In New Jersey, as in all 50 States, you can get a “no fault” divorce. The term “no fault” simply describes the grounds for the divorce itself. It does not touch upon any of the issues involved in the divorce, such as child custody and parenting time, child support, alimony, or division of assets and debts (known as “equitable distribution”).
There are two “no fault” grounds for divorce in New Jersey: (1) separation for 18 months; and (2) irreconcilable differences. While the separation ground has been available in New Jersey since 1971, it was not until 2007 that the New Jersey Legislature allowed a divorcing party to simply cite “irreconcilable differences” as the grounds for divorce.
The chief reason for the addition was that, because divorcing parties did not want to have to wait until they had been separated for 18 months to file for divorce, they were forced to file a Divorce Complaint based on one of the “fault” grounds for divorce recognized in New Jersey. The most common “fault” ground used was “extreme cruelty,” which often caused unnecessary hostility between the parties.
With limited exceptions, a New Jersey divorce should always be sought on “no fault” grounds. If the Divorce Complaint is filed after the parties have already reached a settlement, there is no reason to inject the specter of “fault” into an otherwise consensual resolution of all of the issues. Even if the parties still have issues to resolve, almost never does the court’s resolution of those issues hinge on who “caused” the divorce, and the parties are much better served if they focus their attention on trying to resolve the issues amicably, equitably and expeditiously.
For more information on New Jersey divorce issues or to set up a personal and confidential appointment, call us: (973) 455-1220 or fill out the Contact Form on our Website.