New Jersey – Alimony Shouldn’t Turn on Fault

The New Jersey Supreme Court says marital infidelity shouldn’t be a factor in awarding alimony in most divorce cases. The court said that judges should pay primary attention to economic factors, that they should only rarely consider who is at fault.

Ruling in the case of Mani v. Mani, Case No. A-53 (April 6, 2005), the court reversed a lower appeals court ruling. The lower court had ruled that the husband, James Mani, couldn’t get an increase in alimony because he had an affair with one of his wife’s friends.

The Supreme Court held that marital fault is irrelevant to alimony “except in two narrow instances: cases in which the fault negatively affects the economic status of the parties and cases in which the fault so violates societal norms that continuing the economic bonds between the parties would confound notions of simple justice. Marital fault is irrelevant to a counsel fee award.”