Love. It makes you do some crazy things, doesn't it?

For many people, finding that special person takes a great deal of time -- but when you do, you want to be with your soulmate forever and ever.

You get married. Buy a house in just the right neighborhood. You spend days and days picking out the perfect shade of blue paint for your living room. Maybe have a child or two.

Then, for a good number of people, it all comes crashing down.


Experts say about 40 to 50 percent of first marriages in America end in divorce. If you get married again, that figure jumps above 60 percent.

But "getting a divorce" isn't as cut and dry as it sounds. It's a complex legal proceeding, especially in New Jersey.

Time comes into play

In several states, you can get divorced in a matter of weeks after tying the knot. However, according to,

To file for divorce in New Jersey, you or your spouse have to be residents of the state for at least twelve consecutive months before filing.


And then the blame game can come into play as the state allows for both no-fault (i.e. you just don't like the other person anymore) or at-fault (something bad happened, like your spouse is in jail for a long time, has a drug addiction, etc.) divorces.

Before we proceed into the legal reasons for divorce in New Jersey, a quick disclaimer: this is not intended to be legal advice. If you are considering filing for divorce, you should probably contact a lawyer to discuss a zillion things you probably haven't thought about.

So, here are the legal grounds for divorce in New Jersey.

1. Adultery

Uncleaned hotel room in a typical American hotel

Adultery is defined as extramarital sex between a married person and someone who is not in the marriage, otherwise commonly known as having an affair.

2. Willful and continued desertion for the term of 12 or more months

Woman jeans and sneaker shoes

In simpler terms, if one spouse gets up and leaves and they don't see each other for a year or more, that is grounds for divorce in New Jersey.

3. Extreme cruelty


The state defines extreme cruelty as,

Any physical or mental cruelty which endangers the safety or health of the plaintiff or makes it improper or unreasonable to expect the plaintiff to continue to cohabit with the defendant; provided that no complaint for divorce shall be filed until after 3 months from the date of the last act of cruelty complained of in the complaint, but this provision shall not be held to apply to any counterclaim.

4. Separation

Lonely person in an empty house - Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash
Lonely person in an empty house - Photo by Kari Shea on Unsplash

Provided that the husband and wife have lived separate and apart in different habitations for a period of at least 18 or more consecutive months and there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation; provided, further that after the 18-month period there shall be a presumption that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.

5. Voluntarily induced addiction or habituation to any narcotic drug / habitual drunkenness

Drug syringe and cooked heroin on spoon

An addiction to drugs or always being drunk in New Jersey can be grounds for divorce.

6. Institutionalization for mental illness for 24 or more consecutive months


You can file for divorce in New Jersey if your significant other has been institutionalized for a mental illness for at least two years.

7. Prison

Hallway of prison cells - Photo by Matthew Ansley on Unsplash
Hallway of prison cells - Photo by Matthew Ansley on Unsplash

If the one you marry finds him or herself behind bars for an extended period of time, you can file to dissolve the marriage.

Imprisonment of the defendant for 18 or more consecutive months after marriage, provided that where the action is not commenced until after the defendant's release, the parties have not resumed cohabitation following such imprisonment.

8. Deviant sexual conduct voluntarily performed by the defendant without the consent of the plaintiff

Closeup of white pillow on the bed in the bedroom

There are several sources online that describe this reason as being poorly defined by the state. You are strongly urged to contact a lawyer if you believe this may involve your situation.

9. Irreconcilable differences

Man and woman after fight

Perhaps the most common reason people use when it comes time to file for divorce in New Jersey.

Irreconcilable differences which have caused the breakdown of the marriage for a period of six months and which make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.


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