Divorce Attorney to File for Divorce
If you are contemplating filing for divorce in Ocean County or Monmouth County, New Jersey, the attorneys at Villani & DeLuca can help get you prepared and ensure that the appropriate steps are taken in court. One of the firm’s experienced divorce lawyers will cover everything you need to know to get the process started during your free initial consultation. Call today!