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Can Infidelity Impact My Divorce Settlement?

While close to 80% of Americans believe that infidelity has no place in a marriage, it has been estimated that as many as 1 in 5 Americans admit to cheating on their significant other. For those individuals seeking divorce due to infidelity then, how does adultery impact a divorce settlement? Today, we go over whether adultery has a material impact on divorce proceedings.

Adultery as an Accepted Type of Misconduct

In New Jersey, you must choose to file for a no-fault or fault-based divorce. A no-fault divorce does not require proven fault for the spouses to seek a divorce. You can simply state irreconcilable differences instead. Conversely, fault divorces can be filed on the grounds of misconduct. One of these types of misconduct is adultery, which is, unfortunately, not defined by state law.

Adultery is considered a personal and intimate relationship with a person outside of a marriage, leaving the other spouse feeling rejected. It is up to the court to decided what kind of behavior would cause such an effect. It is also important to note that adultery is the only grounds for divorce in New Jersey that has no waiting period before you file. Adultery may have the following impacts on your divorce proceedings:

The Effects of Adultery on Divorce Proceedings

It should be noted that no two divorces will proceed in the exact same manner. The nature and duration of misconduct which led to the divorce varies. Here are some ways adultery may impact certain areas of your divorce:

Spousal support/alimony

Adultery may have an impact on your spousal support agreement if the behavior negatively affected your marriage financially. For instance, if your spouse used a substantial amount of marital assets/money to purchase gifts and/or property for his/her lover). A spousal support award may also be affected if the adultery that occurred is considered exceptionally wrong. In this instance, the idea of the innocent spouse supporting the adultery, may be grounds to reduce spousal support.

Although most people look down on adultery, it is not by itself a reason enough to reduce, terminate, or stop a spousal support agreement. Adultery must be paired with additional bad behavior to warrant such an action. Bad behavior may fall under one of the following activities:

  • Spending the married couple’s savings to purchase gifts
  • Not contributing to the marriage
  • Having multiple affairs

Child custody

Generally, marital misconduct does not have an impact on child custody determinations. However, if the adultery has the potential to put the child at risk, then it will be a factor taken into consideration. For example, if your spouse’s lover has a substance abuse problem and spends a significant amount of time around your child, this is an issue.

Property division

A judge in New Jersey will not typically consider infidelity when dividing martial property. In some cases, adultery may affect the equitable distribution of property if one spouse spent a large amount of marital funds on their adulterous relationship. As such, the other spouse could receive a greater amount due to dissipation of assets to make up for these funds.

Additionally, a judge could rule adulterous behavior as unconscionable or extremely wrongful. If so, this behavior is considered shocking enough to warrant a change in equitable distribution of marital assets and property.

Book an Initial Consultation with Our Firm

At Lane & Lane, LLC we focus on achieving positive results for our clients. In the event you committed adultery or discovered your spouse did so and require experienced legal counsel, do not hesitate to contact our office. With over 60 years of combines experience, our lawyers will help you go through your options, create a plan, and work with you every step of the way to come to an agreeable resolution.

Secure an initial consultation with an experienced attorney at our office by contacting us online or calling us at (908) 259-6673.