Irreconcilable Differences and the Decline of 18 Months Separation

Divorce can be a challenging and emotional process, but in recent years, changes in divorce laws have provided more options and flexibility for couples seeking to end their marriage.

In New Jersey, the introduction of irreconcilable differences as a no-fault option has revolutionized the divorce landscape, resulting in a decline in the number of people filing based on the traditional 18 months separation requirement.

In this article, I will delve into the pros and cons of filing for divorce in New Jersey based on the 18 months separation and explore why the introduction of irreconcilable differences has become a preferred choice for many couples.

The Evolution of Divorce Laws in New Jersey

In the past, couples seeking a divorce in New Jersey had limited options, with the most common approach being filing based on the grounds of fault, such as adultery, desertion, or extreme cruelty. These grounds often led to a contentious and lengthy legal process, exacerbating the emotional strain on both parties involved.

However, in recent years, New Jersey enacted legislation allowing couples to file for divorce on no-fault grounds, specifically citing irreconcilable differences. This no-fault option has significantly transformed the divorce landscape, providing couples with a more amicable and less confrontational alternative.

The Decline of 18 Months Separation

Prior to the advent of irreconcilable differences as a no-fault option, couples seeking a divorce in New Jersey had to live separately for a minimum of 18 consecutive months before filing.

This period was seen as a way to ensure that reconciliation was impossible.

However, with the introduction of irreconcilable differences, couples now have the freedom to pursue a divorce without waiting for such an extended period of separation.

Pros of Filing for Divorce Based on 18 Months Separation

  1. Reflection and Reconciliation: The lengthy separation period provided couples with an opportunity to reflect on their relationship and explore the possibility of reconciliation. For some couples, this time apart has proven to be instrumental in working through their differences and salvaging their marriage.

  2. Time for Emotional Adjustment: Going through a divorce is an emotionally challenging process. The 18 months separation period allowed individuals to gradually adjust to the idea of divorce, seek counseling, and make necessary arrangements for their future.

Cons of Filing for Divorce Based on 18 Months Separation

  1. Prolonged Legal Process: Waiting for 18 months before filing for divorce can result in a protracted legal process. This extended period often adds to the emotional stress and financial burden for both parties involved.

  2. Potential for Increased Conflict: Continuing to live separately for such an extended period may lead to increased animosity and conflict, making it difficult for couples to reach amicable agreements on matters such as child custody, spousal support, and property division.

Advantages of Irreconcilable Differences as a No-Fault Option

  1. Less Contentious Approach: Filing for divorce based on irreconcilable differences allows couples to dissolve their marriage in a less confrontational manner. By focusing on the underlying incompatibility rather than assigning blame, the process becomes more cooperative and respectful.

  2. Efficient and Cost-Effective: Choosing irreconcilable differences as the basis for divorce eliminates the need to prove fault, streamlining the legal process. This results in reduced legal fees, shorter court proceedings, and overall cost savings.

  3. Focus on Co-Parenting: When children are involved, the no-fault option helps parents maintain a more amicable relationship, fostering a healthier co-parenting dynamic. It allows them to prioritize the well-being of their children and work together.



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