What are the grounds for divorce in New Jersey?
Although New Jersey has both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce, in most cases, fault has no bearing on how marital assets will be divided. In rare cases, the court may consider the grounds for divorce as a factor in determining spousal support. Fault is an emotional factor in a divorce, but it has little or no influence on the terms of a final settlement. Some of the common grounds in New Jersey divorce law are:
- separation for 18 consecutive months (“no fault” — parties must live in separate residences during this time);
- extreme cruelty (physical or mental cruelty);
- willful desertion for at least one year;
- habitual drunkenness or addiction for at least 12 consecutive months;
- institutionalization for mental illness for at least 24 consecutive months;
- imprisonment for at least 18 consecutive months;
- deviant sexual conduct.
In a divorce, the court declares the marriage contract broken; in an annulment, the court says that there never was a marriage. Annulment is more difficult to prove — and much rarer — than divorce. To go this route, you will need to speak to a New Jersey attorney. If you want an annulment for religious reasons, consult with your priest, minister, or rabbi as well.
You’ll need to provide your lawyer with the following documentation in order to proceed with your dissolution. Start gathering everything together as soon as possible so that you can find out what might be missing and submit any requests for duplicates.
- Full addresses, social-security numbers, and phone numbers of both parties.
- Full names, birth dates, addresses, and social-security numbers of all children of the marriage, their school and grade.
- Information about any prior marriage of either spouse, including a certified copy of the divorce decree.
- A copy of any domestic contracts (e.g., a prenuptial agreement).
- Information about any previous legal proceedings between the spouses or involving any of the children.
- Dates and particulars about any previous separations, attempts at reconciliation, or marriage counseling.
- Your previous year’s income tax return, prior years’ returns if available, and any related data from the IRS.
- Information about your current income (e.g., a current pay slip).
- A list of substantial assets and liabilities of both spouses.
- Loan applications, broker’s statements, stock certificates, insurance.
This information on New Jersey divorce law has been updated with the help of divorce attorney Susan Reach Winters.