New Jersey Divorce Attorney Explains Starting The NJ Divorce Process

Making the decision to start the divorce process can be extremely unsettling. For most people, just contemplating the various life changes that can result from a divorce is overwhelming. In addition to the emotional turmoil many people face during this turbulent time are practical worries. Financial issues can be paramount.

  • What will my future look like when it’s all said and done?
  • How much will a divorce cost me?
  • Where do I begin?

There are no simple answers to these questions because every divorce situation is unique. But there is basic information anyone considering getting a divorce in New Jersey should know. Understanding the grounds for a New Jersey divorce and knowing what divorce documents must be filed can help reduce the stress that is especially common in the beginning.

Post divorce issues and life scenarios can be frightening. Many people are suddenly forced to face matters of dependence they never had to be concerned with during the marriage. When one spouse relies on the other financially, considering the fufture without that person can be unimaginable.

It is common for couples in strained relationships to attend marriage counseling in an attempt to resolve some of their differences and keep the marriage intact. Such efforts are commendable and sometimes productive. However, when they are not successful, the next step is usually to file for divorce in New Jersey.


A typical divorce case in NJ begins with one party filing a document known as a Complaint for Divorce. When the Complaint for Divorce is filed, the court assigns a docket number to the case. This docket number remains the same throughout the entire divorce process.

The person who files the Complaint for Divorce is called the “plaintiff” during the divorce proceedings. The other party is called the “defendant.” Some people mistakenly believe that the plaintiff has specific legal advantages. This is incorrect. The “plaintiff” title simply means that this is the party that filed for divorce first. While it is true that in criminal cases the defendant is an accused person, a divorce case is different. There is no negative connotation associated with being the defendant in a divorce case.

There are several key NJ divorce documents that must be filed along with the Complaint for Divorce. In New Jersey, these documents are:

  • Confidential Litigant Information Sheet
  • Certification of Insurance Coverage
  • Attorney-Client CDR (Complimentary Dispute Resolution) Certification

You can read more about the specific role these documents play in the divorce proceedings on the NJ Divorce Documents page. Once the Complaint for Divorce and supporting documents has been filed, copies of these documents must be “served” upon the other party.

Serving Documents

If serving documents brings to mind a burly sheriff’s officer causing a scene at the defendant’s place of business, you’ve been watching too much television. In reality, being served with divorce documents is far less dramatic. Generally, a process server delivers the documents to the spouse respectfully and discretely, at home or at work. Sometimes, being served is not required at all if, for example, the defendant agrees to personally sign a statement that acknowledges receipt of the divorce documents.

After the defendant receives the divorce documents, a response is filed with the Court. This response could be in the form of an Appearance, an Answer, or an Answer and Counterclaim. The Counterclaim is the divorce form where the defendant may state that he or she is also seeking a divorce due to specific grounds, such as extreme cruelty or adultery by the plaintiff; however, it is not necessary for the plaintiff and the defendant to each have separate grounds for divorce. Once all of these filings are completed with the Court, the “discovery” phase of the case begins.

Overall, the process of starting a divorce is a simple one for an experienced NJ Family Law Attorney}. In contrast, the decision to begin the divorce process is usually a far more complicated one for the client, one that varies in complexity from person to person and marriage to marriage. For many, making this decision is extremely emotional because it signifies in a concrete way that a troubled marriage definitely cannot be repaired and that it truly is over.

A preeminent NJ Family Law Attorney will be especially sensitive and respectful to all of these factors throughout the entire process of divorce. The decision to divorce is normally given great care and consideration by the parties. The New Jersey divorce attorneys at Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group, LLC, have the specialized knowledge of all divorce and family law matters to assist you every step of the way. To learn more about grounds for divorce, divorce documents, or for general questions about divorce in New Jersey, please contact us.