New Jersey is a no-fault divorce state. That means that it suffices to assert irreconcilable differences for a divorce to happen; a spouse need not show or prove why the marriage failed or who was at fault for the marriage failing.
The Waiting Period
But there is one catch to that: To get a no-fault divorce on the grounds of Irreconcilable Differences, you must certify that those differences have existed for a period of at least 6 months. This is a non-issue in longer marriages, but it may become an issue in a marriage shorter than 6 months. You may have to wait to file although some courts may accept the pendency of the divorce action itself as counting towards the 6 months.
Another option for those who cannot or do not want to wait is extremely cruelty. To qualify for a divorce on the grounds of extreme cruelty, you must prove that there has been physical or mental abuse. However, lack of emotional support from your spouse can also qualify as extreme cruelty.
Of course, there are other grounds for divorce available under the Statute but those discussed above are the most common. Occasionally, a spouse may feel very strongly about filing for divorce due to adultery. This, however, would complicate and prolong your divorce case, as the third party (so called “co-respondent”) must be notified and has a right to get involved in the divorce process. You may not want this additional complication to add to your already contentious divorce.
Alimony and Cheating
Adultery itself does not affect alimony; a party cannot be forced to pay more alimony than they would otherwise have to pay as “punishment” for cheating. However, with adultery usually comes the depletion of marital assets. For example, a husband who buys a girlfriend gifts with marital money is wasting marital assets.
When you can show that a spouse spent marital property or assets on the cheating or on the other person, that can affect equitable distribution or the amount of alimony that the paying spouse must pay.
The opposite can be true as well. If you are the one cheating, and you are getting money, gifts, support, or some other financial benefit from the affair, that may be considered income or assets to you, thus either eliminating or reducing your right to alimony.
Visitation and Custody
You may not want your kids around a spouse who cheated. That is a natural and understandable feeling. But generally, cheating does not affect someone’s right to see their child or their fitness as a parent, and thus, adultery will have a limited impact, if any, on timesharing or visitation with the child.
The exception is if the boyfriend or girlfriend is a danger to the child or if there is something about the relationship that is dangerous or unhealthy for the child.
Contact our New Jersey family law and divorce attorneys at The Law Office of Agnes Rybar LLC today with questions; we understand how difficult the issues in a divorce can be, legally and emotionally.