New Jersey is a “no fault” divorce state. That means you do not have to prove fault of either party to get a divorce. If you want one, you get one. However, there are still some fault grounds on the books in New Jersey. There are nine specific grounds for divorce:

  1. – Your spouse cheats on you.
  2. Abandonment – You have not had sexual relations for 12 months. There is a presumption that you have not lived in the same home for at least 12 months.
  3. Extreme Cruelty – Your spouse behaved in a way (physical or mental cruelty) that endangered your health and safety. It must be three months since the last incident before you can file for divorce.
  4. 18 Months Separation – You and your spouse have lived separate and apart for 18 months.
  5. Addiction to Drugs or Alcohol – Your spouse has been voluntarily addicted to drugs or experienced habitual drunkenness for 12 consecutive months during the marriage.
  6. Institutionalization for Mental Illness – Your spouse has been in a facility for 24 or more consecutive months during the marriage.
  7. Imprisonment – Your spouse was sentenced to incarceration for 18 or more consecutive months after you were married. If he or she is release from prison and you file, then you must show that after being released, you did not live together.
  8. Deviant Sexual Conduct – voluntarily performed by your spouse without your consent.
  9. Irreconcilable Differences – There is a breakdown in the marriage for at least 6 months before the Complaint for Divorce is filed and there is no prospect of reconciliation.

It is no secret that Irreconcilable Differences is the most used grounds for divorce. It is not difficult to prove (you simply state it and nothing more) and it is the least confrontational. Should you choose to file under one of the other options listed above, you often must provide proof and may have to provide testimony from others if your spouse decides to contest the grounds for divorce. It can also tend to make the divorce more contentious.

Most people choose to file under Irreconcilable Differences. The only other grounds for filing that may be less controversial is 18 Months Separation. If you have not lived in the same home for 18 months or more, it is clear the two of you are separated.

We recommend to our clients that they make efforts to resolve the issues in the divorce amicably before filing a Complaint for Divorce. There may be specific reasons why it’s prudent to file a Complaint right away, which you should explore with an attorney. However, most cases are ripe for settlement prior to filing.

The reason for this is because the hard work in a divorce is reaching a settlement. Once you file a Complaint, the court is involved and requires periodic events to take place such as court dates and discovery. This serves only to require lawyers to spend time on paperwork and other tasks that may not be that important to your case. You may end up spending way more money on a divorce than you need to simply to pay your attorneys to do “busy work.”

For these reasons, we recommend the parties try to settle by attending mediation. If you aren’t already familiar with mediation, you can find out more

Once the parties have settled and a Marital Settlement Agreement has been signed, then the divorce can go through. That is the best time to file a Complaint.

If you would like more information on mediation and grounds for divorce, contact Netsquire for a client vision meeting, or schedule one right

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.

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