Since 2007, New Jersey has allowed people to divorce each other based on allegations of “irreconcilable differences,” adding New Jersey to the list of States recognizing “No Fault” divorces. See N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2. When a spouse claims to have “irreconcilable differences” with the other spouse, there is no inquiry from the State of New Jersey as to what makes the differences “irreconcilable.” Irreconcilable differences are defined as a “breakdown of the marriage for a period of six months … which make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved and … there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.” With the ease of obtaining a “no fault” divorce in New Jersey based on irreconcilable differences, is there a benefit to seeking a divorce based on marital fault? The answer may depend on how long you have resided in New Jersey.
Most of the prescribed grounds for divorce in New Jersey require litigants to have resided in New Jersey for at least one (1) year before they can file a Complaint for Divorce. N.J.S.A. 2A:34-10. For instance, for the grounds of irreconcilable differences, a litigant must have resided in New Jersey for at least twelve (12) consecutive months for New Jersey Courts to have jurisdiction over the case. Not so for divorce actions based on adultery. The New Jersey legislature has specifically carved out an exception to the one-year residency requirement to file a Complaint for Divorce in adultery cases by indicating the following: “… no action for absolute divorce or dissolution of a civil action shall be commenced for any cause other than adultery, unless one of the parties has been for the 1 year next proceeding the commencement of the action a bona fide resident of this State…” N.J.S.A. 2A:34-10(1)[Emphasis added]. Therefore, a litigant can file a Complaint for Divorce based on adultery even if they have not resided in New Jersey for one (1) year.
If you suspect your spouse has committed or is committing adultery on an ongoing basis, talk to a family law attorney about whether you can file for a divorce, even if you have not resided in New Jersey for over one (1) year. The attorneys at Donahue, Hagan, Klein & Weisberg, LLC can guide you through the process of seeking a divorce based on marital fault.
N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2 lists nine (9) reasons for divorce (i.e., “grounds”) in New Jersey: adultery; willful and continued desertion for 12 or more months; extreme cruelty; separation for at least 18 consecutive months; voluntary addiction to narcotics or habitual drunkenness; institutionalization for mental illness for 24 consecutive months; deviant sexual conduct; and irreconcilable differences.