In New Jersey there are a variety of legal grounds that can be used to obtain a divorce, some are fault-based, and others are not. Perhaps the most recognized no-fault ground is irreconcilable differences, which means the marriage is no longer functioning and has been that way for at least six months. When using irreconcilable differences as grounds for divorce there is no need to specify what went wrong or assign fault to either party. Thus, it can be the most respectful and least acrimonious way to begin divorce proceedings.

Of course, there are many other reasons why couples divorce and in New Jersey legal grounds for divorce also include:

  • Adultery: if one spouse has been unfaithful
  • Habitual drunkenness for at least 12 consecutive months after getting married and before filing for divorce
  • Voluntary addiction to narcotic drugs: the same time period as habitual drunkenness applies
  • Imprisonment: if one party has been sentenced to serve 18 or more months in jail after getting married. If you file for divorce after the sentence has been served, you must show that you have not lived together after your spouse was released from jail.
  • Institutionalization for mental illness for at least 24 consecutive months after marriage and before filing for divorce
  • Deviant sexual conduct
  • Extreme cruelty: this category is broad and includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, and verbal abuse.
  • Desertion: this includes both physical abandonment such as moving out of the marital residence without returning, and sexually as in a lack of physical intimacy for at least 12 months
  • Separation: living in separate households for a period of at least 18 months  

When filing for divorce a couple can use any of these grounds or more than one in presenting their case to the judge, but in New Jersey only one ground is necessary to grant divorce. It is important to realize that when using grounds that are fault-based the burden of proof is on the person filing for divorce. Proving the allegations take time to investigate and substantiate and will therefore drive up legal fees.

Certain grounds are more difficult than others to prove. In the case of drug or alcohol addiction you must prove that your spouse has been addicted for a year without actively seeking treatment. If within the twelve-month period your spouse attempts drug or alcohol rehabilitative treatment the “clock” resets to zero and the twelve-month period begins again.

A no-fault divorce (based on irreconcilable differences, or separation) is typically less expensive, less adversarial and therefore less stressful. In New Jersey couples also have the option to file together for an uncontested divorce which means they have already agreed upon major legal issues such as child support and custody, alimony, and property division. Consulting with an experienced family law attorney can help you choose the best path for your divorce filing.

Cherry Hill Divorce Lawyers at Burnham Douglass Provide Experienced Counsel for Couples Seeking a Divorce

If you are thinking about filing for divorce, the compassionate Cherry Hill divorce lawyers at Burnham Douglass can answer your questions and help you get through the process with the least amount of stress. Call us today at 856-751-5505 or fill out our online form to schedule a free and confidential consultation. From our offices in Marlton and Northfield, New Jersey, we represent clients in Camden County, Burlington County, Atlantic County, Gloucester County, Mercer County, and throughout New Jersey.