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Is fault ever relevant in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Apr 26, 2023 | Divorce

If you have chosen to end your marriage, you probably have several legitimate reasons for wanting a divorce. You do not need to state these reasons in open court, however. After all, according to New Jersey Courts, you can divorce your spouse simply because you have had irreconcilable differences for at least six months.

You do not even have to tell the court what your irreconcilable differences are. Indeed, to qualify for a divorce, you only must assert that your marriage has suffered an irretrievable breakdown. Nevertheless, despite New Jersey’s no-fault approach to divorce, fault sometimes can be relevant.

What are the fault-based grounds for divorce?

It often makes sense for couples to proceed with a no-fault divorce after they have had irreconcilable differences for at least half a year. Still, if you want to assign fault for the end of your marriage, state law allows you to do so under certain circumstances.

In New Jersey, there are six fault-based grounds for divorce:

  • Adultery
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Sexual deviance
  • Excessive drug or alcohol use
  • Imprisonment
  • Institutionalization

As you can see, each of these fault-based reasons for divorce also can lead to irreconcilable differences.

What are the effects of a fault-based divorce?

If you want to avoid the social stigma that comes with divorce, proceeding with a fault-based divorce might help you accomplish your goal. Moreover, a judge might consider your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s fault when dividing marital property, weighing spousal support or deciding child custody.

Fault-based divorce can be more complex than no-fault divorce, as you likely need to prove your spouse’s fault. Ultimately, though, if you want to hold your spouse responsible for the downfall of your marriage, looking into fault-based divorce might make sense.