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Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey

By Sarah Jacobs, Esq.

Grounds for Filing for Divorce in Morris County NJ

In New Jersey, every divorce must be filed based on a given reason (legally known as a “ground”). As a no-fault divorce State, individuals in New Jersey can file for what is known as a “no-fault divorce” (discussed in the sections below), or file for a “fault-based divorce.”

The grounds cited for the divorce have the potential to affect the divorce proceedings in a variety of ways, so it is important to understand exactly what these types of grounds are, how they work, and how the chosen grounds for divorce can affect the ultimate success of the divorce and its related agreements of child custody, child support, alimony, and the division of assets.

If you are considering a divorce, or your spouse has already filed for a divorce, contact our experienced Morris County divorce attorneys today to discuss your unique situation, needs, and concerns in a strategic planning session.

No Fault Divorce Lawyers Madison NJ

No-fault divorce is the most common choice for divorcing spouses in New Jersey. This is due to a variety of factors, perhaps the most important of which is the fact that no-fault divorces cannot be denied by the courts (given the requirements are met, and only after a Divorce Settlement Agreement has been reached, or after the Court renders a determination on all issues in your matter).

In order to file for a no-fault divorce in New Jersey, one of the following must be true:

  • Separation – You and your spouse have been living apart for a minimum of 18 consecutive months, and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.
  • Irreconcilable Differences – You and your spouse have experienced irreconcilable differences which lead you to believe that the marriage should end. Furthermore, these irreconcilable differences must have existed for at least six months.

Citing irreconcilable differences as grounds for a no fault divorce is extremely common. In fact, the simple idea that one spouse wants to divorce and the other does not is sufficient grounds to file for a no fault divorce, as long as the minimum six months have passed.

Again, as long as a NJ no-fault divorce is filed in the correct courthouse, and the paperwork is filed accurately and on time, a no-fault divorce cannot be denied by the court system. However, before the divorce can be finalized, the divorcing couple will need to reach agreements in terms of child custody, child support, alimony, and the equitable distribution of marital assets. There are many different means by which these divorce issues can be resolved; to learn more please view our divorce page or our divorce alternative page.

Fault Divorce in New Jersey

On the other hand, a divorce can be filed for citing a specific grievance or grievances against a spouse, grievances which lead the filing party to believe that the marriage should end. However, unlike a no-fault divorce, a fault-based divorce can be denied by the courts if there is not sufficient evidence supporting the allegations of fault against the defendant.

Pursuant to N.J.S.A. Section 2A:34-2, a fault-based divorce can be filed on the grounds of:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion for a period of 12 or more months
  • Alcohol or drug addiction which has existed for 12 or more consecutive months
  • Extreme Cruelty which may involve physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse, and more
  • Institutionalization for Mental Illness of a period of 24 or more consecutive months
  • Imprisonment for a period of 18 or more consecutive months
  • Deviant Sexual conduct without consent by both spouses

Fault divorce requires a greater degree of proof to be granted in New Jersey, and in some situations can lead to a more contentious divorce. However, there are a few reasons to consider fault divorce in certain cases. For example, alcohol or drug addiction is relevant to the issue of child custody, and therefore, depending on the facts of one’s case, they may wish to file for divorce based on that fault ground.

Additionally, fault divorce may cause some aspects of the divorce to be adjusted in the favor of the aggrieved spouse. While the equitable distribution of assets will not change based on the type of divorce filed for, in some situations the “at fault” spouse may be expected to pay more in terms of alimony (often in the form of reimbursement alimony). And as stated, depending on the fault grounds cited, a court may also find the party who is “at fault” to be a danger to their children, causing them to be awarded less in terms of child custody and visitation / parenting time.

All that being said, a fault-based divorce can be a risky proposition, with the potential “rewards” not really being worth the added stress and conflict which often arise from the fault divorce process.

Questions About Your Divorce?

Contact A Morristown Divorce Attorney Today

At Jacobs Berger, our divorce attorneys have extensive experience working closely with our clients, and finding creative, constructive, and fair solutions to their divorce issues in towns across Morris County including Madison, Morristown, Randolph, East Hanover, Denville, Dover, Florham Park, Morris Plains, and all of Northern New Jersey.

The unique approach of our law firm focuses on employing negotiation-centered strategies designed to protect the financial and emotional stability of the whole family, and ultimately reaching resolutions which account for both the short-term and long-term needs of our clients and their family.

To discuss your divorce issues in a strategic planning session with a member of our legal team today, please contact us onlineor call our Morristown office at (973) 710-4366.

Contact Our Morristown Attorneys Today

At Jacobs Berger, our attorneys are experienced in protecting our clients across Madison, Randolph, Tewksbury, Morristown, and the greater Morris County area in all family law-related issues.

To schedule a strategic planning session with one of our experienced team members regarding your particular case, please contact us online or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 354-4506.