“On what basis may a divorce be granted? Does fault make a difference in determining the outcome?”
New Jersey law provides the following grounds for divorce:
- separation for 18 consecutive months (“no fault”) — parties must live in separate residences during this time;
- extreme cruelty (physical or mental);
- willful desertion for at least 12 months;
- habitual drunkenness or voluntary addiction;
- institutionalization for mental illness for at least 24 consecutive months;
- imprisonment for at least 18 consecutive months;
- deviant sexual conduct.
The fault or wrongdoing of a party in a divorce action has no bearing on how assets will be divided that were acquired during the marriage. The Court may, but rarely does, consider the grounds for divorce as a factor in determining alimony. So even though fault is an emotional factor in a divorce, it has little influence on the terms of a final settlement.
David Wildstein, Esq. has been practicing matrimonial law for more than 30 years. He heads the 12-member family-law department of Wilentz Goldman Spitzer P.A. in Woodbridge, NJ