In NJ the most common ground for filing divorce is under the six-month irreconcilable differences. The irreconcilable differences must have caused the breakdown of the marriage for a period of six months and which make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved and there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. Before the enactment of the six-month irreconcilable difference ground, a frequently used ground for divorce was Eighteen-month separation.
However, the Eighteen-month separation ground required parties to live separate and apart for eighteen months before the filing. Therefore, individuals were left with little alternatives before the six-month irreconcilable difference ground was passed if they did not live separate and apart for eighteen months. Thus, litigants were often left to file under the Extreme Cruelty ground which was a subjective standard. Filing under Extreme Cruelty was not the best way to start off the process because it required the litigant to list incidents of cruelty in the complaint. The other alternatives were Habitual drunkenness, Mental illness, Imprisonment, Adultery or Deviant sexual conduct. Under Habitual drunkenness, same needed to be a fixed, frequent, irresistible or regular habit of drinking alcoholic beverages in such excessive quantities as to produce drunkenness. Mental illness or Imprisonment involved institutionalization or incarceration for a period of time. Adultery and Deviant sexual conduct were often unpleasant causes of actions to allege because they required the disclosure of facts which would cause unnecessary hostilityin the process. For example, Adultery grounds needed the name of the person with whom the litigant committed said act and where same took place which also required a Notice to the person named in the complaint.
For the most part, the grounds for filing have little to no bearing on the issue of support or distribution of assets because NJ is considered to be a “No Fault State” in regards to divorce. The statutes do not specifically take into account the fault of either party in determining the support or division of assets. Therefore, in most cases the fault grounds for divorce were unnecessary and caused more hostility between the parties and delayed the resolution of matters. Since the State Legislature passed the Irreconcilable differences statute, same has been the most frequent ground used, which eliminates disputes as to the cause of action or issues of fault.
Joseph P. Cadicina Esq. is a matrimonial/family-law attorney and a partner with Laufer, Dalena, Cadcina, Jensen & Bradley, LLC in Morristown, New Jersey. He can be reached at (973) 285-1444. View her firm’s Divorce Magazine profile.