New Jersey Divorce Laws and Appelllate Court Decisions

Note: image from the American Antiquarian Society collections, reporduced from Norma Basch, Framing American Divorce: From the Revolutionary Generation to the Victorians (1999), picture following page 145.
 

New Jersey 1820 Divorce Law
New Jersey 1842 Divorce Law
New Jersey 1874 Divorce Law
New Jersey 1907 Divorce Law
New Jersey 1971 Divorce Law

A sample of divorce cases illustrating the way New Jersey appellate courts handle contested divorce proceedings.  There were only two statutory grounds for divorce in New Jersey until 1971: desertion and adultery.  "Extreme cruelty" was grounds for separation (with support).  Many separation appeals involved a counter charge of desertion or adultery.  The great majority of cases in each of these areas were uncontested and did not result in published appellate court opinions.
 
 

 New Jersey Divorce Cases, 1830s-1920s
Adultery Cases
Desertion Cases
Separation for Extreme Cruelty

Suggestions on Reading:

Norma Basch, Framing American Divorce: From the Revolutionary Generation to theVictorians  (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).

Hendrik Hartog, Man and Wife in America: A History (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000).

Elaine Tyler May, Great Expectations: Marriage  & Divorce in Post-Victorian America(Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1980).  Uses divorce proceedings (not appellate court cases) to ask why divorce became far more common in America between the 1880s and 1920s.  The study is based on divorce proceedings in Los Angeles, California and in New Jersey.