Divorce in New Jersey can be a complex matter because the state has strict requirements for what constitutes the legal grounds for ending a marriage. If your spouse does not agree to the divorce, or does not agree about the causes for the divorce, you may find you need to make a case in court. An experienced family law attorney in Trenton can help you define or contest the reasons for ending the marriage.
Legal grounds for a New Jersey divorce
You must be a resident of New Jersey for at least one year prior to filing for divorce. At that point, if you and your spouse have been separated for at least 18 months, you will be granted a no-fault divorce. If not, you will need to establish grounds for the divorce — grounds that your spouse may well contest. According to New Jersey law, grounds for divorce are as follows:
- Irreconcilable differences. This is in some senses the simplest of the grounds for divorce — if you and your spouse go through six months of irreconcilable differences, with no hope for reconciliation, this is sufficient grounds for a divorce.
- Abandonment, institutionalization, or imprisonment. If one spouse abandons the other for a period of 12 months, or is institutionalized for mental illness for 24 months, or incarcerated for 18 months, this is sufficient grounds for divorce.
- Cruelty or abuse. It is grounds for divorce if one spouse physically or mentally abuses the other, or abuses drugs and/or alcohol for at least 12 months, or sexually abuses the other spouse (including rape).
- Adultery. Adultery is a special case in New Jersey divorce law because it is the one ground for divorce that changes the residency requirement. Where ordinarily one year of residency in the state is required prior to filing for divorce, in cases of adultery it is only necessary that one spouse be a New Jersey resident for some amount of time, and not necessarily as long as a year. Adultery can be difficult to prove, and is a case where the assistance of a divorce attorney is essential.
Consult an experienced lawyer to file your New Jersey divorce petition
New Jersey divorces are complicated because of the number of different grounds on which a divorce can be filed. These grounds are often hotly contested, since they can be the basis of compensation and custody decisions. If you are filing for divorce in New Jersey, or have had divorce papers served, you need to consult the experienced and compassionate family lawyers of Kardos, Rickles, Hand & Bidlingmaier. Contact us today for a consultation.