Can you get a divorce without the other person signing in NJ?


  • Author Keith Trimble
  • Published October 10, 2023
  • Word count 569


Divorce is a complex and emotionally charged process, often requiring both parties to sign legal documents to dissolve their marriage. However, in some situations, getting a divorce without the other person signing can be a challenging and contentious issue. This blog will explore the legal possibilities and processes of obtaining a divorce without the other person signing in New Jersey (NJ).

No-Fault Divorce in New Jersey

New Jersey, like many other states in the United States, allows for "no-fault" divorces. In a no-fault divorce, neither party has to prove that the other spouse did something wrong to cause the marriage to end. Instead, the reason for the divorce is usually cited as "irreconcilable differences" or a similar term, signifying that the marriage is broken beyond repair.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce

In NJ, the divorce process can be categorized as either contested or uncontested:

Contested Divorce: This is when one spouse disagrees with the divorce or the terms outlined in the divorce papers, such as property division, alimony, child custody, or child support. In contested divorces, both parties generally need to be actively involved in the legal process.

Uncontested Divorce: An uncontested divorce occurs when both spouses agree on all aspects of the divorce, including property division, child custody, child support, and alimony. In an uncontested divorce, it's often possible to proceed with the divorce without the other person signing, but specific procedures must be followed.

Divorce by Publication

When one spouse refuses to sign divorce papers or cannot be located, NJ law allows for divorce by publication. Here's how it typically works:

The spouse seeking the divorce (the plaintiff) must make a diligent effort to locate and serve divorce papers to the other spouse (the defendant). This often includes sending the papers to the defendant's last known address and attempting personal service.

If the defendant cannot be found or refuses to accept the papers, the plaintiff may request permission from the court to serve notice of the divorce through publication in a local newspaper. This serves as a legal notice to the defendant, even if they do not see it.

After the notice has been published for a specified period, typically several weeks, and there is still no response from the defendant, the court may proceed with the divorce as if the defendant has been served.

Default Judgment

In cases where the other person refuses to participate in the divorce process, NJ courts may grant a default judgment. This means that because the other spouse has failed to respond or participate, the court can proceed with the divorce based on the terms outlined in the original divorce complaint.

Legal Representation

It's important to note that regardless of whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, it's advisable for both parties to seek legal representation. An attorney can guide you through the process, ensure your rights are protected, and help negotiate the terms of the divorce if necessary.


In New Jersey, it is possible to get a divorce without the other person signing the divorce papers through methods such as divorce by publication and default judgments. However, these processes can be complex and require strict adherence to legal procedures. Consulting with an experienced family law attorney is highly recommended to navigate the complexities of divorce and ensure that your rights and interests are properly represented. When seeking the best divorce attorneys in New Jersey, consider firms like Trimble Law.

Keith Trimble focuses his practice on areas of Civil Litigation, Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation, Commercial Litigation, Family Law, Wills and Estate Matters, and Municipal Court.

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