Where Love Goes to Die-Top Reasons for Divorce in NJ

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Hello, I’m DubG. I am not a lawyer and can only speak from first-hand experience because I spent the last 5 years trying to get a divorce in New Jersey, and I can certainly understand the top reasons for divorce in NJ. Since 2018, I have hired three separate attorneys and ultimately ended up representing myself through the entire trial, which spanned nine days over nine months alone. I received my divorce decree in January 2023 and amended it in May, yet I am still fighting for enforcement of support. Although I ended up with the house and alimony for the next 5 years, I would hardly say I won.

Divorce is called “dissolution” in New Jersey. The process for getting a divorce is the same as dissolving a civil union or a domestic partnership. Either partner in a marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership can file for divorce in New Jersey as long as at least one member of the couple lives in the state. In the state of New Jersey, there are nine acceptable reasons, known as grounds for divorce. The two most common grounds for divorce in New Jersey are both “no fault” reasons. No fault simply means that both parties agree that the marriage needs to end, and neither party is placing or accepting blame.

The nine grounds for divorce in New Jersey are: extreme cruelty, adultery, desertion, addiction, institutionalization, imprisonment, deviant sexual conduct, separation, and irreconcilable differences. Each of these grounds has its own specific requirements, and it is essential to understand them before filing for divorce. In this article, we will explore each of these grounds in detail, so you can make an informed decision about which one applies to your situation.

Key Takeaways

  • New Jersey, like many other states, gives you the option to file for divorce “fault” or “no fault.”
  • New Jersey has nine acceptable reasons, known as grounds for divorce.
  • The two most common grounds for divorce in New Jersey are both “no-fault” reasons.
  • Each of the nine grounds for divorce in New Jersey has its own specific requirements.

The Bitter Taste of Matrimony Soup

As a single mom, born and raised in New Jersey, I’ve seen my fair share of marriages that have gone sour. It’s like trying to make a soup with all the wrong ingredients—you end up with a bitter taste in your mouth. Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients that make up the recipe for divorce in New Jersey.

Grounds, or Reasons for Divorce in NJ: The Ingredients

In New Jersey, there are both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. Fault grounds require one spouse to prove that the other spouse did something wrong, such as adultery or extreme cruelty. People choose this  route for a number of reasons, but I can tell you from experience that you don’t need to file a “fault” simply because you think you’ll get more alimony. I didn’t. I filed “no fault” because I honestly wanted to just part ways and move on. Now, it didn’t go that way because he didn’t want to get a divorce, so I have been clawing my way through the NJ Superior Court system since 2018 and only just got a divorce this past year, in 2023. I cannot even imagine what would have transpired had I filed for all the crap this donkey’s butt put me through. But even without it, I went through 3 attorneys, $300,000 and still ended up having to represent myself through a grueling, mentally straining 9-day trial, spanning 9 months and about 8–10 hours a day of studying NJ family law and 3rd Circuit case law/precedent. My non-lawyer advice that you can toss if you really want to or have to is to file no fault, because the attorney fees you’ll both pay to go through a case proving fault in NJ will almost always be >$100,000. NJ already has an enormous backlog of divorce cases they keep pushing back, but when they do, you’re still racking up billable hours. Trust me on that one. I got stuck in COVID hell, on top of a defaulter who then “vacated default” and never complied with discovery, but wasn’t sanctioned for it for well over 3 years. I could go on for days with this load of horse crap that happened in Monmouth County Superior Court. But again, I’m not a lawyer. You should get one of those if you can. If you can’t, keep reading my blog, because you’re going to need it.

No-fault grounds do not require proof of wrongdoing and are based on irreconcilable differences or separation for over 18 months (incarceration, impatience, desertion, etc.)

If you’re looking to add some spice to your divorce and drop some weight on your wallet, fault grounds might be the way to go. But be warned, proving fault can be messy. It’s like adding too much salt to your soup—it might taste good at first, but it can quickly become overpowering.

Fault vs No-Fault: The Recipe

Fault versus no fault divorce

Fault versus no fault divorce

When it comes to the recipe for divorce, fault and no-fault grounds are like oil and water. They don’t mix well, and trying to combine them can lead to disaster.

If you’re going for a fault-based divorce, you’ll need to make sure you have all the right ingredients. That means gathering evidence of adultery, extreme cruelty, or desertion. It’s like following a complicated recipe—one wrong move, and the whole thing falls apart.

On the other hand, if you’re going for a no-fault divorce, the recipe is much simpler. You just need to prove that you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences or have been living apart for at least 18 months. It’s like making a basic soup—it might not be as exciting, but it gets the job done.

In conclusion, whether you’re going for a fault or no-fault divorce, the recipe for divorce in New Jersey can be a complicated one. Just like making a soup, it’s important to have all the right ingredients and follow the recipe carefully. And if things don’t turn out the way you hoped, remember that sometimes the best thing to do is to start over with a fresh batch.

The Infidelity Cocktail: Shaken, Not Stirred

Ah, infidelity. The classic ingredient in the divorce cocktail. It’s like the bitters in a Manhattan or the vermouth in a martini. A little bit goes a long way, and too much can ruin everything. But what exactly constitutes infidelity in New Jersey?

Well, according to N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2, adultery is one of the listed causes of action for divorce in New Jersey. But it’s not just limited to traditional adultery. Deviant sexual conduct, which includes things like bestiality and incest, can also be grounds for divorce. So, if your spouse is getting a little too friendly with Fido or their cousin, you might have a case.

But before you go running off to file for divorce, keep in mind that citing infidelity as the reason for divorce doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get everything you want. In fact, it might not even make a difference in the outcome of your case.

For example, if you’re seeking alimony, the fact that your spouse cheated on you might not be enough to sway the court in your favor. It’s just one factor that the court will consider when determining whether or not to award alimony and how much to award.

Similarly, if you’re fighting for custody of your children, the fact that your spouse cheated on you might not be enough to tip the scales in your favor. The court will always make decisions based on what’s in the best interests of the children, and infidelity might not be relevant to that determination.

So, while infidelity might be the classic ingredient in the divorce cocktail, it’s not always the most effective one. Just like a good bartender knows how to balance the flavors in a cocktail, a good divorce attorney knows how to balance the factors in a divorce case. And sometimes, infidelity is just a garnish, not the main ingredient.

Extreme Cruelty: More Than Just a Bad Date

Ah, extreme cruelty. It sounds like something you’d find in a horror movie, but unfortunately, it’s a reality for many couples seeking divorce in New Jersey. I’m not a divorce lawyer

First of all, let’s define extreme cruelty. According to New Jersey law, extreme cruelty can include physical abuse, mental abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, and more. Basically, if your spouse is making your life a living hell, you might have grounds for divorce based on extreme cruelty.

But let’s be real: extreme cruelty is more than just a bad day. It’s not like your spouse forgot to take out the trash or left the toilet seat up (although those things can be pretty annoying too). No, extreme cruelty is when your spouse is intentionally causing you harm, whether it’s through physical violence, emotional manipulation, or financial control.

If you’re experiencing extreme cruelty in your marriage, it’s important to seek help. Talk to a trusted friend or family member, or reach out to a professional for support. And if you’re considering divorce, know that you’re not alone. In fact, over 50% of divorces in New Jersey are due to extreme cruelty.

Remember, divorce is not a decision to be taken lightly. But if you’re in a situation where your health and safety are at risk, it might be the best option for you. A divorce lawyer, if you are fortunate enough to be able to afford one, isn’t going to cause thousands of billable hours for nothing like what happened to me; they do help you navigate the legal process and protect your rights. Otherwise, you are your own advocate and an advocate who doesn’t know jack schmittizadoodle about NJ family law isn’t ideal.

So, if you’re ready to say goodbye to extreme cruelty and hello to a brighter future, call a friend… I mean, lawyer, who, unlike your friends, will rape and pillage your wallet if you call them on a lifeline.

Addiction: The Party That Never Ends

Addiction grounds for divorce in nj

Addiction in divorce

Ah, addiction. The party that never ends. At least until the cops show up and ruin everything. But in all seriousness, addiction is no laughing matter, especially when it comes to divorce.

In New Jersey, addiction can be used as grounds for divorce. If you can prove that your spouse has been addicted to drugs or alcohol for at least 12 months, you may be able to file for divorce on those grounds. Of course, proving addiction can be easier said than done. You’ll need to provide evidence that your spouse has a substance abuse problem, such as police reports, medical records, or witness testimony.

Alcohol addiction and habitual drunkenness are also valid grounds for divorce in New Jersey. If your spouse is a heavy drinker and it’s causing problems in your marriage, you may be able to file for divorce on those grounds. But again, you’ll need to provide evidence to support your claim.

Addiction can have a devastating impact on a marriage. It can lead to financial problems, infidelity, and even domestic violence. If you’re considering divorce because of your spouse’s addiction, it’s important to seek help for yourself and your family. There are resources available, such as support groups and counseling, that can help you cope with the challenges of addiction and divorce.

In addition to being used as grounds for divorce, addiction can also affect other aspects of your divorce settlement. For example, if your spouse has drained your finances to support their addiction, it may impact property division and alimony. A judge may award you a larger share of the marital assets or more alimony to compensate for the financial damage caused by your spouse’s addiction.

In conclusion, addiction is a serious issue that can lead to divorce in New Jersey. If you’re considering divorce because of your spouse’s addiction, it’s important to seek legal and emotional support. With the right help, you can navigate the challenges of divorce and move forward with your life.

Institutionalization: The Ultimate Time-Out

Ah, institutionalization. The ultimate time-out. If you’re looking for a way to end your marriage without having to prove any wrongdoing on your spouse’s part, this might just be the ticket.

In New Jersey, institutionalization is one of the grounds for divorce. If your spouse has been “confined for mental illness for a period of 24 or more consecutive months subsequent to marriage and preceding the filing of the complaint,” you can file for divorce on these grounds.

Now, I’m not saying that you should fake a mental illness just to get out of your marriage. That would be unethical, not to mention illegal. But if your spouse genuinely needs to be institutionalized for their own safety and well-being and you’ve been separated for at least 18 months, this might be a viable option for you.

Of course, institutionalization is not a decision to be taken lightly. It can be a traumatic experience for everyone involved, and it’s not something that should be done unless absolutely necessary. But if you find yourself in a situation where this is the only option, it’s good to know that it’s available to you.

Just remember, if you’re going to use this as grounds for divorce, you’ll need to provide evidence that your spouse has been confined for the required period of time. This can include medical records, court documents, and other forms of documentation.

In conclusion, while institutionalization may not be the most pleasant topic to discuss, it’s important to know that it’s an option if you find yourself in a difficult situation. Just make sure to approach it with caution and seek professional help if needed.

Desertion: Ghosting on a Legal ScaleDefault divorce or forfeit

So your spouse has left you high and dry, and you’re wondering what your options are. Well, lucky for you, New Jersey recognizes desertion as a valid reason for divorce. Desertion, also known as abandonment, occurs when one spouse leaves the marriage without giving a reason or a plan to return. It’s like being ghosted, but on a legal scale.

Now, before you go filing for divorce, there are a few things you need to know. First, your spouse must have been residing outside of the marital home for at least one year. This means that if your spouse left for a few weeks or even a few months, it may not qualify as desertion.

Second, you must not have agreed to the separation or abandonment. If you and your spouse had a mutual agreement to live separately, then desertion may not be applicable.

Third, you must not have caused the departure. If your spouse left because of your actions, then desertion may not be a valid reason for divorce.

If all of the above criteria are met, then you may have a case for desertion. But what if your spouse didn’t physically leave but rather emotionally checked out of the marriage? Unfortunately, emotional abandonment is not recognized as a legal reason for divorce in New Jersey.

It’s important to note that desertion is not the same as separating when one spouse leaves but does not cut ties without reason. Desertion is a more serious offense and can have legal and financial implications.

So, if you’ve been abandoned by your spouse and meet the criteria for desertion, it may be time to consider your legal options. Just remember, ghosting may be trendy in the dating world, but it’s not a legal defense in a divorce court.

The Waiting Game: From Filing to Freedom

As someone who has gone through a divorce in New Jersey, I can tell you that the process can feel like a never-ending rollercoaster ride. It’s a journey that requires patience, fortitude, and a willingness to let go of the past. In this section, I’ll share some insights into what you can expect during the waiting game of divorce in New Jersey.

Ring the Bell: Filing for Divorce

The first step in the divorce process is filing for divorce. In New Jersey, you can file for divorce based on fault or no-fault grounds. Fault grounds include adultery, desertion, extreme cruelty, and imprisonment. No-fault grounds include irreconcilable differences, separation, and living apart for at least 18 months.

When filing for divorce, you’ll need to provide the court with a complaint that outlines the reasons for the divorce. You’ll also need to pay a filing fee and serve your spouse with the complaint. Once your spouse has been served, they’ll have 35 days to respond. If they fail to respond, you can file for default judgment.

The Waiting Period: Divorce’s Unwanted Intermission

After you’ve filed for divorce, you’ll need to wait for the court to process your case. In New Jersey, there’s a waiting period of 35 days before your case can be heard. During this time, you and your spouse will need to exchange financial information and work on a parenting plan if you have children.

The waiting period can feel like an unwanted intermission in the divorce process. But it’s important to use this time to gather your thoughts and prepare for the next steps. You may want to consult with an attorney to ensure that your rights are protected and that you’re making informed decisions.

Default: Forfeiting Your Marriage

If your spouse fails to respond to the complaint within 35 days, you can file for default judgment. This means that you’ll be granted the divorce without your spouse’s input. However, it’s important to note that default judgments are not always the best option.

If your spouse fails to respond, it may be because they’re not aware of the divorce or they’re unable to respond due to extenuating circumstances. In these cases, it may be better to work with your spouse to reach an agreement rather than pursue a default judgment.

In conclusion, the waiting game for divorce in New Jersey can be frustrating and emotionally draining. But with the right mindset and a willingness to work through the process, you can come out on the other side with a brighter future ahead.

Reconciliation: The Plot Twist

So, your marriage is on the rocks, and you’re thinking about getting a divorce. But wait, what’s this? You and your spouse decide to reconcile and give the marriage another shot. Well, well, well, if it isn’t the plot twist we never saw coming.

Reconciliation is a common occurrence in marriages that are heading towards divorce. Sometimes, it’s a last-ditch effort to save the marriage, and other times, it’s a way to avoid the hassle and expense of a divorce. But before you jump back into your marriage, there are a few things you need to know.

Firstly, reconciliation is not a decision to be taken lightly. It’s not like getting back together with an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend. You and your spouse have already gone through the process of separating, and there were reasons for that. So, before you reconcile, you need to address those reasons head-on and figure out how to fix them.

Secondly, if you do decide to reconcile, you need to make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons. Are you reconciling because you genuinely love your spouse and want to make the marriage work, or are you doing it because you’re afraid of being alone or because you don’t want to deal with the legal and financial aspects of a divorce?

If you’re reconciling for the right reasons, that’s great. But if you’re reconciling because you’re afraid of being alone, you need to take a step back and re-evaluate your decision. Being alone is not the end of the world, and it’s better than being in a toxic marriage.

Lastly, if you do decide to reconcile, you need to make sure that you have a plan in place. What are the issues that caused the separation, and how are you going to address them? Are you going to go to couples therapy? Are you going to make changes in your lifestyle or behavior? These are all questions that need to be answered before you reconcile.

In conclusion, reconciliation can be a great way to save a marriage, but it’s not a decision to be taken lightly. Make sure that you’re doing it for the right reasons, and make sure that you have a plan in place to address the issues that caused the separation. And if you do decide to reconcile, remember that it’s going to take work and commitment from both you and your spouse to make it work.


Well, there you have it folks. There are six legal grounds or reasons for divorce in New Jersey and a whole lot of other information that may or may not be relevant to your situation.

Whether you’re going through a contested or uncontested divorce, whether you’re a state resident or not, whether you’re looking for instructions on how to file for divorce or just want to know more about the health implications of divorce, I hope this article has provided you with some useful insights.

Remember, divorce is never an easy decision to make. It can be emotionally draining, financially devastating, and legally complicated. But sometimes, it’s the only option. And when that’s the case, it’s important to be informed about your legal rights and options.

So, if you’re considering divorce, take the time to educate yourself. Talk to a lawyer, read up on the legal grounds for divorce in your state, and make sure you have all the evidence you need to support your case. And above all, take care of yourself. Divorce can be a long and difficult process, but with the right support and resources, you can get through it and come out the other side stronger and more resilient than ever.