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What is Extreme Cruelty and How Do I Prove It?
Extreme Cruelty

This is the most commonly used ground for divorce. More than one-half of the divorces in New Jersey are based on extreme cruelty. This ground includes all acts of physical violence and acts of mental cruelty which endanger your safety or health or which make continued living together unreasonable or improper. There is no waiting period.

Common factors for Extreme Cruelty are as follows:

  • Financial
    • too tight denial of necessities
    • too extravagant
    • too much credit use
    • refusal to use credit
    • neglect monthly payments
    • unreasonable spending habits on himself, wife, children
    • disputes about control
    • erratic employment
  • Embarrassing, humiliating experiences (public and private)
  • Alcohol, drugs, gambling and related activities
  • Sexual problems
    • inconsideration
    • refusal of sexual intercourse
    • sexual excess
    • unreasonable demands
    • perversions
    • impotence
    • homosexuality
    • psychological, dating other persons (but no adultery or deviant sexual conduct).
  • Domestic irresponsibility
    • chores refusal
    • not fulfilling role as father, husband, supporter
  • Lying, fraud
  • Social activities
    • lack of
    • excessiveness
  • Offensive language (in public or private)
  • Physical abuse, violence
  • Lack of personal hygiene, cleanliness
  • Lack of initiative, ambition
  • Personality hang-ups and conflicts
    • cold shoulder treatment
    • domineering spouse
  • Arguments caused by husband
  • Threats, of violence, desertion, etc.
  • Jealousy, false accusations
  • Bad temper
  • Mental illness, neurotic behavior, emotional stability
  • Criminal tendencies, convictions
  • Religious abuses
  • Poor driving habits; accident
  • Unreasonable obsessions with the occult, gurus, psychics, meditation
  • Provocation and retaliation
  • Indifference
  • Lack of affection
  • Nagging
  • Refusal to have children

To file a Complaint based on extreme cruelty you must state in writing that your husband is guilty of conduct which you find unreasonable. The standard for determining whether his conduct is unreasonable is subjective. Subjective is what you find to be unreasonable, not what someone else would find unreasonable.


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If the divorce is being filed under one of the seven fault grounds (including extreme cruelty, adultery, abandonment, substance or alcohol addiction, institutionalization, deviant sexual conduct and incarceration), the 18 month separation period, required for a no-fault divorce, is waived. However, each ground for divorce has its own stipulations.
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