An action for divorce is commenced with the filing of a Complaint with the Clerk of the Court of the county of venue. Among the things the Complaint should include are:
- name and address of the plaintiff, current and/or at the time the cause of action arose;
- name and address of the defendant, current and/or at the time of cause of action arose,
- confirmed residency in New Jersey for longer than one year prior to commencement of the action (for non-adultery grounds);
- location and date of marriage;
- alleged cause(s) of action for divorce;
- name of person (the correspondent), if known, the spouse committed adultery with, if alleged. If not known, then description of person, time, place, and other relevant information concerning act or acts committed;
- identification, place of residence, and date of birth of children born during marriage or relationship between the parties;
- statement of previous legal proceedings between parties;
- the statement of the relief being sought in the action.
One may assert more than one grounds for divorce in a complaint, which would usually be delineated in separate counts. The Complaint should also include any non-matrimonial claims which the plaintiff may have against the defendant and/or ancillary third parties, such as claims for domestic tort, fraud, third party debt, etc.
Complimentary Dispute Resolution Alternatives (CDR)
Only a court can grant a divorce. A court can also decide issues of custody and parenting time, alimony and child support, the distribution of property, as well as other claims incident to the dissolution of the marriage. However, a court need not decide those issues as the parties themselves have the power to resolve them - and in the vast majority of cases, they do. Often, the parties are able to settle their financial and custodial issues whether with or without the assistance of counsel, during the course of an ongoing litigation process. However, in recent years, there has been a growing acceptance of dispute resolution methods, whether as an alternative to conventional litigation or as a compliment with respect thereto to assist parties to resolve their marital issues. These alternate and/or complimentary dispute resolution methods include mediation and arbitration
Mediation is used to resolve differences between parties by use of an impartial third party with sufficient training. Mediation can be used for settlement in a non-adversarial and informal manner. A list of approved mediators is available from the court or private mediation services may be used. The court still makes the final determination concerning whether or not to grant the divorce.
During arbitration proceedings, impartial third parties decide issues relevant to a case. Parties choose the arbitrator and which issues the arbitrator will decide. Prior to the proceedings, the parties jointly decide how they will treat the findings of the arbitrator, be they binding or not. Arbitrators decide issues within divorce cases, but the court is still the final decision maker regarding granting of a divorce.