Deciding to get a divorce is often a difficult decision. Two times when that may not be true, however, is when there is abuse or infidelity in the marriage. If your spouse has cheated on you, whether it was a one-time issue or an ongoing affair, that can make it easier for you to decide to divorce. After all, not only is infidelity a breach of your trust, it can also endanger your health by potentially exposing you to sexually-transmitted diseases or infections.
If you're planning to file for a divorce because your spouse has cheated, it's only natural to wonder if that affair will impact the outcome of your divorce. You may think that since cheating involves lying and a breach of trust, that it may impact the custody of your children.
Other times, you may wonder if you could receive more spousal support, also called alimony, or a bigger portion of the marital estate in the divorce. If you're considering going to court instead of collaborating in divorce due to adultery, you may want to reconsider.
Typically, affairs will not impact asset division
Unless you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement outlining specific penalties for infidelity, the courts are unlikely to factor infidelity into their decisions about how to split up your property. Instead, the courts will look at other factors, like the length of your marriage, the contributions of each spouse, such as paychecks of unpaid labor in the home, the standard of living you expect and more when deciding how to fairly divide your assets in a divorce.
There is one exception to this rule, however. If your spouse spent significant marital assets on the affair, that could count as dissipation. Dissipation is the intentional waste of marital assets for a purpose that does not benefit the marriage.
Paying for an apartment for a lover, buying expensive gifts, taking vacations with someone other than a spouse or similar waste could be dissipation of marital funds. Depending on the amount of money, the courts could adjust your asset division decree to reflect the amount your spouse spent on his or her affair.
Adultery very rarely impacts spousal or child support
When it comes to financial matters in New Jersey divorces, the courts rarely consider adultery. That includes situations that involve child or spousal support. You may think that you won't have to pay alimony if your spouse cheated, but the courts generally will not agree with that assessment.
Similarly, the courts will not award you more support just because of infidelity. This is a common misconception about New Jersey divorce laws. Unless there are egregious situations, such as an attempted murder as the result of an affair, adultery will have very little, if any, bearing on the court's decisions about spousal support and child support.