What types of divorce are recognized by New Jersey courts?

Many Bergen County couples take advantage of no-fault laws to dissolve their marriages. No-fault rules provide a way for couples to divorce without the added pressure of blame. In the days before no-fault divorce laws, spouses were forced to provide specific reasons or grounds to end a marriage. New Jersey spouses may obtain a no-fault divorce after a minimum 18 months of physical separation. Separation must be continuous. Reconciliations lasting any length of time reset the no-fault clock. The no-fault divorce waiting period can be shortened to six months when couples make a claim of irreconcilable differences. The term “irreconcilable” is used since no-fault divorces are dependent upon claims the marriage ended with no hope of spouses getting back together. One or both spouses also must meet residency requirements to file a divorce petition. In New Jersey, continuous residency of 12 months or longer is required. Alternately, you may use grounds to obtain a New Jersey divorce. Spouses who choose to file complaints using grounds must be prepared to back the claims they make. Reasons cited for grounds divorces include the other spouse’s alcohol abuse, narcotics addiction, adultery, incarceration, deviant sexual conduct or placement in a mental health institution. How these conditions are interpreted by a court can be explained by a family law attorney. Two other grounds regularly used in divorces are desertion and extreme cruelty. Cruelty can and does include physical abuse, although these grounds also may refer to emotional cruelty as well as spousal “unpleasantness.” Complaints must reflect acts of cruelty that preceded a filing by at least three months. Desertion and voluntary separation are not the same. Desertion involves one spouse leaving against the other’s will. This complaint may be filed only after a spouse has abandoned the marriage for at least one year. Filing options are one of many divorce legal issues you can discuss with an attorney.

Source: Legal Services of New Jersey, “Divorce in New Jersey,” accessed July 16, 2015

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