Four of the Strangest Reasons Cited in Divorce Proceedings

People change, and couples drift apart.  It’s unfortunate, but sometimes it happens.  When it does, there isn’t necessarily a person or an action at fault — it’s just part of life.  When a couple wishes to divorce without pointing to a specific cause, it’s called “no-fault divorce.”  In other words: irreconcilable differences.  Of course, only a portion of all divorces are no-fault, leaving the remainder classified as fault-based divorces.  Fault-based divorces can be driven by adultery, imprisonment, drug abuse… or by other, much stranger causes.  In this blog post, our family law attorneys take a look at some of the world’s strangest stories of reasons that were cited in a divorce.

Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey

In New Jersey, these are the current grounds for fault-based divorce:

  1. Adultery
  2. Imprisonment
  3. Institutionalization
  4. Substance Addiction
  5. Extreme Cruelty
  6. Desertion
  7. Deviant Sexual Behavior

Each of these reasons comes with its own additional guidelines in turn.  For example, it isn’t enough to simply cite imprisonment — the duration of the incarceration must have lasted for a minimum of 18 consecutive months.

Some of these guidelines are very clear-cut.  Others — such as what precisely constitutes “deviant sexual behavior” — are more ambiguous.  Some call for long waiting periods, while others, like adultery, allow husbands and wives to file immediately.  Some are easy to prove, while others are next to impossible.

Despite the differences in the standing New Jersey divorce grounds, they all have one factor in common: they all seem reasonable.  

It’s a factor they don’t quite share with the reasons on our list below…

1. The Story of Fifty Shades of Bedroom Boredom

One of New Jersey’s grounds for divorce is deviant sexual behavior.  As we mentioned, there is no precise legal definition for deviant sexual behavior — but if there was, we would guess that it probably wouldn’t entail not wanting to recreate Fifty Shades of Grey.  Yet that was precisely the trigger behind the divorce of one unnamed British couple.

Family law expert Amanda McAlister, attorney for a certain (ex) wife who remains anonymous, confirms that her client mentioned the controversial bestseller on her initial divorce petition.  The woman, a 41-year-old banker, represents an interesting turn at the intersection between divorce and gender roles: “It used to be the men who complained,” says McAlister.  “…But now it’s the women who are calling their husbands boring after reading books like Fifty Shades.”

The woman filing for the divorce has stated that her husband called it “unreasonable behavior.”

For those who aren’t aware, this may be a good time to mention that Fifty Shades of Grey charts a sadomasochistic relationship.  In graphic detail.

If the opposite of deviant sexual behavior ever led to a divorce, this would be the case.


2. Relationship Status: Divorced

To some, Facebook is a source of endless fun and interaction.  To others, it’s a source of little more than eye-rolls and exasperated sighs.  But, like it or not, Facebook has wedged itself firmly into today’s culture.  Every day in nearly every country, billions of us churn out photos, comments, and opinions — and none of it would be complete without a handy log of invasive, bizarrely quantified information attached to every user.

As if every profile were a baseball trading card, each comes with its own endless litany of stats. Where were you born?  What college did you go to?  What’s your political party?  Are you in a relationship?  Users can ignore these data prompts, or fill them out — but they’d better choose wisely, or they may wind up in divorce court.

An Indian woman, who remains anonymous, filed for divorce after her husband refused to update his Facebook relationship status to “married.”  According to high court advocate P. Subhash, the woman stated that “she couldn’t trust” her new husband.

The young couple — a 31-year-old businessman and 28-year-old IT professional — had been married for a grand total of two months when Facebook prompted the wife to file for divorce.

3. Adultery… Committed Over Half a Century Ago

You might think that after a staggering 77 years of marriage — truly a feat in a world where the average marriage wears thin after just a few decades — you would be able to move on from a slight of the past.  But for Antonio and Rosa, whose surnames have been withheld, time failed to heal wounds dating back to the days of World War II.

After 77 years of holy matrimony, Antonio and Rosa were married for longer than many people live.  But even a partnership spanning the better part of eight decades wasn’t strong enough to weather the shock of an affair carried out in the days of Hitler, FDR, and black and white television.  When 99-year-old Antonio discovered his wife’s decades-old love letters — love letters which were addressed to somebody else — he filed for divorce.

The couple first met in Naples in the 1930s.  Over a lifetime, their marriage produced five children, 12 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

4. When Divorce (Reputedly) Turns Ugly

Disclaimer: the veracity of this story is up for debate.  Myth-busting website Snopes, widely regarded as the Wikipedia of debunking urban legends, has labeled the story with a dubious “probably false” rating.  On the other hand, the account of Jian Feng has received coverage from ABC News, Huffington Post, the Irish Times, and MSN.  Many news outlets also post the story with a disclaimer, and to this day no one can definitively call “yes” or “no” — but at the very least, it poses an interesting hypothetical situation for us to close out with.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” they say.  Chinese man Jian Feng decided his eyes had lied to him when his wife gave birth to an “extremely ugly” baby, prompting him to investigate his wife’s history.  No, she hadn’t cheated on him — but, like millions of others, she had cheated on her looks.  Thanks to plastic surgery, Feng’s wife was able to conceal a less-than-stunning natural appearance… until their baby arrived, prompting a divorce and a lawsuit.

We hope the story of Jian Feng is just one more tall tale from the annals of the internet.

While these unlikely stories represent the sensational and the frivolous, divorce is a serious matter.  If you have any questions about New Jersey divorce, alimony, or child support, let an experienced family law attorney help.  Call the law offices of Maselli Warren at (800) 891-2657, or contact us online today.