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
Irreconcilable differences is the “catchall” grounds to seek divorce and, in practice, most divorces are filed on those grounds. As long as you satisfy the technical requirements of New Jersey, you can be assured that your divorce will be granted. During our initial consultation, we will be pleased to discuss and explain all of your options and your most efficient path to divorce.
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 claim specific wrongdoing by their spouse, such as adultery, cruelty, or abandonment. There are many varied reasons why a party may want or need to file an “at-fault” divorce proceeding, which we will be glad to discuss with you during your consultation.
Agreements between the parties as to child custody and parenting time are usually preferred. 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.
When parents are unable to reach agreement as to any aspect of child custody or parenting time, the Courts are called upon to make the decision on their behalf. The most important factor in a parenting time and child custody determination is the best interests of the child. The Courts will often call upon such child custody and parenting time experts as psychologists, social workers, and other professionals to conduct “best interests” evaluations. The Court will consider all of the evidence that is relevant to the determination of what custody and parenting time arrangements are in the child’s best interests. We will be pleased to discuss how to best approach your parenting time and custody needs during your initial consultation.
Physical custody refers to the household where the child resides at any given time. The parent with whom the minor child spends most of their time is considered to be the parent of primary residence (“PPR”) while the parent with whom the child spends less time is considered the parent of alternate residence (“PAR”). Even when residential custody is shared equally by the parties, the court will typically designate one parent as being the parent of primary residence for various reasons which we will be pleased to discuss with you during our consolation.
Legal custody refers to a parent’s rights to be fully informed regarding changes and/or developments to the child’s health, safety, welfare, and upbringing. They are also entitled to participate in decisions relating to the health, safety, welfare and upbringing of the child. In general, New Jersey courts prefer to grant joint legal custody so that both parents work together and raise the child with consistent values.
Parenting time and custody are considered “fluid” and not “static” arrangements. In New Jersey, Courts prefer when parents cooperate, communicate effectively, and remain flexible in relation to their children. Everyone recognizes that parents may be embroiled in disputes between them but they will do everything in their power to work together to promote the child’s best interests. We will assist you to find and develop a parenting time and custody arrangement that best suits your needs and the needs of your children. Those arrangements will eventually be reduced to writing and potentially a Court Order. Parenting time and custody arrangements can be changed at any time in the best interests of the children. For example, if the child’s schedule changes in terms of school, sports, vacations, etc., parents are expected to work together for the common good of the children and the family. In some instances, parents will need to adjust the terms of their parenting time and custody arrangements without Court intervention. When the parents are unable to reach agreement, they may be required to seek assistance of the Courts to settle their dispute.
If both parties cannot reach an agreement on spousal support issues, the judge will decide these and other arrangements after considering all the relevant evidence including but not limited to, 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. The alimony law was codified by the New Jersey Legislature in September 2014 by N.J.S.2A:34-23. Your lawyer will assist you in making sure your needs and wishes are adequately presented to the judge.
If parties cannot come to an agreement regarding the division of property, New Jersey courts will apply the legal doctrine of “equitable distribution” to divide the assets and liabilities of the parties in the manner deemed most fair to all involved under all of the circumstances. To make that determination, the court will consider a number of factors and attempt to divide the assets fairly. Fairly does not necessarily mean equally. The court may consider such factors as whether the nature of the assets and liabilities are deemed “marital”, as well as the earning capacity of each party, the length of the marriage, the 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 the settlement of their dispute. In a mediated family law case, the parties, with the assistance of a trained family law mediator, are able to exercise more control over the outcome of their dispute. In a litigated court action, it is the Judge who will decide the outcome of the parties’ dispute.
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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