Adultery and divorce don’t mix. Cheating can destroy a marriage and result in divorce.
Divorce in New Jersey
There are two types of divorce, “no-fault” or “at-fault.”
A no-fault divorce is possible if the married couple had irreconcilable differences for a period of six months. It’s also possible if the parties have lived apart for more than 18 months.
An at-fault divorce requires that one of the married parties cite specific grounds for the divorce. These include:
- Willful desertion for a year or more
- Extreme cruelty
- Drug addiction
- Institutionalization for mental illness for two years or longer
- Incarceration for 18 or more consecutive months;
- Deviant sexual conduct in the marriage without other’s consent
How Does Cheating Affect Divorce?
Adultery and divorce do not always go hand-in-hand. Suppose one of the spouses commits adultery, but both agree that this causes irreconcilable differences. In that case, the married couple may petition for a no-fault divorce.
However, if the married couple can’t agree to get divorced, then adultery can impact the cheating spouse’s ability to prevent a divorce. The other spouse, who did not commit adultery, can pursue an at-fault divorce and cite adultery as grounds for it. In that sense, adultery and divorce can go hand-in-hand.
How Does Infidelity Affect Your Divorce?
Many people confuse adultery with infidelity, but they are not the same. Cheating and infidelity affect divorce proceedings differently.
This is the act of engaging in sexual relations with someone other than your spouse. This means that for adultery to be committed, one or both sexual partners must be married to someone other than their sexual partner. Under New Jersey law, this is a ground for an at-fault divorce.
Infidelity, however, can occur between couples that are married or, instead, in a non-marital relationship. The term refers to emotional acts that display disloyalty to your spouse or partner. It includes kissing, dating, or any other kind of conduct inappropriate to a marriage or relationship.
Unlike adultery, as discussed above, infidelity is not a ground for an at-fault divorce. But it could lead to circumstances that create a justification for divorce.
For instance, extreme cruelty is a ground for an at-fault divorce in New Jersey. It requires “physical or mental cruelty which … makes it improper or unreasonable to expect the [victimized person] to continue to cohabit with the [offending party].” For example, say a person’s spouse invited their friend to the house. They kiss the friend when they arrive and sit in each other’s lap on the couch.
Infidelity like this may make it unreasonable to expect that the married couple continue to live together. It could lead to separation and possibly meet the definition of extreme cruelty.
Does Adultery or Infidelity Affect Alimony?
In New Jersey, a court considers over 20 factors in determining alimony. Most of them have nothing to do with adultery or infidelity. However, the following factors can enter into consideration regarding spousal support:
- Duration of the marriage. The length of a marriage may be impacted, that is lessened, by cheating or infidelity.
- Emotional health of the parties. One spouse’s misconduct can have a significant impact on the emotional health of the other party.
The judge also allows the court to consider any other factors it deems relevant when reviewing an adultery and divorce case. If the married party petitioning for divorce can show how the adultery or infidelity impacts their financial condition, this can be relevant.
For example, assume Mark and Karen are married and have a child, Katie. They are in the process of divorce because of Mark. He has a friend from high school named Lori. He continually engages in offensive behavior with Lori in front of Karen and Katie. To protect the child, Karen often removes Katie from the living room when Lori is visiting and watches her in another part of the house. Mark’s offensive behavior is pervasive, and the time required for Karen to supervise Katie impacts her ability to work overtime. Due to that Karen’s inability to work overtime, her employer removes her from consideration of further overtime. This has a negative impact on Karen’s ability to earn a living and is possibly a relative factor for the court to consider when looking at the adultery and divorce.
Conclusion: Adultery & Divorce in New Jersey
At DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law, we can help you through the complicated process of alimony, infidelity, adultery and divorce. We often can negotiate strong agreements that protect your financial interests and prioritize your economic needs. To discuss your concerns about adultery and divorce or your rights to alimony, and all other divorce issues, call us at 908-691-2104 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We have offices in Clinton and Morristown.