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New Jersey lawmakers approved legislation that would allow a couple to divorce for added reasons, and reduce the amount of time a couple must be separated before getting a divorce. This marks the second of four approvals required for the bill to become law.
The Assembly Judiciary Committee endorsed the bill three weeks ago, and the Senate Judiciary committee supported the bill last Monday.
The bill, which has been in bill limbo for approximately 10 years, would allow for a divorce on the grounds of “irreconcilable differences which have caused the breakdown of the marriage for a period of six months.”
To get divorced in New Jersey today, a couple is required to be separated for 18 months or longer, or give severe reasons, such as adultery or extreme cruelty.
John Eory, a family attorney and former editor of a family law journal, said many couples seeking a divorce after six months are forced to lie and claim abuse, or extreme cruelty to get out of their unhappy marriages.
“This [legislation] will now allow for people not to find fault with each other when it need not be. It will allow people some measure the relief to not have put down things which aren’t true,” said Eory.
Some also say that if passed, the bill would help in shortening the long and painful divorce process, which can be especially harmful to the couple’s kids.
“This is another tool to take out the animosity in the process. It is just a wonderful bill,” said Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak, D-Union.
The bill has met some opposition, however.
The New Jersey Catholic Conference declared that six months is not long enough to determine if a marriage is unfixable. It further stated that the Legislature should not take such action in the midst of increasing divorce rates.
Eory stated that the bill is still a work in progress. Before being approved the final time, it must determine what a “breakdown” of a marriage means specifically, for example.
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