How To File For A Divorce In New Jersey

Making the decision to divorce isn’t easy. When you’ve finally decided that you’re ready, the next question is, “What do I do next?”

Unfortunately, taking the next step can be scary and overwhelming for most people. This is especially true for those who have never gone through the process before. In fact, depending on the outcome of a prior divorce, the same could be said for those who have been through the divorce process before.

Having a basic understanding of the process, and what to expect can make it a little easier.

The following are three important steps you will need to take during the initial stages of the divorce process in New Jersey.

Verify Residency

You must confirm that you are eligible to file for divorce in New Jersey. To establish residency, either you or your spouse must have been a bona fide resident of New Jersey for a minimum of 12 months immediately prior to, and at the time of filing a complaint for divorce. [NJ Rev Stat § 2a:34-10 (2018)]. In the case of adultery, the one-year residency requirement is waived.

Meet With A Divorce Lawyer

It is important to schedule a consultation with an experienced New Jersey family law attorney as soon as possible after you’ve decided to divorce. Getting an initial consultation with divorce attorney is the best way to have your questions answered and get some peace of mind as you face this process. Not only will your attorney facilitate the process and the paperwork, but he or she will be able to advise on your options for getting a divorce. In addition to the traditional divorce process, there are a number of alternative processes for resolving the issues in dispute. These include divorce mediation and collaborative divorce. That’s why it is so important that the family lawyer you choose has experience in diverse areas of matrimonial and family law.

Grounds For Divorce

When you or your divorce attorney files the Complaint for Divorce, you must provide the reason for divorce. While there may be many reasons you are seeking a divorce, you will need to choose from one of the accepted legal grounds for divorce in New Jersey.

The majority of people who file for divorce in New Jersey use “irreconcilable differences” as their ground for divorce. Irreconcilable differences is a no-fault cause of action allowing you and your spouse to divorce for irreconcilable differences which have caused a breakdown of the marriage for a period of six months or more prior to filing.


This is available to someone whose spouse was unfaithful during the marriage. Normally in New Jersey, you must meet the residency requirement of one-year. In the case of adultery, the 12 month residency requirement is waived.

Willful Desertion

This requires willful and continued abandonment for a period of 12 months or more. In order to file under this cause of action there must be physical or sexual abandonment for a minimum of one year.

Extreme Cruelty

Examples of extreme cruelty could be physical and/or emotional abuse that endanger the mental or physical health of the filing party.

Voluntary addiction to drugs or habitual drunkenness for no less than twelve consecutive months. You’ll need to prove that your spouse has been addicted to drugs or alcohol for a period of one year without seeking treatment.

Institutionalization for mental illness

Institutionalization must be for a period of 24 or more consecutive months subsequent to marriage and next preceding the filing of the complaint.


Imprisonment for no less than eighteen consecutive months.  If the action starts after the person is released, the parties cannot have resumed living together as husband and wife.

Deviant Sexual Conduct

Deviant sexual conduct voluntarily performed by the defendant without the consent of the plaintiff.

Irreconcilable differences

The differences must cause the breakdown of the marriage for a period of six months before the filing.

NJ Rev Stat § 2A:34-2 (2013)

Next Steps

Whether you are just starting to contemplate the possibility of divorce, you’re ready to file, or your spouse has already filed, we can help. Call (848) 220-9383 now to schedule a consultation.

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