What you need to know about fault and no-fault divorce in New Jersey

What you need to know about fault and no-fault divorce in New Jersey

When a no-fault divorce law was passed in California in 1970, many states followed in the succeeding decades. One of those states is New Jersey, which allows no-fault divorces beginning in 2007.

In a fault divorce, a spouse may file for divorce on the grounds of adultery, desertion, substance abuse, and other types of misconduct. On the other hand, spouses may opt to file for a no-fault divorce on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences,” which essentially means that the couple no longer wishes to be married.

Couples who are planning to divorce in New Jersey must understand the key differences between filing a “fault” and “no-fault” divorce, as well as each type of divorce’s respective requirements.

Fault divorce in New Jersey

When you file for divorce in a fault divorce state, you must show the court evidence of your spouse’s misconduct. If you allege that your spouse has committed adultery, you must provide sufficient evidence (e.g., photo or video evidence, or text messages about the supposed affair).

In this type of divorce, a spouse’s marital misconduct and other faults may influence the outcomes of awarding alimony (spousal support). For instance, the spouse proven to have committed adultery may be asked to pay a large alimony or be paid a smaller amount if that person is the one receiving alimony. Note, however, that a spouse’s misconduct may have little to no impact on dividing marital assets and settling child custody matters.

But every divorce case is different. That means that the court will decide the outcomes based on individual cases and the severity of the misconduct.

To know more about New Jersey divorce laws and learn how these and other factors contribute to you getting a fair settlement, consult a family law attorney immediately.

No-fault divorce in New Jersey

In no-fault divorce, a spouse doesn’t have to allege the other person of any wrongdoing. A no-fault divorce also ensures both parties avoid the need to air their dirty laundry. This benefits the children who don’t have to learn of their parents’ “faults” during an ongoing divorce. In other words, the divorce’s emotional toll on children is lessened when spouses don’t have to accuse their partner of any wrongdoing in public.

However, spouses opting for no-fault divorce must meet certain requirements under New Jersey laws:

  • Residency requirement: One spouse must meet the residency requirement of a minimum of one year before filing for divorce.
  • Separation requirement: To dissolve a marriage on the grounds of irreconcilable differences, couples must have lived separately for 18 months.
  • Waiting periods: A couple divorcing under the grounds of irreconcilable differences must demonstrate that the marriage’s breakdown lasted for at least six months. However, waiting periods may be waived for couples who’ve been married for more than six months. There are also waiting periods for desertion (at least one year) and other “fault grounds.”
  • Other requirements: In some cases, courts in New Jersey may require evidence that there is no reasonable chance of reconciliation. A couple’s divorce in New Jersey may also be affected by other legal requirements usually pertaining to the extent to which the case is contested, the length of time it takes to serve the divorce papers, and other factors.

These are not the only requirements that divorcing spouses must meet when divorcing in New Jersey. There are also exceptions and other factors that may affect the court’s decision to waive or amend any of these requirements. For exceptional cases and circumstances, it’s best to consult New Jersey family law experts.

Whether you’re planning to have a fault or no-fault divorce, you’ll need legal advice regarding matters like splitting marital assets, guardianship, determining child support, and other concerns. New Jersey family law attorneys Kalavruzos, Mumolo, Hartman & Lento offer expert advice to residents in Hamilton, Trenton, Princeton, and surrounding areas. Schedule a consultation today.