Lately, it seems that wherever you turn, well-known personalities, whether they be athletes or entertainers, are entering sexual rehabilitation The question arises as to whether extra-marital sex can be converted into dollars by the offended spouse, that is, is there some theory by which compensation might be grounded.
The answer in New Jersey, perhaps, can be found in the case of Mani v. Mani, 183 N.J. 70 (2005), written by the well-respected Justice Virginia Long — a justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court who had a wealth of experience both on the trial bench in handling matrimonial matters as well as on the Appellate Division before being elevated to the State’s highest court. In that case, the issue was simply whether marital fault could be considered a factor in awarding alimony. We start from the theoretical position that the statute on alimony identifies fault as a factor. (Note that that was a left over from the time before the Divorce Reform Act in 1971 when the only grounds for divorce were based on fault. Since then, of course, several no-fault grounds have been added to the point being that most cases are now granted under irreconcilable differences) The practical question is simply to what extent will courts utilize fault as a factor in contested cases?
From 1971 and up until Mani, courts were reluctant to become enmeshed in time consuming tit-for-tat testimony which would essentially have no effect upon the outcome in any event. That attitude was resoundingly continued in Mani that alimony is not fault t based, but instead, an economic right of support arising out of the marital relationship to the extent of the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. It is only where marital fault affects the economic status quo of the parties can a trial court take such fault into financial consideration.