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Grounds for Divorce in NJ

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Couples in New Jersey have several options when seeking a divorce. They can file right away, citing reasons like addiction, desertion, or adultery. Or, they can separate and live apart for 18 months before filing for divorce based on separation.

In the first case, the client and their New Jersey family law attorney work together to determine the most appropriate grounds for divorce, which are then included in the Divorce Complaint.

Alternatively, the couple lives apart in different households for the required 18-month waiting period. However, it’s important to note that maintaining two households after previously living together can create a significant financial burden during the divorce process.

When filing for a New Jersey divorce, the “Complaint for Divorce” is a crucial document to complete. It includes biographical and asset information about the marriage, as well as the chosen grounds for divorce. Carefully selecting the grounds is important as it can impact the divorce process. Here’s some information to help you make an informed decision.

Do you need a reason for divorce in NJ?

In New Jersey, it’s not mandatory to present a specific reason or fault to legally dissolve your marriage. The state offers the option of ‘no-fault’ divorce, which essentially means that you can file for divorce on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences” or after an 18-month period of living separately, without the need to state any particular misconduct by either spouse.

Choosing a no-fault divorce often simplifies the process, as it eliminates the need to prove misconduct or fault and reduces potential acrimony during proceedings. This is especially beneficial when children are involved, as it may help to lessen the emotional impact of the divorce on them. It’s important to consult with a New Jersey family law attorney to understand the pros and cons of each option and make an informed decision that best suits your individual situation.

Advantages of Filing for Divorce with Grounds in NJ

While filing for a no-fault divorce simplifies the process, there are certain circumstances where filing with grounds can provide certain advantages. Here are several such situations related to specific grounds for divorce:

  1. Desertion: If a spouse has abandoned the other for a continuous period of 12 or more months, filing for divorce on the grounds of desertion can help establish the narrative in court. This can be particularly useful if the location of the deserting spouse is unknown.
  2. Institutionalization: If a spouse has been institutionalized for mental illness for 24 or more consecutive months after marriage and there’s no reasonable expectation of discharge in the foreseeable future, filing on these grounds could alleviate the need for the spouse’s signature on divorce papers.
  3. Adultery: In cases of infidelity, filing on the grounds of adultery can provide a stronger footing in the division of assets or alimony. Documented evidence of the adultery may influence the court’s decisions in favor of the innocent spouse.
  4. Extreme Cruelty: If a spouse has been physically or mentally cruel to the other, filing on the grounds of extreme cruelty could tilt the balance in favor of the victim, particularly in child custody matters.
  5. Addiction: If a spouse is habitually addicted to drugs or alcohol, filing on the grounds of addiction can substantiate a request for custody or supervision orders in the interest of the children’s safety.
  6. Imprisonment: If a spouse has been incarcerated for 18 or more consecutive months, filing on these grounds can expedite the divorce process, as the court recognizes that the marital relationship has been severely disrupted.

Each of these instances presents unique circumstances under which filing for divorce with grounds in New Jersey could be advantageous over a no-fault divorce. Always consult with a New Jersey family law attorney to understand the full implications of your chosen grounds for divorce.

What grounds can I file for divorce in NJ?

If, after consulting with your attorney, you decide that it is in your best interest to file a divorce on fault grounds, the state of New Jersey recognizes several specific reasons.

In New Jersey, a couple can obtain by providing one of several reasons, referred to as the “ground,” to support their divorce petition. Since 2007, New Jersey has recognized both fault-based and no-fault options for divorce. The fault options are outlined in N.J.S.A. § 2A:34-1.

The following are the fault grounds acknowledged under New Jersey law:

  1. Adultery: Engaging in a sexual relationship outside of the marriage. For example, if one spouse discovers that the other has been having an affair with a coworker.
  2. Extreme cruelty: Inflicting severe mental or physical abuse on a spouse. This could include verbal threats, physical violence, or emotional manipulation that causes significant harm to the other spouse.
  3. Desertion: Abandoning the marital home and refusing to fulfill marital obligations for a continuous period of at least 12 months. For instance, if one spouse leaves without any intention of returning or maintaining the marriage.
  4. Deviant sexual conduct: Engaging in sexual acts that are considered abnormal or illegal. This can include acts that are non-consensual or involve minors.
  5. Imprisonment: Being incarcerated for a period of at least 18 months. For example, if one spouse is convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison.
  6. Institutionalization: Being committed to a mental health institution for a continuous period of at least 24 months. This could occur if one spouse is diagnosed with a severe mental illness and requires long-term treatment.
  7. Addiction: Having a substance abuse problem, such as drug or alcohol addiction, for a continuous period of at least 12 months. For instance, if one spouse’s addiction has significantly impacted the marriage and their ability to fulfill marital responsibilities.
  8. Irreconcilable differences: When the couple’s differences are so significant that they cannot be resolved, leading to the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This is a no-fault ground for divorce and does not require proof of specific misconduct.

Divorce Grounds FAQs

Q: What should I consider when filing for divorce in New Jersey?

A: Consider consulting a NJ Family Law attorney who understands the pros and cons of different grounds for divorce. They can guide you in choosing the most suitable option for your situation.

Q1: What are the common grounds for divorce based on irreconcilable differences in New Jersey?

A: In New Jersey, most divorces are sought for no-fault grounds. These grounds include separation for at least 18 months or irreconcilable differences causing the marriage to break down for at least six months.

Q2: What does the “irreconcilable differences” ground introduced in 2007 allow?

A: The introduction of the “irreconcilable differences” ground in 2007 allows divorcing couples in New Jersey to proceed with their legal proceedings in a more civilized manner. It avoids specific accusations that can often lead to a more contentious divorce.

Q: What does “irreconcilable differences” as a ground for divorce mean?

A: “Irreconcilable differences” as a ground for divorce simply means that there has been a breakdown in the marriage for at least six months.

Q: How can I find out if my spouse has cheated on me?

A: Hiring a private investigator or working with your attorney during the divorce discovery process can help uncover evidence of infidelity.

Q: Does cheating affect equitable distribution, alimony, or child support in a divorce?

A: In New Jersey, adultery does not directly impact equitable distribution, alimony, or child support. However, if marital funds were used for the affair, you may be eligible for reimbursement.

For more information about starting the divorce process, divorce documents, or general questions about divorce in NJ, please reach out to us.

Related Resources on Divorce Basics in New Jersey

Discover valuable resources for initiating and navigating the divorce process in New Jersey. Our content provides clarity on various aspects of divorce law and procedures. Topics covered in this resource include guidance on starting a divorce in New Jersey and the legal process. It also provides information on understanding the grounds for divorce in NJ, the costs of divorce in New Jersey, the timeline to expect for your NJ divorce, and information on the residency requirements for divorce in New Jersey.

The information provided here is for general understanding and not a substitute for legal advice. It’s important to consult with an attorney for personalized guidance. Do you still have questions? Our legal team provides expert support for clients throughout the state, including Hunterdon County, Camden County, Gloucester County, Mercer County, and Burlington County. With offices located in Linwood, Parsippany, Voorhees, and Princeton, Petrelli Previtera is here to ensure a smooth and informed process for your New Jersey divorce. Reach out to us for all your legal needs.

Why Choose Petrelli Previtera

Why should you choose Petrelli Previtera for your family law needs in New Jersey? As an Inc.5000 firm, we are consistently updated on the most recent laws, regulations, and best practices in New Jersey family law. We provide customized solutions and superior customer service, with a goal-oriented approach that ensures high-level service from our first interaction.

We strive to build robust attorney-client relationships, achieving satisfying results from beginning to end. Our award-winning divorce attorneys prioritize collaboration and strategic planning over disruptive litigation tactics. Whether through negotiated agreements or complex litigation, we work tirelessly to secure the best results for our clients.

Petrelli Previtera has consistently been recognized as one of the top divorce firms. Founding and managing partner Thomas Petrelli, Jr. has received Avvo’s highest possible rating of 10/10. Plus, Inc. 5000 recently named Petrelli Previtera #2703 on its 2019 Inc.5000 list, demonstrating our dedication to helping our divorce clients achieve freedom and a better life post-divorce.

With Petrelli Previtera, you have a team of prestigious, high-caliber attorneys ready to protect your interests and advocate for you. If you need the best family law attorneys in New Jersey, you can count on us. Contact us today at 215-523-6900 or schedule an online consultation via Zoom to set up an appointment with us. Let the team at Petrelli Previtera handle the complexities of your case while you focus on what matters most: yourself, your future, and your children.

How We Help with Your NJ Divorce

At Petrelli Previtera, we understand that divorce can be a challenging process filled with uncertainty and stress. That’s why we’re committed to providing clear direction, answering your questions, and helping you avoid common pitfalls that can delay proceedings. With a dedicated team of attorneys, we have been assisting clients with their family law concerns since 2017. From our four offices in NJ, we are well-equipped to guide you through every step of your divorce journey. Our goal is to ensure a smooth and straightforward process, providing you with the support you need. If you’re just starting the divorce proceedings or just have questions about the process, we’re here to assist. To help us better understand your needs and get started on your case, we recommend scheduling a consultation with us. This initial meeting will allow us to examine your case, provide initial advice, and outline the next steps. We’re here to help you move forward and navigate your NJ divorce with confidence.

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