What Details and Documents are Essential in a Complaint for Divorce in New Jersey?
The divorce process is complex and requires the submission of several forms and documents in a specific manner and order. Besides being a tremendously tricky experience emotionally, filing for divorce is stressful due to the amount of paperwork and information that must be gathered and eventually submitted. A knowledgeable divorce attorney at Bronzino Law Firm can facilitate this process for you while answering your questions and addressing your concerns. Simply contact us at (732) 812-3102 for help preparing your complaint for marital dissolution and continue reading to learn more about the essential documents and specific details that any divorce complaint needs to have to be properly filed in New Jersey.
What Is the Purpose of a Divorce Complaint?
The Complaint for Divorce is the first document regarding your divorce as the “plaintiff“ to the Family Division of the New Jersey Courts. In essence, a divorce complaint is a document that puts the legal wheels in motion for your divorce. It gives the court an explanation of your situation and what you request that the court do (also known as legal relief).
Necessary Items in New Jersey Complaints for Divorce
Your Divorce Complaint should list you and your spouse’s names unless you are a victim of domestic violence, in which case you can use an alternative address where you receive your mail, such as a post office box. The date of the marriage and the motivation for your filing for divorce must be included.
There are four categories of divorce in New Jersey. The first is a no-fault divorce where you and your spouse have been separated for at least 18 months. A no-fault divorce for irreconcilable differences for six months or more is another type of divorce. No-fault divorces do not require proof of who is responsible for the split. Fault-based divorces are typically due to cruelty or desertion. Cruelty can be verbal, emotional, or physical. If you are requesting a divorce because of cruelty, you must submit a document that lists all your spouse’s dates and cruel actions from the day you were married to three months before you file a complaint. Desertion is when your spouse abandons the shared residence for 12 months or more before filing the divorce complaint. If you force them out of the home, you cannot file for abandonment.
You must prove you have been a resident of the state of New Jersey for one year and offer the addresses of the places you lived before you filed for divorce (separation of 18 months, desertion of 12 months, irreconcilable differences of 6 months). The names and ages of your children must be submitted as any legal events between you and your spouse in or out of New Jersey. These events include but are not limited to adoption, a domestic violence restraining order, visitation, and child support. All of these prior actions must be included with their corresponding docket number.
At the end of the complaint is a form called the Certification of Verification and Non-Collusion, which states that no one else needs to be involved in your case, your marriage doesn’t have any other legal action against it, and all of your statements are true. You are presenting all information in good faith.
Critical Issues That a Divorce Complaint Must Cover
If you request decisions of custody, alimony, child support, parenting time, or permission to use another name, that should be included. The specific details of the amount of support or visitation calendars need not be presented at this time. It is a way to let the judge know what you want to include in your divorce. If you want to change your name, either to a new name or your original surname, this relief can be offered by the judge.
The topics that should be addressed are numerous. The first is alimony (spousal support), determined by each spouse’s financial situation. It is not gender-specific and isn’t a permanent fixture in most divorces. There are several kinds of alimony. One is open durational alimony, usually granted in the case of a marriage that has lasted at least 20 years. The next is limited duration alimony which frequently lasts no more than the number of years the marriage did. This kind of alimony is offered to provide a period where the spouse has an opportunity to find a job that will give them a livable income. Rehabilitative alimony provides financial support for a spouse who needs more study or training to start a career. For example, if your ex is one semester away from graduating from medical school, you may be obligated to support them financially until they are licensed. Reimbursement alimony is used when one spouse uses their income to financially support the other receiving training or education in connection with a proposed higher income.
The state of New Jersey does not divide the couple’s assets and debts 50/50. They are separated using equitable distribution, where the judge determines a fair division of assets and debts. Splitting assets into individual and shared categories can be complicated. It is a good idea to get legal help, especially when discussing pensions and retirement accounts. Health insurance is another part of the complaint. Your spouse must temporarily provide healthcare for you and your children, either through health benefits from their employer or personal payment.
Custody is another topic discussed in your complaint. There are four kinds of custody: joint physical custody, primary physical custody, joint legal custody, and primary legal custody. Joint custody means it is shared, be that physical or legal. Primary custody, legal or physical, means one spouse has custody. The courts usually prefer that parents work out a plan together through joint custody as it has less of an emotional impact on the children and the parents. Lastly, child support is never a foregone conclusion, mainly when custody is divided between spouses. It is essential to rely on a divorce attorney to request the support your children need to live and feel supported.
Supporting Documentation in Your Complaint for Marital Dissolution
The aforementioned divorce complaint and its respective parts are included along with the collusion document mentioned previously. You must have a certification of insurance form apart from your divorce complaint. Any coverage included on the form when the complaint is submitted to stay the same until and if the court makes any changes. This goes for health, life, auto, and homeowner’s insurance.
The Certification of Notification of Complementary Dispute Resolution Alternatives is a separate form where you acknowledge that you have read the Explanation of Dispute Resolution Alternatives and are aware of the dispute resolution alternatives (such as mediation and Alternative Divorce Resolution) that can be used as a substitute to going to court.
The Family Part Case Information Statement (CIS) is an extensive document demonstrating your income and expenses, giving a clear financial picture. Additionally, you will need to attach bank statements, credit card statements, loan balances, deeds, and other documents showing your financial circumstances.
The Confidential Litigant Information Sheet (CLIS) must be filled out when your complaint for divorce involves a request for spousal or child support. It must be filed apart from other documents, including the original complaint. The information held therein is to be used exclusively by the State of New Jersey to notify you of decisions made regarding alimony and child support. The information sent to you is confidential and should be shared with anyone.
Finally, you can use waivers if you cannot pay the filing fees required to submit your complaint and other documents. They are the Request For Waiver of Fees, Supporting Certification, and Order Waiving Fees. The first explains your financial situation to the court. You must sign it as a testament to the document’s validity. The second form is signed by the judge when your request is granted.
Benefits of Properly Documenting and Filing Your Complaint
As in most legal procedures, divorce is a serious matter. If you file improperly, you will have wasted time and money and will be forced to start over again. Also, whatever the judge’s decisions are, they are tough to undo. If you and your spouse have children, they will be affected by the decisions a judge makes regarding where and with whom they will live. A long, drawn-out process can do much damage to everyone involved.
Also, it is important to keep in mind the advantages of preparing and filing your complaint first. Legally, it doesn’t matter who files first. However, by taking the initiative, you may be better prepared to begin the process. Filing for divorce before your spouse allows you the opportunity to line the proverbial ducks in a row without being worried about the dates for hearings, discovery due dates, or mediation deadlines quickly approaching because you have already begun the process and are a step ahead.
Unsure About Taking the First Step in Your Divorce Case? Contact Our Brick or Sea Girt Offices to Speak with Our Attorneys
It can be tempting to file for divorce to save money. Still, when dealing with complex legal concepts, pages and pages of forms, regulations, and deadlines, you can become overwhelmed very quickly, especially when your ex has an attorney. Child custody, distribution of assets and debts, and alimony or child support are delicate matters best handled by your divorce attorney.
If your marriage has reached its end, we will listen to your unique situation and help you through the divorce process. It would help if you did this the right way, a way that puts you at an advantage, and that can be done with our help. Whether you have been cheated on, suffered abuse, or are in a loveless marriage, our seasoned divorce attorneys are here to help you find a better future in Beachwood, Neptune, Colts Neck, Manchester, Ocean Township, Rumson, and other communities in Monmouth and Ocean County.
Call us at (732) 812-3102 or contact online to make an appointment for a free confidential consultation. Let our experience and proactive decision-making make this transition as painless as possible.