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What if my partner wants a divorce in New Jersey and I do not?

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Robyn E. Ross - Family Law - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Robyn E. Ross

Located in Mountainside, NJRoss & Calandrillo, LLC

Phone: 908-543-4800
Fax: 908-543-4801

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Most married couples make important life decisions together. When a divorce happens, it is not unusual for one of the partners to make that choice on their own. It often catches their spouse off guard.

If this happened and you do not want the divorce, there is not much you can do. However, it is important to understand you have legal options and rights.

Understand your options and what is possible

Unfortunately, if your spouse wants a divorce and you do not, you will not have any choice if your spouse meets the state’s criteria.

The criteria include:


  • There must be grounds for the divorce.
  • The most common ground is irreconcilable differences, which means it can proceed without proof of anything.


  • Either you or your spouse must have been a New Jersey resident for at least one year.
  • There are exceptions, including adultery, which only makes current residency a requirement.

Waiting period

  • There is no across-the-board waiting period in our state.
  • The waiting period varies depending on the grounds.
  • Most no-fault divorces require separation for 18 months.
  • The waiting period for irreconcilable differences, however, is six months.

There are consequences if you do not respond

Sometimes, people do not want the divorce and think that it will not go forward if they do not respond. That is not true, so ignoring it is not advisable. If you do not answer, the divorce will proceed by way of default.

If default is issued, the court will likely grant your spouse any reasonable relief they request. You will not be able to ask for what you want, and that could have significant consequences. There are issues you can contest. You can challenge child custody arrangements, alimony, asset distribution and child support. If default is issued, your chances of contesting the divorce could be affected.

You might not be able to do much to prevent the divorce. However, you still must take all measures to protect your interests. You should talk to an attorney to discuss your options and safeguard your rights.

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