To file for divorce in New Jersey, a client must sign a Certification stating that he or she did not “collude” with anyone in making the allegations stated in the Complaint/Counterclaim. Essentially, New Jersey courts do not want litigants colluding or conspiring with anyone to make sworn statements.
Divorce History: Establishing the Grounds
In New Jersey, establishing the grounds for divorce can be as simple as alleging six months of irreconcilable differences with no reasonable prospect of reconciliation, so why would a client need to collude with anyone? Similarly, since divorce on grounds of adultery no longer requires actual proof, there is no need to collude or conspire with anyone in those circumstances either.
Many clients have signed this Certification without asking what it means. But, dig into the history of this Certification, and you’ll find that it has roots back to England—to a time when it was not nearly as easy to obtain a divorce as it is today.
Divorce History: England & Divorce Collusion
Until 1937, divorce in England was only available to a wife in cases of her husband’s adultery. The husband’s adultery had to be proven, and the wife’s innocence also had to be proven. In other words, there would need to be proof that the wife did not cheat on the husband she was trying to divorce! Unless and until adultery and innocence were proven, a couple could not divorce.
In cases where there was no adultery, some couples would work to get around this and collude or conspire—agreeing upon a story in order to prove a claim of adultery, so they could get divorced.
Divorce History: New Jersey & Non-Collusion
Across the pond, New Jersey courts similarly would not grant a divorce if there was proof of collusion when a divorce was filed on grounds of adultery. However, in 1971, New Jersey law changed and the various grounds for divorce no longer mentioned collusion of the parties.
Despite this change in the law, litigants still must sign a Certification saying that they have not colluded in their divorce Complaint/Counterclaim. This is a vestige of old, a reminder of a time when divorce was much more difficult to obtain and, overall, discouraged. At some point in the future, it may not be required.
Reach Out to Us Today
The history of divorce is a long, winding road that led to the current process enacted today. Although it is much simpler to file for divorce in the twenty-first century, you’ll want to trust in the professionals to help you navigate it. Contact Rigden Lieberman today to speak with an attorney if you wish to discuss a divorce.