How Will the Court Deal with My Spouse's Infidelity?

Divorce is not an event planned by any couple. No one starts a marriage with the thought that one day the relationship will disintegrate. The unfortunately reality is that sometimes relationships do not work out, and adultery can often be the cause of this break down. Adultery is a common reason for divorce, and the way adultery is dealt with through the courts is an important issue to understand when starting your divorce.

First, if your spouse is committing adultery, you need to understand that although you are hurt and angry, those emotions do not figure into custody, property division, or support. A divorce is a division of two lives, and the court will not use the divorce as a way to "punish" a spouse who has committed infidelity. There are specific statutes that a judge will follow when it comes to the property and custody issues in divorce, and none of those statutes include how upset one spouse is. Moreover, infidelity itself is not a factor for child custody, property distribution, or spousal support. That said, there are ways that infidelity can matter in all of those inquiries.

With respect to child custody, adultery can matter in two main ways. The first is if the new paramour is completely unsuitable to be around the child by virtue of being on drugs, having an extensive criminal history, or being a registered sex offender, for example. Any of those issues could mean that the parent is making poor decisions with respect to who he or she will have around the children, which can weigh into the custody decision. The other way it can matter is how the parent is dealing with the relationship between the children and the new paramour. Introducing the children to the new significant other too soon or in an inappropriate manner (such as telling the children "this is your new daddy"), can also weigh against an award of custody to that parent.

Property division can also be impacted by adultery in particular cases. If you can prove that your spouse has used significant marital assets on the new paramour, that could mean that the cheating spouse receives a smaller percentage of the marital estate or will be required to otherwise reimburse the other spouse for the money he or she spent on the paramour. For example, if the cheating spouse spends marital funds on taking the paramour on vacations or buying jewelry, this can weigh into a court's determination of division of marital property. Spousal support will be impacted in a similar manner. If a cheating spouse claims he or she is unable to pay spousal support, the other spouse can show evidence of gifts, dinners, and vacations to show the cheating spouse does have the ability to pay.

Divorce can get complicated and you need an experienced attorney to help you through it. Call us today at (732) 529-6937 and we can talk about your divorce and how a court is likely to handle infidelity.

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