At Nash Law Firm, LLC, we handle many aspects of Family Law including for example Divorce, Custody, Child Support, Parenting Time issues, and enforcement motions.
To file an action for Divorce, a party must show that there was a valid marriage in existence at the time the divorce complaint was filed. Pursuant to N.J. S.A. 2A:34-8, the New Jersey Superior Court has jurisdiction of all causes of divorce, dissolution of a civil union, bed and board divorce, legal separation from a partner in a civil union couple or nullity when either party is a bona fide resident of New Jersey. The Superior Court has jurisdiction of an action for alimony and maintenance when the defendant is subject to the personal jurisdiction of the court, is a resident of this State, or has tangible or intangible real or personal property within the jurisdiction of the court.
N.J.S.A. 2A:34-12.3 established a mandatory education program that is referred to as the “Parents' Education Program.” This program was established to assist and advise divorced parents on issues concerning divorce, separation and custody. It is available twice a month and is administered by the Administrative Office of the Courts. The Assignment Judge for each County appoints the program representatives. The program is designed to promote cooperation between the parties and to assist parents in resolving issues that arise during the divorce or separation process such as for example: (1) Understanding the legal process and cost of divorce or separation, including arbitration and mediation; (2) Understanding the financial responsibilities for the children; (3) Understanding the interaction between parent and child, the family relationship and any other areas of adjustment and concern during the process of divorce or separation; (4) Understanding how children react to divorce or separation, how to spot problems, what to tell them about divorce or separation, how to keep communication open and how to answer questions and concerns the children may have about the process; (5) Understanding how parents can help their children during the divorce or separation, specific strategies, ideas, tools, and resources for assistance; (6) Understanding how parents can help children after the divorce or separation and how to deal with new family structures and different sets of rules; and (7) Understanding that cooperation may sometimes be inappropriate in cases of domestic violence. Every person who has filed an action for divorce, nullity or separate maintenance where the custody, visitation or support of the minor child is an issue is required to attend the “Parents' Education Program”. Each party is required to attend separate sessions of the program. Also, each party must pay a fee of $25 for registration in the “Parents' Education Program” which must be forwarded by the Clerk of the Superior Court for deposit in the “Parents' Education Program Fund” which was established pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:34-12.2.
Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2, New Jersey recognizes several grounds for divorce which are listed below:
(b) Willful and continued desertion for the term of 12 or more months;
(c) Extreme cruelty (defined as including any physical or mental cruelty which endangers the safety or health of the plaintiff or makes it improper or unreasonable to expect the plaintiff to continue to cohabit with the defendant) – this ground requires a THREE months waiting period from the date of the last act of cruelty complained of in the complaint;
(d) Separation, provided that the husband and wife have lived separate and apart in different habitations for a period of at least 18 or more consecutive months and there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation AND after the 18-month period, there shall be a presumption that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation;
(e) Voluntarily induced addiction or habituation to any narcotic drug as defined in the New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act OR habitual drunkenness for a period of 12 or more consecutive months subsequent to marriage;
(f) Institutionalization for mental illness for a period of 24 or more consecutive months subsequent to marriage and next preceding the filing of the complaint;
(g) Imprisonment of the defendant for 18 or more consecutive months after marriage, provided that where the action is not commenced until after the defendant's release, the parties have not resumed cohabitation following such imprisonment;
(h) Deviant sexual conduct voluntarily performed by the defendant without the consent of the plaintiff;
(i) Irreconcilable differences which have caused the breakdown of the marriage for a period of six months and which make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
When there are no reasonable prospects of reconciliation between the parties, New Jersey courts favor the legal termination of such marriages and regardless of “fault”. Effective January 20, 2007, the ground of divorce based on “irreconcilable differences” was added to reduce the often highly charged emotional baggage that accompanies divorce actions including hurtful accusations and comments that parties directed to one another.
Our experience has been that it is more helpful to all the parties to have the difficult divorce process handled in a very civilized and businesslike manner. Doing so removes the emotional baggage and allows the parties to communicate with each other often resolving the most difficult issues together.
The Courts look to the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines in determining the amount of support to be paid a parent for support of the child. Information regarding child support can be found at this link: http://www.njchildsupport.org/Resources-Forms.aspx
Under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23, New Jersey courts consider the following factors in determining child support:
(1) Needs of the child;
(2) Standard of living and economic circumstances of each parent;
(3) All sources of income and assets of each parent;
(4) Earning ability of each parent, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, custodial responsibility for children including the cost of providing child care and the length of time and cost of each parent to obtain training or experience for appropriate employment;
(5) Need and capacity of the child for education, including higher education;
(6) Age and health of the child and each parent;
(7) Income, assets and earning ability of the child;
(8) Responsibility of the parents for the court-ordered support of others;
(9) Reasonable debts and liabilities of each child and parent; and
(10) Any other factors the court may deem relevant.
The continued obligation to pay child support for a child who has reached the age of 18 will not automatically terminate and continues until the court enters an order emancipating the child.