What are Legitimate Legal Grounds to File for Divorce in New Jersey?

grounds for divorce in nj

Going through a divorce is emotionally draining, and the legal work just makes it more confusing. We get it. Our New Jersey family law firm has helped hundreds of people just like you navigate ending a marriage.

We’ll explain New Jersey divorce laws in simple terms — the types of divorces, the grounds to file, building your case, and how our lawyers can help. Even when it gets complicated emotionally, we can help you understand the legal process with our guidance.

Read on to learn how to file for divorce in New Jersey, or contact us today to get help with your case.

There are Two Types of Divorce

There are two main types of divorce in New Jersey – contested and uncontested (also called non-contested). Understanding the key differences can help guide your preferred path forward.

Contested Divorce

In contested divorces, spouses cannot agree on one or more key issues, resulting in disputes settled through litigation and hearings.
Reasons a divorce may become contested include:

  • One spouse contests the grounds cited for divorce
  • Major disputes over asset division or property valuations
  • Disagreements regarding child custody arrangements
  • Contesting child or spousal support payment terms

Contested cases mean drawn-out battles in court haggling over disputes with attorneys and expert witnesses. This not only raises tensions between former partners but leads to far greater expenses and stress over extended uncertain timelines before resolution comes through judicial order.

Uncontested (Non-contested) Divorce

Non-contested divorces progress cooperatively out of court because both spouses see eye-to-eye on core issues like:

  • The legal grounds for completing marital termination
  • Shared child custody schedules and living arrangements
  • Division terms for property, assets, belongings, and debts
  • Amounts and payment schedules for spousal and child support

By signing a separation agreement addressing these concerns upfront, individuals can file uncontested matters and receive judgment orders promptly, avoiding courtroom debates. Non-contested cases make the best of difficult scenarios through respect and compromise.

Meeting New Jersey’s Residency Rules

New Jersey requires individuals filing for divorce to have maintained state residency for a continuous period beforehand.

The precise duration depends on the grounds cited:

  • For no-fault divorces due to irreconcilable differences, you or your spouse must have lived in NJ for at least 12 full months prior to filing petitions.
  • If citing separation as grounds, the minimum residency timeframe extends to 18 continuous months of living apart while remaining New Jersey inhabitants.

These rules ensure divorce cases get handled locally by courts closest to events and prevent “shopping” across state lines for lenient statutes.

Meeting the residency clock can feel frustrating when anxious to exit broken marriages. But we help clients navigate mandated timelines smoothly and productively. For instance, we work exhaustedly to establish favorable temporary support orders, parenting plans, and living arrangements.

Common Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey

New Jersey recognizes both no-fault and fault-based legal grounds for pursuing marital dissolution. Let’s explore the conditions and variables surrounding each.

No-Fault Based Grounds

In no-fault filings, parties need not levy accusations of wrongdoing or misdeeds against one another. The state simply seeks evidence that irreparable incompatibility exists.

  • Irreconcilable Differences – This covers broad, generic disagreements causing irreparable rifts for over six months. All efforts toward reconciliation, counseling, or conflict resolution have failed permanently.
  • 18-Month Separation – Parties classify formal separation without cohabitation or intimacy as the root catalyst of divorce after 18 months of living apart.
  • Marriage Breakdown – Similar to irreconcilable differences, but explicitly states marital bonds have fractured fully beyond the possibility of repair over a long duration.

No-fault cases typically progress more smoothly and are characterized by civility. But issues like asset division, alimony, and child custody discussions still benefit from legal guidance.

Fault-Based Grounds

Fault pleadings accuse specific misdeeds or mistreatment as divorce justification. While more contentious, evidence uncovered can factor into financial determinations.

Fault grounds in New Jersey include:

  • Adultery – Sexual relations outside marriage violate marital contracts. We help collect evidence through private investigators while handling it sensitively.
  • Extreme Cruelty – Patterned abusive behavior, including intimidation, control, and physical harm, proves hazardous environments unacceptable.
  • Institutionalization / Imprisonment – Indefinite commitments for chronic conditions or prison sentences over specific durations constitute marriage abandonment effectively.
  • Deviant Behavior – Actions violating social norms severely, like substance abuse or sex crimes, factor if establishing harm.

Documenting fault grounds thoroughly helps clients seeking advantage in financial awards or child placement rulings. But the process also takes greater emotional and ethical care when exposing painful private realities under close scrutiny.

Building Your Case Through Evidence

Whether no-fault or fault-based, petitions must undergo scrutiny before dissolving legal contracts entered solemnly. Having an experienced local divorce attorney helps navigate required evidence properly while minimizing unnecessary risks or exposures.

  • We advise clients on sensibly collecting documents like:
  • Witness testimonies recounting pivotal incidents and timelines
  • Records corroborating pivotal dates and details (photos, journals, receipts)
  • Medical, psychiatric, police, or school reports supporting claims
  • Bank statements proving suspicions around assets or adultery

Evidence requires meeting strict procedural rules too complex for laypeople. We ensure filings follow all New Jersey Family Court guidelines while securing your privacy rights and priorities, most importantly.

Connect with a Local New Jersey Divorce Lawyer

At Netsquire, our New Jersey divorce attorneys provide legal counsel and representation tailored specifically to your circumstances, priorities, and options when facing the end of a marriage. Contact us online or call to arrange an initial consultation, where we will review your situation in detail before determining the next best steps.

With decades of combined experience guiding New Jersey families through amicable dissolutions, we approach every client with open ears, compassion, and strategic lawyering skills focused on securing your best interests.

Reach out today and let our team thoughtfully walk you through processes step-by-step. This difficult passage leads to better horizons ahead.

About the Author


John Nachlinger is a co-founder and managing attorney of Netsquire, a family law firm focused on streamlining divorces through effective mediation, settlement drafting, and court filing assistance. As a New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney and Qualified Mediator, John guides couples toward equitable agreements without the cost and stress of litigation.

Recognized as a New Jersey Super Lawyer for over a decade, John’s client-focused approach aims to foster understanding during challenging transitions. With a background spanning top law journals, judicial clerkships, and boutique family law firms, John now applies his analytical skills to create workable solutions for all parties. His mediation services reshape the divorce journey by prioritizing compassion and compromise.

LinkedIn | State Bar Association | Avvo | Google