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Overview of New Jersey Divorce Grounds

If you are a New Jersey resident and are considering pursuing a divorce, you undoubtedly have a number of important questions. The surest way to get accurate information about a New Jersey divorce is to consult with an experienced attorney. Having said that, one basic question you likely have are what are New Jersey divorce grounds? In other words, for what reasons can you pursue a divorce in New Jersey.

New Jersey law divides the grounds for divorce into two broad categories:

  • No fault divorce
  • Fault divorce
  • No fault New Jersey Divorce grounds are:
  • Separation
  • Irreconcilable differences
  • Fault New Jersey Divorce grounds are:
  • Adultery
  • Abandonment
  • Addiction
  • Deviant sexual conduct
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Imprisonment
  • Institutionalization

If you and your spouse are in agreement that there is no chance for a reconciliation between the two of you, and if you have lived separately or apart for at least 18 months, you are in a position to pursue a divorce based on separation. You must prove to the court that you have had separate residences. Merely having separate bedrooms is not sufficient.

Irreconcilable Differences

Irreconcilable differences are another New Jersey divorce grounds. Irreconcilable differences mean that the state of your marriage is beyond repair and that you and your spouse no longer have a relationship that can satisfy the ends of a marriage. There is no reasonable hope that you and your spouse will reconcile. This state of affairs must have existed for at least six months before you file a marriage dissolution case in New Jersey.


Adultery is yet another grounds upon which you can pursue a divorce in the state of New Jersey. In such a situation, you must be able to demonstrate to the court that you spouse has been intimately involved with another person during your marriage. In other words, you need to provide evidence that your spouse cheated on you. There is a bit of a caveat to demonstrating actual infidelity. The law indicates that you might be able to persuade a court to grant a divorce based on adultery if you can demonstrate that your spouse has both the inclination as well as the opportunity to cheat on you.


Abandonment is a potential grounds for divorce. In order to pursue a New Jersey divorce case based on an allegation of abandonment, you have to demonstrate to the court that your spouse has left you and the marital residence for at least 12 months.


Addiction can be used as a basis for divorce in New Jersey. This includes addiction to alcohol or drugs. Addiction is defined rather broadly and includes actual addiction to a mind-altering substance as well as abuse of drugs (including alcohol). You will need to demonstrate that your spouse has labored under drug addiction or drug abuse for a period of at least 12 months before the date you file for divorce.

Deviant Sexual Conduct

Deviant sexual conduct is not commonly used as a grounds for divorce in New Jersey. A primary reason why this is the case is because this part of the law is rather vague in defining terminology. Nonetheless, in theory you can pursue a New Jersey divorce based on what is called deviant sexual conduct. The law appears to require that whatever is deemed to be deviant sexual conduct be performed upon you without your consent.

Extreme Cruelty

Yet another grounds for a marriage dissolution in New Jersey is extreme cruelty. Extreme cruelty encompasses both physical as well as mental abuse. If you intend to pursue a divorce based on allegations of extreme cruelty, you must wait three months before filing a marriage dissolution case. You need to make certain that your adjust your living situation during this time period to ensure your safety.


Imprisonment or incarceration is a basis for a New Jersey divorce. You must demonstrate to the court that your spouse was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of at least 18 months. If the sentence was less than 18 months, you must show that you did not live with your spouse for a period of time after he or she was released from jail or prison for an additional period of time that brings the time apart to at least 18 months.


Institutionalization can be a grounds for divorce if you can demonstrate that your spouse was institutionalized in a mental health facility for at least 24 consecutive months since the start of your marriage. Call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen at 201-845-7400 for a consultation if you are thinking about filing for a divorce.

Client Reviews
Peter has integrity, and values his relationships with his clients beyond his financial relationship with them. For me to say this about any lawyer is really saying something. He is compassionate, straightforward and knowledgeable. I would easily recommend him to anybody. Lewie W.
Peter Van Aulen handled my case with great diligence and integrity. He is also a compassionate individual who realizes what a difficult time divorce can be emotionally. Peter works hard and doesn't take any shortcuts in preparing for a case… I highly recommend Mr. Van Aulen and his staff. Chuck Solomon
Peter is an exceptionally great attorney. He handled my child custody case and was able to ease any of my concerns with honest answers. He always took the time to explain the pros/cons and was always available to answer any questions that I had… I would highly recommend this attorney to anyone who is looking for one. Jessica Cruz
Peter Van Aulen is a very compassionate, honest and straightforward person. He was there for me at my lowest point with a genuine concern not only for my situation, but for me and my child's well being above all… He is fair and he is strong and when push comes to shove he is there for you. Cathy Dodge
Our cousin used Peter's law office to help with a sticky custody situation. He was extremely responsive, very nice and most importantly did an awesome job with the court! He is awesome. Lawrence Polsky

*Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances