No-Fault Divorce

Family Law Attorney Serving Residents of Bergen County

Divorce in New Jersey may be either no-fault or fault-based. A no-fault divorce allows couples to dissolve a marriage based simply on irreconcilable differences, or 18 months separation. Alternatively, if they wish, there are certain fault-based grounds for divorce that may be used. Whichever option is chosen, divorce is often an emotional struggle for a family as each spouse seeks to terminate their present legal reality and create a new life for him or herself. If you are seeking advice or representation for a family law matter, you should consult Bergen County divorce lawyer Brian D. Iton to protect your interests.

Dissolving a New Jersey Marriage on No-Fault Grounds

A "no-fault" divorce based on irreconcilable differences, means that the couple no longer gets along and that there is no chance that they will reconcile. The actual differences don’t have to be described to the court. It is sufficient if the court hears testimony that one party thinks that the differences are “irreconcilable”, and that the differences started at least 6 months prior to the date that the complaint for divorce was filed. The differences also have to have been continuous for the 6 month period, and they must have resulted in the breakdown of the marriage. A no-fault divorce can also be based on having lived separately from your spouse for 18 months. If you can prove an 18 month separation period, where you and your spouse did not live in the same place the court can grant your divorce on these non-fault grounds as well. It should be noted that there cannot have been any reconciliation, or resumption of marital cohabitation during this 18 month period. There are also must be testimony that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciling with your spouse after the 18 month period of separation.

When a divorce is based on no-fault grounds, spouses can terminate the marriage without sharing certain private issues in court. In most cases, no-fault is a better option. Fault-based divorces require each spouse to prove or defend against accusations that are usually difficult and expensive to prove.

Nonetheless, there are some circumstances in which it may be appropriate to allege fault. For example, under the domestic violence statutes there is a legal presumption that the perpetrator of an act of domestic violence is not entitled to be the parent of primary residence of the parties’ children. If domestic violence is a real factor in the breakdown of the marriage and legal custody of the children has not been determined the victim of the domestic violence may find it appropriate to base the divorce complaint on the defendant's domestic violence and extreme cruelty under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2(c). 

It is very important to note that with very few exceptions (such as domestic violence) whether the divorce is based on fault grounds or no-fault grounds proof of marital misconduct is not a factor that the court weighs in its decisions about property division, child custody, and spousal support. For instance, one parties’ adultery has no weight in how the court determines most marital issues.

Another advantage of pleading a no-fault divorce is that when a divorce is being filed emotions are already high. Placing allegations of past misconduct in the divorce papers can ramp up the emotional intensity level to a point where the parties’ goals shift to retaliation and infliction of pain rather than resolution seeking. A highly emotional divorce is almost always a higher conflict divorce, and a more drawn out, more expensive divorce.

Consult a Bergen County Lawyer when Pursuing a Divorce

You do not have to face the difficulty of divorce on your own. Residents of Hackensack, Fort Lee, and other communities in Bergen County who need guidance on a divorce, a child custody dispute, or another family law matter can explore their options with Bergen County divorce attorney Brian D. Iton. He has helped clients with their divorces in an efficient and cost-effective manner for more than 20 years. Call the Law Office of Brian D. Iton at (201) 731-3086 or contact us via our online form to set up a free consultation. We also represent individuals in cities across Passaic, Essex, and Hudson Counties, such as Paterson, Newark, and Jersey City.