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Can I Divorce My Incarcerated Spouse in New Jersey?

Going through a divorce is difficult, especially when one spouse is incarcerated. While this is an emotionally trying time in a person’s life, one should not feel guilty about filing for divorce against an incarcerated spouse. When facing these situations, it is important to retain the services of an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney to assist and guide you during this time. 

When Can I File?

One of the grounds for divorce in New Jersey is incarceration. If an individual’s spouse has been in jail or prison for at least 18 months, they can seek a divorce based on the claim of imprisonment. Under state law, the spouse is required to provide legal notice of the divorce by serving a copy of the divorce complaint to their spouse. Prison officials are to be notified of the proceedings, as an incarcerated individual may be allowed to appear in divorce court under certain circumstances. 

What Documentation is Necessary to File?

There are many documents that are needed in order to file for divorce in the state of New Jersey. Three specific documents that must be provided upon filing can include the petition for divorce, the spouse’s summons, and a court information sheet. Once this is done, the divorce proceedings are fairly standard, with the exception that the incarcerated spouse may not be able to attend the court hearings. If both spouses can agree on the terms of the divorce, they can file for an uncontested divorce. If they do not, they may go through a contested divorce.

What is the Process?

When filing for divorce from an incarcerated spouse, there is a certain set of steps that must be filed that is different from a regular divorce. This can include:

  1. Obtain either specific incarcerated spouse divorce filing forms or standard divorce filing forms from family court
  2. Request a copy of the spouse’s mittimus – the document committing them to the jail – from the criminal court they were convicted in
  3. Submit the divorce filing with the mittimus and filing fee. If you must serve the paperwork, hire the sheriff’s office to do so or send it by certified mail.
  4. After this, at least one hearing will be held. It is in the hands of the court to decide whether or not the spouse will be transported from jail to attend it. 
  5. Secure a copy of the final divorce decree from the family court once it is finalized. 

Contact our Firm

If you need an experienced legal team to guide you through your divorce, contact Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark L.L.C today.