What are divorce laws in New Jersey?
There are a number of laws specific to New Jersey that are specific to the state and do not apply to surrounding states. If you were not married in New Jersey or if you're been previously divorced in another state, you'll want to keep these laws in mind so your divorce process will be efficient.
Grounds for Divorce in NJ
According to New Jersey state law, the following four reasons are grounds for divorce: irreconcilable differences, separation, desertion or extreme cruelty. The latter three count as "fault-based" divorces, and divorce laws often benefit those spouses who file for divorce on these grounds. A person can also file for divorce after continued -- at least twelve months -- of drug or alcohol abuse by his or her spouse. New Jersey divorce laws do allow for no-fault divorces under irreconcilable differences in addition to fault-based divorce; however, the state of New Jersey is not a purely no-fault divorce state.
The benefit of divorce laws that allow for divorce based on irreconcilable differences means that neither spouse has to prove ground for divorce. This means the couple can keep their private lives private, and neither spouse has to air the other's dirty laundry. Some experts also describe no-fault divorce laws as beneficial to children who can become pawns for their parents during a fault-based divorce. Because divorce is traumatic for children no matter their age, a no-fault divorce can lessen the impact on the family unit even though the parents have decided to divorce one another.
New Jersey also allows for dissolution of a marriage if a couple has been separated for at least eighteen months. The separation itself becomes grounds for the divorce, and there is no need to prove fault or irreconcilable differences between the couples. Separation is separate from willful abandonment for more than one year, also known as desertion. Desertion is cause for a fault-based divorce in the state of New Jersey.
Division of Property After Divorce
Aside from children, a couple in the state of New Jersey will need to divide their property and income. According to state law, a couple that has been married for a long time and has an equitable amount of wealth or ability to obtain wealth will be able to split their income in what is known as an equitable distribution.
However, courts in New Jersey will often award more income or property to the spouse who has less income or a lesser ability to earn income. Furthermore, New Jersey courts award fewer debts and more income to a spouse who provided less income to the marriage if it was a short-term marriage. New Jersey courts will also take into consideration which spouse has custody of the children. If one spouse has health consideration or other adverse circumstances, he or she may be eligible for greater distribution of wealth through divorce in the state of New Jersey.