Every state has different laws regarding where to file a divorce, and New Jersey is no exception. The court where you’re supposed to file your divorce is the court that has what is referred to as “jurisdiction.” It is imperative that you file your divorce papers in the court with jurisdiction, or your divorce may be delayed or even dismissed. A common misconception is that the state where you were married always has jurisdiction over your divorce, but in reality, the place you were married has nothing to do with where you need to get a divorce. There are a variety of factors that play in to which court has jurisdiction and where your divorce must be filed.
New Jersey requires that the spouse filing for divorce meet certain residency requirements before he or she may file in New Jersey. New Jersey statutes provide that you or your spouse must have resided in New Jersey for at least a year at the time the divorce is filed. Note that if your spouse does not live in New Jersey, it may still be possible for you to file for divorce in this state, as long as you meet the residency requirement. It’s also important to note that in cases involving adultery, there is an exception to the one year residency requirement.
Once you have determined that you may file in New Jersey, then you need to know which court in particular. This is called “venue.” The proper venue is the county where the spouse who files first resides at the time the divorce is filed. If the filing spouse does not live in New Jersey, then the proper venue is the county in New Jersey where the other spouse resides.
Another complication can arise if you and your spouse have children together. If your spouse and the children reside out of state, and have for a certain period of time (typically at least six months), then the other state probably has jurisdiction over the children. In such an event, it would make more sense to have the divorce together with the issue of child custody and visitation. There are exceptions to this, though, as in cases where the parent has wrongfully taken the children and intentionally hid them from the filing parent.
If you are considering filing a divorce, contact us today at (732) 479-4711. We will help you understand jurisdiction and venue, and decide where is the appropriate place to file your divorce.