Chapter 212, LAWS OF 1971


AN ACT concerning actions for divorce and nullity of marriage, alimony, maintenance and custody of children, and amending N. J. S. 2A :34‑1 through 2A :34‑3, 2A :34‑7 and 2A :34‑8, 2A :34‑20 and 2A :34‑23 and repealing N. J. S. 2A :34‑4, 2A :34‑5, 2A :34‑9, 2A :34‑10 and 2A :34‑22.


BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:


1. N. J. S. 2A :34‑1 is amended to read as follows


Causes for judgments of nullity.


2A :34‑1. Judgments of nullity of marriage may be rendered in all cases, when


a. Either of the parties has another wife or husband living at the time of a second or other marriage ;


b. The parties are within the degrees prohibited by law. If any such marriage shall not, have been annulled during the lifetime of the parties the validity thereof shall not be inquired into after the death of either party.


c. The parties, or either of them, were at the time of marriage physically and incurably impotent, provided the party making the application shall have been ignorant of such impotency or incapa­bility at the tune of the marriage, and has not subsequently ratified the marriage.


d. The parties, or either of them, lacked capacity to marry due to want of understanding because of mental condition, or the in­fluence of intoxicants, drugs, or similar agents; or where there was a lack of mutual assent to the marital relationship; duress; or fraud‑as to the essentials of marriage; and leas not, subsequently ratified the marriage.


e. The demand for such a judgment is by the wife or husband who was under the age of 18 years at the time of the marriage, unless such marriage be confirmed by her or him after arriving at such age.


f. Allowable under the general equity ,jurisdiction of the Superior Court.


2. N. J. S. 2A:34‑2 is amended to read as follows:


Causes for divorce from bond of matrimony.


2A:34‑2. Divorce from the bond of matrimony may be adjudged for the following causes heretofore or hereafter arising:


a. Adultery ;


b. Willful and continued desertion for the term of 12 or more months, which may be established by satisfactory proof that the parties have ceased to cohabit; as man and wife;


c. Extreme cruelty, which is defined as including any physical or mental cruelty which endangers the safety or health of the plain­tiff or makes it improper or unreasonable to expect the plaintiff to continue to cohabit with the defendant; provided that no com­plaint for divorce shall be filed until after 3 months from the date of the last act of cruelty complained of in the complaint,  butt this provision shall not be held to apply to any counterclaim;


d. Separation, provided that the husband and wife have lived separate and apart in different habitations for a period of at least I8 or more consecutive months, provided further that after the l8-­month period there shall be a presumption that there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation;


e. Voluntarily induced addiction or habituation to any narcotic drug as defined in the New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Sub­stances Act, P. L. 1970, c. 226  or habitual drunkenness for a period of 12 or more consecutive months subsequent to marriage and next preceding the filing of  the complaint;


f. Institutionalization for mental illness for a period of  24 or more consecutive months subsequent to marriage and next preced­ing the filing of the complaint;


g. Imprisonment of the defendant for 18 or more consecutive months after marriage, provided that where the action is not com­menced until after the defendant's release, the parties have not resumed cohabitation following such imprisonment;


h. Deviant sexual conduct voluntarily performed by the defend­ant without the consent of the plaintiff.



3. N. J. S. 2A:34‑3 is amended to read as follows:


Causes for divorce from bed and board.


2A:34‑3. Divorce from bed and board may be adjudged for the same causes as divorce from the bonds of matrimony whenever both parties petition or join in requesting such relief and they or either of them present sufficient proof of such cause or causes to warrant the entry of a ,judgment of divorce from the bonds of matrimony provided further that in the case of a reconciliation thereafter the parties may apply for a revocation or suspension of the judgment, and provided further that the granting of a bed and board divorce shall in no way prejudice either party from thereafter applying to the court for a conversion of said divorce to a divorce from the bonds of matrimony, which application shall be granted as a matter of right.


4. N. J. S. 2A:34‑7 is amended to read as follows:


Certain defenses abolished.


2A :34‑7. Recrimination, condonation and the clean hands doc­trine are hereby abolished as defenses to divorce from the bonds of matrimony or from bed and board, and if both parties make out grounds for divorce, a decree may be granted to each; provided that nothing herein shall preclude or abrogate the responsibility of a party for the penalty provided by law for perjury or the subornation of perjury.


5. N. J. S. 2A:34‑8 is amended to read as follows:


Jurisdiction stated. 2A:34‑8. The Superior Court shall have jurisdiction of all causes of divorce, bed and board divorce, or nullity when either party is a bona fide resident of this State. The Superior Court shall have jurisdiction of an action for alimony and maintenance when the defendant is subject to the personal jurisdiction of the court, is a resident of this State, or has tangible or intangible real or per­sonal property within the jurisdiction of the court. The Superior Court may afford incidental relief as in other cases of an equitable nature and by rule of court may determine the venue of matri­monial actions.


6. N. J. S. 2A :34‑10 is amended to read as follows


Jurisdiction in actions for divorce; service of process; residence requirements.


2A:34-10. Jurisdiction in actions for divorce, either absolute or from bed and board, may be acquired when process is served upon the defendant as prescribed by the rules of the Supreme Court, and


1. When, at the time the cause of action arose, either party, was a bona fide resident of this State, and has continued so to be down to the time of the commencement of the action; except that no action for absolute divorce shall be commenced for any cause other than adultery, unless one of the parties has been for the 1 year next preceding the commencement of the action a bona fide resi­dent of this State; or


2. When, since the cause of action arose, either party has be­come, and for at least 1 year next preceding the commencement of the action has continued to be, a bona fide resident of this State.


7. N. J. S. 211:34‑20 is amended to read as follows:


Effect of judgment.


2A:34‑20. A child heretofore or hereafter born of parents who prior or subsequent to the birth of such child have entered into a civil or religious marriage, or shall have consummated a common-­law marriage where such marriage is recognized as valid, in the manner authorized by the law of the place where such marriage takes place, is the legitimate child of both natural parents not­withstanding that such marriage is void or voidable or has been or shall hereafter be annulled or ,judicially declared void.


Nothing in this amendatory act shall be deemed to affect the construction of any will or instrument heretofore executed or any property right or interest or right of action vested or accrued or to limit the operation of any ,judicial determination containing an express provision or provisions with respect to the legitimacy, maintenance or custody of any child, or to affect any adoption proceeding heretofore commenced, or limit the effect of any judg­ment or order entered in such adoption proceedings.


8. N. J. S. 2A:34‑23 is amended to read as follows:


Alimony; maintenance; custody and maintenance of children, security; failure to

obey order; sequestration; receiver; modification of orders.


2A :34‑23. Pending any matrimonial action brought in this State or elsewhere, or after judgment of divorce or maintenance, whether obtained in this State or elsewhere, the court may make such order as to the alimony or maintenance of the parties, and also as to the care, custody, education and maintenance of the children, or any of them, as the circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case shall render fit, reasonable and just, and require reason­able security for the due observance of such orders. Upon neglect or refusal to give such reasonable security, as shall be required, or upon default in complying with any such order, the court may award and issue process for the immediate sequestration of the personal estate, and the rents and profits of the real estate of the party so charged, and appoint a receiver thereof, and cause such personal estate and the rents and profits of such real estate, or so much thereof as shall be necessary, to be applied toward such alimony and maintenance as to the said court shall from time to time seem reasonable and just; or the performance of the said orders may be enforced by other ways according to the practice of the court. Orders so made may be revised and altered by the court from time to time as circumstances play require.


In all actions brought for divorce, divorce from bed and board, or nullity the court may award alimony to either party, and in so doing shall consider the actual need and ability to pay of the parties and the duration of the marriage. In all actions for divorce other than those where judgment is granted solely on the ground of separation the court may consider also the proofs made in estab­lishing such ground in determining an amount of alimony or main­tenance that is fit, reasonable and just. In all actions for divorce or divorce from bed and board where judgment is granted on the ground of institutionalization for mental illness the court may con­sider the possible burden upon the taxpayers of the State as well as the ability of the plaintiff to pay in determining an amount of maintenance to be awarded.


In all actions where a judgment of divorce or divorce from bed and board is entered the court may make such award or awards to the parties, in addition to alimony and maintenance, to effectuate an equitable distribution of the property, both real and personal, which was legally and beneficially acquired by them or either of them during the marriage.




9. The following sections are repealed: N. J. S. 2A :34‑4, 2A :34‑5, and 2A :34‑22.


10. This act shall take effect 90 days after enactment.


Approved June 14, 1971.