For years divorcing couples have heard that New Jersey courts do not consider fault when it comes to determining whether alimony should be awarded. This is true. In most cases marital fault is irrelevant to a determination of alimony. However, as the New Jersey Supreme Court stated in the case of Mani v. Mani, 183 N.J. 70 (2005), in a case where the spouse claiming the right to alimony engages in fault which affects the parties’ economic life, the fault may be considered in the calculation of alimony. As well, where the marital fault is so egregious that it violates societal norms alimony that would otherwise have been awarded may be denied in its entirety.
Facts of the Mani Case
The Mani’s were married in 1973 and over the course of their marriage they enjoyed a high standard of living, financed almost entirely by income from the wife’s father’s business and investments. As the marriage progressed Mr. Mani not only dropped out of full-time work, but when the parties retired he began to have an affair with the couples’ mutual friend. Mrs. Mani soon filed for divorce, and because the parties couldn’t settle their case a trial took place.