To obtain a divorce in New Jersey, either spouse must have been a resident of the State for at least one year prior to the filing of the complaint for divorce. (The only exception to the one-year residency requirement is when the grounds for divorce are for adultery. In cases of adultery the requirement is that at least one spouse must be a New Jersey resident.)

The nine grounds for divorce in New Jersey are:

  • Irreconcilable Differences
  • Living Separate and Apart for 18 consecutive months
  • Extreme Cruelty
  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Addiction
  • Institutionalization
  • Imprisonment
  • Deviant Sexual Conduct

These grounds are not mutually exclusive; that is, a husband or wife can allege a combination of these grounds. Fortunately, only one of these grounds is needed.


Once the plaintiff files the complaint and a copy is given to the defendant, the bulk of the time spent will focus on the “discovery phase” of the divorce. The purpose of discovery is to ascertain what the parties own separately or jointly, what constitutes the marital estate, what assets and debts need to be distributed among the parties, and custody issues regarding the children. The attorneys will usually exchange interrogatories (written questions that require written answers), demand that the other side produce critical documents (such as tax returns, employment data, and bank statements), serve subpoenas, conduct depositions, hire experts, examine books and records, and file court motions when the other side is being less than cooperative. These are not mutually exclusive discovery tactics, and may be sued in any combination.

All divorces are, at some point, scheduled for an Early Settlement Panel conference. The parties and their attorneys will meet with one or two neutral attorneys. Both sides will present their side and ideas for resolutions, the neutral attorneys will recommend a global settlement based on their opinion as to what a Judge would ultimately decide. The Panel’s recommendation is not binding, but it is suggested that both sides listen carefully to what the Panel recommends, so that needless legal fees and extra time are spent in getting to the exact same settlement as predicted by the Panel.

If the case does not settle, then the matter will proceed to trial. If that happens, the parties will be asked to narrow down the issues if possible and limit the trial to those issues.