State Of New Jersey Divorce Laws

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New Jersey Family Law And Divorce Resource

U.S. Divorce Laws are enacted by each state using their respective legislative process. Once legislation is enacted into law, the divorce courts in New Jersey have the authority to manage the divorce proceedings, including, spousal and child support payments, custodial rights of parents and the division of community property.

Since state laws are repealed and amended frequently, it is always advisable to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer before making any important decisions about your marriage. You can also visit the GotTrouble Divorce Resource for a more in-depth understanding of related divorce and family law topics.

As of 2016, all states allow for “no fault” divorce. Yet many courts still factor in the respective parties past behavior when determining the division of community property, debts, custody, support and related issues.

SAME-SEX DIVORCE –UPDATE:

On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is a right protected by the US Constitution in all 50 states. It follows, therefore, that the rights and obligations between same-sex divorcing parties are subject to the same dissolution laws of that state. Reference: US Supreme Court Opinion: Obergefell v. Hodges. (For more information visit ProCon.org).

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS:

To file for a divorce, either party must be a resident of the state for a period of a least one-year preceding the filing of the complaint. A divorce may be filed in the county where either party resides. The Superior Court has jurisdiction of all causes of divorce, bed and board divorce, or nullity when either party is a bona fide resident of this State.

A divorce may be granted on the following grounds:

  • Adultery;
  • Desertion for more than one year;
  • Extreme cruelty;
  • Living separate and apart for at least 18 month;
  • Addiction or habitual drunkenness for more than 12 months preceding the filing of the complaint;
  • Institutionalization for mental illness for a period of 24 during the marriage and preceding the filing of the complaint;
  • Imprisonment of the defendant for 18 or more consecutive months after marriage, provided that where the action is not commenced until after the defendant’s release, the parties have not resumed cohabitation following such imprisonment;
  • Deviant sexual conduct

LEGAL SEPARATION:

A divorce from bed and board may be granted on the same grounds as a divorce from matrimony. In all actions where a judgment of divorce from bed and board is entered the court may make such award or awards to the parties, in addition to alimony and maintenance, to effectuate an equitable distribution of the property, both real and personal, which was legally and beneficially acquired by them or either of them during the marriage.

PROPERTY DISTRIBUTION:

New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the marital estate will be distributed in an equitable, but not necessarily equal, manner.

In making an equitable distribution of property, the court shall consider a multitude of factors:

  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The age and physical and emotional health of the parties
  • The income or property brought to the marriage by each party;
  • The standard of living established during the marriage;
  • Any written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage concerning an arrangement of property distribution;
  • The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property becomes effective;
  • 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;
  • The contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other;
  • 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;
  • The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party;
  • The present value of the property;
  • 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;

ALIMONY:

In all actions brought for divorce, divorce from bed and board, or nullity the court may award one or more of the following types of alimony: permanent alimony; rehabilitative alimony; limited duration alimony or reimbursement alimony to either party.

In so doing the court shall consider some of the following factors:

  • The actual need and ability of the parties to pay;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The age, physical and emotional health of the parties;
  • The standard of living established in the marriage and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living;
  • The earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the parties;
  • The length of absence from the job market of the party seeking maintenance;
  • The parental responsibilities for the children;
  • The time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking maintenance to find appropriate employment, the availability of the training and employment, and the opportunity for future acquisitions of capital assets and income;
  • The tax treatment and consequences to both parties of any alimony award, including the designation of all or a portion of the payment as a non-taxable payment;
  • Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.

SPOUSE’S LEGAL NAME:

The court, upon or after granting a divorce from the bonds of matrimony to either spouse, may allow either spouse to resume any name used by the spouse before the marriage, or to assume any surname.

CHILD CUSTODY – BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD

Custody may be awarded to either parent, based on the best interests of the child.

In making an award of custody, the court shall consider but not be limited to the following factors:

  • The parents’ ability to agree, communicate and cooperate in matters relating to the child;
  • The parents’ willingness to accept custody and any history of unwillingness to allow parenting time not based on substantiated abuse;
  • The interaction and relationship of the child with its parents and siblings;
  • The history of domestic violence, if any; the safety of the child and the safety of either parent from physical abuse by the other parent;
  • The preference of the child when of sufficient age and capacity to reason so as to form an intelligent decision;
  • The needs of the child;
  • The stability of the home environment offered;
  • The quality and continuity of the child’s education;
  • The fitness of the parents;
  • The geographical proximity of the parents’ homes;
  • The extent and quality of the time spent with the child prior to or subsequent to the separation;
  • The parents’ employment responsibilities;
  • The the age and number of the children.

Note: A parent shall not be deemed unfit unless the parents’ conduct has a substantial adverse effect on the child.

CHILD SUPPORT LAWS:

New Jersey uses the “Income Shares” method of determining child support, meaning that the level of support will be based on the income of both parents combined. In determining the amount to be paid by a parent for support of the child and the period during which the duty of support is owed the court in those cases not governed by court rule shall consider, but not be limited to, the following ten factors:

  1. Needs of the child;
  2. Standard of living and economic circumstances of each parent;
  3. All sources of income and assets of each parent;
  4. Earning ability of each parent, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, custodial responsibility for children including the cost of providing child care and the length of time and cost of each parent to obtain training or experience for appropriate employment;
  5. Need and capacity of the child for education, including higher education;
  6. Age and health of the child and each parent;
  7. Income, assets and earning ability of the child;
  8. Responsibility of the parents for the court-ordered support of others;
  9. Reasonable debts and liabilities of each child and parent; and
  10. Any other factors the court may deem relevant.

ENFORCING CHILD SUPPORT ORDERS – FEDERAL OPTION:

FIND LOCAL FEDERAL ENFORCEMENT AGENCY NEAR YOU

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