The Role of Infidelity in a New Jersey Divorce

sw_BacklitKeyboard_FFP10029 morguefile jppiWill evidence of my spouse’s infidelity affect our divorce?

Recently, personal information related to millions of users of an online dating site for married people became publicly available as a result of a data breach. Since then, there has been wide speculation regarding the potential fallout for exposed cheaters. Famous persons, political figures, and individuals from all walks of life apparently utilized the now-hacked website, created in an effort to facilitate affairs for married people. Although infidelity is one of the many grounds for divorce proceedings in New Jersey, it is no longer a smoking gun under the current no-fault divorce regime that exists across the bulk of the nation.

In New Jersey, adultery does not lead to any sort of punitive or other damages against the partner who was unfaithful. Typically, a couple’s assets and any debts or other liabilities that were acquired during the marriage will be divided “equitably” (not necessarily equally) upon divorce. This often includes any assets that are held in only one party’s name.   As a general rule, the manner in which the title to an asset is held which was aquired during the term of the marriage, may be disregarded.  Certain factors can, however, impact the manner in which that asset may be equitably distributed.  Despite this, an adulterer may be required to reimburse the marital estate for any funds that were spent on an extramarital affair or paramour. For example, the money a cheater paid for an online dating site profile, hotel costs, and other expenses associated with an affair may be factored into a divorcing couple’s property settlement.

Similarly, infidelity typically does not have an impact on child custody arrangements in New Jersey. Since the focus in child custody cases is on the “best interests” of a former couple’s child, a parent’s unfaithfulness will not normally be considered. Certain exceptions exist, however, where a parent’s sexual behavior is particularly problematic for his or her child, or where the parent basically has a “revolving door” of paramours night after night, and is exposing the child to these short term relationships or stays at that parent’s residence.

The fact that evidence of infidelity no longer has a large impact on divorce proceedings apparently doesn’t stop couples from trying to use such information. According to a 2010 survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, more than 80 percent of family law lawyers stated social media evidence increasingly played a role in the divorces they handled since 2005. Some family lawyers believe the recent dating site for cheaters exposure may prove to be an even greater factor in the coming year.

Making the choice to end your marriage is difficult regardless of the circumstances. If you have decided to divorce your spouse due to infidelity or other reasons, it is important to secure quality legal counsel to protect yourself and your children. A hardworking New Jersey family lawyer can help ease your burden.

For valuable guidance regarding your divorce or other family law questions, you should call the seasoned New Jersey family lawyers at Goldstein Law Group at 732-967-6777 or contact our veteran attorneys through our website today.

Additional Resources:

Where Ashley Madison Fits Into Divorce Law, by Margaret Ryznar, Huffington Post

More Blog Posts:

Separation and Divorce in New Jersey, August 1, 2015, New Jersey Divorce Lawyers Blog

Effective Co-Parenting Following a New Jersey Divorce, July 31, 2015, New Jersey Divorce Lawyers Blog

Photo Credit: jppi, MorgueFile