Grounds for a New Jersey Divorce
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Grounds for a New Jersey Divorce

New Jersey Divorce Lawyers | Family Law Attorneys

Grounds for divorce in New Jersey

NJ Grounds for Divorce

In the state of New Jersey, like other states, the complaint for divorce must contain the reason for the divorce. It cannot be just any reason; only those permitted by law can be used. These reasons are known as “grounds for divorce.” In New Jersey the recognized grounds for divorce are:

  • Six month irreconcilable differences;
  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Extreme Cruelty
  • Separation
  • Voluntary Addiction to Narcotic Drugs
  • Habitual Drunkenness
  • Institutionalization for Mental Illness
  • Imprisonment
  • Deviant Sexual Conduct
  • Irreconcilable Differences


The ground that you choose may affect when you will be able to file for divorce. You can file immediately for divorce using a ground such as irreconcilable differences, extreme cruelty or adultery (which is rarely used). You have the option to file under the ground of separation if you have lived physically separate and live apart for 18 months or you can chose desertion if your spouse left you and did not return  for a period of greater than one year.   


Most Used Grounds for Divorce

  • Irreconcilable Differences

In 2007, New Jersey changed it’s law and united with a growing number of other states by including  “irreconcilable differences” as a ground for divorce. Prior to the new ground of “irreconcilable differences” you would have to wait for 18 months, if the separation was mutual or 12 months if there was a desertion.  Only Extreme Cruelty, which many people did not favor, would permit you to divorce in quick time.   Now with the new ground of irreconcilable differences divorcing couples can begin a divorce in a more to begin their legal proceedings in a more respectful manner, without having to accuse the other of   being at fault. Irreconcilable differences just means that there has been a breakdown of the marriage and it has lasted at least six months.

  • Extreme Cruelty 

A common reason used as ground for divorce is "Extreme Cruelty".   Even though it appears very harsh, in fact, as it is used in New Jersey, it can be used for almost any time of disagreement.  Whereas in other states there has to be a physical act for this ground  of divorce, in New Jersey there does not have to be any physical act and either mental or emotional effect of the disagreements can be used to establish the ground for divorce; it would suffice.  However, in certain instances, the Extreme Cruelty can be used to describe horrendous actions by one of the spouse, but his is only used when the divorce is litigious and unfriendly.


  • Separation

Using the ground “separation” is permitted  if the couple has lived apart in different habitations  for at least 18 months.


If you would like to learn more about beginning a divorce process, divorce documents, divorce procedures or for basic questions about divorce in NJ, please contact us for a Free Consulation at (973) 465-7600

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