In an uncontested divorce, both parties have reached an agreement on all aspects of the divorce, including but not limited to alimony, custody and parenting time, child support, and equitable distribution. This type of divorce can be less expensive and time-consuming than a contested divorce. Here is the step-by-step process in New Jersey:
Step 1: Meet the Residency Requirement
Before you can file for divorce in New Jersey, either you or your spouse must have lived in New Jersey for at least one year, unless adultery is the grounds for divorce, in order to file a Complaint for Divorce.
Step 2: Prepare the Required Paperwork
You’ll need to prepare and compliant several required documents. The initial set of forms include:
- Complaint for Divorce: This is the main document where you state the grounds for divorce, as well as list the reliefs you are seeking from the court.
- Summons: This form notifies your spouse that you’re filing for divorce.
- Confidential Litigant Information Sheet: This form contains confidential information the court requires to establish and monitor a case.
- Affidavit of Insurance: This firm contains all current insurance policies for the court’s records.
Step 3: File the Paperwork with the Court
The completed forms must be filed with the Superior Court in the county where you or your spouse lives, currently via JEDS—the court’s online filing platform. There’s a filing fee, but you may be eligible for a fee waiver depending on your income and specific circumstances.
Step 4: Serve the Papers
After filing the papers, you must have your spouse formally served with a copy of the divorce papers, which can be done by a sheriff’s officer, a private process server, or anyone over 18 who’s not involved in the case. Your spouse will sign what is called an Acknowledge of Service, which you will file with the court.
Step 5: Your Spouse’s Response
Your spouse may elect to file an Answer or Appearance, or an Answer and Counterclaim, and request their own relief from the Court.
Step 6: Request a Default
If your spouse fails to respond within 35 days, you can file a Request to Enter Default in order to move your matter forward.
Step 7: Prepare and Submit Final Judgment and Marital Settlement Agreement
Once the required time period has passed, you can submit proposed Final Judgment of Divorce and a Marital Settlement Agreement, which will be signed by both parties and reflect the agreements you and your spouse have made.
Step 8: Attend a Hearing
The court may schedule a hearing. Attend the hearing with all your paperwork, where you’ll be asked to testify about the information you’ve provided. The court may address your matter “on the papers” and request you complete additional forms to confirm your divorce.
Step 9: Receive your Divorce Decree
If the judge approves your divorce, they’ll sign the Final Judgment of Divorce and incorporate any signed Agreement submitted. This legally ends your marriage, and you’ll receive a copy of the signed Judgment of Divorce. We recommend that you keep the original copy of your Judgment of Divorce and Marital Settlement somewhere safe, as well as an electronic copy somewhere easily accessible.
Remember, while an uncontested divorce may seem straightforward, it’s still important to have a clear understanding of your legal rights and ensure your final Agreement addresses all relevant issues. Consulting with a legal professional can ensure that your interests are well protected.
If you or someone you know has a question regarding an uncontested divorce or a Marital Settlement Agreement, contact the Williams Law Group, at (908) 810-1083, today to learn more about how we can assist you.