Divorce in New Jersey: Everything You Need to Know

1 min readLast updated March 26, 2024by Unbiased team

If you’re beginning proceedings or going through a divorce in the state of New Jersey, this article takes you through what you need to know.

Summary

  • New Jersey allows you to choose either “fault-based” or “no-fault” divorce. 

  • New Jersey also has a third divorce option, known as divorce from bed and board. 

  • The base filing fee to file for divorce in New Jersey is typically $300. 

  • A financial advisor can help you protect your finances through a divorce and develop a long-term plan to rebuild afterward. 

What are the different types of divorce in New Jersey?

New Jersey recognizes several types of divorce, catering to various circumstances surrounding the dissolution of a marriage.

  • No-Fault Divorce: This option does not require spouses to prove wrongdoing. It can be filed under the grounds of irreconcilable differences that have persisted for at least six months, indicating a breakdown of the marriage with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.

  • Fault-Based Divorce: In cases where one spouse wishes to allege specific reasons for the divorce, such as adultery, desertion, or extreme cruelty, a fault-based divorce may be pursued. This path often involves a more detailed legal process.

  • Divorce from Bed and Board: A unique form of legal separation, this option allows couples to live separately and divide assets while remaining legally married. It's often pursued for health insurance or religious reasons.

How much does a divorce cost in New Jersey?

The cost of a divorce in New Jersey varies, primarily depending on whether it's contested or uncontested, legal representation, and case complexity.

While each case will vary in terms of costs, here are some of the most common fees associated with filing for divorce: 

  • Filing fees: The base filing fee is around $300, plus extra for serving papers.

  • Attorney fees: While hourly rates vary, an uncontested divorce generally costs between $500 and $2,500. A contested divorce, significantly influenced by attorney fees, can escalate from $5,000 to $25,000 or more.

  • Other expenses: Additional costs can include mediation, court filings, and expenses for asset and custody evaluations.

How do you file for divorce in New Jersey?

Filing for divorce in New Jersey involves several key steps designed to ensure both parties have a fair chance to present their case.

These steps include:

  1. Determine the type of divorce: Decide whether you're filing for a no-fault, fault-based, or bed and board divorce. For no-fault divorces, you'll claim irreconcilable differences. For fault-based, you must specify the grounds.

  2. Prepare your documents: Complete the necessary forms, starting with the Complaint for Divorce. You'll also need to prepare financial documents and, if applicable, forms related to child custody and support.

  3. File the complaint: Submit your documents to the court in the county where you or your spouse live. You will need to pay the filing fee, which is approximately $300.

  4. Serve your spouse: After filing, you must serve the divorce papers to your spouse, providing them the opportunity to respond. This can be done through a process server, sheriff, or, in some cases, by mail.

  5. Respond to the complaint: Your spouse has 35 days to respond to the complaint, either agreeing to the terms, contesting them, or filing a counterclaim.

  6. Attend required hearings: Depending on your divorce's specifics, you may need to attend hearings or mediation sessions to resolve disputes over assets, alimony, or child custody.

  7. Finalize the divorce: Once all issues are resolved, the court will issue a Final Judgment of Divorce, officially ending the marriage.

This process is designed to ensure that the divorce is handled legally and fairly, addressing all concerns and disputes between the parties.

How do you split assets in a divorce in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, asset division during a divorce is guided by the principle of equitable distribution. 

This means that assets and debts are divided fairly, but not necessarily equally, between spouses based on various factors. These factors include each spouse's economic circumstances, the duration of the marriage, the age and health of each spouse, and the standard of living established during the marriage.

When splitting the assets, you will go through the following steps: 

  • Identification of assets: The first step is identifying which assets are considered marital property (acquired during the marriage) and which are separate property (owned before the marriage or received as a gift/inheritance).

  • Valuation of assets: Once identified, marital assets must be valued. This can involve appraisals for real estate, businesses, or other significant assets.

  • Distribution: Based on these factors, the court will decide on a fair division of assets. This could mean a 50/50 split or a different ratio, depending on the specific circumstances of the marriage and divorce.

Equitable distribution aims to ensure that both parties leave the marriage on as fair a footing as possible, considering their contributions to the marriage and their future needs.

How does alimony work in New Jersey?

Alimony in New Jersey aims to ensure a fair economic balance after divorce, allowing both parties to maintain a lifestyle similar to that of their marriage. 

When deciding if alimony is awarded, and if so, how much, the court will consider the following factors:

  • The marriage length

  • Both spouses' health and ages

  • Earning capacities

  • The necessary time and expense for the receiving spouse to become self-sufficient

In the state of New Jersey, different types of alimony can be awarded, such as open durational, rehabilitative, limited duration, and reimbursement alimony. Each is tailored to specific needs and circumstances.

Alimony can be adjusted or ended if significant financial changes occur or if the recipient starts living with a partner.

What happens to children during a divorce in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, decisions regarding children in a divorce focus on the best interests of the child. 

The different areas that need to be reconciled include: 

  • Child custody

Child custody refers to who will have legal and physical custody of the child or children is decided. Legal custody refers to the right to make significant decisions about the child's life, while physical custody concerns who will live with the child.

  • Child support

New Jersey uses a formula to calculate child support, considering both parents' incomes, the number of children, and other factors to ensure the children's needs are met.

  • Parenting time

The court encourages arrangements that allow the child to maintain relationships with both parents unless there are reasons to restrict access, such as concerns about the child's safety.

Get expert financial advice

A financial advisor can help you assess your current financial status, create a post-divorce budget, and develop a long-term financial plan that aligns with your needs and goals.

Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor suited to meet your needs. 

Simply provide some details about what you’re looking for, and Unbiased will match you with your advisor.

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Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.