On June 15, 2010, the New York Times reported on several proposed new laws affecting family law practice in New York.  One was to adopt no-fault divorce, which has long been proposed and long been opposed. At present, one still must prove fault grounds for divorce in order to get a divorce.  This has lead to protracted litigation that some have called cruel and unnecessary.  As the no-fault bill has finally passed the Senate, there is an expectation that it will also pass the assembly.

New Jersey has had no fault divorce for many years, though in actuality, it has really been prevalent for the last 4 years or so when "irreconcilable differences" were added as a cause of action.  Prior to that, the only no-fault ground was 18 month separation.  As most people did not want to wait 18 months, the majority of divorce complaint alleged "extreme cruelty" that made it unreasonable and improper to require the parties to remain married.  In many ways this was somewhat bogus because there was rarely any real testimony about the allegations other than to re-affirm that what was in the complaint was true and correct and if asked to testify about it at length, the testimony would be substantially the same. 

That said, despite telling parties not to worry about it and not to get upset about it, they almost always did (not to mention that there was no a public record of very private gripes).  As such, the other party would then file a counterclaim alleging their own version of "cruelty."  Thankfully, irreconcilable differences has in most cases done away with the need to go through the financial and emotional expense of this type of Complaint (though there are times when it is still necessary for other reasons). 

The only thing that I miss as a divorce lawyer in not reviewing the cruelty complaint and counterclaim is that it may take a little longer to really understand the dynamic between the parties that often would come out loud and clear in their initial pleadings.  That said, no-fault is still better in most cases.