Can I Divorce My Incarcerated Spouse in the State of New Jersey?

The process of divorce is difficult for any family. This is especially so if one of the spouses is incarcerated. It is important that, while this is a trying time in a person’s life, that they do not feel guilty about divorcing an incarcerated spouse. When dealing with these situations, it is important to contact an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney for assistance handling your case.

When Can I File?

In New Jersey, one of the grounds for divorce is incarceration. It is because of this that if an individual has been in prison or jail for a minimum of 18 months, their spouse can file for divorce based on the claim of imprisonment. State law requires the spouse to provide legal notice of the divorce by serving a copy of the complaint to their spouse. In addition to this, prison officials must also be notified in the event that the court allows the appearance of the incarcerated spouse. 

What Documentation is Necessary to File?

When filing for divorce in New Jersey, there are many documents that are necessary. The three documents that are required upon filing include the petition for divorce, the spouse’s summons, and a court information sheet. Once this documentation is gathered and filed, the divorce proceedings in these situations are similar to that of a regular divorce. The one exception is that the incarcerated spouse may not be able to attend the court hearings. When both spouses agree on the terms of the divorce, they can file for an uncontested divorce. In the event that they do not agree, they may go through a contested divorce.

What is the Process?

There are certain steps that must be completed in order to divorce an incarcerated spouse that are different from that of a normal divorce. This can include the following:

  1. Obtain either specific incarcerated spouse divorce forms or standard divorce forms from the family court.
  2. Request a copy of the spouse’s mittimus from the criminal court they were convicted in. This is the document that committed them to jail. 
  3. Submit the divorce filing with the mittimus and filing fee. If you are required to serve the paperwork, it is possible to hire the sheriff’s office to do so or send it by certified mail.
  4. After this, at least one hearing will take place. The court will decide if the incarcerated spouse will be transported from jail to attend. 
  5. Secure a copy of the final divorce decree from the family court once it is finalized. 

Contact our Firm

If you require strong legal representation for matters of divorce and family law in New Jersey, contact The Law Offices of Paone, Zaleski & Murphy to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today.