Will the court consider my spouse’s adultery when determining my alimony obligation?
Generally speaking, adultery has no bearing on the amount or duration of alimony awarded by the court or as to whether alimony should be awarded at all.
In Mani v. Mani, 183 NJ 70 (2005), the New Jersey Supreme Court found adultery or other types of marital fault are irrelevant when considering the amount of alimony that is to be awarded except in two narrow circumstances. The first instance is where the fault has affected the parties’ economic life. The second instance is where the fault “so violates societal norms that continuing the economic bounds between the parties would confound notions of simple justice.” See Mani v. Mani, 183 NJ at 72.
With the exception of the above instances, in most cases where adultery has occurred and can be readily proven, the amount or duration of alimony will not be affected. For example, if the spouse that committed adultery was the spouse receiving alimony and adultery was considered a factor in awarding alimony, the receiving spouse could become destitute or a public charge. Under New Jersey case law, this would be a violation of public policy and is not allowed. In addition, if adultery was a factor in awarding alimony, many more alimony cases would be litigated so as to prove fault and possibly lessen the amount of alimony to be paid. This would put an undue burden on our court system. For practical reasons like these, it is not likely the court will change this ruling any time in the near future.
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