By: Carl A. Taylor III, Esq.
Although this has not always been the case, New Jersey Divorce pleadings today are fairly straightforward. The point of divorce pleadings isn’t to prove your whole case, but rather to lay out all of the relevant causes of action. New Jersey divorce pleadings are not required to be “technical.” All that is required is that basic facts are set forth demonstrating the underlying claims. Pleadings must also indicate the type(s) of relief requested. Under the relevant court rules, alternative forms of relief may be requested within the pleadings.
Perhaps the most important concept to remember with regard to pleadings is this–New Jersey Court Rules understand that you’re at the very beginning of the litigation process. Therefore, the rules are generally pretty lenient provided that a factual basis for the relief requested is provided. But it’s also important to remember to plead every cause of action from the underlying claim. If not, you could later be barred by “res judicata.” Remember that all pleadings–and particularly Complaints—are important, and should be taken seriously.
Res Judicata and the Entire Controversy Doctrine
Res Judicata is one issue to consider when filing a pleading. Res Judicata is essentially a lawyerly way of saying the following concept: “You must bring every cause of action that stems from the underlying claim with your present pleadings, or you may be barred from retrying or seeking relief for the same issues at a later court appearance.”
In a way it’s similar (although only in theory) to the more common term double jeopardy. If you want to bring a marital tort along with your divorce, it’s important to bring that claim along with your original divorce pleadings.
Three Major Types of Pleadings in a New Jersey Divorce
- The Complaint (And Summons)
- The Answer/CounterClaim
- The Answer to the Answer/Counterclaim
There are filing fees required by the Court in connection with the filing of a Complaint or an Answer to a Complaint. There are also specific time requirements. For instance, some form of Answer or Appearance is required within 35 days of the date the Defendant receives the summons/complaint. Otherwise, the Court may enter a Default Judgment against the Defendant.
The pleadings set forth the cause of action.
As I have written in previous blog posts, some of the more popular divorce “causes of action” include irreconcilable differences, adultery, and extreme cruelty, amongst others.
If you are going to proceed “pro se,” the Court personnel in your county should be able to provide you with the basic documents needed for pleadings.
New Jersey Divorce Pleadings start the divorce litigation process. It is important that all of the valid court rules are followed, so that the case starts off properly.
Your New Jersey Divorce Lawyer:
If you’re considering a New Jersey divorce or Family Law action contact me to discuss your options. You can schedule an initial consultation by calling my office at 908-237-3096 or by scheduling your own divorce consultation online by clicking here.