Essex, Hudson, Union County Family Law and Divorce Attorney
Under the law, the act of getting "married" means that you and your spouse basically become one person. A "divorce" is a legal action to seperate you from your spouse. In most divorces, the parties do not contest the grounds for divorce The grounds for divorce are discussed below in more detail. In addition to the gorunds for divorce, your case may include claims for the division of assets and debts (equitable distribution) and an award of spousal support (alimony). Finally, if you have a child or children, your case will include claims for child custody, child support and parenting time (visitation).
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Law Offices of Kevin Crawford Orr • (973) 824-5520
Divorce - The Grounds
Since January 20, 2007, there are nine grounds or causes 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. In cases of adultery the requirement is that at least one spouse must be a New Jersey resident. The most often cited ground since 2007 is "irreconcilable differences." Before change in the law, most divorce complaints were based on either separation or extreme cruelty.
No-Fault Divorce Causes of Action
Since 2007, most divorces in New Jersey are granted under this ground. To qualify, under N.J.S.A. 2A:34- 2A(i), there need only be "irreconcilable differences" which have caused a breakdown of the marriage for six or more months "and which make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation." This ground has no separation requirement, meaning that two people can file for divorce under this cause of action if they still live together. Moreover, this ground for divorce may be appropriate to allege in certain situations such as when two people have simply grown apart and wish to end their marriage. However, the couple still wish to reside together until the divorce is finalized. This ground for divorce does not require either party to allege wrongdoing on the other spouse’s part.
To qualify under this ground, both the husband and wife must have lived separately, in different houses (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
Under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2(a), 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. The plaintiff in an adultery divorce case must state the name of the person with whom the offending conduct was committed. This person is known as the correspondent. 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, andsatisfactory 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 a lack of sexual relations.
Before the law changed in 2007, this ground was one of the most often cited reasons for divorce. 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. There are times when an extreme cruelty claim for divorce is still appropriate – for example, when a couple has a history of domestic violence. In New Jersey, the law presumes that the victim of domestic violence is the more appropriate parent to have physical custody of the child or children. For this reason, a plaintiff who has been a victim of domestic violence may want to base his or her complaint for divorce on the defendant’s acts of extreme cruelty. If custodial parent can prove that she has been a victim of domestic violence, then the non-custodial parent will have almost no chance of obtaining physical custody of the children.
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 for 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).
Do not go through the stressful and emotional process of a family law dispute on your own. Whether you are involved in a divorce or a dispute over custody, we will do everything we can, including litigation, in order to make sure your rights are protected. Contact us today for more information.