Common Questions Series: Does fault matter in a New Jersey divorce?

I often hear this question like this:

Why do I have to [fill in blank here with something you don’t want to do]? He/She is the one who wants it.


Why do I have to pay alimony? My husband/wife cheated on me. Why should he/she get rewarded?

My husband/wife cheated on me. Why should I have to reduce my lifestyle because we have to get divorced now.

My husband is the one who wants to get divorced. Why should I have to move out of the house?

My husband is the one who wants to get divorced. Why should I have to pay half the debt?

My wife is the one who wants this divorce. Why should I be inconvenienced?

Well, the reason for that is because the court treats a divorce like a business transaction. Your marriage is basically a business or a partnership that is being dissolved. That means all of the assets and the financial affairs of the business have to be divided. It doesn’t matter who initiated the divorce, who was the mean one during the marriage, who may have cheated or behaved badly. It’s totally irrelevant. The court is not in the business of judging morality and ethics. The only time this may come into play at all is if there was a fraud perpetrated during the marriage that had a detrimental financial impact on the finances. An example of this would be a spouse who spent money during the marriage without the other spouse’s knowledge on gambling or on an extramarital affair. However, these are rare occurrences and they must be egregious to warrant any attention.

The best thing you can do for yourself if you’re going through a divorce and you want to keep it as inexpensive (and short) as possible is to treat it like a business transaction. Don’t expect to get any emotional satisfaction from the process.

If you need help figuring out how to navigate your divorce, we can help. Schedule a Client Vision Meeting right .

About the Author


John Nachlinger is a co-founder and managing attorney of Netsquire, a family law firm focused on streamlining divorces through effective mediation, settlement drafting, and court filing assistance. As a New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney and Qualified Mediator, John guides couples toward equitable agreements without the cost and stress of litigation.

Recognized as a New Jersey Super Lawyer for over a decade, John’s client-focused approach aims to foster understanding during challenging transitions. With a background spanning top law journals, judicial clerkships, and boutique family law firms, John now applies his analytical skills to create workable solutions for all parties. His mediation services reshape the divorce journey by prioritizing compassion and compromise.

LinkedIn | State Bar Association | Avvo | Google