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FAQ – Divorce

Please review some commonly asked questions and my responses.  To submit your own question and get a response, please click here.

How much does a divorce cost?

The filing fee with the court for a Complaint for Divorce is $300.  To respond to the Complaint costs $175.  There may be additional fees if you have children in the amount of $25 per child.

I was served with a Complaint for Divorce, do I need to respond?

Yes.  You have 35 days from the date you were served to file a response to the Complaint.  If you do not file a response, the case will proceed without you and there will be no one representing your interests.  A Judgment may be entered against you called a “Default Judgment of Divorce.”  This default judgment could contain provisions regarding custody, child support, alimony, division of debt, division of property.  It is important to answer the Complaint right away so your rights are not lost.  The divorce proceeding will continue without you; you will not stop the divorce by not answering.

What are the grounds for getting a divorce?

1.  Separation

You and your spouse have lives in separate residences for at least 18 months.

2.   Irreconcilable Differences

You and your spouse have experienced irreconcilable differences for at least 6 months, and there is no hope of reconciliation.

3.  Adultery

Instances during your marriage in which your spouse engaged in an extra-marital affair with another individual.

4.  Abandonment

If your spouse has left you and your home for at least 12 months or more.

5.  Addiction

If your spouse has been addicted to drugs or alcohol or engaged in habitual drunkenness for 12 months or more.

6.  Deviant Sexual Conduct

If your spouse has performed any “deviant” sexual act without your consent.

7.  Extreme Cruelty

If your spouse has been physically abusive or mentally cruel, has made it unbearable to live with them, had harmed you or endangered your life for at least 3 months.

8.  Imprisonment

If your spouse was sentenced to a jail sentence of 18 months or more after your marriage and you did not live together after their release.

9. Institutionalization

If your spouse was institutionalized for mental illness for 24 or more consecutive months after you are married.

Do I need a lawyer for a divorce?

You are not required to retain the services of an attorney to obtain a divorce.  However, consulting with or retaining an attorney to represent you is recommended.  The attorney will advise you of your rights and obligations; you may be giving up a legal right to support or property without knowing it.  The attorney knows the procedures of court and the steps of a divorce.  The attorney will zealously represent your interests and make arguments on your behalf in negotiations and at court hearings.  Many complicated issues arise in divorces, such as the division of property, child support, child custody, alimony and valuations of assets – an attorney will know how to navigate through all of these issues and know the legal arguments to make. Finally, divorce proceedings are emotional and difficult and it is beneficial to have an attorney representing your interests during this time.

I don’t want a divorce, I want an annulment, can I get one?

The ability to get an annulment is limited. Under New Jersey law, you can get an annulment in the following circumstances:

  • Your spouse was already married to someone else (bigamy)
  • You and your spouse are too closely related so the marriage is void
  • One spouse was too young to marry
  • You married when either spouse was under 18 and, since turning 18, have not had sexual relations
  • Either spouse lacked the mental capacity to get married
  • You married only because of duress or threats
  • One spouse has incurable impotence, which the other did not know about at the time of marriage
  • You married only because of lies or fraud

In addition, there is a consideration as to the length of your marriage, and when you found out about the circumstance which would trigger an annulment.  If you do not meet one of the above situations, then you cannot get an annulment.