When a couple files for divorce, they must cite a clear and acceptable reason for the dissolution of their marriage. These adequate causes for divorce are outlined in New Jersey Statute 2A:34-2. There are both “no fault” and “at fault” grounds for divorce. In addition to citing a reason for the divorce, at least one of the parties must live in New Jersey for at least one year before filing for divorce.
No Fault Grounds for Divorce
No Fault grounds means that both parties mutually agree that the marriage needs to end and do not blame either party. In New Jersey, the two No Fault grounds for divorce are separation and irreconcilable differences.
- Separation: The divorcing couple must have lived in separate residences for at least 18 or more consecutive months and agree that there is no possibility for reconciliation to file for divorce on the grounds of separation. The parties must live in separate residences, not just separate bedrooms, to qualify.
- Irreconcilable Differences: If the divorcing couple has experienced irreconcilable differences that have existed for at least six (6) months and make it clear that there is no possibility of resolution or reconciliation, they can file on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.
At Fault Grounds for Divorce
For At Fault grounds, one of the parties is requesting the divorce due to their spouse’s actions. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage, but the blame is not relevant when dividing marital property, except for extreme cases.
- Adultery: You may cite adultery as the cause of divorce if you know your spouse has cheated on you. The only exception to the one-year residency requirement is when the grounds for divorce is adultery.
- Desertion: One of the parties has deserted the other for at least 12 or more months.
- Addiction: You may claim addiction as your grounds for divorce if you would like your marriage to end because your spouse is abusing alcohol or drugs. You must prove that they have been addicted for a period of 12 or more consecutive months after marriage.
- Institutionalization: When one spouse has been institutionalized for mental illness for a period of 24 or more consecutive months after marriage, they can claim institutionalization for the grounds for divorce.
- Imprisonment: If your spouse was sentenced to a jail sentence of 18 months or more after the beginning of your marriage to file for divorce based on the grounds of imprisonment. If the jail sentence was less than 18 months, the plaintiff must show that they did not live together after the defendant’s release.
- Extreme Cruelty: Extreme cruelty includes any physical or mental abuse that has endangered the safety or health of the plaintiff or made it unbearable to live with the defendant.
- Deviant Sexual Conduct: Deviant Sexual Conduct occurs if the defendant engages in deviant sexual conduct without the plaintiff’s consent.
When filing for divorce, it is essential to have a reputable divorce attorney to guide you through the process and represent you. George Christopoulos has represented individuals in the New Jersey Family Courts since 2001 and has the experience and knowledge to help you through this difficult time. Please call the Law Offices of George Christopoulos, P.C. at (201) 488-1825 to discuss your options.