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How Will Adultery or Infidelity Affect My Divorce Case?

Posted on in Divorce Issues

dads divorce lawyer infidelityThere are many reasons couples get divorced, and infidelity is high on the list. When one spouse has an extramarital affair, the other spouse may feel betrayed, and this could lead them to attempt to get revenge either before ending the marriage or during divorce proceedings. The strong emotions that these situations can evoke will often lead to increased levels of conflict between spouses, making it difficult to reach agreements during the divorce process. If infidelity is a factor in your divorce, you’ll want to be sure to understand your rights and determine how it may affect the decisions made in your case.

Filing for Divorce

Whether you plan to begin the process of ending your marriage by filing a petition for divorce or need to respond to your spouse’s divorce petition, you’ll want to determine whether infidelity should be addressed at this stage. While some states may allow spouses to cite fault-based grounds for divorce, such as adultery, most states allow for no-fault divorce. In these cases, a divorce petition will simply state that the marriage has broken down due to irreconcilable differences. While listing infidelity as a grounds for divorce may be possible in your state, it may be best to avoid laying the blame for your divorce in the initial filing or response, since this may help you avoid conflict later in the divorce process.

Addressing Infidelity During Divorce Proceedings

In many cases, an extramarital affair won’t play a direct role in the decisions made during a divorce. Typically, issues such as the division of marital property will be based on what is fair and equitable for both parties, and “marital misconduct” will not be a factor that is considered. However, some states do allow adultery or other forms of misconduct to be considered when making decisions about whether to award spousal support. An affair may affect the property division process if a spouse is accused of dissipating assets, or using marital funds or property for non-marital purposes.

As with other aspects of a divorce, infidelity usually won’t play a role in decisions about child custody. A child’s best interests are the primary factor that is considered, and if a parent was closely involved in making decisions for their child and providing for their needs while they were married, they should be able to continue in this same role after getting divorced. However, if a parent chose to focus on their relationship with their new partner rather than spending time with their children or addressing their family’s needs, decisions about child custody may reflect this.

Contact a Divorce Lawyer

If your marriage is ending because of infidelity by either you or your spouse, you’ll want to determine how to address this issue during your divorce. By working with an experienced divorce attorney, you can determine whether it is a good idea to raise the matter of your spouse’s adultery, or you can take steps to ensure that your own actions will not affect decisions about financial issues or child custody. Your lawyer can advise you of the best approach to take, and they can make sure your rights will be protected throughout your divorce case.

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