New Jersey State Divorce Grounds
There are several grounds or legal reasons which allow the court to grant a divorce. these reasons and their respective time periods before an action can be filed, are as follows:
The 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 it is known, the divorce complaint must state the name of the adulterer or also known as the paramour. The cheater is also referred to as a co-respondent. A copy of the divorce complaint must then be served on the cheater or the co-respondent. The cheater does not have to file an answer to the divorce complaint.
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, constitutes desertion under New Jersey divorce law. It is important to note that the parties can still live in the same household while going through the divorce process. However, one spouse must willfully withhold sexual relations for the twelve month time period.
A party may file 3 months after the last act of cruelty. Extreme cruelty includes any physical or mental cruelty which makes it improper or unreasonable to expect one spouse to cohabitate with the other spouse. Although this ground appears very harsh, it is simply a legal “term of art.” The New Jersey family courts liberally interpret what types of marital conduct constitutes extreme cruelty.
A parties must have lived separate and apart in different habitations for at least 18 consecutive months. Moreover, there must be no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
Voluntarily induced addiction/habituation to any narcotic drug or habitual drunkenness
Under New Jersey divorce law, addiction is defined as the habitual drunkenness or a persistent and substantial dependence on a narcotic or other controlled dangerous substance after the marriage. The addiction must be for at least the twelve consecutive months immediately prior to the filing of the complaint.
Institutionalization for mental illness
A party has been instutionalized for a period of 24 consecutive months.
The jailed spouse must be imprisoned for eighteen or more months after the marriage. Moreover, the parties can not resume living together once the jailed spouse is released from prison.
Deviant sexual conduct
There is no waiting period. This ground simply states that the deviant sexual conduct must have occurred without the other party’s consent.
The ground for divorce of irreconcilable differences was recently established in 2007. Many people who filed for divorce got “bugged” out if they had to file for extreme cruelty. Therefore, the grounds of irreconcilable differences were designed to try to make the divorce process somewhat less adversarial. The complaint based on irreconcilable differences must allege that the parties have had a) irreconcilable differences; b) which has caused the breakdown of the marriage; c) the breakdown must have been for a period of six months; d) the marriage should be dissolved; e) and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. Under this new ground for divorce, married couples can still file for a divorce even if they continue to live together in the same household.
What are the Residency Requirements to file for divorce in New Jersey?
In order to file for a divorce in New Jersey, either spouse must have been a resident of the State for at least one year prior to the filing of the action. The only exception to the one-year residency requirement is when the grounds for divorce are for adultery. Adultery is a fault ground for divorce.