Family Law FAQ
In New Jersey, a divorce may be granted for the following reasons:
- Irreconcilable differences (six months of the inability of the parties to get along)
- Willful and continued desertion for 12 or more months. Either physical desertion or refusal to have sexual relations with the other spouse may establish this cause
- Extreme cruelty, including any physical or mental cruelty that endangers your safety or health, or which makes continued living together improper or unreasonable. The law requires, however, that no complaint for extreme cruelty can be filed with the court until at least three months after the last act of cruelty listed in the complaint.
- Separation, if separate and different places of living have been maintained for at least 18 consecutive months or more and there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation
- Voluntarily induced addiction or habituation to a narcotic drug or habitual drunkenness for 12 or more consecutive months
- Imprisonment of the spouse for 18 or more consecutive months after the marriage was begun. (This cause for divorce can be charged after the defendant’s release from prison only if the husband and wife have not resumed living together after imprisonment ended.)
- Deviant sexual conduct voluntarily performed by the defendant without the consent of the spouse. Incompatibility is not grounds for divorce in New Jersey
In a “no-fault” divorce proceeding, the party asking for the divorce does not need to show that the other party did something wrong in order to get a divorce. A typical basis for no-fault divorce is “irreconcilable differences,” another way of saying the parties have an inability to get along.
An “at-fault” divorce requires that the party filing for the divorce state specific wrongdoing by their spouse, such as adultery, cruelty or abandonment. A party may file an “at-fault” divorce proceeding to get a greater share of the marital property or to get an advantage in custody proceedings.
The most important factor in a child custody determination is the interests of the child. The parties to a divorce may agree on custody and visitation, but the agreement will still be subject to review by the court to ensure that the best interests of the child are observed.
Physical custody refers to the household where the child resides the majority of the time. The parent with whom the minor child spends most of their time is considered to have physical custody. Even when physical time is shared, the court will typically designate one parent as having the right to physical custody.
Legal custody refers to the parent’s right to participate in decisions about the health, welfare and upbringing of the child. In general, courts prefer to grant joint legal custody so that both parents work together and raise the child with consistent values.
If both parties cannot reach an agreement on spousal support issues, the judge will decide these and other arrangements after considering all the evidence including the needs of the parties, the income and/or earning potential of each party, the length of the marriage and the lifestyle of the marriage. Your lawyer will assist you in making sure your needs and wishes are adequately presented to the judge.
New Jersey is what’s known as an “equitable distribution” state: If parties cannot come to an agreement regarding the division of property, the court will look at a number of factors and attempt to divide the assets fairly. Fairly does not necessarily mean equally. The court may consider such factors as earning capacity, length of the marriage, health of the parties and any wrongful conduct when determining the division of marital assets.
Mediation is a voluntary, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process, which allows both parties to maintain control over the terms of their divorce settlement. In a mediated divorce case both spouses have control over the outcome of their case. In a litigated case the judge, who is often unfamiliar with the particulars of your unique situation, will decide the outcome.
To learn more about divorce and related matters in New Jersey, contact the trusted, compassionate family lawyers at Rotolo, Bozanian & Yi at (201) 947-1500.
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