What You Should Know
It is important to seek the assistance of an experienced and reputable South Jersey divorce lawyer who will work to protect your rights and interests when facing the divorce process. The South Jersey family lawyer at Martone Law Group, LLC has 15 years of legal experience in handling all matters of family law including divorce and separation, child custody issues, alimony and spousal support and child support, equitable division of assets, and issues involving domestic violence and abuse and neglect or DCP&P matters. We also offer assistance with adoptions in New Jersey, same sex marriage, grandparents’ rights, college contribution disputes and estate planning.
Grounds for Divorce
When the decision is made to divorce, one spouse must file a divorce petition that states the reason he or she is requesting a divorce. There are several grounds on which the courts allow for divorce. It should be noted that the grounds, whether fault or no fault, are not considered as a factor in the division of assets or awards for spousal support.
No Fault Grounds
- Irreconcilable differences – A breakdown in the marriage that has continued for at least six months with no hope of reconciliation.
- Living apart – Living separate for at least 18 months.
- Addiction – Addiction to drugs or alcohol that persists for at least one year.
- Adultery – New Jersey law considers adultery as an act by one spouse to form an intimate relationship with someone outside the marriage. The law does not require that a sexual act took place, but the other party must be named in the divorce document.
- Desertion – Desertion occurs when one spouse leaves the other for 12 months or more against the will of the other spouse.
- Deviant sexual conduct – Sexual abuse or assault that occurs against the will of the other spouse.
- Extreme cruelty – This is merely a term of art and does not necessarily mean that your spouse was extremely cruel. Acts of cruelty may involve a wide range of severity, from general unpleasantness to physical abuse or neglect.
- Incarceration – Imprisonment of 18 months or more.
- Institutionalization – One spouse is institutionalized for 12 months or more and is unable to function as a working partner in the marriage.
New Jersey Separation
New Jersey does not recognize a legal separation. However, there may be reasons for you and your spouse to decide to live apart but remain married, whether it be for religious reasons, or because of issues related to finances or health. Whatever the reason, it is important to have a divorce lawyer assist you in drafting a separation agreement. A separation agreement is a legally binding document that addresses important issues such as temporary child and spousal support and child custody. Decisions about which spouse will maintain health insurance and who will be responsible for paying bills are also included in the agreement.
Another important reason to have a separation agreement is to protect yourself from being responsible for any debts your spouse may incur after you have decided to live apart. Spouses who have signed a separation agreement are often prohibited from dissolving any marital assets without the consent of the other spouse.
Division of Marital Assets
Equitable distribution in New Jersey allows for marital property to be divided fairly in a divorce, which does not necessarily mean equally. The experienced South Jersey divorce lawyer at Martone Law Group, LLC can guide you through the discovery process to determine which of your assets constitute marital property, and which assets may be considered separate property, and therefore not subject to equitable distribution. We protect our clients’ interests when dividing assets in a divorce.
It is important to gather as much information possible regarding all marital property, assets, and debts. This is a critical step that will ensure that nothing is overlooked. The court will use this information in determining the equitable distribution of marital assets. Equitable does not always mean equal, but rather what the court decides is fair given the circumstances.