There’s a lot of action in the New Jersey legislature these days. Most of the publicity is over the property tax reform proposals, as that affects the most amount of people. However, another one winding its way through the legislative process is bill A-483 (which is the same as S-1467). This bill will add a “no-fault” divorce cause to the existing statutory list of causes for divorce. The exact wording is: “Irreconcilable differences which have caused the breakdown of the marriage for a period of six months and which make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved and that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation.”
Currently, the “no-fault” option is an 18 month separation. This really does not allow people to move on with their lives from a situation they no longer wish to be in. The other more speedy option is to use the “extreme cruelty” cause, where one party has to blame the other. Unfortunately, the term probably sounds harsher than it is in reality. “He continually wouldn’t watch the tv program I wanted to <or> She didn’t make dinner when I got home from work” could be construed as extreme cruelty. But ultimately, one party often doesn’t want to take the blame in official documents.
The bill passed the senate earlier this month by a 30-5 margin and went through its second reading in the assembly. This means it should come up for a vote soon. Governor Corzine has not expressed a position on whether he would sign the bill or not to pass it into law. Passage in the senate was by a veto-proof majority.
The main opponent to the bill is essentially the Catholic Church. They argue that more resources should be put into counseling and keeping marriages together instead of making it easier to dissolve one. At the end of the day, it is two consenting and informed adults who are making an adult decision on how to live thier lives. Almost no one takes the decision to get divorced lightly. For most people, it is a very emotional time which completely upsets their lives. Further, it is a lengthy process and can be very expensive (although mediation can speed the process up and make it less expensive).
I will post updates as the bills pass through the legislative process. You can find a full list of the current causes of action to get a divorce in NJ under the resources section of the Sanns Mediation website.