Adultery is one of the most common causes of divorce in New Jersey. It can also make divorce incredibly fraught and complex, with emotions ruling the day instead of clear heads and rational thoughts. Sometimes, parties who divorce want to use the court system as a way of ‘getting back’ at their spouse, and dragging all their dirty laundry out for all to see. However, there is another way to handle the issues of adultery and divorce in New Jersey – through a ‘no fault’ divorce.
A no fault divorce is basically telling the court that you and your spouse can no longer get along. No one has to take the blame for the relationship falling apart, and it can help things go quicker. But, this choice isn’t for everyone, and sometimes individuals just need their day in court to move on. In these cases, a ‘fault’ divorce might be more appropriate. In these cases, one party has to prove the other’s misconduct which caused the divorce. Along with adultery, abandonment, abuse, or substance abuse can all be used as grounds for a fault divorce. Of course, due to the heavier burden of proof, litigation will be more costly and lengthy, so it’s important to think about your strategy before filing your divorce petition.
Despite this, one of the big advantages in filing a fault case for adultery and divorce in New Jersey used to be that judges get to look at whose fault it was in the break-up of the marriage when determining things like alimony and property division. Alimony, or spousal support, is what one spouse might pay to the other upon separation or divorce to ensure the other party can support themselves. In the past, only a fault divorce would allow a party to request alimony; luckily, things have progressed, and now that most people file for a no fault divorce, courts will rarely look to fault when determining whether alimony should be awarded. In New Jersey, the court will only consider crimes that have resulted in the death or serious bodily injury to their spouse (or attempts to do so). In other words, if one spouse has tried to kill the other, they will not be awarded alimony. The other time courts will consider adultery and divorce in New Jersey when determining alimony is if this adultery negatively affected the couple’s economic estate. So, for example, if a wife purchased her boyfriend an apartment in the city, this would have been a wasting of the assets and could be looked at when determining whether, and how much, alimony should be awarded. Continue reading