Family Law/ NJ Divorce


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NJ Divorce:

In order to file for a divorce in New Jersey, either spouse must have been a resident of the State for at least one year prior to the filing of the action. The only exception to the one-year residency requirement is when the grounds for divorce are for adultery.  In cases of adultery the requirement is that at least one spouse must be a New Jersey resident.  Remember, the grounds of extreme cruelty are just a “term of art” and it does not mean that your spouse was extremely cruel, and you may file under this ground 3 months after the last act of cruelty occurred.


No-Fault Divorce

A No-Fault Divorce is where both the husband and wife must have lived separately, in different houses (not only different rooms) for a period of at least 18 consecutive months. Moreover, in order to qualify for the no-fault divorce, there must not be a reasonable expectation of reconciliation.

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Irreconcilable Differences

To qualify under this ground, a complaint for divorce can now assert the existence of irreconcilable differences which have caused a breakdown of the marriage for 6 or more months. No separation requirement, meaning that two people can now file for divorce under this cause of action if they still live together. Also it may be appropriate to allege in certain situations such as when two people have simply grown apart and wish to end their marriage. However, the couple still wish to reside together until the divorce is finalized. This ground for divorce eliminates the need for spouses to allege wrongdoing on their spouse’s part. The legal requirements necessary to file for a divorce for irreconcilable differences are as follows: a. You or your spouse must have lived in New Jersey for 12 consecutive months before the filing of the divorce complaint. b. You and your spouse must have experienced irreconcilable differences for 6 months. This new ground for divorce further allows either husband or wife to file a complaint for divorce without any specific reason. The irreconcilable differences basis for divorce does not require that one spouse make allegations or accusations against the other. The legal impact is that persons may now file for divorce without having to allege marital fault against their spouse, or await the expiration of 18 months separation. The majority of cases are more vigorously contested with regard to such issues as custody, parenting time, alimony, child support and the equitable distribution of the marital assets. Marital fault is not a factor in the financial aspects of divorce, and in the equitable distribution of the assets. Moreover, even in custody cases, the fact that one’s spouse has committed marital fault is not a significant factor. Note: If you have children with your former spouse then it is very important to keep the divorce litigation as “business like” as possible. The divorce case is about splitting up the marital assets, paying off your debts, assessing a child support award, negotiating an alimony award, and figuring out what to do with the marital home. A divorce case is not designed to determine which spouse ruined the marriage. This question is a personal one, and it is not the family court’s role to make this decision. If you treat your divorce process similar to a business decision and not a personal one, then your results will be much better.


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Fault Divorce Causes of Action

Extreme cruelty includes any physical or mental cruelty which makes it improper or unreasonable to expect that individual to cohabitate with their spouse. The courts are very liberal as to what type of conduct constitutes extreme cruelty.


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The courts have held that “adultery exists when one spouse rejects the other by entering into a personal intimate relationship with any other person, irrespective of the specific sexual acts performed; the rejection of the spouse coupled with out-of-marriage intimacy constitutes adultery.” New Jersey Court Rule requires that the plaintiff in an adultery divorce case, state the name of the person with whom the offending conduct was committed. This person is known as the correspondent. If the name is not known, the person who files must give as much information as possible tending to describe the adulterer. Note: There is no waiting period.


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The willful and continuous desertion by one party for a period of 12 or more months, and satisfactory proof that the parties have ceased to cohabit as man and wife constitutes desertion. It is important to note that the parties may live in the same house. Note: Desertion may be claimed after twelve or more months of a lack of sexual relations.


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Addiction involves a dependence on a narcotic or other controlled, dangerous substance, or a habitual drunkenness for a period of 12 or more consecutive months immediately preceding the filing of the complaint. The evidence must show that the use of alcohol and drugs was persistent and substantial. This is not a common ground for divorce.


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When one spouse has been institutionalized for mental illness for a period of 12 or more consecutive months subsequent to the marriage and preceding the filing of the complaint. The primary issue in this ground for divorce is whether or not the spouse is able to function as a working partner in the marriage.


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Imprisonment/ Incarceration

Imprisonment as a ground for divorce occurs when a spouse has been imprisoned for 18 or more months after the marriage. Moreover, the parties must not have resumed cohabitation after the imprisonment.


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Deviant Sexual Conduct

Deviant Sexual Conduct occurs if the defendant engages in deviant sexual conduct without the consent of the plaintiff spouse.


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