What are the Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey?
When filing for divorce in New Jersey, your Complaint must include your grounds (reasons) for divorce. There are currently nine grounds for divorce that are recognized in New Jersey. They are defined in N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2.
The two most common grounds for divorce in New Jersey are considered “no-fault” grounds. This means that the spouse filing for divorce does not have to prove any wrongdoing by the other spouse, but rather just that the marriage is broken beyond repair. The two no-fault grounds are:
♦ Irreconcilable differences – In order to be granted a divorce based upon irreconcilable differences, you must prove you and your spouse have experienced irreconcilable differences that have caused the breakdown of the marriage for at least 6 months and there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
♦ Separation – In order to be granted a divorce based upon separation, you must prove you and your spouse have lived separate and apart for at least 18 consecutive months in separate residences and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
The remaining seven grounds for divorce in New Jersey are considered “fault” grounds. These are far less common, and require that the person filing for divorce prove each element of the cause of action, showing some type of wrongdoing by the other spouse. They are:
- Extreme cruelty
- Voluntarily induced addiction to a narcotic drug or habitual drunkenness
- Institutionalization for mental illness
- Imprisonment, or
- Deviant sexual conduct
It is more difficult to be granted a divorce based on fault grounds because you have to prove that your spouse is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. These grounds are much less common because barring extreme circumstances, there is no advantage to filing based on fault grounds anymore in New Jersey; fault no longer has an impact on alimony or equitable distribution.
This information is provided for general information purposes only, not to provide legal advice. To learn more about the grounds for divorce in New Jersey, you should speak with an attorney.
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