Grounds 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. In cases of adultery the requirement is
that at least one spouse must be a New Jersey resident. In New Jersey there are eight grounds or
causes to file for divorce. The three most popular grounds are extreme cruelty, no-fault separation,
and adultery. Remember, the grounds of extreme cruelty are really just a "term of art" and it really
does not mean that your spouse was extremely cruel.
No-Fault Divorce Cause of Action
Separation is New Jersey's only no-fault ground for divorce. To qualify under this grounds, both the
husband and wife must have lived separately, in different houses (and not only different rooms) for a
period of at least eighteen consecutive months. Moreover, in order to qualify for the no-fault divorce,
there must not be a reasonable expectation of reconciliation. N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2A(d).
Fault Divorce Causes of Action
Extreme cruelty includes any physical or mental cruelty which makes it improper or unreasonable to
expect that individual to cohabitate with their spouse. N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2(c). The courts are very
liberal as to what type of conduct constitutes extreme cruelty.
The courts have held that "adultery exists when one spouse rejects the other by entering into a
personal intimate relationship with any other person, irrespective of the specific sexual acts
performed; the rejection of the spouse coupled with out-of-marriage intimacy constitutes adultery."
New Jersey Court Rule 5:4-2 requires that the plaintiff in an adultery divorce case, state the name
of the person with whom the offending conduct was committed. This person is known as the corespondent.
If the name is not known, the person who files must give as much information as possible tending to
describe the adulterer.
The willful and continuous desertion by one party for a period of twelve or more months, and
satisfactory proof that the parties have ceased to cohabit as man and wife constitutes desertion under
N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2(b). It is important to note that the parties may live in the same house. The crucial
element here is "as man and wife." Thus, desertion may be claimed after twelve or more months of lack
of absent sexual relations.
Under N.S.J.A 2A:34-2(e), addiction involves a dependence on a narcotic or other controlled, dangerous
substance, or a habitual drunkenness for a period of twelve or more consecutive months immediately
preceding the filing of the complaint. The evidence must show that the use of alcohol and drugs was
persistent and substantial. This is not a common ground for divorce.
When one spouse has been institutionalized for mental illness for a period of twelve or more
consecutive months subsequent to the marriage and preceding the filing of the complaint,
institutionalization is a ground for divorce under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2(f). The primary issue in this
ground for divorce is whether or not the spouse is able to function as a working partner in the marriage.
Imprisonment as a ground for divorce occurs when a spouse has been imprisoned for eighteen or more
months after the marriage. N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2(g). Moreover, the parties must not have resumed
cohabitation after the imprisonment.
Deviant Sexual Conduct
Deviant Sexual Conduct occurs if the defendant engages in deviant sexual conduct without the consent
of the plaintiff spouse. N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2(h).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Theodore Sliwinski, Esquire, dedicates his practice to providing
quality and very affordable legal services to the public. He believes that everyone should be able to
afford quality legal services. He has twenty-one years of legal experience and has handled hundreds of
divorces, bankruptcies, traffic violations, and criminal and civil cases. He is headquartered in
central New Jersey. Affordability, accessibility, responsiveness and personal commitment is what every
Mr. Sliwinski can be contacted by phone at (732) 257-0708 or or Visit Web Site
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