The very nature of a divorce or separation is that the parties are ending their life together and moving on. Divorce is a long process and it is not surprising that some people will start moving on before or during the divorce. Dating while you are still married is adultery under New Jersey law, which is one of the grounds for divorce available. However, adultery will not impact the divorce proceedings in the way one may expect, since New Jersey is a no-fault divorce state. One important note is that if one spouse alleges adultery, the name of the new boyfriend or girlfriend needs to be included in the divorce pleadings.
Most commonly a wronged spouse will believe that adultery should increase the amount of spousal support he or she receives. Under New Jersey law, adultery will not impact the amount of spousal support or even whether it is awarded. The only way that adultery may potentially have some impact on spousal support is if the cheating had some detrimental financial impact on the marriage. For example, if the cheating spouse spent lavishly on the boyfriend or girlfriend, it may be possible for the court to take that into account. Similarly, adultery before or during the divorce will not change the division of personal property unless the personal property was somehow dissipated for the benefit of the extra-marital relationship.
New boyfriends or girlfriends can potentially have an impact on child custody in certain circumstances. Child custody decisions are made based on what is in a child’s best interest. If one parent is spending an inordinate amount of time with the new love interest, especially at the expense of quality time with the children, then the judge may take the relationship into account. If the new boyfriend or girlfriend is somehow a danger to the children due to drug use or violence, this will certainly be taken into account not only in forming the initial custody order but if one parent must ultimately return to court to modify the parenting schedule to keep the children safe from the new significant other. In short, the parents need to make sure that the behavior with the new boyfriend or girlfriend is not disruptive to a child, as the child’s needs must be put ahead of the parent’s desire to start a new romance.If you are facing a divorce and have questions about how a new relationship will affect your case, contact us today at (732) 529-6937. We have experience in helping our clients navigate divorce cases at all stages.