Irreconcilable Differences or Not?

Irreconcilable differences is the term used in complaints for divorce in NJ as the reason for the divorce.  Basically states that the relationship has reached a stage of full break down and there is no reasonable hope that you can find a way to stay married. It is a neutral way to file and is the basis most reasonable attorneys recommend to file.

The alternative to irreconcilable differences is to file on the basis of extreme mental cruelty, adultery, abuse, abandonment or drug or alcohol use for more than 12 months. The problem with this approach is that it airs your dirty laundry to the public and starts major fights.  If you file on the basis of mental cruelty your spouse will file back with an equally nasty reply.  This sets you up for an ugly divorce.  Ugly means long and expensive; legal fees through the roof.

Unfortunately the divorce system is almost set up to make divorces more difficult than they have to be.  The ability of spouses to file based on adultery or extreme mental cruelty when NJ is a no fault state is ridiculous. To explain – In a no fault state you do not need to have a reason for the divorce as you do in some states.

The other issue to consider is that what you allege will not likely change the final outcome of your divorce.  You will still get roughly 50% of the assets and liabilities; and pay/get the same amount of alimony and child support irrespective of how you file.  This is not something that attorney’s tell you up front.

Some attorneys’ will argue that the judge will take the basis for your complaint into consideration in their decision as they are human.  Let’s put some reality to this; only 1% of cases go to trial where a judge actually decides your case.  So do you set yourself up to have a long, nasty and expensive divorce or do you keep your anger and angst in your therapist’s office (where it belongs) and out of the negotiations.

The courts do not seem to care if one party had an affair or yelled at you all day when it comes to your financial settlement.  A lady I recently ran into was counseled to re-file on the basis of mental cruelty as her attorney believed that it would it strengthen her position to have greater parenting time.  I am dubious and think that her attorney is just setting her up for a more difficult time.  Will have to follow up and see how things go for her.

It does not matter about the alleged sins of the parties in the marriage when it comes to the financial settlement. In other words it makes no difference if one party was abusive to the other you will still get the same alimony and share of assets. If there was real and permanent harm caused by the other party this would be handles in a Tevis claim, not your divorce.

So why do folks file on this basis? Does it allow them to vent in public as to how awful their marriage has been, some form of “gotcha” against their spouse, a feeling that they can tell their story?  While it may initially make you feel better to have your story heard, all of these reasons do not belong in a negotiation.

Keep it simple, as neutral as possible and get out of your divorce with your money in your pockets and with your sanity intact.


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