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Same Sex and Opposite Sex Couples Can Have Irreconcilable Differences

In Groh v. Groh, 2014 N.J. Super. LEXIS 182 (Ch.Div. Mar. 12, 2014), Judge Jones drew attention to the fact that N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2, the statute regarding the dissolution of a marriage, and N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2.1, the statute regarding the dissolution of a civil union, were almost identical. At the time of the enactment of N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2.1, opposite-sex couples were not able to obtain a no fault divorce based upon irreconcilable differences. Soon thereafter, however, new legislation was enacted which enabled opposite-sex couples to divorce on grounds of irreconcilable differences. Judge Jones noted that "the amendment was clearly intended and designed to permit people to end their marriages in a calm and dignified manner without having to engage in hurtful and unproductive mudslinging over who was at fault for the failure of the partnership." Groh, 2014 N.J. Super at *6. However, N.J.S.A.2A:34-2.1 was not updated to include grounds of irreconcilable differences for same-sex couples. 

Judge Jones highlighted that both Governor Christie and the Administrative Office of the Courts informally interpreted the irreconcilable differences amendment to N.J.S.A. 2A:34-2 as being applicable to both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships. Groh, 2014 N.J. Super at *9. He further stated that there was no basis in public policy or logic to deny same-sex couples said relief. As such, Judge Jones granted the divorce of the same-sex parties inGroh based on grounds of irreconcilable differences. Id. at *13.

Notably, New Jersey now recognizes same-sex marriages, and the divorce statute applies both to opposite-sex and same-sex marriages.

If you have questions about divorce, please contact the law firm of Winegar, Wilhelm, Glynn & Roemersma to speak with one of our experienced attorneys.

THE FOREGOING IS INTENDED TO BE A GENERAL DISCUSSION OF THE LAW AND IS NOT INTENDED TO BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC QUESTION, PLEASE CONTACT OUR OFFICE AND SPEAK WITH AN ATTORNEY.


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