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There are two types of divorces in New Jersey, what is often called a “no-fault” divorce and divorces that are based on fault which is a specialized wrong doing of one or both parties. For both types, there are certain requirements such as your being a resident of New Jersey for a year prior to filing, unless your grounds for divorce are adultery.


In legal terms, no-fault divorce is quite new, having been enacted in New Jersey in 2007. No-fault is the kinder and gentler way of divorcing because it eliminates the need to make accusations against one another or blame each other for the disintegration of the marriage.

Do not confuse “no-fault divorce” with an uncontested divorce where all issues on all matters are settled before a divorce action begins. No-fault only eliminates a “fight” over obtaining the divorce itself. It does not change anything with regard to child support, child custody, alimony or distributing property and debt in the divorce action. As to those issues, there is no difference between fault and no-fault divorce.

In order to obtain a no-fault divorce, you must allege that:

  • There are irreconcilable differences that have caused a breakdown of the marriage for six months;
  • It appears that the marriage should be dissolved, and
  • There is no reasonable chance for reconciliation between the spouses.


Whereas no-fault divorces are the kinder and gentler way to divorce, fault based divorces are at the other end of the spectrum of kind and gentle. Fault based divorces are based upon allegations of bad conduct against the other party in support of the overall claim of wrongdoing. These divorces can be particularly unkind when custody of the children is hotly contested or in cases of infidelity.

The New Jersey fault grounds for divorce are:

  • Adultery
  • Willful and constant desertion for a term of 12 or more months
  • Extreme cruelty: physical or mental cruelty that endangers the safety or health of the plaintiff (the party who sued for divorce) or makes it unreasonable for the plaintiff to cohabit with their spouse. The last act of extreme cruelty must have occurred at least three months before filing the complaint
  • Eighteen (18) months uninterrupted separation in two different habitations and there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation between the parties
  • Voluntarily induced addition or habituation to any narcotic drug or habitual drunkenness for a period of twelve (12) months
  • Institutionalization for mental illness for a period of twenty-four (24) months before filing the complaint
  • Imprisonment of a spouse for eighteen (18) or more consecutive months
  • Deviant sexual conduct voluntarily performed by a spouse without the consent of the other spouse

If you need to discuss NJ divorce laws, or planning your divorce action, call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen for a free initial consultation at 201-845-7400.

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