Common Misunderstandings about Divorce in New Jersey

Frequent Falsehoods about New Jersey Family Law

common-misunderstandings-about-divorce-in-new-jerseyIf you’re considering filing for divorce or have already been served with a divorce complaint, you’ve probably been the recipient of unsolicited advice and counsel from well-meaning family and friends. They may have warned you of the potential pitfalls or problems you can expect. Often, unfortunately, they are wrong—they’re simply passing on a revised version of something someone else told them. Let’s set the record straight of some of the common misstatements of law governing divorce in New Jersey.

Myth #1—You must be separated from your spouse for at least 18 months before you can get a divorce—While an 18-month separation can be stated as grounds for divorce, it is not a requirement. If the basis for filing your divorce is “irreconcilable differences,” you must wait six months, but there’s no requirement that you be separated from your spouse during that waiting period.

Myth #2—Alimony is only available when the parties have been married at least 10 years—While the court will factor the length of the marriage into any decision about whether to award alimony, there is no specific minimum time set under New Jersey law. Customarily, the length of the marriage is simply one of a number of factors considered by the court.

Myth #3—The parent with physical custody of minor children may not leave the state of New Jersey without the approval of the non-custodial parent—If there have been no custody disputes in the past, there is nothing prohibiting either parent from leaving the state with a minor child. If there has been any custody disagreement in the past, though, provided there’s no evidence of alienation of affection or interference with custody/visitation rights, a custodial parent may leave the state after providing an itinerary for a trip, along with a date the parent intends to return to New Jersey.

Myth #4—If I leave the marital home, it will be considered abandonment and my ex will be entitled to the property—There’s a difference between the physical and financial interests you have in marital property. You can physically leave the marital home, but still have a financial stake in the property. Simply vacating the marital home will typically have no impact on your property settlement.

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