Is Adultery Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey?

If you are seeking a divorce in New Jersey, the state’s no-fault divorce laws do not require you to state the grounds for your decision. Regardless, you may have valid reasons to file an at-fault divorce action, in which case adultery is valid grounds for divorce in New Jersey.

Our divorce attorneys at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman advise their New Jersey clients on the most effective and efficient ways to pursue and complete that process. If you suspect that your spouse is in an adulterous relationship, we can help you decide to file for a no-fault divorce or an at-fault divorce with adultery as the stated grounds.

How is Adultery Defined for Divorce Purposes?

New Jersey law defines adultery in very broad terms to include any situation in which a person has engaged or is engaging in a personal, intimate relationship with someone other than their spouse. If you decide to pursue an at-fault divorce on the grounds of adultery, you will be required to prove these allegations by a preponderance of the evidence. Although the law does not require a spouse who is alleging adultery to prove the occurrence of any specific sexual acts, those acts will likely be aired publicly.

Moreover, New Jersey Court Rule 5:4-2 requires disclosure of the name of the third party in the adulterous relationship in the at-fault proceeding. Because of the public nature of an at-fault divorce, spouses might refrain from filing an at-fault action so as not to disclose personal or intimate details of their private lives in a public forum. 

What Are the Advantages of Filing an At-Fault Divorce on the grounds of adultery?

New Jersey divorce laws include specific waiting periods before divorce filings will be accepted or divorces will be granted. In general, to qualify for a divorce in New Jersey, one spouse must be a state resident for at least one year before initiating the action. If the divorce action is filed under the state’s no-fault procedures, the divorcing couple must be voluntarily separated for a continuous 18-month period before beginning divorce proceedings.

The one-year residency period is waived, however, if a spouse seeks an at-fault divorce on the grounds of adultery.  This expedites the start of a divorce action, but the proceedings will then proceed per a regular court schedule that may or may not be faster than a no-fault action.

Does Adultery Affect Property Division or Support Payments?

New Jersey distributes marital property between divorcing spouses according to equitable division principles. Adultery allegations may give one spouse the moral high ground in negotiations over contested property and alimony. However, the state’s laws provide no specific advantage to either party when a marriage is dissolved due to adultery. A judge will have some leeway to consider factors that are deemed relevant in allocating marital property and in determining support payments. Yet they will likely base a decision primarily if not entirely on economic and other objective factors.

In this vein, if one spouse’s adultery had a significant economic impact on a marriage, and they also used substantial amounts of marital assets to support a personal relationship outside of the marriage– a court might account for that in its rulings on property and support issues.   

Will Adultery Allegations Change Child Support or Visitation Rights?

In every case, a divorce court will first protect the best interests of a child in ruling on child support and visitation matters. Public policy in New Jersey and everywhere else in the United States supports frequent contact between children and their parents. Adultery may be perceived as affecting a child’s best interests, but it will not be a controlling factor in determining custody and support.    

Call Kantrowitz, Goldhamer, & Graifman for Advice on Filing for a New Jersey Divorce on the grounds of Adultery

Marital partners who are considering divorce will be better able to manage the physical and emotional stress of divorce proceedings if they understand the impact of filing for a no-fault or at-fault divorce. This is particularly true when adultery is the grounds for the at-fault divorce. Our team of divorce lawyers at Kantrowitz, Goldhamer & Graifman counsel their clients about the benefits and disadvantages of both options.

We represent spouses in divorce proceedings in Bergen County and elsewhere in New Jersey. Please see our website or call us to schedule a private and confidential consultation with one of our divorce attorneys, and for more information about allegations of adultery as a grounds for your at-fault divorce.