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Last Updated on: 15th September 2023, 10:34 pm
Navigating Divorce in New Jersey
Ending a marriage can be an emotionally difficult and legally complex process. For residents of New Jersey looking to dissolve their union, it is important to understand the state laws and regulations surrounding divorce. Consulting with an experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer can help make this transition less stressful.
Grounds for Divorce
New Jersey allows for no-fault divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences for marriages lasting at least 6 months. This means couples do not have to prove fault or wrongdoing by either spouse. However, fault may still be considered for issues like alimony and property division. Other potential grounds for divorce in NJ include:
- Abandonment for 12+ months
- Extreme cruelty
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Institutionalization for mental illness
It is advisable to consult an attorney to determine the appropriate grounds for your particular situation.
Division of Assets
New Jersey is an “equitable distribution” state when it comes to splitting marital assets like real estate, retirement accounts, businesses, etc. This means assets will be divided in a fair and just manner, but not necessarily 50/50. Factors like length of marriage, income levels, custodial arrangements, and marital misconduct may impact division.
Some assets like inheritances and gifts may be considered separate property exempt from distribution. It is important to track and document existing assets/debts. Your lawyer can help put together a comprehensive list.
Courts may order one spouse to pay the other post-divorce alimony or spousal support. Unlike child support, alimony is not mandatory in NJ. Whether it is awarded and how much depends on factors like:
- Length of marriage
- Income levels of each spouse
- Earning potential
- Health and ages of parties
- Standard of living during marriage
Alimony may be temporary or permanent. Calculations often start at 20-30% of the difference in spousal incomes. Payments usually terminate upon death or remarriage of the supported spouse.
Child custody decisions in NJ focus on the “best interests of the child.” Joint legal custody, where parents share decision-making, is common. Physical custody options include:
- Joint physical custody
- Sole custody to one parent
- Split custody with each getting some kids
Courts prefer to keep siblings together and develop schedules that meet developmental needs. Supervised visitation or denying custody rights may occur in cases of neglect, abuse, or substance abuse.
The parent who does not have primary physical custody typically pays child support in NJ. Amounts are determined by guidelines factoring in custody arrangements, incomes of both parents, health insurance/child care costs, etc. Extra expenses may be divided proportionally between parents. Support generally continues until a child turns 18.
Finding an Attorney
Going through a divorce without legal counsel is not advisable in most cases. An experienced New Jersey divorce lawyer can help you:
- Determine grounds for divorce
- File paperwork and represent you in court
- Negotiate fair division of assets and debts
- Develop custody arrangements in the child’s best interest
- Calculate support amounts according to the law
- Avoid common mistakes and advocate for your rights
Take time to research potential attorneys and find one whose expertise matches your needs. Many offer free consultations to evaluate your case.
While emotionally difficult, finalizing your divorce with the help of a knowledgeable New Jersey family law attorney can allow you to move forward and start fresh. Protect yourself and your children by understanding your rights under state laws.