NJ Divorce and the Residency Requirement
In order for a court to decide a case, that court must have jurisdiction, or the legal authority to do so. The jurisdiction for a divorce in NJ case is based on the residency of the spouses. In New Jersey in particular, the residency requirement must be met in order for a court to accept any divorce filings. If you have any questions about jurisdiction in a New Jersey divorce you should speak with a NJ divorce lawyer.
New Jersey Residency Requirement
In order to meet the residency requirement and be eligible for a divorce in New Jersey, either spouse must have been a bona fide resident of New Jersey for at least one year prior to the filing of the action.
Exception for Adultery
An exception is made for cases of adultery, where the one-year requirement is waived. In that case, jurisdiction exists when a spouse has committed adultery and at least one spouse lives in the State of New Jersey.
In many cases the spouses have lived in New Jersey for many years, so jurisdiction is not an issue. In order to establish jurisdiction and meet the residency requirement, the spouse filing for divorce in NJ will state in their documents that they meet the requirement. This sworn statement is your proof of residency.
If jurisdiction becomes an issue in a divorce in NJ, other forms of proof of residency might be necessary, including a New Jersey driver’s license, a bank account in the state, voter registration, and proof of owning property in the state.
A separate but related issue to jurisdiction is venue. While jurisdiction covers whether you can file for divorce in New Jersey, venue covers which New Jersey court you will need to file in. In general the proper venue will be the first option listed below, but given that divorcing spouses often move out of the marital home, venue can be tricky so it is best to review the other options. The term ‘domicile’ for purposes of these options means where you permanently live.
- The county in which the spouse filing for divorce is domiciled when the cause of action arose, or
- If the spouse filing for divorce is not domiciled in New Jersey when the cause of action arose, then the venue will be the county in which the other spouse is domiciled when the cause of action arose, or
- If neither spouse was domiciled in New Jersey when the cause of action arose, then in the county in which the filing spouse is domiciled when the action is commenced, or
- If the filing spouse is not domiciled in New Jersey, then in the county where defendant is domiciled when service of process is made
If you are seeking a divorce and wish to do so in New Jersey, call Peter Van Aulen a NJ divorce lawyer at (201) 845-7400 for a free comprehensive in office consultation to discuss if your case meets the New Jersey residency requirement.
N.J.S.A. 2A:34-10 Jurisdiction in divorce proceedings
Rule 5:7-1 Divorce, Nullity, Separate Maintenance - Venue