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A Woman's Guide to Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey
(provided by Ann O'Flanagan, Esq.)

A Woman's Guide to Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey


IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES - This new ground for divorce allows either husband or wife to file a COMPLAINT (formal written request for a divorce) without any specific reason. The only statements the party filing for divorce must make are:1) there has been a breakdown of the marriage for a period of six months; which makes it appear that the marriage should be dissolved; and 2) there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.

18 MONTH SEPARATION - Neither spouse is required to offer evidence of fault or wrongdoing. The Complaint must state that you and your husband have lived in different houses for 18 months or more and that the months have been consecutive. You must state that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation. Living in the same house in different bedrooms does not fulfill the requirement. You do not have to file any documents to start the running of the 18 months. At the end of 18 months you will file a SWORN STATEMENT that you and your husband have been separated, living separate and apart, in different houses for 18 months or more and you do not expect to reconcile.


MENTAL ILLNESS - If your husband has been in an institution for 24 months or more, you are entitled to a divorce. The institutionalization must be for 24 consecutive months and the entire 24 months must be after the wedding ceremony.

IMPRISONMENT - If your husband has been in a prison for 18 months or more, this ground for divorce applies to you. The imprisonment must be for 18 consecutive months. The entire 18 months must be after the marriage began. The Complaint for divorce should be filed while your husband is in prison. If he is released and you resume living together, you no longer qualify for a divorce under this ground.

WILLFUL AND CONTINUED DESERTION, PHYSICAL - If your husband moved out of the marital home and he has been gone for at least 12 months, he has deserted you. The desertion must be for 12 consecutive months. If you and your husband agree that you will separate and that he will move out, you may still file a Complaint based on desertion.

WILLFUL AND CONTINUED DESERTION, SEXUAL - Sexual desertion is a persistent refusal by your husband to engage in sexual relations with you for a period of 12 months or more. This type of desertion cannot be by mutual consent. Your husband must refuse to engage in relations you desire and would engage in if he were willing.

VOLUNTARILY INDUCED ADDICTION - If your husband is an alcoholic or drug addict this applies. The alcoholism or drug abuse must be for 12 consecutive months or more. This ground is usually used in connection with extreme cruelty.

ADULTERY - If your husband is having an affair and you know the name and address of the "other woman" you may file for a divorce based on adultery. You can rely on circumstantial evidence to prove adultery and don't need pictures in a hotel room.

We have all heard of a person being accused of murder and convicted of murder where there is no body and no murder weapon. The person may be convicted even though no one saw him fire the gun. This conviction is based on circumstantial evidence. You can prove adultery the same way.

These are a few of the documents that would be used:

a. Credit card bills for hotel rooms where the hotel register lists "Mr. and Mrs."

b. Credit card bills for women's jewelry where you can prove that no female member of your family received it

c. Love notes and cards

d. Pictures of your husband holding hands with, kissing or just standing a "little too close" to another woman

e. Private detective report - a private investigator may be hired to follow your husband and track his activities

Unlike the previous categories there are no requirements that the behavior continue for some minimum period of time.

A copy of the Complaint which states that adultery is the ground for divorce must be sent by certified mail to the "other woman." The legal term for the "other woman" is a CORESPONDENT. A Corespondent may answer and say that she is not involved with your husband. The concept of serving the "corespondent" came into being when being accused of having an extramarital affair would ruin a woman's reputation. The courts still require notification to the corespondent even though the stigma has weakened considerably.

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.



- 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

2. EMBARRASSING, humiliating experiences (public and private)

3. ALCOHOL, drugs, gambling and related activities

4. 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).

5. DOMESTIC irresponsibility

- chores refusal
- not fulfilling role as father, husband, supporter

6. LYING, fraud

7. SOCIAL activities

- lack of
- excessiveness

8. Offensive LANGUAGE (in public or private)

9. Physical ABUSE, violence

10. Lack of PERSONAL HYGIENE, cleanliness

11. Lack of initiative, AMBITION

12. PERSONALITY hang-ups and conflicts

- cold shoulder treatment
- domineering spouse

13. ARGUMENTS caused by husband

14. THREATS, of violence, desertion, etc.

15. JEALOUSY, false accusations

16. Bad TEMPER

17. MENTAL ILLNESS, neurotic behavior, emotional stability
18. CRIMINAL tendencies, convictions

19. RELIGIOUS abuses

20. POOR DRIVING habits; accident

21. UNREASONABLE OBSESSIONS with the occult, gurus, psychics, meditation

22. PROVOCATION and retaliation


24. Lack of AFFECTION


26. 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.

Copyrightę 2007 by Ann O'Flanagan, Esq.
All rights reserved

Information provided by:
Ann O'Flanagan

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