Adultery in Divorce – When It Matters, When It Doesn’t

Discovering that your spouse is cheating on you is never easy.  Whether your spouse willingly admits to misconduct or you discover it on your own, it is likely you are now considering a divorce.  When making your plans to move forward with a divorce, it is important for you to have an understanding of how adultery will figure in to your divorce case.

In New Jersey, you can file for a no-fault divorce, or you can choose to file a “fault” divorce.  Under a fault divorce, you must prove that it was your spouse’s misconduct (i.e. adultery) that led to the breakdown of the marriage.  Alleging adultery in your divorce may very well lead to a long and bitter divorce, so while adultery could matter for granting the divorce, it may not be the best strategy for you.

One way that adultery can matter in divorce in New Jersey is concerning alimony.  In New Jersey, the judge will consider a variety of factors, such as the duration of the marriage, the standard of living of the parties, and the requesting spouse’s need for the payments.  Conspicuously absent from this list is adultery.  This means that even if your spouse committed adultery, he or she can still request alimony.

Adultery also will not matter when the court decides who is the best person to have custody of the parties’ children.  Like with alimony, there are a list of specific factors that the court will consider to decide how the parenting time should be divided between the parties and whether they should have joint legal custody.  Adultery is not one of the considerations.  A person can be a terrible spouse but still be a good parent.  That said, if the spouse’s new paramour is a totally inappropriate person to be around the children (i.e. registered sex offender, using drugs, physically violent), that could be taken into account if the cheating spouse is still in a relationship with that person.

.As for property division, a New Jersey court will divide the parties’ marital assets and marital debts based on what is equitable.  Adultery is not one of the factors to decide how to divide the marital property.  However, if the cheating spouse has squandered significant assets on lavish gifts or vacations for the paramour, that can be taken into account when the judge decides what would be a fair division of the remaining assets.

We can help you understand your rights and responsibilities in a divorce.  Call us today to talk about your case and your goals..

Are you interested in seeking an annulment? If so, contact Williams Law Group, LLC right away. Our family law attorneys will review your case to determine if an annulment is an option. If it is, we will guide you through the process and ensure you make the best decisions for your future. Call our office at (908) 738-8512, email us, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation

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