Splitting couples in New Jersey must cite the cause when filing for divorce. People end their marriages for many reasons, but the law categorizes these into certain lawful causes, or “grounds.”
This does not mean that you need to recount intimate marital details in your divorce papers — in fact, including these could negatively impact your outcome. But divorcing couples do need to cite the cause in general legal terms.
Many divorcing couples cite “irreconcilable differences” as a causal factor when they are unable to negotiate life together. If you plan to divorce on these grounds, keep in mind that this inability to cooperate must have lasted at least six months, and you must be certain that reconciliation is impossible.
Legal separation is also lawful grounds for divorce in New Jersey. By state court definitions, this means that you and your spouse have lived apart for at least a year and a half.
Irreconcilable differences and legal separation are no-fault grounds and can help you avoid exposing intimate family drama. You do not need to explain or even state what your differences are. Doing so could reflect negatively on your character to the court. Disparaging the other spouse and exacerbating conflict may affect the court’s consideration of alimony, child support and property division.
If your spouse has wronged you significantly, you may cite the fault as cause for divorce in some cases. You can cite extreme cruelty if your spouse has abused you physically or emotionally, but keep in mind that you will have to produce evidence for this to hold up in court.
You may also divorce for infidelity or for lengthy absence due to incarceration or institutionalization. Claiming faults such as these typically requires evidence, but it can produce the best outcome in certain cases.