What Is The Difference Between Irreconcilable Differences & Extreme Cruelty?
Although clients oftentimes give a number of reasons for why they are getting divorced, adultery being one of the most common; irreconcilable differences is the most common reason given to the Court. In the state of New Jersey, more than half of all divorces cite irreconcilable differences as their basis. If it is possible to avoid conflict and dredging up of the past, that is when the all-too-familiar ‘irreconcilable differences’ makes an appearance. A divorce based on irreconcilable differences is a no-fault divorce. It is a minimal conflict solution. However, there are stipulations that apply to both spouses:
- Twelve months of continuous residence in NJ, prior to filing divorce papers;
- Swearing, under oath, to at least six months of irreconcilable differences;
- Certainty that marriage should end based on said differences; and
- Acknowledgment that there is no chance for reconciliation.
Even though one can file based on irreconcilable differences, some people still choose to file based on “extreme cruelty”. What is meant by "extreme cruelty"? The term encompasses all acts of physical violence and mental cruelty that are a danger to a spouse’s safety or health or simply make continued cohabitation unreasonable or improper. The actual list of factors that equate to extreme cruelty is exhaustive but here are some examples of the major ones:
- Financial hardships such as, credit problems, dispute over control of finances or neglect of payments.
- Alcohol, drugs or gambling.
- Sexual problems or abuse.
- Physical abuse.
- Mental or emotional instability.
- Criminal tendencies or convictions.
The bottom line is that a divorce based on extreme cruelty comes with the burden of presenting proof of whatever criteria applies, meaning revisiting the unpleasantness that led to the end of the marriage. The truth is that it does not even affect any decision regarding support or the division of property, unless of course the hardship in question resulted in one spouse wrongfully depleting marital assets, etc.
No one expects divorce to be pleasant but it can be civil. The unpleasantness factor may likely increase, but that is where expertise in these types of matters will become a crucial focus of the proceedings. This office can help you find the words that will capture the precise details of your experience. Contact us now.