In my last blog post, I noted that “fault” is less important in New Jersey divorces than most people would expect.  Today, I am going to briefly review the major grounds for divorce in New Jersey.

#1: Irreconcilable Differences 

By far the most popular grounds for divorce in New Jersey–despite the fact that it was only recently recognized by the state–irreconcilable differences is essentially an expedited form of “No-Fault” Divorce.  The major statutory requirement is that “irreconcilable differences” have occurred, causing the breakdown of the marriage, that there is no prospect of reconciliation, and that these irreconcilable differences have been ongoing for at least six months.

Only one party need seek a divorce in New Jersey–agreement to a divorce is not required.  In other words, your spouse can’t deny your filing a divorce complaint in New Jersey.  Of course, they can tie up the divorce process forcing a trial.

#2: No-Fault Divorce 

Although irreconcilable differences complaints are essentially used as a form of no-fault divorce, New Jersey does offer a purer form of “No-Fault Divorce”.  The statute for No-Fault Divorce in New Jersey requires eighteen or more consecutive months of a husband and wife living separate and apart, “in different habitations”, and with no reasonable prospect for reconciliation.  As the requirements of a no-fault divorce are difficult to obtain; today this form of divorce is rarely utilized in New Jersey divorce courts.

#3: Extreme Mental or Physical Cruelty

The rest of the grounds for divorce are “fault-based.”  A claim of extreme mental or physical cruelty requires proof of “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.”

#4: Adultery 

Clients often ask about using adultery as grounds for divorce.  The problem is then establishing the adultery through circumstantial or other evidence.  Moreover, the suspected “partner” in the alleged infidelity must then be named in the Complaint–and served as a co-respondend to the divorce.  Using adultery as a grounds for divorce in New Jersey is often so time-consuming and financially draining as to not be worth the effort.  Furthermore, the benefits of an adultery claim are, in most cases, minimal.

#5: Other Grounds for Divorce

Other New Jersey grounds for divorce are available, although in practice they are exceedingly rare.  Some examples of these “other” New Jersey grounds for divorce include:

  • Desertion
  • Deviant Sexual Behavior
  • Imprisonment
  • Institutionalization
  • Habitual Drunkenness or Drug Habituation
  • And more.
Of course, one need not be constrained to just one divorce count when filing a Complaint for Divorce in New Jersey.  In some instances several counts for divorce will be included in a divorce complaint.


Every case is fact-sensitive, so you should review all of the available grounds for divorce with your attorney to ensure you select the proper grounds for YOUR case.

Your New Jersey Divorce Lawyer:

If you’re considering a New Jersey divorce or Family Law action contact me to discuss your options.  You can schedule an initial consultation by calling my office at 908-237-3096 or by scheduling your own divorce consultation online by clicking here.

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