New Jersey is a “no fault” divorce state. This means that – in most circumstances – marital fault will not be a factor in determining financial issues. The following is a typical dialogue that has occurred more than once in an initial divorce consultation between an attorney and client:
Client: I think my spouse is cheating on me.
Lawyer: Do you know what you can in court get if you can prove that?
Client: No, what can I get?
Lawyer: A divorce.
This is not intended to make light of your situation. Adultery is a painful, hurtful experience. It damages both parties and the children. It rips families apart. We are sympathetic to your plight. We understand how angry and hurt you are. But we need to put the situation in the same perspective that a judge will. The division of property, the determination of child support, and even the award of alimony will not be affected by adultery or other marital fault – except in rare situations (discussed below). It is difficult enough for some people to accept the fact that they must pay alimony to a dependent spouse who didn’t cause the breakup of the marriage, but to pay alimony to an adulterer is a very difficult nut to swallow.
One exception to the rule is if the marital fault caused a financial consequence to the marriage – for example, if your spouse had a gambling problem and gambled away a 401K plan, or if the adultery resulted in substantial amounts of money being funneled away from the marriage to finance the affair (such as an apartment for the paramour, or expensive trysts and vacations).
The law on this subject is constantly evolving. At the law offices of Gina Calogero, we will research recent precedent and we will carefully and sympathetically listen to the facts of your case to determine whether the marital fault – if any – fits into one of the noted exceptions to the no-fault law in New Jersey. If there is any way to find an advantage to help our clients, we will try our best to find it.
If there is no viable avenue to obtain financial relief for you and your family as a result of marital fault, we will explain the situation to you as thoroughly and gently as we can. On your request, at our hourly rate, we will provide you with a legal opinion letter that analyzes the unique facts of your case and advises you of the most likely outcome. We will also advise you whether there can be adverse consequences of raising an issue that the courts might think is frivolous or without merit. In family law cases, judges can shift legal fees to a party who is not litigating in good faith or who raises a frivolous issue that has “no basis in law or fact.”
Our goal is that you make informed decisions. We want to make sure that you look at your situation from all angles and evaluate the pros and cons before taking action. An informed client is much more likely to accept the outcome of a case than one who is kept in the dark or misled into having unrealistic expectations. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Here at the law offices of Gina Calogero, we believe that “The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.” Contact us today and schedule an appointment with an experienced divorce lawyer in Oradell, New Jersey and find out more about our divorce & family law services.