New Jersey Divorce: Causes of Action and Irreconcilable Differences

By Beverly Bird

Until 2007, New Jersey lagged behind other states in recognizing no-fault grounds for divorce. The state is also somewhat unique in that its grounds are called "causes of action" -- at least in the legalese of its divorce complaints and final judgments. New Jersey also recognizes fault causes of action. Using one usually won't affect property distribution, but it can sometimes affect issues of custody.

Until 2007, New Jersey lagged behind other states in recognizing no-fault grounds for divorce. The state is also somewhat unique in that its grounds are called "causes of action" -- at least in the legalese of its divorce complaints and final judgments. New Jersey also recognizes fault causes of action. Using one usually won't affect property distribution, but it can sometimes affect issues of custody.

Irreconcilable Differences

Irreconcilable differences is New Jersey's "new" cause of action for divorce, effective 2007. This is a "true" no-fault cause, because it doesn't require a lengthy separation. It only involves telling the court in your complaint for divorce that you realized, at least six months ago, that your marriage was not working out and you don't believe it's savable. You don't have to blame your spouse for the demise of your marriage.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

New Jersey's Other No-Fault Cause of Action

Before 2007, New Jersey's only no-fault grounds was an 18-month separation. Irreconcilable differences didn't replace this cause of action -- the 2007 legislative change simply added irreconcilable differences to the family law code -- so you can still use a separation cause of action if you choose to. Like irreconcilable differences, it doesn't involve casting blame on your spouse for the end of your marriage. However, you and your spouse must actually have lived in two different residences for the entire 18 months.

Extreme Cruelty

Extreme cruelty is the most frequently used fault cause of action in New Jersey. It can potentially affect issues of custody if your spouse's behavior was bad enough, and many spouses use it for this reason. Extreme cruelty involves domestic violence as well as mental abuse. You must wait three months after the last time your spouse hurt you to file for divorce on this cause of action, but you don't have to continue living in the same household. You must list examples of your spouse's cruel behavior in your complaint for divorce.

Adultery

You must live in New Jersey for one year before filing for divorce -- unless your spouse committed adultery. The state waives its residency requirement for this cause of action, but if your spouse denies the adultery, you'll have to prove it to the court. Circumstantial evidence is acceptable. You don't have to catch your spouse in the act. If you know who your spouse strayed with, New Jersey requires you to name the individual as a "correspondent" in your divorce complaint and serve the person with a copy of the complaint. A correspondent has the right to defend against your accusation.

Other Fault Causes of Action

New Jersey also recognizes a few other fault causes of action. They include mental illness on the part of your spouse, but your spouse must be institutionalized for at least two years before you can use this grounds. If your spouse is incarcerated for 18 months, this is a cause of action as long as you don't live together after his release from prison. Desertion of one year is a cause of action, and it can be either literal -- your spouse moved out of your home -- or sexual. Sexual desertion involves a refusal to maintain a marital relationship with you, against your wishes. Drug or alcohol addiction is also grounds for divorce in New Jersey if it lasts a year or more without an attempt at recovery.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
Is There a Desertion Divorce Law in Mississippi?

References

Related articles

Divorce in New York City Based on Adultery

In New York state, adultery – which is defined as one spouse having sex with someone else while married, without the consent of the other spouse – can be listed as a reason for you to file for divorce. However, if adultery is the cause of your divorce, you have the option of filing for divorce based on adultery or on no-fault grounds; the results of your divorce will likely be similar, either way.

What Can You Cite in a Divorce Besides Irreconcilable Differences?

Before a court will grant you a divorce, you've got to present a valid reason why your marriage should end. This reason is considered your "grounds" for divorce. All states recognize some version of no-fault grounds for divorce, too. In these instances, you do not have to blame your spouse for wrongdoing in order to terminate your marriage. Irreconcilable differences is a common no-fault ground, but it’s not available in all states so you may have to cite something else instead. The majority of states offer fault grounds for divorce while the remaining states and the District of Columbia are "pure" no-fault jurisdictions.

The 12 Grounds for a Divorce in Mississippi

Mississippi recognizes 12 fault-based grounds for divorce, and if you choose to file for divorce on one of these grounds, you bear the burden of proving to the court that the ground is appropriate for your divorce. Mississippi also recognizes no-fault divorce, and many filers choose no-fault grounds since proving fault often takes longer and is more difficult.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Grounds for Divorce on Mental Cruelty in Illinois

While marital discord is often mutual, sometimes one spouse bears the brunt of intentional and unreasonable mental and ...

Requirements for a Cause of Action & Divorce

In order to obtain a divorce, you must state at least one cause of action in your paperwork. A cause of action for ...

Can You Get Divorced in New York State Without Being Legally Separated?

In October 2010, New York became the final state to recognize no-fault divorce. If you file for a no-fault divorce in ...

New Jersey Guidelines for Annulment

People often think of an annulment as a quick, easy way to end a marriage. In New Jersey, the opposite is true. A ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED