For most spouses in New Jersey, cheating during marriage comes with no notable legal consequences. It may destroy the family, it may alienate the children, and it may fill the guilty party with a deep sense of regret – but it will not get you in legal trouble. For the most part, judges do not even consider adultery when calculating alimony – which is not always the case in many other states. In fact, many other states have criminal laws against adultery. Some even allow the aggrieved party to sue the illicit lover of their spouse. But while New Jersey is fairly relaxed when it comes to infidelity, a recent case shows us that it is possible for spouses to pay financial penalties after cheating.
When Cheating Costs You Big Time
On November 2, it was revealed that a man had been forced to pay a $7 million penalty to his wife after engaging in an extramarital affair. The story began in 2014 when the wife discovered that her husband had been cheating for the first time. This married couple enjoyed a high standard of living, with both parties earning six-figure salaries. The husband was especially wealthy due to his grandmother, Rachel “Bunny” Mellon – a famous horticulturist who designed the White House Rose Garden. She left him $1 million to buy a home and almost $11 million more in inheritance.
When the wife discovered the affair, she asked the husband to settle his existing financial accounts in both their names and enter into a postnuptial agreement. This postnuptial agreement was slightly unorthodox, as it set forth a $5 million penalty if the husband ever cheated again. In a show of good faith, the husband increased that amount to $7 million. Despite his lawyers vehemently advising him against this course of action, the husband signed the postnuptial agreement in 2015.
In 2018, the husband cheated once more. Suddenly, he was faced with the possibility of handing over $7 million in penalties. Of course, he tried to fight the validity of the postnuptial agreement in court – claiming that it was signed under undue influence, it lacked consideration, and it was unconscionable. The court disagreed, stating that the wife gave something of value in return for the prenup by agreeing to stay in the marriage. This constituted consideration. They also pointed out that the husband willingly increased the penalty from $5 million to $7 million out of his own free will, suggesting that undue influence was not a factor. Finally, the court decided that the penalty was not excessive given the high net worths of both individuals. In the end, he was forced to do the unthinkable, handing over $7 million for having an affair.
Where Can I Find a Qualified, Experienced Divorce Lawyer in New Jersey?
If you have been searching for a qualified, experienced divorce attorney in New Jersey, look no further than Giro, LLP, Attorneys at Law. Over the years, we have helped numerous divorcing spouses resolve and end their marriages – including those that involve cheating. We know that this can be an emotionally turbulent period for both spouses, and we are ready to guide you toward a positive outcome in a confident, dignified, and efficient manner. Book your consultation today to get started.