New Jersey Divorce Laws

On your wedding day, you likely had no thoughts of “I do” being less than forever, yet when times change, you may find yourself seeking the help of a divorce attorney to help you separate from your spouse. Understanding the laws for divorce in New Jersey will help you through this process.

Who Can File for Divorce and On What Grounds

The first step in filing for divorce in New Jersey is determining if you meet the residential requirements. To file, you or your spouse must be a bona fide resident of New Jersey, and for a full year prior to the divorce, unless the cause is adultery.

New Jersey does not allow for a no fault divorce. In order to file for divorce in this state, you must have one of the following grounds:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion for 12 or more months that is willful and continued with no cohabitation
  • Extreme cruelty, including mental or physical abuse
  • Separation for 18 or more consecutive months with no prospect of reconciliation
  • Addiction to a narcotic drug or habitual drunkenness for 12 or more months
  • Institutionalization due to a mental illness lasting 24 or more months
  • Imprisonment for 18 or more consecutive months
  • Deviant sexual conduct performed without the plaintiff’s consent

Members of the military may have special requirements they have to meet in order to comply with military family law. To make this possible, they should talk with an attorney who is knowledgeable about this branch of the law. If they are residing in New Jersey due to their deployment, they should qualify to file for divorce in the state after the 12 months have passed.

Division of Property

New Jersey follows the equitable distribution model for division of property. This means the property will be divided based on what is fair, not necessarily what is equal. If the parties cannot reach their own settlement about property distribution, the courts will make a decision based on the following factors:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Age, physical and emotional state of each party
  • Income and property each party brought into the marriage
  • The standard of living during the marriage
  • Any legal written agreement made before the marriage
  • Economic circumstances of each party
  • Income and earning capacity of each party
  • Contribution each party made to the income and earning capacity of the other
  • The contribution each party made to the acquisition, depreciation, appreciation, preservation, or dissipation of the marital property, not ignoring the homemaker’s responsibility
  • Tax consequences of the distribution
  • Property’s current value
  • The need of the custodial parent to stay in the home and use its contents
  • Liabilities and debts
  • Whether or not either party deferred their career goals
  • Any other factors the court deems relevant

Child Custody

Whenever children are involved in a divorce, the courts encourage parents to come to their own agreements about child custody. When they cannot, the courts will consider the following factors:

  • Physical, emotional, and religious needs of the child
  • The child’s desires if he or she is old enough to be making this decision.


In a few cases, one spouse will be asked to pay spousal support to the other. When making this determination, the courts will view the following factors:

  • Earning capacities and skills of each party
  • Parental responsibilities
  • Length of absence from a job of the party seeking maintenance
  • Standard of living established during the marriage
  • Length of marriage
  • Need or ability to pay of each party
  • Age, physical health, and emotional state of each party
  • Income available from assets
  • Tax consequences from alimony
  • Distribution of property
  • Financial and non-financial contributions of each party to the marriage
  • Time and expense required for the party seeking support to get the training necessary for a job
  • Any other factors deemed relevant by the courts

In cases where child support is awarded, the amount will be based on the Income Shares Model, which calculates child support divided proportionally between the parent’s individual incomes.