A family law attorney hears it all during the course of his or her business day, not to mention legal career.  There are tales of estrangement, trial separation – then the eventual gloom and doom of facing the real relationship reality and divorce is the best option and the next step.  As the case wends its way through the court system, the once-happy couple now seize the opportunity to hurl hurtful barbs at one another.

There are happy occasions taking place in the family lawyer’s office too, because a matrimonial lawyer also deals with civil unions, domestic partnerships, adoption and surrogate relationships.  Happy events with cause for celebration.

But there’s not much celebration on the day the divorce decree is finalized in open court because often the memories and good times get in the way.  It is better to end a relationship amicably, but that isn’t always so.

The bulk of a family lawyer’s practice involves dissolving the marriage, or divorce.  If you are thinking of ending your marital relationship, no matter how many years’ duration it was, why not consider having a consult with a top family law attorney in New Jersey?  But before that initial meeting, here are some facts about matrimonial laws in New Jersey.

What does the state of New Jersey require for a divorce?

There are some requirements before the Complaint for Divorce may be filed:

  • Either you or your spouse (or both of you) must have resided in the state of New Jersey for at least twelve (12) consecutive months prior to filing the Complaint for Divorce.
  • There must be grounds for divorce to commence divorce proceedings. Those grounds, (simply another word for reasons), will demonstrate that you have a reason to divorce your spouse.  New Jersey says you must have grounds for divorce.  That is, you must have a reason to divorce your spouse.  The state of New Jersey allows for two types of divorces: 1) no-fault, or 2) fault.  Many couples seeking a divorce simply opt to choose no-fault grounds rather than trying to establish a fault divorce.

No-fault divorceDivorce in NJ

No-fault divorce is just as it is titled… it means that divorce can basically be done amicably and without a lot of emotion during the process.  There are two options for no-fault divorce with different requirements for each option:

No-fault divorce based on separation

  • You or your spouse have lived separately for at least eight consecutive months before the Complaint for Divorce is filed.
  • There is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.

No-fault divorce based on irreconcilable differences:

  • You or your spouse must have experienced irreconcilable differences for a period of at least six months and those differences demonstrate that it is obvious those differences make it clear that the marriage should be dissolved based upon those differences.

Fault divorce

In this type of divorce, there will need to be proof and testimony which may be draining on the parties.  Many avoid this type of divorce and opt for the easier, no-fault type instead.  If you do not believe you have the stomach for this type of divorce proceeding and the gathering of evidence gathering, you will want to op for no-fault divorce.  This type of divorce often requires proof and testimony that can be draining on the parties, so, if you are in doubt as to whether you qualify for a fault divorce, it is better to opt for the less-emotional, no-fault variety.  Some of the grounds, or reasons, for filing for fault-based divorce would include:

  • Adultery
  • Cruelty
  • Desertion

Settlement in lieu of trial

Settlement to avoid long, involved proceedings and to get the achieved result of a divorce decree is often recommended, and New Jersey strongly encourages mediation and/or settlement of divorces.  Settlement out of court would take place long enough before a trial date would be scheduled.  Settlement outside of court will expedite the process, saving wear and tear on emotions and nerves, as well as the pocketbook, as it saves the parties time, money and an emotional journey and moves the process along quickly.  A great option is:

Matrimonial Early Settlement Programs (MESPs), which are a mediation conference where volunteer lawyers are available to assist you and your spouse in resolving issues with the end goal of reaching a settlement.  If a settlement cannot be reached you may be sent to a follow-up mediation session Complementary Dispute Resolution.  If these aren’t good options, next you and your spouse will be sent to trial.