FAQs: Divorce in NJ Part II

Can I Get a Legal Separation in NJ?

Technically speaking, no. There is no legal separation in New Jersey. However, there is something called a divorce from bed and board (b&b) which is conceptually similar. It does not break the bonds of marriage but dictates the use and management of property and even custody as applicable. If you think you and the other party might still reconcile, you have religious objections to divorce, or even if you need to continue to receive healthcare benefits, getting a divorce from b&b might be a suitable alternative to getting a divorce in NJ.

How do I Get a Divorce From bed and Board?

If you and the other party agree, and you would otherwise be able to show grounds for a divorce, then you will be entitled to a divorce from b&b. Once this is granted, then any interest you have in the property acquired by your spouse afterward is gone. So, if the other party wins the lottery the day after you get a divorce from bed and board, you have zero interest in any part of that property. It also affects inheritance. Once you get a judgment for this suit, then if your spouse later excludes you in their will, then you have no standing to make a claim on their estate. Otherwise, you as their spouse would likely have some claim to it. Therefore, there are some potential downsides to getting a divorce from b&b instead of a full divorce in NJ that you should explore with a qualified attorney.

Are There any Other Alternatives to Getting a Divorce in NJ?

You and your spouse might consider getting a separation agreement. It is less formal than either a divorce or divorce from bed and board, but it still offers some protection. The agreement lists out the party's rights to, support, child custody and property. Once the parties agree on these issues, a lawyer should draft up the terms and have each party execute the document. The agreement is not enforceable by a court, but it is considered to be a contractual agreement. Therefore, if one party decides not to uphold their part of the bargain, the other party can use them in court for breach of contract.

What is the Basic Process to Get a Divorce in NJ?

Once the petitioner files their complaint for divorce, they must serve their spouse personally. Once the defendant has received notice of the lawsuit, they have 35 days to answer the complaint. They are also entitled to file their own counterclaim if there are arguments they wish to make. Don't forget the other important documents that must be filed, like the confidential litigant information sheet and the CDR certification. If there are children involved in a divorce in NJ, then you must attend a mandatory education class. There will then be a case management conference set by the court, where discovery periods, evaluations and psychological exams might be set. Sometimes there are attempts to settle or mediate along the way. Finally, if the parties do not settle, the court will set a trial date.

How can I Get Temporary Support in a Divorce in NJ?

Often, couples can sort out who pays the interim bills for the marital residence without any problems. Other times, the spouse will refuse to help the other and cut them off financially. If this happens, then you need to file a 'Pendente Lite Motion for Relief' requesting support. This simply means 'temporary support.' Once filed, a court can grant you child support, spousal support and even determine temporary issues of child custody and parenting time. It is also the opportunity for the court to order the parties to pay certain bills, like the mortgage, utilities, and insurance, enjoin or prevent the parties from wasting or selling the community assets, and can even appoint experts to determine the value of some property if there are disputes. You should file a motion as soon as possible because the motion must be filed at least 24 days before the hearing, unless it is filed as an Order to Show Cause if there is a showing of immediate irreparable harm.

What is the Purpose of Child Support Guidelines in New Jersey?

The purpose of child support in New Jersey is to ensure that children are not forced into a life of poverty simply because their parents decided to separate. They should have the same opportunities as families who have not split up but have similar financial circumstances. The legislation created guidelines for courts to rely on in reaching this goal.

How is Child Support Calculated in New Jersey?

First, Courts will consider both parents' gross income, which includes salary, tips, bonuses, alimony, rental income, etc. If the federal government can tax it, it is considered income for child support. Then, the court deducts Medicare contributions, child support for other children, taxes and union dues. The court also looks at the amount of parenting time each parent has - if the NCP has their child overnight for more than 28 percent of the year, they will usually pay less child support. The age of a child is also a consideration, as it is generally more expensive to raise a teenager than an infant. Of course, there are deviations from the guidelines which are allowed, and things like private school or college tuition are other considerations the court has to look at.

For more information see Frequently Asked Questions About a Divorce in NJ - Part 1, Frequently Asked Questions About a Divorce in NJ - Part 3, Frequently Asked Questions About a Divorce in NJ - Part 4, and Frequently Asked Questions About a Divorce in NJ - Part 5. If you have questions about getting a divorce in NJ, call Peter Van Aulen for a free consultation today. Call us at 201-845-7400.

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