In 2007, the New Jersey legislature adopted a law allowing for “no-fault” divorce. Today, most divorces are filed on no-fault grounds. The no-fault divorce law provides important benefits for spouses seeking to end their marriage, and, while fault-based options still exist in New Jersey, they are generally only used under exceptional circumstances.
Even so, if you are considering filing for divorce (or if you are expecting your spouse to file), it is important to understand all of the possibilities and what they mean for your personal circumstances. For example, if you or your spouse has fault-based grounds to file, this could have an impact on the calculation of alimony in your divorce.
No-Fault Divorce in New Jersey
As we mentioned, the majority of people who file for divorce in New Jersey now file on no-fault grounds. You can file for a no-fault divorce in New Jersey if:
- Irreconcilable Differences: You and your spouse have persistent differences that have continued for at least six months, which have caused the deterioration of your marriage, and there is no chance of reconciliation, or
- 18 Month Separation: You and your spouse have been living separate and apart for at least 18 consecutive months, and there is no chance of reconciliation.
Note that these are alternatives – meaning that you only need to have had relationship damaging differences for at least 6 months or to have been separated for at least 18 months. This allows spouses to file for a no-fault divorce, without having to allege specific conduct or condition of the other party, which is incompatible with continued marriage.
Fault-Based Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey
While some states eliminated the fault-based grounds for divorce when they adopted their no-fault divorce laws, in New Jersey these are still options that are available. However, even if you think you may have grounds to file for divorce based on fault, we would encourage you to speak with one of our knowledgeable divorce attorneys before you choose this path. There can be significant drawbacks to filing for a fault-based divorce, and our trusted counselors can help you understand the ramifications for doing so and help you make an informed decision.
The fault-based grounds for divorce in New Jersey include:
- Deviant sexual conduct performed without consent
- Drug or alcohol addiction, or habitual drunkenness for 12 months or longer
- Extreme cruelty (defined as, “any physical or mental cruelty which endangers the safety or health of the plaintiff or makes it improper or unreasonable to expect the plaintiff to continue to cohabit with the defendant”)
- Imprisonment for at least 18 months
- Institutionalization for mental illness for at least 24 months
- Willful desertion for 12 months or longer
To learn more about whether or not it makes sense for you to file for a fault-based or no-fault divorce, call to speak with one of our knowledgeable divorce attorneys today.
Speak with an Experienced NJ Family Law Attorney about Your Divorce
Romanowski Law Offices is a full-service family law firm serving clients in Freehold, Metuchen, and all of New Jersey. If you would like to schedule an expert consultation with a respected authority in New Jersey divorce law, call us at (732) 603-8585 or submit our online form today.