Cheating can undoubtedly affect a marriage significantly. It can destroy trust between the couple, which is a building block of any marriage. However, whether having an extra-marital affair can affect divorce proceedings is a question that lawyers frequently receive at Coil Law.
Previously, if a spouse was caught cheating, it could create legal troubles for them. If you could prove your spouse was being unfaithful, you could be in for a better outcome. However, things are different now.
Can cheating affect your divorce proceedings?
Engaging in sexual intercourse with someone who is not your legal spouse is illegal in various states of America. However, just because your spouse cheated on you and broke your trust, the judge cannot automatically award you a favorable outcome to make up for your loss. Adultery does not affect the outcome of your divorce.
You may be enraged and hurt by your spouse and want to file for divorce on the grounds of cheating for personal satisfaction, but that will not influence factors like alimony, child custody, child support, asset, and debt division, etc.
Therefore, do not expect the court to punish your spouse for having an affair outside the marriage. If you are the cheating party, you need not be worried about being treated poorly by the court. This is because cheating does not determine the parent’s ability to care for their children, nor is it relevant in the matter of asset division.
Are there any exceptions?
Though, of course, every situation has its own exceptions. If you find out that your spouse had used a chunk of money on their extra-marital affair, such as buying expensive gifts, booking luxury hotel rooms, trips abroad, etc., then you may be able to get your money back. The court will divide the asset equitably. For example, if the cheating partner used marital assets on their infidelity, they will be awarded fewer assets to proportionate their expenses.
However, on the other hand, if your spouse had only spent an insubstantial amount of money, such as on dinner dates or movie theatres, the expenses may be considered insignificant by the court. Therefore, it is best not to waste your time and energy on these minor expenses and focus on other vital factors.
Alienation of Affection
If your spouse is cheating on you and you want to punish them legally, there is one way to do so. You can file a lawsuit against your spouse on the grounds of alienation of affection. In this, you must prove that your spouse had a romantic relationship outside the marriage and that the affair was the sole reason for your break up. Although such lawsuits do not occur often, they can be financially significant.