How to File an Uncontested Divorce in New Jersey

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If you want an uncontested divorce in New Jersey, you must meet specific requirements according to New Jersey divorce law. Unless adultery is the grounds for divorce, you must be a resident of the state for at least one year. If adultery is the grounds for divorce, one of the spouses must be a resident of New Jersey. You must meet one of the eight necessary grounds to file for divorce. Once grounds for divorce have been determined, you and your spouse must divide all assets and debts. If children are involved, you must determine child custody and support. New Jersey does not require the use of a lawyer to file for divorce, but the necessary paperwork must be filed at one of the parties' local Superior Court.

Determine what grounds will be used to file for divorce. Unlike many states that accept no-fault divorce, New Jersey recognizes only eight grounds:

1.) Adultery

2.) Desertion lasting at least 12 months

3.) Extreme cruelty: any physical or mental cruelty that endangers the safety or health of the plaintiff or makes it improper or unreasonable to expect the plaintiff to continue to live with the defendant

4.) Drug addiction or habitual drunkenness for a period of 12 or more consecutive months

5.) Institutionalization for mental illness for a period of 24 or more consecutive months

6.) Imprisonment of the defendant for 18 or more consecutive months

7.) Deviant sexual conduct voluntarily performed by the defendant without the consent of the plaintiff, and

8.) 18 months of continuous separation, with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.

File a Verified Complaint for Divorce at the local Superior Court to begin the divorce process by the plaintiff. Along with a $160 filing fee, file these other necessary papers:

1.) Civil Case Information Statement

2.) Certification of Insurance Coverage

3.) Case Information Statement

4.) Cover letter

Serve the defendant in the case with the summons for divorce. The defendant will have 35 days to respond to the summons. Normally the sheriff in the area where the defendant resides will serve the summons.

Split up all assets and debts in a manner that both parties agree with. Describe this division in detail in a Property Settlement Agreement. This agreement can be either handwritten or typed. Once it is completed, make two copies. If children are involved, devise a parenting plan and child support agreement as well.

File final paperwork with the court or have your attorney file the necessary paperwork once all matters have been agreed upon. Assuming everything is agreed upon by both parties, you can expedite the process by asking the court clerk to schedule an Early Settlement Panel. This panel is overseen by two experienced family law attorneys assigned by the court. The panel will hear both both parties and make a recommendation on how finances and property should be divided. The panel's recommendation does not have to be accepted by either party. However, with an uncontested divorce, if both parties agree on the financial and property division and all other divorce details, the divorce can be finalized immediately.

Request a hearing with the court once all paperwork has been filed. Ask the judge to finalize the divorce if it wasn't finalized at the Early Settlement Panel.