GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE
The Grounds for divorce as per the law in the state of New Jersey may be the following:
- Living separate and apart for 18 months and no reasonable prospect of reconciliation commonly called as No fault Ground.
- Imprisonment for 18 months;
- Unnatural sexual behavior before or after marriage;
- Alcoholism and/or drug addiction;
- Confinement for incurable insanity;
- Willful desertion for 1 year;
- Cruel and inhuman treatment;
- Separation for 2 years caused by confinement for mental illness; and
- Extreme cruelty.
- The grounds for legal separation are same as for divorce.
- For the purpose of legal separation it is required that one of the spouses must be a resident of New Jersey for at least 1 year prior to filing for legal separation.
- When the cause for legal separation is adultery and took place in New Jersey, then one of the spouses must have been a resident.
DISTRIBUTION OF MARITAL PROPERTY
- The separate property acquired before a marriage by any spouse, is to be retained by that spouse.
- All other property acquired after marriage (except those are acquired by gift and inheritance) is divided equitably,
- The distribution may be made taking into account the following factors:
- the value of each spouse's marital property;
- the value of the separate property of the spouses;
- the length of the marriage;
- the age and health of the spouses;
- the amount and sources of income of the spouses;
- the liabilities and needs of each spouse and the opportunity of each for further acquisition of capital assets and income;
- the standard of living established during the marriage;
- how and by whom the property was acquired;
- the tax consequences to each spouse;
- the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker;
- the economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective;
- any written agreement between the spouses;
- the income and earning capacity of the spouses;
- the educational background, training, and employment skills of the spouses;
- any custodial responsibilities;
- the length of absence from the job market;
- the time and expense necessary to enable the spouse to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the spouse to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage;
- the need for the parent with custody of any children to own or occupy the marital residence;
- the need to create a trust fund for the future medical or educational needs of a spouse or children; and
- any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the spouses.
ALIMONY OR SPOUSAL SUPPORT
An order to pay alimony may be made to either spouse, without regard to marital fault, based on the following factors:
- the duration of the marriage;
- the actual needs, obligations, and ability to pay of each spouse;
- the standard of living established during the marriage and the likelihood that each spouse can maintain a comparable standard of living;
- the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education and training to enable the spouse to find appropriate employment and that spouse's future earning capacity;
- the age of the spouses;
- the physical and emotional conditions of the spouses;
- the earning capacities, educational levels, vocational skills, and employability of the spouses;
- the length of absence from the job market;
- any child custodial responsibilities of the spouse;
- the availability of training and employment;
- opportunity for the future acquisition of capital and income;
- the history or financial and non-financial contributions of each spouse to the marriage, including the contribution of each spouse to the care and education of children and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities;
- the equitable distribution of property and any payouts from this property, if a consideration of this income is fair and just
- any investment income available to either spouse;
- the tax consequences of any alimony; and
- any other factor the court deems just and equitable.
CHILD SUPPORT AND CUSTODY OF MINOR CHILD
The court may award child support for the care, maintenance, and education of a child. The factors may be taken for consideration are:
- the needs and liability of the child;
- the standard of living and economic circumstances of both parents;
- the financial resources, needs, and obligations of both the non-custodial and the custodial parent;
- the earning ability of each parent, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, custodial responsibility for the children, cost of childcare, and the length and cost of education and training to obtain employment;
- the need and capacity of the child for education, including higher education;
- the age and health of the child and the parents;
- the income, assets, and earning ability of the child;
- the responsibility of the parents for the support of others; and
- any other relevant factors that the court deems just and equitable.
CUSTODY OF MINOR CHILD
Sole or joint custody may be awarded based on the following factors:
- the physical, emotional, mental, religious, and social needs of the child and
- the preference of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity. No preference is to be given because of parent's sex. A father may not forcibly take a minor child from a mother's actual physical custody.
- A divorce petition titled as "Complaint for Divorce" may be filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part situated in the county.
- The person who files the petition is known as Plaintiff and the other side is known as Defendant.
- In a divorce action where adultery or deviant sexual conduct is alleged, the pleading must also name the adulterer, or the corespondent.
- A complaint for divorce is filed in the county
- in which the plaintiff lived when the cause of action arose, or
- if the plaintiff was not then living in New Jersey, the county in which the defendant was living when the cause of action arose, or
- if neither party was living in New Jersey when the cause of action arose, then the complaint shall be filed in the county where plaintiff presently resides, or in the county where the defendant is living if the plaintiff no longer lives in the State.
- The jurisdiction of the court over the defendant is fully established when the defendant files an acknowledgment of service of process, enters an appearance, or files an answer to the complaint.
- Along with the divorce petition a statement as to the essential facts which form the basis for the petition for divorce, the addresses of the parties, and in cases involving a child, the address, date of birth, and information as to where and with whom the child resides.
- There is a twelve-month residency is required in the county for either spouse where the divorce petition will be filed.
- The defendant response to the plaintiff's complaint in the divorce case given in writing is called as 'answer', which needs to be filed within thirty-five days of receiving the divorce Complaint.
- The defendant may file counterclaims against the plaintiff along with the defendant's answer.
- If the defendant files a counterclaim, the plaintiff is permitted 20 days in which to file any responsive pleading.
- Alternatively, the defendant may file an appearance with the court, where the defendant is not disputing the claims in the complaint.
- The Case Information Statements commonly known as a CIS needs to be filed in all contested family actions where there is any issue as to custody, support, alimony or equitable distribution.
- The CIS is filed so as to identify all assets and liabilities of the party, like the income picture, shelter, transportation and personal expenses of that party. The more comprehensive the CIS is prepared, the easier it will for the ESP Panel and the court to assist the parties to settle the case.
- Both plaintiff and defendant has to file their respective CIS within 20 days after the filing of the answer or appearance.
After the CIS is filed by both the parties, cases are separated into one of four categories for purposes of case management:
- expedited, or
- Within thirty days after the filing of the last pleading, the court will schedule a case management conference, which may be through a telephone conference.
- The purpose of the case management conferences is to address discovery timeliness and ultimately determine a trial date if necessary.
- If the defendant fails to file an answer or an appearance in a divorce case, then the divorce is defaulted.
- The party requesting entry by default to make a formal written request for the entry of the default, supported by the attorney's affidavit explaining
- the manner of service of the complaint upon the defendant,
- the date of service, and
- stating that all time periods in which the defendant may file a pleading have expired.
- The request to enter a default must be filed together within six months of the actual default and must also be served on the defaulting spouse.
- If a spouse is seeking equitable distribution, alimony, child support or any other relief, then a process known and " Filing A Request For Equitable Distribution," must be filed.
- When equitable distribution, alimony, child support or any other relief is sought by the plaintiff, a notice of application for equitable distribution is required to be filed before the entry of default.
- This notice must be filed and served upon defendant twenty days prior to the hearing date and must include the following:
- Notice of the trial date,
- Statement of the value of each asset
- The amount of each debt sought to be distributed,
- A proposal for distribution,
- A statement whether plaintiff is seeking alimony and/or child support and, if so, the amount, and
- A statement of any other relief sought.
- After taking into account all matters, the judge pronounce the judgment known a s Divorce Judgment.