Over the past few years, a significant number of lawmakers have tried to end the practice of no-fault divorce in various states. This type of divorce means that neither party is being blamed for the breakdown of the marriage (for reasons such as adultery or abuse). The most typical reason used for a no-fault divorce is “irreconcilable differences.”
Historically, before the advent of no-fault divorces, divorces were difficult to obtain, even with reasons such as abuse—and, even with evidence. It’s only been since the 1960's that no-fault divorces have been easier to obtain, with California becoming the first state to legalize them. Within two decades, 49 out of 50 states had no-fault divorces, with New York only legalizing them in 2010.
The religious and cultural motive behind this push to end no-fault divorces has largely been about the preservation of marriage as a social institution. From this point of view, making it harder and more expensive to divorce will mean fewer couples will get one. Those who advocate such measures claim that getting divorced is "too easy," and discourages couples from working to repair their relationships.
This could not be further from the truth. Divorce is already costs a great deal of time, money and energy. Unnecessarily prolonging a divorce can have some harmful effects in all of these areas.
Some lawmakers have also tried to lengthen the waiting period of a divorce, which can drive up costs in attorney fees, leave women in possibly dangerous situations, and overall, increase the acrimony and frustration of divorce proceedings—all of which can also profoundly impact children. Additionally, a study has shown that no-fault divorces have helped to drop rates of domestic violence and have prevented more women from committing suicide. When it comes to how children handle divorce, family conflict occurring before a divorce often creates more harm than the divorce itself.
Not all lawmakers are trying to make the process of divorce a longer one. This year, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill that shortened the waiting period for divorce from two years to one year. Supporters of the bill hoped that this would lessen the stress of the transition, help parents create a stable environment and routine for their children, and ensure that a divorce overall is a less costly affair—especially financially and emotionally.
Going through a divorce can be a tumultuous time. To learn more about the no-fault divorce laws in New Jersey and how they can impact you and your case, it’s best to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process.