If you’re considering divorce, it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of divorce laws in New Jersey before you meet with a divorce attorney. Divorce begins when one spouse files a Complaint for Divorce. The Complaint for Divorce must state the appropriate grounds (reasons) for which divorce is being sought.
Ending a marriage in New Jersey is legally referred to as Divorce from the Bond of Matrimony. The spouse who files the Complaint for Divorce is referred to as the Plaintiff. The spouse who receives the divorce papers is referred to as the Defendant.
Grounds for divorce in New Jersey include the following:
If you know your spouse has been unfaithful and cheated on you then you can file for divorce on the grounds of adultery.
If your spouse is abandoned you and left the home for at least 12 months or more than this is an acceptable reason for filing for divorce.
Extreme cruelty is defined by statute as including any physical or mental cruelty which endangers the safety or health of the plaintiff or makes it improper or unreasonable to expect the plaintiff to continue to cohabit with the defendant; provided that no complaint for divorce shall be filed until after 3 months from the date of the last act of cruelty complained of in the complaint, but this provision shall not be held to apply to any counterclaim.
This means that if your filing as a plaintiff you will need to wait a minimum of three months before filing for divorce on the grounds of extreme cruelty. If you are making this claim as a defendant there is no waiting period.
If you and your spouse have lived in separate residences for a minimum of 18 months or more, you can file for divorce on the grounds of separation. It is not enough to have simply lived in separate bedrooms within the same household. That would not qualify. You will need to provide proof that you’ve lived separately for 18 months or more.
Voluntarily induced addiction or habituation to any narcotic drug as defined in the New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act, P.L.1970, c.226 or habitual drunkenness for at least 12 months or more.
Institutionalization for Mental Illness
In order to file a complaint for divorce on the grounds of institutionalization you will need to show that your spouse was institutionalized for 24 months or more after the beginning of your marriage.
Deviant Sexual Behavior
This refers to any deviant sexual act performed on you without your consent.
Irreconcilable differences which have caused the breakdown of the marriage for a period of six months and which make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.
In order to file for divorce in New Jersey on grounds other than adultery, either party must have been a resident of New Jersey for a minimum of one year prior to the commencement of the action. The residency requirement is only six months when adultery is cited as the grounds for divorce.