NJ Family Law - Fault Divorce Causes of Action

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Extreme Cruelty

Extreme cruelty includes any physical or mental cruelty that makes it improper or unreasonable to expect the victim to cohabitate with his or her spouse. N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2(c).


Willful and continuous desertion by one party for a period of 12 or more months and adequate proof that the parties have ceased to live together as man and wife constitutes desertion under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2(b). It is important to note that the parties may live in the same house. The crucial element here is "as man and wife". Thus, desertion may be claimed after 12 or more months of no sexual relations.


When one spouse has been institutionalized for mental illness for a period of 24 or more consecutive months after the marriage and prior to the filing of the complaint, institutionalization is a ground for divorce under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2(f). The issue to be determined is whether or not the spouse is able to function as a working partner in the marriage.

Deviant Sexual Conduct

This is a ground for divorce upon proof that defendant/spouse has engaged in deviant sexual conduct without the consent of the plaintiff spouse. N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2(h).


The courts have held that "adultery exists when one spouse rejects the other by entering into a personal intimate relationship with any other person, irrespective of the specific sexual acts performed; the rejection of the spouse coupled with out-of-marriage intimacy constitutes adultery". New Jersey Court Rule 5:4-2 requires that the plaintiff in an adultery action state the name of the person with whom the offending conduct was committed. If the name is not known, the plaintiff must give as much information as possible tending to describe the person.


Under N.J.S.A 2A:34-2(e), addiction involves a dependence on a narcotic or other controlled, dangerous substance or a habitual drunkenness for a period of 12 or more consecutive months immediately preceding the filing of the complaint. The evidence must show that the use of alcohol and drugs was persistent and substantial.


Imprisonment as a ground for divorce occurs when a spouse has been in prison for 18 or more months after the marriage. N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2(g). The parties must not have resumed cohabitation after the imprisonment.