What You Need to Know About Whether Adultery Affects Divorce in New Jersey
If you discovered your spouse is having an affair, you may be looking to end your marriage. If you are on the receiving end of being cheated on, you know the anguish of a spouse betraying your trust. Here’s everything you need to know about cheating affecting divorce in New Jersey.
Adultery is a fault-based cause of action for divorce in New Jersey, which means you and your attorney will have to prove an affair took place, which can be emotionally and financially draining. Filing under adultery may or may not be beneficial to you, so you must discuss your circumstances with an experienced attorney to find out if you should.
New Jersey Divorce: Fault vs. No-Fault
In New Jersey, spouses have the legal right to file a Complaint about Divorce with the New Jersey Superior Court Family Division, citing a “cause of action” with the court, which are reasons for the end of their marriage. In New Jersey, spouses can file a no-fault divorce or a fault-based divorce.
A no-fault divorce is cheaper and less time-consuming than a fault divorce. A couple would have to be living separately for 18 months and cite the cause of separation as “irreconcilable differences” between you and your spouse. If you feel wronged by your spouse, you may consider a fault-based divorce.
A fault-based divorce is when a spouse blames the other’s misconduct during the marriage as the sole reason for the divorce. New Jersey law outlines several behaviors that constitute misconduct, or grounds, for a cause of action:
- Extreme cruelty, such as abuse
- Willful desertion
- Drug addiction or mental illness
- Imprisonment or criminal sexual activity
Related: Postnuptial Agreements in New Jersey
If you have been cheated on and use adultery as your cause of action for divorce, you will be required to file additional documentation to the court that shows evidence of adultery. The court may ask for information like:
- May ask for the name of the person your spouse was having an affair with, if no name, a description of the person
- The timelines and places associated with the affair
- Credit card and bank statements
- Phone calls
Your spouse will be given the opportunity by the court to contest the claims, which will cause additional time and effort on your part to refute the claims. Based on your circumstances, filing a fault-based divorce may not be in your best interest.
Will Adultery Affect Alimony or Property Division?
In New Jersey, the paying spouse’s income determines alimony amounts. Adultery is not a determining factor and very rare circumstances when adultery augments the amount of alimony or time. Adultery may affect the divorce if the spouse’s misconduct significantly impacts the couple’s economic situation.
Equitable distribution is when marital assets and property are equally divided among the spouses. Judges might consider this if a spouse wasted a significant amount of the couple’s assets and spent it on their adulterous relationship.
Related: How to Have an Amicable Divorce
Will Adultery Affect Child Custody or Child Support?
Infidelity will not affect a custody decision in New Jersey unless the unfaithful spouse exposes the children to someone considered dangerous and unsafe, perhaps someone addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Even though infidelity impacts the outcome of a divorce, divorce is extremely time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally taxing. If you suffer from a cheating partner and are considering divorce, you should consult an experienced attorney before filing. Your attorney fees will increase based on your spouse’s affair investigation.