The Divorce Process in New Jersey
To begin the divorce process, a person must first file a Complaint for Divorce with the New Jersey Superior Court’s Family Division. A Complaint for Divorce will include the parties to the divorce names and addresses, the place and date of the marriage, and the grounds for divorce.
After the person files a complaint for divorce, they must serve it on the other party/spouse to put them on notice of the divorce proceedings. The party that files the Complaint for Divorce is the Plaintiff, and the person who is served with the divorce is the Defendant for the purpose of the proceedings.
Have You Been Served with a Complaint For Divorce?
Once you have been served with the Complaint for Divorce, you might be nervous because you are unsure what to do.
After being served with the Complaint for Divorce, you have 35 days after service to respond to the Complaint. For example, if you are served with the Complaint for Divorce on January 1, then you have until February 4 or 35 days after acknowledgment of service to respond.
Steps After Being Served with A Divorce Complaint
You have three options in responding to the Complaint for divorce: 1) file an Answer, 2) file an Answer and a Counterclaim, or 3) file an Appearance. Each document must be filed with the Court for you to have a say in the issues addressed throughout your divorce matter.
1) Answer: By filing an Answer to the divorce, you respond to or contest what Plaintiff stated in the Complaint for Divorce.
2) Answer and Counterclaim: By filing an Answer and Counterclaim to the divorce, you are responding to or contesting what the Plaintiff stated in the Complaint for Divorce, but in the Counterclaim, you can also state other grounds for divorce or claims that you may have against the Plaintiff.
3) Appearance: By filing an Appearance, you are acknowledging but not contesting what Plaintiff stated in the Complaint for Divorce and do not wish to be heard on the divorce issues.
What Happens If I Do Not Respond to The Complaint for Divorce?
On the other hand, if you do not respond to the Complaint for Divorce, then the Court may enter into Default Judgment against you and rule in favor of the Plaintiff and their allegations. Default means that by not responding, the Court will decide whether to grant a divorce or not and decides issues like child custody, parenting time, and equitable distribution using the evidence and testimony provided only by the Plaintiff.
What to Do Next
The 35 days between service of the Divorce Complaint and your response is prime time for you to search for a family law attorney who can help you begin the divorce process. Drafting an Answer to a Complaint for Divorce is crucial for your case because it lays out your position and what you are seeking in the divorce.
If you have been served with a divorce and would like help navigating this process, please contact the expert family law attorneys of Dalena & Bosch to schedule a consultation and discuss your needs and goals.
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