When it comes to getting divorced, it appears that New Jersey is a much more progressive state than New York.

New York is just now contemplating no-fault divorces, something that has been around in New Jersey for quite some time. While we do have fault grounds available as a cause of action in New Jersey, as well (i.e. adultery, extreme cruelty, desertion), we also have a cause of action for 18 month separation, which is considered the “no-fault” ground. If the parties have been separated for 18 months, either party may file a Complaint for Divorce so stating, and no other cause need be asserted.

In New York, under current law, you must assert a fault ground (cruel and inhuman treatment, adultery, abandonment) for a period of a year. Since many parties to a divorce action may not wish to wait to file their complaint after 18 months of separation, New Jersey also gives the option of filing for the cause of extreme cruelty after only three months.

Even though New York is contemplating many changes to their divorce law, it will take some time. The Matimonial Commission (NY Times registration required), which was appointed in 2004 to issue a report, has done so, recommending the streamlining of court cases with strict time limits for less contentious divorces, an emphasis on mediation, and amending procedures for choosing and training judges, among other changes. However, this report must now be reviewed by the Legislature which in turn must take action.