Is Emotional Infidelity Grounds for Divorce in New Jersey?
An emotional affair can be difficult to describe, and even harder to prove, but it is infidelity nonetheless. While no physical contact may have occurred between a married partner and their love interest, often an emotional affair escalates to physical infidelity. In addition, often sharing one’s innermost and personal feelings with someone other than a life partner or spouse can feel more invalidating and betraying to the other spouse. Physical attraction to another person is a natural response, but many married couples consider acting on that spark of chemistry to be a violation of the sanctity of the marriage and the trust one has with their life partner.
New Jersey statutes define adultery as sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than their spouse. Most cases of adultery are not proven with physical evidence, as the other spouse would literally have to be caught in the act. However, a spouse can still use circumstantial evidence to prove that the cheating spouse is engaged in infidelity.
To do this, the plaintiff spouse must show that the cheating spouse has the disposition to commit adultery and the opportunity to commit adultery. Disposition could be established if the plaintiff sees her spouse holding hands, flirting, or kissing another person. Or, perhaps one spouse finds explicit text messages or video clips shared between a spouse and another person, or a months-long text message or chat thread discussing highly emotional or sexual conversations. In that case, emotional infidelity could be used to prove disposition. Opportunity can be proven if the plaintiff spouse or a witness sees the defendant spouse leaving a stranger’s house in the middle of the night.
Filing for Divorce
If you feel that counseling is no longer an option, you can file for a limited divorce or absolute divorce. Limited divorce, or pendente lite, provides the plaintiff temporary financial support from the defendant before a final divorce hearing. Pendente lite support allows the plaintiff spouse to maintain the family home and support themselves before a final trial date is assigned. Some parties choose to file for absolute divorce immediately, which will trigger a scheduling order for discovery to take place, and a hearing date. Remember that when you file a complaint, you must also file a writ of summons to serve the defendant and your financial statement.
While a plaintiff spouse may be dead set on proving that adultery occurred in the court of law, it is not necessary to file for divorce under the grounds of adultery. Because New Jersey is a no-fault divorce state, simply filing under the grounds of no fault is enough to meet the burden without having to hire a private investigator or snooping around the defendant spouse to prove the elements of adultery, but it does require an 18 month separation period. In addition, while emotional infidelity has destroyed marriages, courts are unwilling to recognize it as an independent ground from physical acts of adultery. If you have questions about how to file or when to file, contact our attorneys at Eveland & Foster.
Schedule a Consultation with our New Jersey Divorce Attorneys Today
If you are unhappy with your marriage, your partner’s infidelity, or suspect your partner has committed adultery, you do not have to put up with it. No one enters a marriage expecting to get divorced, but there is no shame in the “D” word. You deserve to be happy, and you deserve a partner who appreciates you. Our attorneys at Eveland & Foster, LLC understand the sensitivity of these issues, and if hired, will zealously represent you and your interests. With decades of combined experience serving clients throughout Morristown and Central New Jersey, we are the right attorneys for you. Call us today to schedule a consultation.