How Do You “Divorce” When You Are Not Legally Married in New Jersey?

divorce not legally married new jersey

Over the past two decades, divorce rates have steadily declined. At the same time, the 2020 Census noted that one-third of Americans between twenty-five and fifty-four years of age, including those in long-term committed relationships, had never gotten married. That is due in large part to changing societal norms regarding marriage and cohabitation as well as the economic and social benefits of not tying the knot. Nonetheless, you and your long-time partner have decided to separate. But can two adults who are not legally married get a “divorce” in New Jersey? For more information, please read on, then contact one of our experienced divorce attorneys in Bergen County, NJ.

What are the property rights of a never-married couple in New Jersey?

When a married couple splits, each party gets to keep the personal belongings that they came into the marriage with as well as their fair share of the marital property. “Divorce” among adults not legally married in New Jersey works a bit differently. While each party can still keep the items they came into the relationship with, in addition to anything that they earned or bought while together, the court will consider any deliberately combined assets, such as a house with both partners’ names on the deed, jointly owned in equal 50/50 shares, unless one partner can definitively prove that they made the larger contribution.

Can you get alimony in New Jersey if you never legally married?

Normally, if one spouse earns significantly more than the other in a marriage, or if one financially depends on the other, a judge can order the higher earner to pay alimony after a divorce. In cases where the partners never legally married, neither party may apply for or receive alimony, unless they can provide proof of an agreement to provide post-separation support, otherwise known as “palimony.”

Are child custody, visitation and child support different for unmarried couples in New Jersey?

The marital status of you and your children’s other parent will not impact child custody, visitation or child support matters. The only exception is when one partner is the legal parent, in which case the nonlegal parent has no custody or visitation rights nor any duty to support the children.

Does New Jersey have common-law marriages?

The Garden State does not allow common-law marriages. However, it does offer civil unions. Also known as a “domestic partnership,” a civil union is a legal relationship between two partners that can confer rights at the state level, with no federal protections or benefits. If you and your partner had entered a civil union, your dissolution will generally follow the same procedure as divorce.

Our Bergen County divorce attorneys can answer any other questions you may have.

Contact our experienced Bergen County firm

To speak with our team of family law lawyers today, please contact us online, or through our Hackensack, NJ office at (201) 397-1750.

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