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Divorce Lawyers in New Jersey

Divorce can be a very complicated process, and navigating the legal aspects can seem overwhelming. Plus, it can take a heavy emotional toll as someone seeks to enter a new phase of their life.

There are many facets to divorce law in every state, including New Jersey. The same laws that guide all marriages and civil unions apply for same-sex divorce. To help ensure a good outcome, it is essential to hire an experienced attorney who knows the ins and outs of divorce law. Going without an attorney can be a crucial error that may have severe repercussions for the divorcing couple and their children. 

In this article, we explain the basics of divorce law in New Jersey and how an experienced family law attorney from Rosenblum can help with a divorce case.

Types of Divorce in New Jersey

When a couple wants to get divorced, they must state the grounds. In New Jersey, a divorce can be either “fault” or “no fault”. 

No-Fault Divorce

A no-fault divorce is a divorce based on “irreconcilable differences”. This means that the couple has differences that cannot be reconciled and have made the marriage impossible to continue. 

In sum, a no-fault divorce means that the couple wants to get divorced not because of the fault of one person. Rather, both people agree that they have fundamental differences that cannot be reconciled, and thus that the marriage can no longer continue. 

Fault-Based Divorce 

Whereas no-fault divorce means that both parties want the dissolution without assigning blame, a fault-based divorce is one in which one party blames the other for the divorce. NJ Rev Stat § 2A:34-2 lists the grounds for a fault-based divorce claim. Some of them include: 

  1. Adultery 
  2. Willful and continued desertion, where the couple has ceased living together for 12 or more months
  3. Extreme cruelty, where one spouse has been physically or emotionally abusive to the other, endangered their safety, and/or made it unreasonable to expect the other spouse to continue to cohabitate with them
  4. One party voluntarily becomes addicted to a narcotic or alcohol for 12 or more consecutive months after the marriage. 

Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce 

While fault/no fault refers to the grounds for divorce, contested/uncontested refers to whether both parties agree to all of the issues pertaining to the divorce. 

Contested Divorce 

In a contested divorce, one or both spouses “contest” what the other demands from the dissolution. Stated otherwise, they disagree on some or all of the following issues: 

Uncontested Divorce 

In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree on all of the major issues. Consequently, uncontested divorces tend to be finalized quicker and will generally involve much lower legal fees.  

The Divorce Process in New Jersey

The divorce process in New Jersey involves a number of documents that have to be filed initially. These include:

  • Complaint for divorce
  • Summons
  • Confidential Litigant information sheet
  • Certification of Self-Represented Litigant and Dispute Resolution Alternatives
  • Certification Regarding Redaction of Personal Identifiers
  • Certification Verification and Non-collusion
  • Certification of Insurance Coverage

Initial Steps 

The following steps are required to file a divorce case

  1. File all of the documents above with the court. 
  2. Complete the Divorce Summons, which must include the current address of the other spouse (the defendant).
  3. Attach the filing fee ($300) or request a fee waiver.
  4. Upload the documents either electronically or by mail to the Family Division of the Superior Court.
  5. Serve the Summons, Complaint, and other required documents on the defendant.

Serving Divorce Papers 

The procedure for notifying one’s spouse of the divorce is as follows: 

  1. Service can be obtained using a process server.  
  2. In some cases, service can be obtained through an “acknowledgment of service”, which is signed and notarized by the other party or their attorney.

The number of documents involved can be confusing and even overwhelming. An experienced attorney will know how to fill out the documents and where and when to file them. 

Temporary Orders

While divorce proceedings can take months (or years in extreme cases) to be finalized, some situations may require immediate action. In these cases, the courts have the power to grant temporary orders. The most common temporary orders are:

  • Temporary custody: The court grants one spouse custody of the child or children if the other spouse has been abusing or neglecting them.
  • Temporary support: The court orders one spouse to financially support the other because they are unable to pay for their and/or their child’s needs while the case is ongoing.
  • Temporary property order: the court grants one spouse sole occupancy of the family home for safety reasons, such as to protect from domestic violence.

Temporary orders may not be easy to get and require evidence. If immediate relief is necessary, then a party’s attorney will gather the evidence on their behalf and show the court that the temporary order must be issued to protect their client’s interests and or those of their client’s children. 

Key Issues in New Jersey Divorce Cases

The major contentious issues in divorce cases tend to revolve around child custody, child support, and division of property and debt. 

Child Custody and Parenting Time

Child custody refers to a parent’s legal obligation to care for and have control over a child under the age of 18. There are two types of custody: legal and physical. 

  • Physical custody is the parent’s physical care and supervision of the child. 
  • Legal custody refers to the parent’s right to make long-term decisions about raising a child. This may include their education, medical care, and religious upbringing. 

An attorney can help negotiate a favorable custody plan by explaining their client’s position to the court, such as why awarding their client physical and legal custody would be in the children’s best interest.

Child Support and Alimony

New Jersey follows specific guidelines towards determining child support.  Alimony is based upon factors found in New Jersey’s alimony statute (NJSA 34 N.J.S.2A:34-23)  Calculating Child Support

New Jersey uses the income shares model for calculating child support. Under the income shares model, the incomes of both parents are added, and the anticipated monthly cost of raising the child is calculated. 

Calculating Spousal Support 

Spousal support, or alimony, is calculated based on a variety of factors. In New Jersey, these rules are set out in Court Rules Appendix IX-A under Rule 5:6A-Child Support Guidelines. 

As a starting point, the court considers the ex-spouse’s income, ability to pay, and financial needs. Other factors considered in New Jersey include, but are not limited to:

  • Marital standard of living
  • Child custody
  • The age and health of the parties
  • The length of the marriage
  • The time and expenses necessary to obtain training for employment 
  • The financial and non-financial contributions of the parties to the marriage

A lot of work goes into calculating spousal support. Having a legal representative during these financial negotiations, whether in court or out of court, is important in making sure that one’s needs and desires are communicated clearly and effectively. 

Division of Property and Debt

Equitable distribution is the principle by which New Jersey decides on property division in a divorce proceeding. Some of the factors used to calculate equitable distribution include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and 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, such as a prenuptial agreement, made before or during the marriage concerning property distribution
  • The debts and liabilities of each party. 

High-net-worth divorces are much more complex than other divorces. In particular, the division of assets is more complicated, as it can be difficult to ascertain the value of estates and investments. Many high-net-worth divorces also involve prenuptial or postnuptial agreements that can complicate matters further. There are a number of strategies that an attorney may be able to use to protect their client’s assets in the divorce. 

Mediation and Settlement in New Jersey Divorce

Mediation and arbitration provide two alternatives to litigation when conducting divorce proceedings. 

During a mediation, a neutral party called a mediator helps the divorcing couple negotiate the terms of their divorce. The mediator is usually an experienced divorce attorney or a retired judge. Both parties are allowed to bring their attorneys with them if they wish. 

Some of the benefits of mediation include:

  • It can be less expensive and time-consuming than going to court.
  • The parties, rather than the mediator or the judge, make all the key decisions.
  • The parties are never forced to settle and enjoy more flexibility on timing, as opposed to operating on court deadlines.

Arbitration is another more cost-effective, less formal, and more efficient alternative to a trial. It differs from mediation in the following ways:

  • Parties do not make their own decisions; rather, the arbitrator decides the outcome of the case.
  • Arbitration proceedings run like a trial, with evidence, witnesses, and cross-examination.
  • Arbitration decisions are binding and generally cannot be appealed.

Attorneys play an essential role in helping to ensure that their clients receive a fair arbitration process. They will work to develop legal strategies and provide advice on key issues. 

It is especially advisable to hire an experienced attorney if the other spouse has retained one. Divorce proceedings, even out of court, can be difficult to manage, and a good attorney can make a big difference in the outcome. 

Going to Trial

If the parties can’t reach an agreement on one or more issues in a divorce, going to court is the only option. 

The attorneys will work with the parties to prepare for trial. This will include gathering evidence, finding witnesses and experts, and anything else that might be necessary to make the strongest possible legal argument. 

Depending on the issue, possible sources of evidence may include:

  • Bank statements, income statements, wills, and other financial documents
  • Text messages, emails, letters 
  • Photos, eyewitness testimony 

Once a court date has been set and the evidence-gathering phase (discovery) has passed, the trial will be heard by a judge with no jury. As in any trial, both sides will have the opportunity to present their case.

Post-Divorce Modifications and Enforcement

If one party is unsatisfied with the judge’s ruling, they can appeal the case. In the appeal, their attorney will submit a written argument to the higher courts arguing that the judge made one or more errors that harmed their client. Appeals are rarely successful, because judges are given a lot of flexibility in making decisions in divorce cases. 

Another option is to request a child support adjustment or modification, as well as child support termination. A court will consider modifying a divorce decision if circumstances have changed for an ex-spouse that necessitate changing the divorce terms. 

The most common modification is to child support and alimony payments. Typical reasons for modifying these include, but are not limited to: 

  • Worsening financial circumstances that make it difficult to keep up with payments
  • Rising costs of caring for the child, such that the current child support payments may not be enough
  • Increases in the cost of living that have not been factored into the original court order

Modifications can also be made to: 

  • Change visitation arrangements
  • Change custody arrangements
  • Relocate the child to another state 
  • Reimburse for medical expenses 

An attorney will work with their client to determine how a modification can be made and gather evidence to demonstrate the need to change the court order. The law understands that circumstances change all the time, and therefore divorce arrangements are open to modification. 

Enforcing Divorce Decrees 

If the other party is not following through with their court order for payments and other divorce arrangements, there is an option to file a Motion to Enforce Litigants’ Rights. This involves filling out specific paperwork describing how and when the other party has not complied with the order. 

The court typically will first issue a warning to the non-complying party. Should they continue disobeying their order, the court may enforce the order in a number of ways. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Freezing bank accounts
  • Fines
  • Suspending driver’s license
  • Garnishing wages
  • Putting a lien on the home 


The divorce process can seem quite daunting and can compound the stress that you might already be facing at home. However, a good attorney can help. They will work with you every step of the way, from filing the initial paperwork to gathering evidence and representing you zealously throughout the process, whether your divorce is settled in court or out. 

At Rosenblum Law, we’ve been handling divorce cases for decades. Our attorneys are experienced negotiators and will be by your side helping to get the best possible outcome for you in your divorce. Our firm is here to help you make sense of your options and ensure a favorable outcome. Contact us today for an initial consultation.

Divorce in NJ FAQs

The divorce laws in New Jersey are fairly complex. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we get about divorce in New Jersey, including FAQs pertaining to before you file, the divorce process after you file, and after your divorce has been finalized.

Before Filing for Divorce in New Jersey

It is important to have some basic information before you file for divorce in New Jersey. 

How long does a divorce take in New Jersey?

How long a divorce takes in New Jersey depends on several factors, including whether or not the divorce is contested. A contested divorce in which the parties cannot come to an agreement outside of court can last for several months up to a year. By contrast, an uncontested divorce in which there is minimal property and no children could take as little as a few months.

How much does a divorce cost in New Jersey?

The cost of divorce in New Jersey can vary greatly depending on the circumstances. There is a $300 filing fee to file an uncontested divorce in New Jersey. This fee is in addition to attorney fees. How much your attorney will charge depends on whether the case is contested or uncontested, how long the case lasts, and how complex the issues are. Contested divorces are generally more expensive, as they take more time to resolve.

Is New Jersey a No-Fault Divorce State?

New Jersey allows both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. All of the possible grounds for divorce can be found in Section 2A:34-2 of the New Jersey State Code. It is possible to file on the grounds of irreconcilable differences after six months of trying to make the marriage work. This is called a no-fault divorce. Fault grounds for divorce clearly lay blame, such as adultery, abandonment, extreme cruelty, addiction, imprisonment, and deviant sexual conduct. 

No-fault divorces are generally preferred in New Jersey because there are less challenges in securing them. The individual only has to establish that they have irreconcilable differences and are separated from their spouse.

Does adultery affect divorce in New Jersey?

While adultery is grounds for divorce in New Jersey, it has little effect on the divorce settlement. This is because New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, and assets are equitably divided regardless of the grounds for divorce. Adultery is also not one of the considerations for alimony in New Jersey.

How long does an uncontested divorce take in New Jersey?

An uncontested divorce takes only a few months in New Jersey. The divorce is noted as uncontested at the time of filing, and it is placed on the uncontested docket. If the parties remain in agreement on all issues in the divorce, an uncontested divorce takes only the time to file the papers and get a court date.

Can I file for divorce online in New Jersey?

All divorce papers are filed online in New Jersey. New Jersey uses the Judiciary Electronic Document Submission (JEDS) system to file divorce papers. The papers can be filed on your own, but an attorney is recommended to ensure all the paperwork is filled out and filed correctly. The attorney can also file on your behalf. 

Do you have to be separated before divorce in New Jersey?

Separation of twelve months or more can be used as grounds for divorce in New Jersey, but it is not a requirement. Instead, you can file for a divorce in New Jersey on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, which does not require previous separation. However, the parties must make an attempt to save the marriage for six months prior to filing. 

Does it matter who files for divorce first in New Jersey?

Because New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, it does not matter who files for divorce first in New Jersey when it comes to property distribution. 

How much is it to file for divorce in New Jersey?

The filing fee for divorce in New Jersey is $300. This must be paid at the time that the documents are filed online. 

How should I choose a divorce attorney in New Jersey?

Choosing a divorce attorney is an important decision that should not be made lightly. Also ask for testimonials and references from past divorce clients, and be sure a firm is in good standing with the New Jersey Bar Association

Can I move out with my child before divorce in New Jersey?

It is generally not recommended to move out with a child before filing for divorce in New Jersey. If you move out with a child for a period of 12 months, your spouse can file for divorce based on abandonment. As a general rule, the status quo established during the marriage should continue until the divorce is filed. 

Can I serve my spouse divorce papers in New Jersey?

Divorce papers can be served by any adult over the age of 18, so you can serve the papers yourself. However, proof of service is required for your case to move forward. As such, it is  better to hire a process server or have the papers served by the sheriff’s department. This way you have proof of service. 

Is alcoholism grounds for divorce in New Jersey?

Voluntary addiction to a narcotic substance or alcohol is grounds for divorce in New Jersey. To file for divorce on the fault-based grounds of alcoholism or addiction, one must have evidence of prolonged voluntary addiction. 

After Filing a New Jersey Divorce

Filing for divorce in New Jersey is just the first step. Here is what you need to know during your divorce in New Jersey.

How do I serve divorce papers in New Jersey?

Divorce papers must be served to the other party within 30 days of filing for divorce in New Jersey. A process server or the sheriff’s department can be used to serve divorce papers. The attorney or their agent can also serve the papers. Note that without proof of service, the divorce case cannot move forward. If the other party cannot be located, a “Notice of Order by Publication” is allowed, which is a legal advertisement in a newspaper that can be used to serve a spouse divorce papers. If there is proof that the receiving party got the divorce papers but did not respond, this may result in a default judgment. A default judgment is much more likely to be unfavorable for the party that neglected to respond to the divorce papers.

Is New Jersey a 50/50 divorce state?

New Jersey is not a 50/50 divorce state, meaning that marital property and assets are not necessarily divided equally. Rather, the principle of equitable distribution applies. The idea behind equitable distribution is that each party is left with the same standard of living to which they became accustomed during the marriage.

How are assets divided in divorce in New Jersey?

Assets are divided on the basis of equitable distribution. Each party should have assets and property that restores them to as close to possible the same standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. This may not entail a 50/50 split of property and assets. Negotiations play a key role in dividing assets in divorce in New Jersey. 

How fast can you get a divorce in New Jersey?

An uncontested divorce in New Jersey can be completed within a few months. Contested divorces can take much longer, depending on the complexity of the case. 

How long does a contested divorce take in New Jersey?

Contested divorces with complex assets and property decisions take longer than contested divorces in which there is little property to distribute and no children to plan for. With negotiations, mediation, and trial, a contested divorce can take up to a year or longer to finalize in New Jersey. 

How long does divorce mediation take in New Jersey?

Divorce mediation takes one to five sessions, depending on the complexity of the case and how quickly the parties can come to agreement on key issues. Each session lasts a few hours. If after five sessions of mediation the parties still have not come to an agreement, the matters will be decided at trial. 

What should I expect in divorce mediation in New Jersey?

Mediation is one way to come to an agreement in a contested divorce in New Jersey. During mediation, a licensed mediator guides the parties in settling the issues of contention in the divorce, such as dividing property and assets, and in determining child custody and child support if applicable. Each party typically has their own attorney present as well. The mediator will provide guidance and recommendations throughout the process. If matters are not resolved in the first mediation, additional sessions may be required to come to an agreement. 

How much does divorce mediation cost in New Jersey?

If the courts order mediation and you choose a mediator from the court roster, two hours of mediation are included free of charge. Further mediation comes with a cost. Mediators charge between $100 and $500 per session, and this charge is in addition to any cost from your attorney for being present. Typically the costs for mediation are shared by the spouses and paid after each session.

What happens at a default divorce hearing in New Jersey?

The defendant has 35 days to reply after being served with divorce papers in New Jersey. If the defendant does not reply, a default divorce hearing takes place. In a default divorce hearing, the judge will verify that the defendant was served and failed to respond. In most cases, the divorce will then be granted with the terms requested by the plaintiff. 

Can previous stocks be split in divorce in New Jersey?

Stocks owned by one spouse before the marriage may be considered non-marital property. Non-marital property is not part of equitable distribution in New Jersey, meaning the spouse who owns the stocks gets to keep all of them. If the stocks were acquired during the marriage, they are considered marital property and can be divided in the divorce. 

How is a business divided in a divorce in New Jersey?

Businesses are divided in a divorce in New Jersey in a way that does not jeopardize the success of the business. The value of the business is determined, and that value is divided between the spouses as part of equitable distribution. It is possible for the business to remain with one spouse and comparable assets given to the other spouse in equitable distribution. 

How long can you drag out a divorce in New Jersey?

New Jersey courts have established a rule that divorce cases should not last more than one year, although there may be exceptions made to this rule when the court deems it necessary.

How to answer a divorce complaint for a defendant in New Jersey?

The defendant in a divorce has 35 days to answer a divorce complaint in New Jersey. The defendant can file an answer with or without a counterclaim for different grounds for divorce if you contest the divorce. If the defendant agrees with the divorce but wants to be heard on matters of property and child custody, they need to file an appearance. There is a $175 filing fee to file your answer or appearance, and this must be filed with the appropriate forms in the Judiciary Electronic Document Submission (JEDS) system system. 

After a New Jersey Divorce is Granted

The following FAQs are about a New Jersey divorce after it is complete.

Are divorce records public in New Jersey?

New Jersey divorce decrees are a matter of public record, which means that anyone can access them. Divorce records can be accessed via OPRA Central

How do I get a copy of a divorce decree in New Jersey?

A certified copy of your divorce decree may be required to change your name or for other reasons. To get a certified copy of your divorce decree in New Jersey, contact the Superior Court of New Jersey Records Center at 609-421-6100 or visit its website

How long after divorce can you remarry in New Jersey?

There is no waiting period to get remarried after divorce in New Jersey. You can get remarried as soon as your divorce is finalized and you have a divorce decree. 

How to change your name after divorce in New Jersey?

To change your name after divorce in New Jersey, the divorce papers must state that you will take back your maiden name. As long as this is in the divorce decree, you can take your certified divorce decree to the Social Security Administration to change your name. You can then go to the DMV and get a new driver’s license or identification card. 

Can a divorce agreement be changed in New Jersey?

A divorce agreement can be changed or enforced in New Jersey by filing a motion with the court that issued the divorce decree. The most common reasons to modify a divorce agreement are child support, alimony, and child custody matters, all of which can change after the divorce is final based on changed circumstances. 

Can a divorced spouse in NJ get their ex-spouse’s Social Security?

According to the Social Security Administration, a divorced spouse in New Jersey can get their ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits if the ex-spouse is 62 years or older, the marriage lasted at least ten years, the ex-spouse is unmarried, and their own Social Security benefits would be lower. 

Can I get a copy of divorce in person in New Jersey?

To get a copy of a divorce decree in New Jersey, contact the Superior Court of New Jersey Records Center. The divorce decree certified copy can be picked up from the courthouse. 

Can I keep my wedding band after divorce in New Jersey?

The wedding band and engagement ring are gifts and therefore are not subject to equitable distribution in divorce. The wife keeps the engagement ring, and each spouse keeps their wedding band. 

Do NJ divorced parents have to pay for college?

Divorced parents in New Jersey have an obligation to contribute to their child’s college expenses, even though there is no such obligation for married parents. How much each parent must contribute to college expenses is one of the matters that should be settled during the divorce.

How long to appeal final judgment in divorce in New Jersey?

An appeal to a final judgment in contested divorce in New Jersey must be filed within 45 days of the judgment. There is a $250 filing fee. 

Who gets the family dog in a divorce in New Jersey?

Pets are personal property and are subject to equitable distribution. The best solution is to agree on who will take custody of a pet and when, and have the terms included in the divorce decree. 

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