The Role of Fault in a New Jersey Divorce

Can Courts Consider Fault In Divorce Proceedings?

The Role of Fault in a New Jersey DivorceThough all 50 states have adopted some form of no-fault divorce, only 17 are considered pure no-fault states. In New Jersey, a court may consider the actions of the parties when making decisions regarding marital dissolution.

What Does No-Fault Divorce Look Like in New Jersey?

For centuries, a party seeking divorce had to identify for the court grounds to justify the divorce. Traditionally, those grounds included infidelity, dishonesty, mental illness, criminal conduct, and abuse, among other issues. The modern trend in the United States, including New Jersey, is to allow parties to obtain a divorce if they simply claim to have “irreconcilable differences.”

“Irreconcilable differences” means that the parties disagree about many things and believe there’s no reasonable expectation that they’ll resolve their differences. Proponents of no-fault divorce contend that divorce is less challenging for children when they don’t have to witness their parents airing their grievances to support a divorce complaint.

What Is the Benefit of Alleging Fault in a New Jersey Divorce?

Though the ability to allege “irreconcilable differences” has made divorce simpler for many in New Jersey, the state still allows a party to assert fault. Fault-based grounds for divorce in New Jersey include:

  • Physical or mental cruelty
  • Willful desertion
  • Adultery
  • Continual substance abuse (for at least 12 months)
  • Imprisonment
  • Institutionalization in a mental facility
  • Abandonment

New Jersey courts may consider adultery and other forms of fault when ruling on the availability of alimony or spousal support. As a general rule, fault does not affect custody and visitation, unless the court determines that the wrongful act poses a risk to the minor child. Fault is not a factor in property settlement in New Jersey.

Contact an Experienced New Jersey Family Law Attorney

At the law office of David M. Lipshutz, we won’t take your case unless we know we can help. For a private meeting, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

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