Infidelity is far more common than most of us would like to believe. Determining the exact statistics is tough, but ample research suggests married men are generally more likely to cheat than women, and adultery affects somewhere between 15 to 20 percent of all marriages.
Knowing your spouse violated your trust is a huge emotional blow. Perhaps the one silver lining of it is the assurance to those choosing divorce that they’re making the right call. But as for whether adultery will impact the legal outcome of a New Jersey divorce, the answer is: Probably not, though with a few exceptions.
As our Somerset County divorce attorneys can explain, adultery can be cited as grounds for a fault-based divorce in New Jersey. However, since 2007 when the state began allowing no-fault divorces (on the basis of irreconcilable differences), the fact of whether an estranged spouse was unfaithful has become increasingly irrelevant to the divorce proceedings.
In many cases, proving adultery isn’t going to impact how your marital property is equitably distributed pursuant to NJSA 2A:34-23.1 nor will it have much influence on things like child custody, parenting time, or child support. That said, there are always exceptions.
When Proving Adultery Is Beneficial in New Jersey Divorce
Although you don’t need to prove your ex’s marital misdeeds to obtain a divorce, there are some situations when it can help you make a stronger case for you to receive a greater portion of assets, parenting time, or alimony.
Some examples include:
Spouse spending shared assets to engage in the affair. If your ex withdrew money from joint accounts to buy gifts, vacations, and fancy meals for someone with whom they were having an affair, you may well be able to make a case that you deserve to receive a greater portion of the remaining assets or a lesser portion of shared debts. This kind of evidence can also be used to argue for higher/longer duration alimony payments.
- Spouse was/is with someone who poses a potential danger to your children. Family law Judges are largely uninterested in infidelity when deciding things like child support, custody, and visitation - unless the affair has a direct harmful effect on the kids and/or the ex’s partner is someone who poses a potential risk to the kids. For example, if the person has a history of violent crime or substance abuse, the Courts may insist the other parent not have that person around the children.
- Establishes a pattern of deceit. Sometimes divorcing spouses disagree on the basic facts of an issue or situation. The credibility of each individual is going to matter when the Judge is deciding how to resolve these problems. A history of proven infidelity by a spouse can sometimes damage his/her credibility. However, divorce lawyers must tread carefully here though because absent more evidence than that, Courts may not give that argument much weight.
If you’re considering divorce in the wake of marital infidelity, it’s important to consult with an experienced family law attorney who will help you navigate these tricky issues and pursue the best path forward.
Call Rozin|Golinder Law, LLC today at (732) 810-0034 for a free and confidential consultation.