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In New Jersey, marital abandonment is viewed as willful and continued desertion for a period of 12 or more months. This is one of the at-fault grounds for dissolution of marriage in the state. To demonstrate desertion by your spouse, you must prove the following:
(1) Your spouse has been residing outside of the marital home for at least one year;
(2) You did not agree to the separation or abandonment;
(3) You did not cause the departure; and
(4) Your spouse failed to support you, your kids and/or the household while away.
In 2007, New Jersey law added irreconcilable differences as a ground for divorce. This transformed New Jersey into a no-fault state. Though fault based grounds are still available, these days they are rarely used to terminate a marriage. Moreover these at-fault grounds typically have little to no impact on how a judge determines the various orders for your divorce settlement. In the case of child custody, your spouse’s abandonment may have some impact, however. If the court finds that your spouse has deserted the children of the marriage, this can have come bearing on these rulings. Essentially, if you have had sole parental custody for the year or more that your spouse has been gone, the court is likely to make this arrangement permanent and legal in your divorce order.
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