The Role of Fault in a New Jersey Divorce


Despite laws in many states (including New Jersey) suggesting the contrary, it is rare to come across a divorce case in which there is not some fault on the part of one spouse, the other, or both spouses. Even where one party or the other may be considered to be “at fault” in causing the breakdown of the marriage, New Jersey laws allow a spouse filing for divorce to choose either a “no-fault” divorce or a fault-based divorce. Before deciding which to choose for your divorce case, you should discuss your circumstances with a knowledgeable New Jersey family law attorney.

No-Fault Divorce: Pros and Cons

Every divorce petition needs to allege a reason why the marriage is ending, even if no fault is being alleged. A no-fault divorce simply tells the court that there has been a serious breakdown in the marital relationship such that the marriage cannot continue. Generally speaking, this is shown by the parties experiencing irreconcilable differences for at least six months and/or living “separate and apart” for 18 consecutive months. “Separate and apart” does not necessarily require that the parties occupy two separate physical residences, but it does require, for example, that they live as if they are managing two separate households. The advantage of filing for a “no-fault” divorce is that the person filing for divorce does not have to air any of the couple’s “dirty laundry” in public and that grounds for divorce can be found even if the non-filing spouse does not want the marriage to end. On the other hand, the main

disadvantage of a no-fault divorce is the requisite waiting period.

Fault-Based Divorce: Pros and Cons

Fault-based grounds for divorce include adultery, extreme cruelty, desertion, and/or drug or alcohol abuse. When you allege a fault-based ground for divorce, you as the petitioner must prove that the ground does in fact exist. If you fail to do so, the divorce may not be granted and you would still remain married to your spouse.

When you are contemplating filing for divorce in New Jersey, contact Giro Attorneys at Law, LLC for assistance. We will help you determine whether a no-fault or fault-based divorce is more appropriate for your situation. Call our firm today at (201) 690-1642.


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