New Jersey is a “no-fault” divorce State, which means a couple has the option to file for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences which have existed for at least six months, or have caused an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and no possibility of reconciliation–no further explanation required.

This includes adultery. For couples who value privacy and discretion, this can be an attractive option.

Filing for a no-fault divorce prevents a couple from having to air their dirty laundry out in the courtroom in front of their peers and the general public. It also saves the plaintiff from having to produce evidence proving that adultery did in fact occur.

This can save both parties from spending unnecessary time and money–especially if they can reach an agreement on all issues outside the courtroom using an alternative dispute resolution method (i.e., mediation, arbitration, or collaborative divorce).

Most people find a no-fault divorce serves the family’s best interest. However, there is another option.

Filing for Divorce on the Grounds of Adultery in New Jersey

In some cases, the victim of the adultery is looking for something beyond the scope of dividing assets and property–they want third party validation they were cheated on.

Filing on the grounds of adultery puts it “on the record” that a betrayal occurred and caused the breakdown of the marriage. It is usually about assigning blame more than anything else.

This is considered a “fault” divorce in New Jersey, and it requires the plaintiff to prove each accusation. If you choose to file for divorce on grounds of adultery, you must name the person with whom your spouse had an affair as a co-respondent in the action, in addition to the dates, times and places of the affair. This co-respondent must then be served and given the opportunity to appear in court and respond.

Will Adultery Affect Alimony, Division of Assets, and Custody in New Jersey?

New Jersey is an equitable distribution State, which means the division of marital assets is determined by what the judge considers to be fair and equitable, rather than an exact 50-50 split. If it can be proven that the cheating spouse was spending martial assets on an affair, the judge may award the victim with additional assets in order to compensate him/her for assets that were dissipated.

Spousal support can be adjusted within reason at the discretion of a judge, but adultery will be one among several other factors taken into consideration. At this point, it is rare for a judge to take fault into consideration when determining an alimony obligation unless one spouse has attempted to harm the other spouse, or it can be proven the adultery negatively impacted the couple’s financial circumstances.

Adultery will not typically impact custody unless it directly relates to an ongoing behavior that could be harmful or dangerous to the child. If this is the case, the parent engaging in those behaviors may lose some parenting time–and could expect to pay higher child support payments as a result.

Hire an Experienced New Jersey Divorce Lawyer

The role infidelity can play in a divorce settlement varies widely. Every case is different. If you are trying to decide what ground for divorce is most appropriate for your case, we can help.

Arons & Solomon is an award-winning law firm dedicated exclusively to divorce and family law. Let us help you protect what’s important and move forward with confidence.