To get a divorce, certain divorce documents must be filed with the court. The entire process begins with the filing of an initial divorce document known as a Complaint for Divorce. Find out about the Complaint for Divorce and other New Jersey divorce documents:
- Complaint for Divorce – This document includes the names and addresses of the parties, the date and place of the marriage, whether the ceremony was civil or religious, the names of any children born or adopted during the marriage, and a listing of any previous court proceedings, such as prior domestic violence matters. The Complaint for Divorce also includes the reason the divorce is being sought, otherwise known as the “grounds” for divorce”. New Jersey recognizes several grounds for divorce and you can get specifics on what these grounds entail by reviewing Grounds for Divorce.
- Confidential Litigant Information Sheet – Filed along with the Complaint for Divorce is a document called the Confidential Litigant Information Sheet. This essential document provides specific personal information about each party. It lists the date of birth, place of birth, social security number, driver’s license number, auto license plate number, mother’s maiden name, children’s social security numbers, and medical information of each party.
- Certificate of Insurance Coverage – Accompanying the Complaint for Divorce and Confidential Litigant Information Sheet is a Certification of Insurance Coverage. This document lists the insurance coverage that is in effect at the time the Complaint for Divorce is filed. It certifies medical and health benefit coverage, life insurance, homeowner or renter’s policies, automobile, disability, and any other active insurance policies. The name and address of the insurance company will be listed, along with the policy numbers, the name of the insured person, the names of beneficiaries, and dates of policy expiration or renewal. This Certificate of Insurance Coverage document will state whether or not the policy has been modified within 90 days of the filing of the Complaint for Divorce, with descriptions of any changes or cancellations. This protects parties from having any of their insurance coverage altered or terminated while in the middle of a divorce.
- CDR Certification – Finally, a CDR Certification is included. This document, signed by both the attorney and client, certifies to the court that the client has been made aware of alternative dispute resolution options that can aid in keeping costs down.
After the plaintiff has filed the Complaint for Divorce with the supporting documents, copies must be “served” upon plaintiff’s spouse or their attorney.
After being served, the defendant files a response.
A response document could be in the form of:
- An Appearance—This simply acknowledges receipt of the complaint and advises the court that the defendant will participate in the case.
- An Answer—An Answer admits or denies allegations in the plaintiff’s Complaint for Divorce.
- Counterclaim—This is where the defendant identifies certain grounds for divorce that defendant wants to have recognized by the court. The defendant will also be required to file a Certification of Insurance Coverage, a Confidential Litigant Information Sheet, and CDR Certification with his or her Counterclaim. Filing a counterclaim against the plaintiff usually results in the plaintiff answering the counterclaim with admissions or denials of his or her own.
A Note about Counterclaims:
If the plaintiff’s Complaint for Divorce has sufficient grounds for divorce, it is not necessary for the defendant to file a counterclaim. However, if the defendant wants the court to recognize both parties’ request for the divorce, as opposed to only plaintiff’s request, a Counterclaim may be appropriate. An experienced New Jersey Family Law Attorney can help the client determine what response is most advantageous.
Since NJ divorce documents are a matter of public record, the couple’s children could access these documents later to find out what went on between their parents. As such, many clients prefer not to use contentious language in the documents filed with the court. Other clients see the divorce documents as their opportunity to vent their anger and frustration. These parties may find it therapeutic to formally document every intricate detail of how they feel they’ve been wronged. It is important to remember that the amount of detail included in the divorce documents does not necessarily impact the judge’s decision regarding custody, alimony, or distribution of assets.
It is critical for anyone contemplating a divorce in New Jersey to be represented by a seasoned NJ Family Law Attorneywho understands how to file the proper divorce documents in a timely and professional manner.