Residency Requirements and Jurisdiction in NJ
There are a variety of requirements that must be satisfied in order for a New Jersey court to hear your divorce case. One of those requirements is that the court must have what is called jurisdiction over your case. Jurisdiction is what gives the court the authority to hear and make decisions about your case and to enter a final judgment of divorce. Therefore, in order to obtain a New Jersey divorce, the court must have jurisdiction over your case.
In order for the court to have jurisdiction over your case, either you or your spouse must satisfy the residency requirements. The residency requirements are set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-10. These requirements apply to divorce, divorce from bed and board, dissolution of a civil union, and legal separation from a partner in a civil union couple.
The residency requirement is satisfied if either of the spouses was a bona fide resident of New Jersey when the cause of action for divorce arose and continued to be a bone fide resident until the commencement (i.e., filing) of the divorce action. In addition, that spouse must have been a bona fide resident of New Jersey for the one year immediately preceding the commencement of the divorce action. Alternatively, the residency requirement can also be satisfied if, after the cause of action has arisen, either of the spouses becomes a bona fide resident of New Jersey and continues to be for the one year immediately preceding the commencement of the divorce action.
The residency requirement discussed above applies to all causes of action for divorce, except adultery. Thus, if you are seeking a New Jersey divorce because your spouse had an affair, neither you nor your spouse has to satisfy the residency requirement in order to obtain your New Jersey divorce. However, for all other causes of action, whether they are based on fault or no fault grounds, you must fulfill the residency requirements in order for a New Jersey court to hear your divorce case.
Obviously, if you or your spouse has lived in New Jersey for a long time, then you do not need to worry about fulfilling the residency requirement. However, if you have recently moved to New Jersey, you should speak with a New Jersey divorce lawyer to make sure that you satisfy the residency requirement.
If you do not satisfy the residency requirement, you will either have to wait until you have been in the State long enough to qualify as a bona fide resident of New Jersey or you will have to obtain a divorce in a different state.
If you are looking to file for a New Jersey divorce and are unsure of whether you or your spouse satisfies the residency requirements set forth in the statute, please contact Snyder Sarno D'Aniello Maceri da Costa LLC and schedule an appointment with one of our experienced New Jersey divorce lawyers to discuss your residency status and whether you qualify to obtain a New Jersey divorce.