Divorce can be an upsetting experience for all involved; however, it is often a necessary end to a troublesome familial relationship. In New Jersey, individuals interested in obtaining a divorce should be aware of the process and what they can expect to occur prior to the finalization of the divorce. Courts typically grant divorces in cases where spouses are unable to reconcile their differences and resolve their issues. Additionally, couples may file for divorce if they have lived separately for 18 months or more or on the basis of fault.

No Waiting Period, But Residency Required

Generally speaking, there is no strict waiting period to obtain a divorce. Once a hearing has been held, the judge can enter a divorce decree. However, at least one spouse must live in New Jersey for at least a year before he or she can file for divorce. The petition can be filed in the county where either spouse resides.

What Happens to the Property?

Equitable distribution is the court's goal when attempting to divide marital property. Divorce attorneys in Cherry Hill often tell clients that, in an equitable distribution state, the judge looks at what is fair and equitable, not necessarily "equal." That said, divorcing couples should note that separate property obtained during the marriage via inheritance or gift will not be subject to state division laws and will remain the individual property of the person who obtained it.

Marital property is typically any property that is obtained during the marriage and a judge who is attempting to equitably divide such property will consider factors such as each party's financial circumstances at the time of the divorce, the length of the marriage, the standard of living to which you were accustomed during the marriage and each party's income and/or property contribution to the union.

Support Obligations

Depending on the specifics of your situation, you may be faced with child support and/or alimony issues. For individuals seeking alimony, a judge will look at a spouse's financial needs and may decide to order one spouse to pay the other permanent or temporary spousal support/alimony. The court will look at each party's earning ability, education, employability and standard of living, among other things. If a judge orders alimony, the order can be modified if either party's circumstances change.

Area divorce lawyers are often asked about child support requirements with respect to the divorce process. Parents in New Jersey are expected and required to support their children financially until they reach the age of 18 or graduate from high school, whichever occurs later. When calculating the amount of child support to be paid, judges consider the parents' combined income, earning ability and financial circumstances, their ages and health and the needs of the children.

Custody Issues

Whenever children are involved, parents are always encouraged to come up with their own parenting plan that addresses custody and visitation issues. However, if parents are unable to work together and remain civil while attempting to discuss such issues, a judge will make certain orders with respect to custody and visitation based on what is in the best interest of the child. What that means is the judge will take into account the child's emotional, educational and physical needs, as well as the parents' ability to cooperate and communicate. Once an order is in place, it can only be modified if it can be demonstrated to the court that a change is in the child's best interest.

If you would like to learn more about divorce in Cherry Hill or elsewhere in New Jersey, call Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP at (856) 795-3300 or use our online contact form.