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Fault and no-fault divorces in New Jersey

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2023 | Divorce |

New Jersey, like all other states, allows married couples to file no-fault divorces, but it is not a pure no-fault state. That means a spouse can choose to file a fault divorce if they wish. Few spouses choose to do this as it makes the process longer and more complex, and allegations made in a fault divorce must be proved in court. To avoid public legal battles and make things quicker and easier, most spouses in New Jersey choose to file no-fault divorces even if their husbands or wives were solely responsible for the failure of the marriage.

No-fault divorce in New Jersey

The grounds for a no-fault divorce in New jersey are irreconcilable differences. These differences must have existed for at least six months, and the spouse seeking a divorce must believe that the marriage cannot be saved. Blame is not assessed in a no-fault divorce, and marital property is divided under New Jersey’s equitable distribution law.

Fault-based divorce in New Jersey

Spouses in new Jersey can seek fault divorces base on the grounds that were available before the no-fault procedure was introduced. However, they must be able to support their allegations with witness testimony or other evidence. The grounds that courts will accept for a fault divorce in New Jersey are:

  • Extreme physical or emotional cruelty
  • Alcoholism or drug dependency lasting for at least a year
  • Abandonment for at least a year
  • Incarceration or institutionalization
  • Adultery or deviant sexual behavior

Why file a fault-based divorce?

Most spouses in New Jersey who wish to escape unhappy marriages file no-fault divorces because doing so simplifies and speeds up the process. However, New Jersey law still allows fault-based divorces, and this option may make sense in certain situations. Spouses who have been abused could receive more generous alimony awards, and they may be treated more kindly when marital property is divided if the behavior of the spouse at fault caused them financial harm, although that is up to the judge.

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