Infidelity is one of the most common reasons why married couples split, and in New Jersey, it is grounds for filing for divorce based on fault.
New Jersey has both no-fault and fault divorce. The grounds for a no-fault divorce include living separately for at least 18 months or irreconcilable differences that have lasted at least six months. The grounds for fault divorce in New Jersey include adultery, desertion, extreme mental or physical cruelty, alcohol or drug addiction, imprisonment, institutionalization for mental illness, or deviant sexual behavior.
However, even when a couple files for a no-fault divorce, infidelity may still impact out-of-court divorce negotiations. For example:
If a couple has an existing prenuptial agreement with a clause stipulating that infidelity will affect alimony or other financial support, the spouse who was cheated on may use this to leverage a better settlement.
If a cheating spouse has depleted marital funds by extravagant spending on a lover, a court may award additional marital assets to the non-cheating spouse to compensate him or her for the imbalance.
If a cheating spouse engages in flagrantly wanton behavior that damages the reputation of the other spouse or leads to ignoring family responsibilities, this behavior may be used as leverage in alimony negotiations.
In addition, the spouse who committed adultery may feel such guilt that he or she put themselves at a disadvantage in divorce settlement negotiations by giving up assets more readily, or the aggrieved spouse may hold out for punishing terms. making a fair settlement much more difficult to obtain.
Cheating does not generally affect child custody unless there are extenuating circumstances — for example, if the cheating spouse’s lover is a sex offender or addict. In these cases, visitation may be restricted so as to not expose the children to an objectionable person.
When infidelity is at the heart of a divorce, it makes it even more difficult to manage emotions on both sides of the table. You will be doing yourself and your attorney a favor if you can remain rational during divorce negotiations so you can arrive at a fair settlement for you and your family.
It is important that you do not wait too long to retain an attorney when you are facing a family law issue. Delays can cost you valuable legal rights, and you want to make sure that you have the advice and support you need to make the best decisions for you and your family long after the divorce settlement is reached. Contact us today for your free consultation.