When filing for divorce, you must state a clear reason for the dissolution of your marriage. In the state of New Jersey, there are nine acceptable reasons, known as grounds for divorce.
No Fault Grounds for Divorce
The two most common grounds for divorce in New Jersey are both “no fault” reasons. No Fault simply means that both parties agree that the marriage needs to end and neither party is placing or accepting blame. For paperwork purposes, one spouse will be named the plaintiff and the other the defendant, but these labels will not affect any judicial outcome.
If you and your spouse agree that there is no possibility for a reconciliation, and if you have lived in separate homes for at least 18 months or longer, you may file for divorce on grounds of separation. Living in separate bedrooms of the same house does not qualify. You will need to prove that you have had separate residences for 18 months or longer. That time apart will serve as your waiting period for this no fault ground for divorce.
2. Irreconcilable Differences
If waiting for 18 months is not acceptable, but you and your spouse both agree that there is no hope for the marriage to reconcile, you may file for divorce on the ground of Irreconcilable Differences. You must state that your marriage has suffered for at least a period of six months and that you believe it cannot be repaired.
At Fault Grounds for Divorce
If filing for divorce based on one of these “at fault” grounds, you must be able to prove that the divorce is requested as a direct result of your spouse’s actions or inaction. In an “at fault” divorce, you are the plaintiff and your spouse will be named the defendant. While you are claiming fault as the reason, the state of New Jersey does not place any significance on blame when dividing property. Only in extreme cases will one of these at fault grounds for divorce effect the outcome of child support or division of property. In all of these at fault grounds, it is in your best interest to hire a reputable divorce attorney to represent you.
You may file for divorce on grounds of adultery if you know your spouse has cheated on you. If you do not have incontrovertible proof, you must at least be able to show that s/he had both the inclination and opportunity to cheat.
If your spouse has left you and your home for at least 12 months or more, you may file for divorce based on grounds of abandonment.
If you would like to leave your spouse due to an abuse of alcohol or drug use, you may claim addiction as your grounds for divorce. You must show that your spouse has had this addiction to drugs or habitual drunkenness for a period of at least 12 months or longer before filing.
6. Deviant Sexual Conduct
If your spouse has performed any “deviant” sexual act on you without your consent, you may file for divorce based on this ground. However, this can be difficult to prove as the terminology is not clearly defined.
7. Extreme Cruelty
Extreme Cruelty includes physical abuse and mental cruelty as a grounds for divorce in New Jersey. If your spouse has made it unbearable to live with him or her, or has endangered your life in any way, you may file based on this reason. If you are filing as the plaintiff, you must wait at least 3 months before filing based on grounds of extreme cruelty. However, there is no such waiting period if you are using extreme cruelty as your counter-claim as a defendant.
You must show that your spouse was sentenced to a jail sentence of 18 months or more after the beginning of your marriage in order to file for divorce based on grounds of imprisonment. If your spouse’s sentence was less than 18 months, you must be able to prove that you did not live together after his or her release from jail so that the time in jail and the time after release equals a combined total of 18 consecutive months apart.
If you use Institutionalization as a grounds for divorce in New Jersey, you must show that your spouse was institutionalized for mental illness for 24 consecutive months after the beginning of your marriage and before you file for divorce.
Castronovo & McKinney Divorce & Family Lawyers
Divorce is a very difficult process. It can take a toll on both spouses whether you use an at-fault or no-fault ground for divorce. In either case, having an experienced divorce attorney on your side will help you navigate the paperwork and judicial process with the least amount of hardship.
Contact Castronovo & McKinney’s Family and NJ Divorce attorneys to help you through the divorce proceedings. We have the knowledge and experience to make this difficult process easier on you and will represent you to get the best property division, alimony, child support, and custody outcomes possible.