To file for divorce in New Jersey, you first have to meet the residency requirements. For all grounds for divorce, except for adultery, you or your spouse has to have lived in New Jersey for at least the last 12 consecutive months. It does not matter if you have lived in New Jersey your whole life. If you and the other party have resided outside of New Jersey at any point in the last 12 months, you will not be able to file for divorce until one or both of you has been here for the last 12 months.
If you do meet the residency requirements, you have to decide the appropriate venue for the divorce. Venue refers to where the case should be filed. In New Jersey, venue for the divorce is where the plaintiff lives, where the defendant lives or where the grounds for divorce (also known as the cause of action) first arose. For example, if you are filing for separation, you can file in the county where the separation first began, assuming you do not live there now. I always advise clients to file where they live or in whatever county previous cases between plaintiff and defendant (like custody or child support) have been filed.
In New Jersey, the person with residential custody of a child can receive child support. If the residential custodian is someone other than a parent, then a child support case can be opened against both parents. If the custodial parent is receiving cash assistance from the Board of Social Services (BOSS), then their right to child support is assigned to BOSS and BOSS will open and enforce the child support. If the child(ren) are in the care of DYFS, then both parents will be liable for paying child support to DYFS for whatever amount of time the child is under their care and supervision.
Regardless of where the children reside, child support will be enforced where the paying parent lives. It is often best therefore to open the child support case where the payer lives. If the payer lives out of state, the party requesting the support may be able to work with their local child support office to open an interstate child custody case.
CHILD SUPPORT F.A.Q.
In order to file for custody in New Jersey, the children must have resided in New Jersey for at least the last 6 consecutive months. There also cannot already be a custody or visitation order established in another state or jurisdiction. If there is already an order for custody or visitation from another state or jurisdiction, any requests for modification of that order have to be filed in that state or jurisdiction.