Extreme Cruelty or Irreconcilable Differences Divorce in New Jersey?

New Jersey began allowing spouses to get a no-fault divorce based on irreconcilable differences starting in 2007. Although New Jersey still allows a fault-based divorce on grounds of extreme cruelty, the vast majority of New Jersey divorces are filed on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.

How do you decide whether to file a no-fault divorce or an “extreme cruelty” divorce? Here are some facts to consider that will help you make your decision.

  • Filing an “extreme cruelty” divorce does not impact the child support order.
  • In almost all cases, filing an extreme cruelty divorce does not impact the spousal maintenance order or the property division order. An exception is when the cruelty also involves the wrongful depletion of marital assets.
  • Filing a no-fault divorce tends to keep the conflict level lower than filing a divorce that requires you to prove that your spouse committed bad acts, such as adultery, addiction, or abandonment.
  • Filing an extreme cruelty divorce is almost always appropriate if there is a history of domestic violence during the marriage, either against one spouse or against a child. New Jersey family law presumes that custody should be awarded to the victim of domestic violence rather than the perpetrator. In cases involving domestic violence, filing a divorce based on extreme cruelty may also help if the parent wants the court to order supervised visitation.

If you are going to file a divorce based on irreconcilable differences, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Both spouses must have lived in New Jersey for 12 months in a row before filing the divorce papers.
  • Both spouses must swear under oath that they have experienced irreconcilable differences for at least six months.
  • Both spouses must swear that the irreconcilable differences mean that the marriage should end.
  • Both spouses agree that no reasonable chance of reconciliation exists.

If you are thinking of filing based on extreme cruelty, it is important that you consult with an attorney to ensure that the language in your Complaint meets all the requirements and that is also truly captures the cruelty you have suffered.

You can learn more about the New Jersey divorce process at the website of Legal Services of New Jersey, which publishes a New Jersey Divorce Guide.

Considering Filing for Divorce? Contact the New Jersey Law Office of Lyons & Associates

At Lyons & Associates, we bring a high level of personalized service and attention to each of our clients, in every family law case we handle. To schedule an appointment, contact us online or call our office at 908-575-9777.