If a party has an extra-marital relationship prior to a divorce, that typically has no relevance to the divorce action (other than providing grounds for a divorce, which is unnecessary in New Jersey since the state permits divorce based on irreconcilable differences).Typically, when a party begins a divorce action, the marriage is considered “dead.” If either or both parties are dating, it will usually not have any effect on the outcome of the divorce.Alimony, which is also called “spousal support” or “maintenance,” is money one spouse pays to the other during divorce proceedings or following a final judgment of divorce.
It is important for both parents to be on the same page with regard to introducing children to a new significant other, and parties should always take into consideration the children’s emotional state prior to introducing them to a new relationship.
However, dating during a divorce usually does not impact child custody.
Courts can consider dissipation (waste) of assets, so if one spouse spent a large portion of marital funds on an adulterous relationship, this might have an impact on how a judge divides assets between spouses in a divorce; the innocent spouse may receive a greater amount of assets than the cheating spouse in order to make up for the misused funds.
A court could also consider adulterous behavior that was part of a pattern of behavior so extremely wrongful that ignoring it would be unconscionable (outrageous).
Other bad acts during marriage, including adultery, may affect an alimony award, but the behavior negatively affected the couple’s economic situation (eg., where a spouse used substantial marital assets to buy gifts for his or her lover), or where the misconduct was so bad that an ordinary person would recoil from the idea of the innocent spouse being forced to support the guilty one.
Although most people find the idea of adultery distasteful, it will not, by itself, automatically bar alimony: it will generally be a factor only in the presence of additional bad behavior.While judge’s have the power to decide exactly what “extremely wrongful” means in this context, behavior shocking enough to affect property division would generally have to be something along the lines of attempted murder of the other spouse.Infidelity will not affect a custody decision in New Jersey unless the unfaithful spouse exposes the children to someone who is dangerous or who might affect them negatively.Adultery was often used as a fault ground, and courts considered evidence of adultery when awarding alimony. Now, the great majority of spouses that file for divorce in New Jersey choose a “no-fault” ground.Keeping fault out of the equation helps couples avoid the intense conflict that arises when they air their dirty laundry in divorce court.For a complete list of factors and a more in-depth explanation of how New Jersey judges make alimony decisions, see , by Yan Wen Fei.