Fault-Based Divorce in New Jersey

If you are considering getting a divorce in New Jersey, the law provides two main options to dissolve your marriage, no-fault divorce and fault-based divorce. Under the fault-based divorce process, you must firmly establish that your spouse’s actions or behavior are the primary reason for the breakdown of your marriage.

There are specific grounds under the law that can meet this standard, and understanding these grounds is an important first step in the divorce process. A dedicated divorce attorney can help you pursue either a no-fault or fault-based divorce in New Jersey depending on your particular circumstances.

The Differences Between No-Fault and Fault-Based Divorce

Whether a person pursues fault-based or no-fault divorce, they must have a viable reason to dissolve their marriage. The grounds for each type of divorce vary significantly, and a skilled divorce attorney can explain the nuances involved.

In general, no-fault divorces are preferred in New Jersey, given that there are fewer challenges in securing them. Unlike fault-based divorce, a person must only establish that they have either separated from their spouse or that they have irreconcilable differences. There is no requirement for either spouse to allege that the other has done anything wrong. Likewise, the burden of establishing these grounds is much lower compared to that of a fault-based divorce.

Grounds for Fault-Based Divorce

There are multiple grounds upon which a court can grant a fault-based divorce. Some of these grounds require a degree of fault that continues over a period of time. For example, the ground of willful abandonment is only viable if one spouse deserted their partner for at least 12 consecutive months. The same is true with the grounds of drug or alcohol abuse. The abuse of these substances is only grounds for divorce if they last for at least one year as well.

Other types of fault do not require any waiting period. Acts of adultery and deviant sexual conduct do not require a waiting period.

There are a variety of other grounds that can result in a fault-based divorce, including a spouse’s imprisonment or institutionalization due to mental illness.

While establishing fault is necessary to obtain a fault-based divorce, this determination will not have an impact on the court’s decisions regarding property division, custody, or visitation.

However, in limited circumstances, judges can consider fault or other misconduct when determining an alimony contract and the amount of the potential payments.

Reach out to an Attorney Regarding a Fault-Based Divorce in New Jersey

Before you pursue a fault-based divorce on your own, consider discussing your options with legal counsel. While fault-based divorce may still be the best option in some cases, a skilled New Jersey divorce attorney can advise you whether a no-fault approach might be right for your personal situation. Call right away to learn more about this type of divorce and prepare to begin the legal process.

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