New Jersey recognizes that when a marriage founders and fails, this fact should be recognized with dignity to both parties. Time was, you needed to prove at least “extreme cruelty” to get a divorce in New Jersey. Some spouses hired personal investigators to follow their spouses and prove adultery. Some spouses made inflammatory allegations just to prove their case for divorce. Many spouses did so, even when they didn’t want to, because “extreme cruelty” was their only choice. Once a spouse was served with a complaint for “extreme cruelty,” you can be they retained an aggressive attorney even if they didn’t need one. This drove up the cost of getting a divorce, because it set the tone of acrimony, even where none was intended.
In recent years, New Jersey legislators changed that. Now there is a cause of action in New Jersey called “irreconcilable differences.” You don’t need to say what they are, you just need to say you have them, and have had them for at least six months before you file a Complaint for Divorce. (This is also known as “no fault” divorce.) Once you have been properly served with a Complaint for Divorce, can you stop a divorce from happening? Not unless your spouse voluntarily withdraws the Complaint or fails to take action in the litigation. Likewise, if you file a Complaint for Divorce, there is not much your spouse can do to prevent the divorce from happening as long as you pursue it.
In this way, the New Jersey legislation has provided spouses with a simple way to acknowledge the death of a marriage, and to avail themselves of the tools, entitlements, and protections provided by the Courts under our matrimonial laws. An experienced family law attorney can guide you through the process so you can take advantage of these tools and and entitlements without creating undue acrimony in your family.