New Jersey, like every other U.S. state, has adopted a form of “no-fault” divorce. Gone are the days when a party to a broken marriage was left without recourse unless they could demonstrate their spouse committed adultery or abandoned them. In New Jersey, parties may file for divorce based on “irreconcilable differences.” There are specific requirements for filing based on irreconcilable differences, and it is important to understand the significance of filing based on no-fault or fault grounds. Continue reading for an explanation of irreconcilable differences in New Jersey, and contact a knowledgeable Englewood divorce attorney for help with a New Jersey family law matter.
What Does “Irreconcilable Differences” Mean?
In New Jersey, parties may divorce based on “irreconcilable differences” by alleging that the parties have experienced significant marital problems and that those problems have caused the breakdown of the marriage. The differences are “irreconcilable” in that there is no reasonable belief that the marriage can be fixed and that the parties will reconcile.
Irreconcilable differences is New Jersey’s version of “no-fault” divorce–neither party needs to claim the other did something wrong. One or both parties simply needs to allege that the marriage has broken apart and cannot be fixed.
Requirements for Divorcing Based on Irreconcilable Differences
For a party to file for divorce based on irreconcilable differences, the following must be true:
- Either spouse must have lived in New Jersey for at least 12 consecutive months before filing;
- The couple has experienced irreconcilable differences for at least 6 months;
- The irreconcilable differences have caused the breakdown of the marriage, such that it appears the marriage should end; and
- There is no reasonable chance of reconciliation.
Parties may also divorce based on “separation” without alleging any sort of marital fault. Separation requires that the parties have lived separate and apart for 18 consecutive months and that there is no reasonable chance of reconciliation.
Can You Allege Fault?
Some states have moved to an entirely no-fault system of divorce. In those states, your only option when divorcing is to file for divorce based on irreconcilable differences or the equivalent grounds. New Jersey has not yet adopted such a system. In New Jersey, married parties may still divorce based on traditional “fault” grounds, including adultery, extreme cruelty, imprisonment, and drug or alcohol addiction, among others.
Does Fault Ever Matter?
Alleging fault in the divorce will not, for the most part, make a difference. Proving that your spouse committed adultery will typically not affect your share of marital property, your alimony award, or your child custody rights. There are limited exceptions, though. For instance, a history of spousal or child abuse will affect a party’s custody rights. Wasting marital assets by, for example, spending thousands on gifts, rent, or vacations for an extramarital paramour might affect a party’s share of the marital property upon distribution. Outside of these limited exceptions, fault does not matter in a New Jersey divorce.
Get Help Protecting Your Rights, Your Finances, and Your Family in Your New Jersey Divorce
If you’re considering divorce in New Jersey or dealing with child support, child custody, property division, or other family law issues, contact the Englewood family law attorneys Herbert & Weiss at (201) 500-2151.