To get a divorce in any state, you must have a legally accepted reason (or "ground"). Before filing for divorce in New Jersey, you should understand what the state's grounds for divorce are, how to decide which one applies to your divorce, and the consequences of your decision.
New Jersey is a hybrid divorce state—meaning that the state allows you to choose either a no-fault or fault-based divorce. When you file for a fault-based divorce, you'll need to claim (and prove) that your spouse was to blame for the end of your marriage by engaging in a certain kind of misconduct. That's not necessary with a no-fault divorce.
Whether you file for a no-fault or a fault-based divorce, you'll also have to meet New Jersey's residency requirement. The general rule is that you or your spouse must have been a state resident for a year just before you file the divorce papers. The only exception is when you're filing based on your spouse's adultery. In that case, one of you must have lived in the state since the adultery happened. (N.J. Stat. § 2A:34-10 (2023).)
New Jersey has two no-fault divorce grounds:
(N.J. Stat. § 2A:34-2(d), (i) (2023).)
You'll need to claim a no-fault ground if you want the time- and cost-saving advantages of uncontested divorce in New Jersey. But you should know that a no-fault divorce isn't necessarily the same as an uncontested divorce. Even if you and your spouse have been separated long enough or agree that you have irreconcilable differences, your divorce will be contested if you aren't also able to agree about all of the legal issues involved in ending your marriage, including property division, alimony, and, if you have kids, child support and custody.
In New Jersey, you also have the option of filing for divorce based on any of the following types of misconduct:
Although it's not misconduct, mental illness is also allowed as a fault-based divorce ground, as long as your spouse was institutionalized for at least two consecutive years just before you started divorce proceedings. (N.J. Stat. § 2A:34-2 (2023).)
If you pursue a fault-based divorce, you'll have to attend a court hearing and present evidence proving that:
You'll most likely need to hire an attorney to help you gather the right kind of evidence and to argue your case before the judge. All of this means more time and more expense.
If you're considering filing for a fault-based divorce, you should at least speak to an experienced family lawyer who can evaluate your situation and help you decide whether there would be any benefit that would outweigh the added cost and stress that come with this type of divorce.