Adoption, divorce, and even marriage can be complicated and stressful matters that require an attorney’s help. Family law deals with the many changes that can affect New Jersey families, but there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.

Your family is unique. When you need a family law attorney, you want someone who appreciates the differences that make your family special. You want a family lawyer who will help your family through all life’s changes and guide you towards the best possible outcome.

Our family law attorneys offer a complete range of family law services:

Adoption & Surrogate Parenthood: Adoption and surrogacy are one option for New Jersey couples and individuals who would like to add a child to their household. Melinda M. Previtera oversees the legal aspects of adoption and surrogate parenthood in order to ensure that your family’s interests are protected now and in the future. Schedule a consultation to discuss private adoptions, 3rd party adoptions, surrogate adoptions, and other adoption options.

 Prenuptial Agreements: Many people believe that prenuptial agreements are only for the wealthy; however, many New Jersey couples use prenuptial agreements to protect their assets for their children and to make sure that a well-thought out plan is in place in case the worst happens. Please call (201) 655-7204 to discuss how a prenuptial agreement can help you clarify financial rights and responsibilities and plan for the future.

LGBT and Non-Traditional Families: Although New Jersey law protects the marital rights of gay and lesbian couples, same-sex couples may still face discrimination in many areas, including adoption, child custody, support, division of property, workplace benefits, and inheritance rights. Unmarried partners may also face legal difficulties because of the prejudices of others. Melinda M. Previtera is happy to assist both traditional and non-traditional families with all aspects of New Jersey family law.

Divorce: Divorce is an emotional experience. Even a friendly divorce may quickly become hostile when former partners disagree on property division, child custody or support. Melinda would like your divorce to be your first step to a more positive future. Call us at (201) 655-7204 to discuss divorce options, including mediation, no-fault divorce, collaborative divorce and litigated divorce.

Child Support: Every child deserves parental support. Melinda M. Previtera, Attorney at Law will work with you to make sure your child is provided for financially. She can also help you make plans to protect your child’s financial future. Call (201) 655-7204 to discuss your child’s right to financial support.

Child Custody & Visitation: As a parent, you want the best for your child. Melinda M. Previtera will help you find the best child custody solution available for your family under New Jersey family law. Whether you have a traditional or non-traditional family, her priority is always the well-being of your child.

Estate Planning: Are your loved ones protected if something happens to you? Whether your goal is to assign guardianship of your children or ensure that your same-sex spouse receives death benefits, Melinda’s goal is to provide peace of mind so you can live your life knowing your wishes will be followed after your death. Contact us for additional information on wills, trusts, guardianships, and probate.

Family Law FAQ

New Jersey, like most states, has a residency requirement for those wishing to file for divorce. This means that either you or your spouse must live in New Jersey for at least one year prior to filing the divorce paperwork. There is one exception. If the grounds for divorce are adultery, you may file for divorce immediately.
There are two types of divorce in New Jersey: no-fault divorce and fault divorce.

No-fault divorce refers to a divorce where there is no specific reason or “grounds” for the divorce. In order to qualify for a no-fault divorce, you and your spouse must live separate and apart for 18 consecutive months with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.

In order to file a fault divorce, you must have grounds for ending the marriage. Grounds for divorce in New Jersey include:

  1. Irreconcilable differences that have lasted six months or longer
  2. Mental illness
  3. Imprisonment
  4. Extreme mental or physical cruelty
  5. Adultery
  6. Desertion for 12 consecutive months or longer
  7. Sexual desertion for 12 consecutive months or longer
  8. Drug addiction or alcoholism

Extreme cruelty refers to any acts of physical violence or acts of mental cruelty which endanger your safety or your health. Extreme cruelty in New Jersey may also include financial cruelty, public embarrassment or public humiliation, domestic irresponsibility, excessive use of offensive language, lying, fraud, lack of personal hygiene, excessive social activities, threats, false accusations, refusal to have children, lack of affection, and sexual problems.

Many states have standard waiting periods for couples who want to file for divorce. In New Jersey, the waiting period depends on the grounds for divorce. There is no waiting period if the grounds for divorce are adultery. You may file for divorce three months after an act of cruelty, but you must wait 12 months to file on grounds of desertion. In order to receive a “no fault” divorce without grounds, you and your spouse must live apart for a minimum of 18 months.

The forms you must file will depend on the grounds and circumstances of your divorce. If you are seeking a no-fault divorce, you will need to file Form 1A Complaint for Divorce/Dissolution Based on Separation and Attached Certification or Form 1D Complaint for Divorce/Dissolution Based on Irreconcilable Differences and Attached Certification. If you are filing for divorce based on desertion, you will file Form 1B Complaint for Divorce/Dissolution Based on Desertion and Attached Certification. If you are filing for divorce based on extreme cruelty, the form you will file is Form 1C Complaint for Divorce/Dissolution Based on Extreme Cruelty and Attached Certification. You will also need to file a Certification of Verification and Non-Collusion with your Complaint for Divorce.

If you are filing for divorce in New Jersey, you must file your paperwork in the county where you live. If you are a Moorestown resident, your petition must be filed with the Family Division of the Burlington County Superior Court. The court is located at 49 Rancocas Rd. Mount Holly, New Jersey 08060. You can reach the court at (609) 518-2600.

You can expect two types of costs when filing for divorce in New Jersey: attorney costs and court costs. Your attorney’s fees will depend on the circumstances of your divorce and on the attorney that you choose. Fees will vary based on the attorney’s hourly rate and the complexity of the case. Court fees are set by each County.

Residents of Burlington County may expect to pay the following court fees:

  • $250 filing fee for opening a divorce case
  • $25 fee for a parenting education class if you are seeking child support or child custody
  • $30 fee for any motions filed in your case

You must formally notify your spouse after filing a Complaint for Divorce in New Jersey. Your attorney can notify your spouse about the divorce in a letter or you can request that the Sherriff or private process server deliver the forms to your spouse. There may be a fee for the notification.

You must be able to prove that your spouse received a notification of the divorce. This proof comes when your spouse files the response papers with the county clerk. If your spouse does not file a response, you may use the Sherriff’s or process server’s records as proof that the paperwork was delivered.

If your spouse has abandoned you, the Sheriff or professional process server may be unable to serve divorce papers to your spouse. In this case, you may petition a judge for permission to Serve by Publication. Service by Publication allows you to serve notice of the divorce to a missing spouse by publishing a notification of the summons for Divorce in a newspaper. You must show that you have made a reasonable effort to find your spouse before you can Serve by Publication.