New Jersey recognizes nine grounds for divorce. Two are considered to be “no-fault” grounds and the other seven involve an allegation of “fault.”
Irreconcilable Differences. This ground was added in 2007 and is by far the easiest to satisfy. The Complaint must allege that the parties have irreconcilable differences which have caused the breakdown of the marriage for a period of six months and make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved, and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. Under this ground, couples can file for a divorce in New Jersey, while continuing to reside together.
Separation.The parties are required to have lived separately in different residences for at least eighteen consecutive months immediately preceding the filing of the Complaint, and there must be no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
Extreme Cruelty.Extreme cruelty includes any conduct which makes it improper or unreasonable to expect one spouse to cohabitate with the other spouse. Although this ground sounds very harsh, it is just a “term of art” that New Jersey courts interpret extremely liberally. Any conduct which is unacceptable in the view of the complaining spouse will suffice.
Adultery.New Jersey courts have defined adultery as one spouse’s rejection of the other, by entering into a personal intimate relationship with any other person, regardless of the specific sexual acts performed. If known, the Complaint must state the name of the adulterer (the third person with whom the offending conduct was committed) and a copy of the Complaint must be served on that person.
Desertion.For the purposes of New Jersey divorce law, desertion is defined as the willful and continuous desertion of one spouse by the other spouse, such that the parties have ceased to cohabit as husband and wife for at least the twelve consecutive months immediately prior to the filing of the Complaint. It is important to note that the parties may live in the same house, as long as the other party has willfully withheld sexual relations for the requisite time period.
Addiction.Under New Jersey divorce law, addiction constitutes habitual drunkenness or a persistent and substantial dependence on a narcotic or other controlled dangerous substance subsequent to the marriage and for at least the twelve consecutive months immediately prior to the filing of the Complaint.
Institutionalization.This ground requires that a spouse have been institutionalized for mental illness for a period of twelve or more consecutive months subsequent to the marriage and preceding the filing of the Complaint.
Imprisonment.Imprisonment as a ground for divorce in New Jersey occurs when a spouse has been imprisoned for eighteen or more months after the marriage and the parties have not resumed cohabitation after the imprisonment.
Deviant Sexual Conduct.Deviant sexual conduct is the final ground for divorce in New Jersey. It requires simply that the conduct occurred without the other party’s consent.
It is important to note that, with one exception, a Complaint for Divorce cannot be filed in New Jersey, unless one of the spouses has been a resident of New Jersey for at least one year immediately preceding the filing of the Complaint for Divorce. That exception is when the Complaint alleges adultery. In that event, it is only necessary that one spouse be a New Jersey resident when the Complaint is filed.