How to Initiate a Divorce in New Jersey

Divorce is a watershed moment for most people.  The events of their adult lives can often be measured in what came “before” and what came “after” the divorce.  It can be stressful trying to make the decision whether or not to actually seek a divorce, but once you have made up your mind to move forward, you may be left wondering what the next steps are and how to actually initiate the divorce.

A divorce begins when one spouse files a Complaint for Divorce.  The Complaint for Divorce contains certain basic information, such as the identity of the parties, where they reside, and whether they have children together.  The Complaint will also tell the court what the filing spouse is asking the court to do at the end of the case, such as whether he or she is asking for custody of the children, spousal maintenance, or attorney’s fees.  The complaint will also state whether the divorce is sought as a fault divorce or a no-fault divorce.

There are several other documents filed together with the complaint.  First, there is a filing letter addressed to the court.  This letter states that the plaintiff is filing for divorce.  The letter will also state whether the plaintiff has paid the filing fee or whether he or she is requesting the fee be waived.  A certification of insurance will also be filed, listing all the insurance coverage for both the parties.  A certification of notification of complimentary dispute resolution will be filed stating that the plaintiff is aware of the mediation requirement.  If there are issues of custody, support, asset or debt division, a Family Part Case Information Statement will be filed.  This form also includes the listing of the parties’ income, assets, and debts.  Finally, the confidential litigant information sheet is also filed.

After these papers are filed, the papers will have to be served on the defendant.  This is sometimes done by a law enforcement officer, but the plaintiff is also free to hire a private process server.  The plaintiff cannot serve the papers directly on the defendant.  After the defendant is served, he or she will have a set amount of time to respond to the papers.  Failure to respond in time could result in a default judgment being entered against the defendant.

We can help you understand the divorce process, your rights, and responsibilities.  Call us today for a consultation.

Are you interested in seeking an annulment? If so, contact Williams Law Group, LLC right away. Our family law attorneys will review your case to determine if an annulment is an option. If it is, we will guide you through the process and ensure you make the best decisions for your future. Call our office at (908) 738-8512, email us, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation

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