Divorce and Family Law

Couple Fighting

Divorce and Family Law Matters

When considering a divorce it is important to address a multitude of questions and to acknowledge the potential changes a divorce will cause.  Dealing with the legal system is always difficult, but it is even more difficult when it involves your family.  Our firm has achieved exceptional results in difficult family law matters and we are ready to help you too.

We are here to explain the different types of divorce, how to properly divide marital property/assets and assist you with any and all issues from start to finish.


Types of Divorce: The grounds for a divorce in New Jersey may vary for each individual matter. A divorce may be:

  • Absolute (meaning the emotional and financial end to the marital relationship) or
  • Bed and Board.

A divorce from Bed and Board can be based upon the same grounds permitted in an Absolute Divorce (i.e. irreconcilable differences). It is the same process one must go through for an Absolute Divorce, but the end result is different.

In a Divorce from Bed and Board the couple stay legally married after the court proceeding has concluded. However, the couple will separate from each other, alimony and child support will be established (if applicable), and the couple will distribute all marital property. The primary reason couples elect a Divorce from Bed and Board is for health insurance purposes. A Divorce from Bed and Board will permit the ex-spouse to remain on the same health insurance policy without interruption.

A couple who enters into a Divorce from Bed and Board cannot remarry until the divorce is made Absolute. A couple may also elect to reconcile and reestablish their marriage. A Divorce from Bed and Board cannot be forced upon either party and both parties must agree to the Divorce from Bed and Board.

Causes of Action: A divorce proceeding begins after one spouse files a Complaint for Divorce with the proper Superior Court. Every complaint must allege a cause of action (the reason for the divorce). New Jersey permits a divorce based either on fault or no fault. New Jersey Statute N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2 states the causes of action a divorce may be based upon:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Extreme Cruelty
  • Substance Abuse
  • Institutionalization
  • Imprisonment
  • Deviate Sexual Conduct
  • Irreconcilable Differences, or
  • Separation.

The cause of action you allege will depend on the facts and circumstances of your marriage.

Residency Requirement: One of the parties must have been a bona fide resident of the State of New Jersey at the time that the cause of action arose and must reside in New Jersey for one year preceding the filing of the Complaint for Divorce. See N.J.S.A. 2A:34-10.

Equitable Distribution and Custody: All divorces end with the parties dividing the property obtained during the marriage. This is called Equitable Distribution. If there are any child(ren) born of the marriage, depending on their age, the parties may be required to address the following issues:

  • Parenting Time
  • Custody
  • Child Support
  • Day Care
  • College Expenses
  • Tax Considerations
  • Unreimbursed Medical Expenses

Other issues the parties may be required to address are as follows:

  • Alimony
  • Marital Residence
  • Personal Property
  • Debts
  • Vehicles
  • Businesses
  • Tax Impact
  • Medical and Life Insurance
  • Retirement Plans

If the parties are unable to resolve any of the above or any other issues the Court may compel the parties to attend mediation to assist in settling the matrimonial matter and distribution of marital assets.

Some matrimonial matters may require experts to appraise the marital residence and/or undertake a business evaluation. Hiring an attorney in your matrimonial matter ensures that your best interests will be protected. The attorneys at Gale & Laughlin have handled thousands of divorces and are prepared to assist in yours. Contact us with any questions you may have and let our skilled lawyers fight for you.

Domestic Violence

The New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act is intended to provide victims of domestic violence the maximum protection the law can provide. See N.J.S.A. 2C:25-18.

A victim of domestic violence includes any person who is (1) 18 years of age or older, or (2) An emancipated minor, and

Who has been subjected to domestic violence by:

  • A spouse
  • A former spouse
  • Any other person who is present or former household member
  • A person whom the victim has a child in common, or with whom the victim anticipates having a child in common, if one is pregnant, or
  • A person with whom the victim has had a dating relationship.

Domestic Violence means the occurrence of one or more of the following acts inflicted upon a person protected under this act by an adult or an emancipated minor:

  • Homicide
  • Assault
  • Terroristic Threats
  • Kidnapping
  • Criminal Restraint
  • False Imprisonment
  • Sexual Assault
  • Criminal Sexual Contact
  • Lewdness
  • Criminal Mischief
  • Burglary
  • Criminal Trespass
  • Harassment
  • Stalking.

Once a victim obtains a Temporary Restraining Order, he or she is may be entitled to various protections. These remedies include, but are not limited to, obtaining exclusive possession of the residence, obtaining temporary custody of the child(ren) and obtaining financial support.

If you are a victim of Domestic Violence or feel that you have been wrongfully accused of Domestic Violence, you should immediately discuss your matter with an attorney. A Final Restraining Order, if entered by the court, is intended to protect a victim of domestic violence and limit the rights of the aggressor. Contact the attorneys at Gale & Laughlin to discuss your matter in detail.


Many people believe that if you have a short term marriage that the Court will automatically grant you an Annulment. This is not the case.

When filing for an Annulment you are requesting that the court nullify the marriage as if it never occurred. The grounds for an Annulment include, but are not limited to:

  • Due to a mental condition or intoxication, you or your spouse was unable to comprehend that you were marrying;
  • You or your spouse only married because of severe threats; or
  • Fraud, or lies, by you or your spouse that induced the other to marry.

In an Annulment there is no equitable distribution of marital property. This is because you are requesting that the court enter an order stating the marriage never existed. Annulments can be very complicated. The attorneys at Gale & Laughlin can advise if you are able to file for an Annulment and can assist you in this type of matter. Contact us with any questions you may have.

Effective Legal Counsel

For decades we have been helping clients throughout Monmouth County, Ocean County and Middlesex County. We are here to protect you and understand that these types of matters may be very emotional. However, rest assured that with effective legal representation, your problems will become more manageable, your confusion lifted, and moving on with your life will seem not only possible but certain. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

(732) 264-6000

This information is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice without consulting with a licensed attorney. This is not intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney. The law is subject to frequent changes and varies from one jurisdiction to another. (c) 2021