New Jersey Petition For Divorce

by Beverly Bird

Every divorce action begins with filing a document that lets the court know you want to end your marriage. In some states, it’s called a petition for divorce or dissolution. In New Jersey, it’s a complaint for divorce. Depending on your divorce grounds, it can be a relatively simple document to prepare.

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Establishing Residency

The opening paragraphs of a New Jersey Complaint for Divorce deal with the state’s residency requirements. Either you or your husband must live in New Jersey for a year before you can file for divorce in this jurisdiction, unless you file on grounds of adultery. You have to attest that you've met this requirement. You also have to tell the court where you live now, where you lived when the event occurred that ended your marriage, and where your spouse is currently living.

Citing Your Grounds

The next section of a New Jersey divorce complaint relates to your grounds. New Jersey’s no-fault ground is irreconcilable differences, so you can simply state that you and your spouse haven’t been getting along for at least the last six months. If you and your spouse have lived separately for 18 months or longer, you can also use this as grounds. Both irreconcilable differences and 18-month separation grounds involve only a single paragraph stating this information. However, if you use one of New Jersey’s seven fault grounds, it becomes a bit more complicated. For example, you can’t just state that your spouse is guilty of extreme cruelty toward you. You have to list examples of things he did that were cruel. If you allege that he committed adultery, you have to tell the court whatever information you have that led you to the conclusion that he strayed.

Information Regarding Your Children

After you cite your grounds for divorce, the court needs information regarding your children. In New Jersey, this generally includes their names, dates of birth, ages and the name of the parent with whom they’ve been living.

Other Litigation

New Jersey courts also want to know if you and your spouse have ever been involved in any other lawsuit involving your marriage. For example, you may have filed for divorce once before then called it off. You might have a history of domestic violence, so you got a restraining order against your spouse. You should list the names of each case, the case's docket number -- which is the case number at the top of your restraining order or previous complaint -- and the county in which you or your spouse filed the litigation.

Prayers For Relief

At the end of New Jersey’s complaint, you can tell the court what you want a judge to order as part of your divorce. For example, you might want custody of your children. You might want alimony, and you probably want the court to divide your property between you. In legalese, these are your “prayers for relief.” It’s usually a good idea to include everything you think you might want to ask the court for because a judge can only give you what you request in your complaint. If you leave anything out, you'll have to file an amended complaint later to include it.

Certification

The last page of a New Jersey divorce complaint is called a “certification” and it simply asks you to sign under oath that neither you or your spouse have already filed another complaint that hasn’t been dismissed and everything you stated in your complaint is true.

Filing

New Jersey divorce complaints are usually filed in the county where you lived when your grounds occurred, even if you use grounds of irreconcilable differences. This generally means the county where you and your spouse last lived together.