New Jersey Divorce Laws – What You Need to Know!

All 50 states now have some version of no-fault divorce laws on their books. In New Jersey, the no-fault grounds are listed as “irreconcilable differences.” In layman’s terms, this means that the marriage has been broken for at least six months and no prospect exists for reconciliation between the parties.

Many divorcing couples find it easier to seek no-fault divorces, if only to keep the private details of their marriage out of the public record. However, there can be valid reasons for New Jersey couples to seek at-fault divorces. In those cases, there are numerous at-fault grounds for divorce in New Jersey. They include:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion for 12 or more months
  • Being separated for no fewer than 18 consecutive months with no reasonable possibility of reconciliation
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Drug addiction of a voluntary nature or habitual drunkenness for a year or more after the marriage and prior to the plaintiff filing a complaint
  • Mental illness
  • Prison term of at least 24 consecutive months provided that a divorce is not sought until the sentence is completed and the the spouses don’t cohabitate after the release of the imprisoned spouse
  • Deviant sexual conduct by one spouse without consent of the other

What About Alimony?

In some divorce cases, New Jersey courts might award alimony on either a temporary or permanent basis. Some of the determining factors regarding alimony awards include:

  • One spouse’s necessity and the other’s ability to pay
  • The duration of the marriage
  • Both spouses’ emotional and psychological health and their ages
  • The marital standard of living and the ability of both parties to maintain a comparable living standard
  • The spouses’ employability, earning capacities and educational levels
  • For the party seeking alimony, the duration of absence from the job market
  • Parenting responsibilities
  • How long it will take and how much it will cost for the alimony-seeking party to obtain the training or education needed to re-enter the workforce
  • Both parties’ financial contributions to the marriage
  • Property distribution
  • Tax ramifications of alimony
  • Property distribution in divorce

Other factors may also influence the decision of the court when deciding whether or not alimony should be granted.

Is Mediation a Good Idea?

Not all divorces are full of acrimony. Some New Jersey couples simply outgrow the connection they had together at one time but are still able to be civil with one another. But perhaps they are hung up on a single issue or combination of issues. These are the couples who would benefit most from divorce mediation with a qualified professional.

Often the sticking point can be over custody of the minor children. When the parties are unable to reach common ground between them, the decision is left up to a judge. This can make both spouses uneasy, so they often turn to a mediator to resolve this very important issue between them. This gives them the control they need to work out individual issues to the benefit of all parties, especially the children who are most affected.

How Does the Mediation Process Work?

In mediation, both spouses sit down with a neutral mediator who assesses the situation independently and offers an opinion on how the parties can reach accord. Depending on the individuals and their specific needs, more than one mediation session may be in order.

Mediation doesn’t mean that the parties can’t have their day in court. It is simply a method to try first to resolve the problems out of court. When they remain hopelessly deadlocked in their respective positions, the next step will be in the courtroom where a judge will render a decision.

Mediations can successfully resolve several issues and leave one or more on the table to be decided by the court. Most judges will accept a partially mediated divorce agreement and then rule on the remaining issues, which still gives the spouses some control over the terms of their divorce.

When considering a divorce, it is always a good idea to consult with a New Jersey family law attorney for advice and guidance.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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