When filing for divorce in New Jersey, you must indicate the grounds for divorce in the Complaint for Divorce. The grounds for divorce, or the alleged “cause” for divorce, must be carefully considered with the assistance of a knowledgeable South Jersey family law lawyer as it will impact your divorce proceedings in numerous ways.
Plaintiffs in New Jersey can immediately file a fault-based divorce using grounds such as adultery or extreme cruelty. Alternatively, a no-fault divorce can be filed using grounds such as separation or irreconcilable differences if the eligibility requirements are met. New Jersey recognizes the following grounds for divorce:
No-Fault Grounds for Divorce:
Filing for divorce based on “separation” requires the parties to have lived in separate residences for a minimum of eighteen(18) consecutive months immediately before a complaint is filed, with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
This recently established basis for a divorce complaint applies to couples that have experienced differences in their relationship which have caused the marriage to breakdown. This breakdown must have occurred for at least six months prior to filing for divorce, but does not require the couple to be living in separate residences. Similar to separation, there must be no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
Grounds for Divorce Based Upon Fault:
Adultery occurs when one spouse rejects the other for a personal intimate experience with another person regardless of sexual acts performed. If it is known, the complaining spouse in a New Jersey adultery divorce must state the name of the person with whom the alleged adulterous conduct happened, also known as the “co-respondent”. If the name is unknown, the complaining party must provide as much information as is available about the co-respondent.
Desertion, according to New Jersey law, is the willful and continuous abandonment by one spouse for a time period of twelve or more months. Under the grounds of desertion, the couple must have ceased cohabiting as ‘man and wife’ for the requisite period. Even if living together, desertion can still apply as long as sexual activities have ceased for twelve months.
‘Extreme Cruelty’ has a very liberal interpretation in New Jersey courts and most reasons, even mild ones, will usually suffice. Accordingly, it is defined as any physical or mental cruelty which makes it improper or unreasonable to expect one spouse to continue cohabiting with the other. A short list of examples may include bad temper, offensive language, physical abuse, lying, and financial woes.
This ground applies if a spouse is an alcoholic or drug addict. The evidence must show the use of alcohol or drugs was persistent and the dependency must have lasted for twelve months immediately before the divorce complaint.
Institutionalization for Mental Illness
The grounds of institutionalization occurs when one spouse has been institutionalized for mental illness for twelve or more consecutive months prior to filing a complaint. The main issue in this claim for divorce is whether the spouse is able to be a functional partner in a marriage.
If your spouse has been in a prison for 18 consecutive months or more, you are eligible for this grounds for divorce in New Jersey. However, the parties must not have resumed cohabitation after the imprisoned spouse is released.
Deviant Sexual Conduct
Deviant sexual conduct is a cause for divorce if one spouse engages in the conduct without permission or consent from the spouse. The precise definition of deviant sexual conduct is undefined under current New Jersey divorce law.