How to File for Divorce
People enter into marriages with hopes of a lifelong relationship. However, nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. The dissolution of a marriage is not a sign of failure. Filing for divorce allows many people to move on to a healthier, happier life.
While the outcome of a divorce can be extremely positive, getting through the process is often stressful. Many individuals don’t know how to file for divorce, which further complicates matters. Divorce lawyer Jeffrey W. Goldblatt works with clients in East Brunswick, NJ, Freehold, NJ, and Wall, NJ, guiding them through the divorce process and working towards a settlement that looks out for their best interest.
The divorce procedure begins with the filing of divorce paperwork. To file for divorce in New Jersey, either the person filing or their spouse must have been a New Jersey resident for the last 12 consecutive months. The spouse who files for divorce is referred to as the plaintiff and the other spouse is known as the defendant.
The plaintiff starts the process by filing a Complaint for Divorce/Dissolution. New Jersey residents can file for a no-fault divorce or an at-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce means that the couple has irreconcilable differences, and that neither spouse is solely responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. A fault divorce means that one spouse’s actions are responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. There are many possible grounds for a “fault” divorce, including cruelty, incarceration, and infidelity.
Other documents that must be filed along with the Complaint for Divorce/Dissolution include:
- Filing Letter to the Court - This form states that the plaintiff is filing for divorce and has enclosed the filing fee.
- Certification of Insurance - The plaintiff lists all insurance coverage on this form.
- Certification of Notification of Complementary Dispute Resolution - This is an acknowledgment that the plaintiff is aware of the option of mediation.
- Family Part Case Information Statement - This form is filed if there are assets/debts that need to be divided, and if there are issues of child custody/support or alimony to settle.
- Confidential Litigant Information Sheet - This form provides general information about the plaintiff, defendant, and any children shared by the couple.
Serving Your Spouse
After divorce paperwork is filed, the defendant must be “served,” or presented with a summons and copies of filed divorce papers. New Jersey law states that a defendant’s divorce paperwork must be hand-delivered. Plaintiffs can have paperwork delivered by a sheriff or process server.
Settling the Divorce
Once they are served the defendant has 35 days to respond to divorce paperwork. They can respond by filing an Appearance, an Answer, or a Counterclaim. An Appearance means the defendant agrees to the divorce, but not to everything being asked for. An Answer allows the defendant to agree or disagree to the statements in the complaint, and a Counterclaim allows the defendant to state new reasons for the divorce.
When the defendant’s response is received a court hearing can be scheduled. During court each side is able to present their argument and propose settlements regarding the division of assets, child custody, child support, and/or alimony payments. The court makes the ultimate decision regarding these issues.
Do I Need a Divorce Lawyer?
New Jersey law does not require spouses to work with an attorney when filing for divorce, but we highly recommend it. Divorce paperwork can be complicated and settlement issues often turn contentious. Jeffrey W. Goldblatt ensures that all necessary paperwork is filled out and filed properly. Furthermore, he works on behalf of his client to reach a divorce settlement that takes their best interests into consideration.
If you are filing for divorce, Jeffrey W. Goldblatt can guide you through the process while minimizing your emotional and financial burdens. To discuss the details of your situation, send us a message online, or call (732) 238-8700 to schedule a divorce consultation.