For reasons of your own, remaining married to your spouse has become untenable. However, divorce is a frightening prospect, full of uncertainty. So, where do you even start? If you are asking yourself how you initiate the divorce process in New Jersey, please continue reading, then contact an experienced Hackensack, New Jersey divorce lawyer today.
How do you start the divorce process in New Jersey?
To commence the divorce process in the Garden State, the spouse starting the divorce, hereafter referred to as “the plaintiff,” must have resided in our fair state for a minimum of twelve consecutive months prior to filing for divorce. Unless the reason for filing for divorce is adultery, this is a mandatory first step. Next, the plaintiff must draft a divorce complaint complete with the following information and file it with the Superior Court:
- The parties’ names and addresses
- The place and date of the marriage
- The grounds, i.e. reasons, for the divorce
What role do “grounds” play in the divorce process in New Jersey?
As alluded to above, plaintiffs must cite grounds, i.e. a legally acceptable reason for terminating the marriage. The Garden State offers plaintiffs both fault and no-fault grounds. If the responding spouse, heretofore referred to as the defendant, committed any of the following actions, the plaintiff may cite fault grounds:
- Mental or physical cruelty
- Other wrongdoing
Conversely, no-fault grounds, wherein neither spouse is blaming the other for the dissolution of the marriage, include the following:
- The spouses have been living separately and apart for at least the last eighteen consecutive months, and/or
- “Irreconcilable differences,” i.e. an inability to agree on most things or important things
What effect does the defendant’s response have on the divorce process?
First of all, the plaintiff, through one means or another, must have the defendant served with the divorce complaint. The defendant in turn may file an answer, lodge a counterclaim or seek a default judgment. His or her response to the complaint will determine how the rest of the proceedings will play out. For example, the defendant may contest any or all of the following:
- Child custody
- Parenting time and visitation
- Child support
- Distribution of property
Should the defendant do so, the divorce proceedings may become more protracted and even lead to litigation. If, on the other hand, the defendant fails to respond within a given amount of time or in the prescribed manner, the judge may issue a default judgment regarding the above-listed issues without input from the defendant.
You should be prepared for whatever route you believe your spouse will take, which is why you should retain the services of our legal team. We have years of experience that we will be happy to put to your use.
Contact Our Experienced Bergen County Firm
If you are facing any family law matter, contact HD Family Law today to schedule your initial consultation.