The Grounds for Filing for Divorce in New Jersey

What Grounds Can Be Stated? Do You Have to State a Reason for Filing for Divorce?

The Grounds for Filing for Divorce in New JerseyYour marriage isn’t working, but you can’t point the finger at either party. There’s been no marital infidelity and you haven’t been a victim of domestic abuse of violence. You’ve just grown apart. Can you still file for divorce in New Jersey? Do you have to have a specific reason to ask the court to terminate your marriage? The answer is no…sort of.

No-Fault Divorce in New Jersey

Technically, New Jersey is a “no-fault” divorce state. That means that, if neither party can be blamed for the divorce, you can still seek to dissolve your marriage. However, you must still give a reason for the divorce—you must state that you have “irreconcilable differences.” Furthermore, you must indicate to the court that you have had these “irreconcilable differences” for at least six months.

What Grounds Can You State for Divorce in New Jersey?

You can, however, specifically identify the cause of your impending divorce in New Jersey. Under state law, a number of specific grounds may be sufficient to warrant a judge to order a divorce:

  • Adultery or marital infidelity—New Jersey has an adultery statute. You must introduce evidence that your spouse was unfaithful. You must also be a resident of New Jersey for at least one year to claim marital infidelity as the grounds for divorce.
  • Extreme cruelty—There must be evidence of physical or emotional abuse that took place more than three months before the divorce complaint was filed
  • Addiction or habitual drunkenness—You must meet a residency requirement and you must typically show that your spouse was an active addict for at least one year without seeking treatment
  • Desertion—You must show that your spouse physically abandoned you (that you have not cohabitated) for at least one year.
  • Institutionalization—If your spouse has been committed to a mental institution for more than two years after the date of your marriage, you can seek to terminate the marriage
  • Imprisonment—You may seek a divorce based on the grounds that your spouse has been incarcerated for at least 18 months and that the period of incarceration occurred during your marriage
  • Deviant sexual conduct—Also known as “marital rape,” this allows a person to seek an at-fault divorce for certain non-consensual sexual acts

What Do Most People Choose?

Proving that the other spouse committed wrongful conduct may be psychologically satisfying, but it won’t get you more child or spousal support, or more assets in a property settlement. Fault does not matter in a divorce, as cold as that sounds. The only time it does matter is when there are custody/parenting time disputes. Most people file on grounds of irreconcilable differences for that reason—it’s easier and less expensive.

Contact the Law Office of David M. Lipshutz

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David has made the difficult decision to retire after 43 years.

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