No-Fault Divorce in New Jersey
First, the term “no-fault divorce” requires an explanation. Without question, both parties have their own feelings that the marriage went wrong for a reason. A no-fault divorce merely means that the court does not assess blame to either husband or wife.
In New Jersey, a complaint for dissolution of marriage can be filed based on separation. The prerequisite for divorces based on separation is that the husband and wife have not resided together for at least eighteen consecutive months. Additionally, there must be a determination that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. The 18-month separation period shall act as a presumption that there is no reasonable possibility of reconciliation.
About ten years ago, New Jersey added another cause of action for divorce complaints without seeking for an assignment of fault. Either husband or wife may assert that Irreconcilable differences resulted in the breakdown of the marriage for at least six months. As a result, it would appear that the marriage should be dissolved. Additionally, there should be no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey
In New Jersey family law, there are seven reasons that a divorce may be granted based on grounds. There are extremely limited circumstances when the reasons for divorce effect custody, parenting time, child support, spousal support, or equitable distribution. Dissolution of marriage complaints based on fault may be filed based on one of the following as outlined in NJSA 2A:34-2:
- Willful and continued desertion for the term of 12 or more months, which may be established by satisfactory proof that the parties have ceased to cohabit as man and wife;
- Extreme cruelty, which is defined as including 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; provided that no complaint for divorce shall be filed until after 3 months from the date of the last act of cruelty complained of in the complaint, but this provision shall not be held to apply to any counterclaim;
- Voluntarily induced addiction or habituation to any narcotic drug as defined in the New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act, P.L.1970, c.226 or habitual drunkenness for a period of 12 or more consecutive months subsequent to marriage and next preceding the filing of the complaint;
- Institutionalization for mental illness for a period of 24 or more consecutive months subsequent to marriage and next preceding the filing of the complaint
- Imprisonment of the defendant for 18 or more consecutive months after marriage, provided that where the action is not commenced until after the defendant's release, the parties have not resumed cohabitation following such imprisonment;
- Deviant sexual conduct voluntarily performed by the defendant without the consent of the plaintiff;
The Law Offices of DiFrancia & DeDona will review your circumstances with you to determine the best approach to your particular situation. Although fault may be involved, most divorce cases are filed using the no-fault provisions of the law. Contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss the best strategy for your case.