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NJ Divorce Grounds


If you are going to file for divorce, you should know that there are nine NJ divorce grounds.

But 99 out of 100 people who file for divorce in New Jersey file on only one of those grounds (more on that in a minute.)

The 9 possible grounds for you to file on are:



3.Extreme cruelty;

4.18 months separation;

5.Habitual drunkenness;

6.Institutionalization for mental illness,;


8.Deviant sexual conduct;

9.Irreconcilable differences.

Today most New Jersey divorce cases are filed under "Irreconcilable Differences."


Well, I think the reason is that it is much less offensive for most people to be charged with "irreconcilable differences" than any of the other grounds (except 18 months separation, and most people do not want to wait a year and a half before filing for divorce.)

In order to get divorced in NJ based upon "irreconcilable differences," you don't have to prove much.

Indeed, all you have to prove is that you have differences that cannot be reconciled, that these differences have caused your marriage to break down, and that the break down in your marriage caused by these differences have lasted for at least the past 6 months.

You then need to allege that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.

That's it. That's what you need to prove to obtain a divorce in New Jersey based upon "irreconcilable differences."

But many people tell me, "I want to file for divorce based upon adultery because he cheated."

Or, "Why can't I file charges based upon extreme cruelty? The things that she's done to me were cruel?"

"Well," I tell them, "you can."

Indeed, to get divorced based upon adultery in New Jersey, you need to allege that the adultery took place. You don't even need to list the name of the person who you say committed adultery with your spouse if you don't know it.

The reality is that most of the time (not always), if the case settles ultimately, the Judge is not going to force you to prove that your spouse had sex with someone else, and you will usually be able to obtain a divorce based upon adultery if you make those allegations in your divorce complain.

This is because usually by the time everything is settled, your spouse is just looking to get the case over with and will "withdraw" his answer to your divorce complaint that had presumably denied the adultery.

Once the withdrawal of the denial occurs, you proceed to an uncontested divorce hearing based upon the adultery that is no longer being denied. And a Judge in NJ will not reduce the alimony of a recipient because that recipient cheated on the payor, nor will the Judge increase the alimony payments of an unfaithful payor of alimony.

The same thing is true for alleging extreme cruelty.

"Extreme cruelty" is defined as any physical or mental cruelty which endangers your safety or health, or which makes it improper or unreasonable to expect you to continue to live with your spouse.

You simply list the allegations of "extreme cruelty" in your divorce complaint and, just like with adultery, the Judge is usually not going to require you to prove that the extreme cruelty alleged as your grounds for divorce in court actually happened exactly the way that you say that they happened.

Simply listing your allegations, along with a sworn statement by you that the allegations are true, will almost always be enough and you will likely be divorced based upon your sworn allegations of "extreme cruelty" (for the same reasons as given above for adultery grounds.)

So why would I encourage a prospective client who really does have "fault grounds" like adultery or extreme cruelty to seriously consider not filing for divorce based upon adultery or extreme cruelty?

Well, having done nothing but divorce here in New Jersey for over 33 years, I have seen what happens when one spouse makes allegations against the other spouse, even if those allegations are 100% true (which obviously they must be in order to make those allegations without lying to the Court, which no one should ever do.)

It's like two kids on the playground. One child accuses the other of something. The other child, rather than taking a deep thought and saying, "Hey, did I really do that?" instead says, "Oh yeah? Well you did this to me…" 

And it goes on and on, back and forth.

Who are the victims of these allegations really?

Unfortunately, often it is the children.

The children are now living with parents who are fighting over who did what to who.

Not good.

The alternative is to help clients focus on, "How do we deal with the issues that are in dispute between us, so as to minimize the cost to us and to minimize the impact of this process on our family?"  

Another way of saying this is that it is more useful and productive for someone going through a divorce in NJ to focus on their goals.

Similar arguments can be made for the remaining five potential causes of action for divorce in New Jersey. A prospective client could list any of those five:  desertion, addiction, institutionalization for mental illness, imprisonment for 18 consecutive months, or deviant sexual conduct - - and obtain a divorce.

But, like alleging adultery or extreme cruelty, these types of allegations can be very offensive to the other spouse and can cause your divorce to become more complicated, longer, more expensive, and more damaging to the parties and to their children.

No one wants that.

And so irreconcilable differences, which has now been the law in New Jersey for the past 13 years, has really become the "default ground" of most NJ divorce cases.

Indeed, since the adoption of New Jersey's "irreconcilable differences" statute, of all the divorce cases that my office has filed, I can't think of more than 1 or 2 that were filed on any grounds other than "irreconcilable differences."

And this has made a tremendous positive difference in the quality of the lives of both the divorcing couples and their children.



If you are considering separating or filing for divorce, the most important thing for you to do before doing anything else is to learn how to protect yourself, your children, and your assets.

undefinedI'll show you how you can do it.

I've been a divorce specialist in Colts Neck (by Delicious Orchards) for 36 years, and I've successfully represented many people against narcissistic spouses.

I "get it" and I'm here to help.

My free NJ DIVORCE EDGE 2024 (click here) course will teach you how to turn your situation around to your advantage.

Every divorce case is different. My emails will teach you, in an easy to understand way, everything that you need to know to help you make the right decisions based upon the particular facts of your situation.

I get emails from strangers all the time thanking me for making this information available to them online at no cost, and I'm pretty certain that you, too, will get a lot of value from my emails.

And if you want to stop the emails, I made it really easy for you to do that... one click on any email stops the course. But few people do that...because the material is really helpful to anyone who is even just beginning to think about getting a divorce here in Monmouth County.


Are you ready to start turning things around?

The next move is up to you...!

Click the link above and begin learning how to get the "edge" in YOUR Monmouth County divorce case.

Until next time,

Steven J. Kaplan, Esq.

Specializing In Divorce
Throughout New Jersey

5 Professional Circle
Colts Neck, NJ. 07722

(732) 845-9010

CLICK HERE To Learn About My Free NJ DIVORCE EDGE 2024 Course!

Topics: Divorce, Divorce Court