Bruce Springsteen is probably the most famous person from New Jersey, and even “The Boss” has had to sing about heartbreak and divorce. If you find yourself in a similar situation, it is time to get familiar with the divorce laws in New Jersey.
1. New Jersey first
A court in New Jersey can only consider divorce if one of the spouses is a resident of the state and has been for one year leading up to the divorce.
2. Many grounds for divorce
New Jersey will grant a divorce on fault grounds, though that is not very common anymore.
Proving fault is a waste of time for most couples, but if they want, a spouse can get a divorce on the basis of adultery, desertion, extreme cruelty, addiction to narcotics, institutionalization for mental illness, imprisonment of the defendant, or deviant sexual conduct.
In the old days, a spouse, that did not want to be divorced, could even fight back against a divorce decree, but those defenses have been abolished.
Most people will get divorced on the final basis of “irreconcilable differences” for divorce in New Jersey, stating that the differences have caused the breakdown of the marriage for six months making it appear the marriage cannot be reconciled.
In other words, the spouses have been separated for at least six months and they want to be divorced.
3. Assets equitably distributed
When a couple gets divorced in New Jersey, the court will usually divide up all their assets.
In most cases, this will be done by agreement. Many spouses do not have much to split, and they agree to just each take what they have. Others will hire lawyers to negotiate a settlement.
In that situation, the judge will usually just approve the settlement, as long as it is fair.
If a couple cannot agree, then the court must make an “equitable distribution.” The judge will gather up all the money and assets owned by the couple (that excludes things like an inheritance that once a spouse received). The judge will then look at factors like the length of the marriage, the health of the spouses, the income and individual assets of each house, the standard of living of the marriage, any prenuptial agreements, and the income and earning potential of each spouse.
The judge then divides up the property in a way that is “equitable,” or fair. The split is often pretty close to 50/50 percent. Alimony is also an option.
4. Children must be provided for
If a couple has children, the court must determine the child’s living situation. Again, this is often done by agreement, but the court must determine what is in the “best interest of the child” and not just what the parents want.
If the parents cannot agree, they must file a custody and parenting/visitation plan that will give the court information to make a decision. The court must also award child support to one of the parents in most situations so that one parent is not overly burdened by the expense of caring for the child.