How Infidelity / Affairs Affects Divorce Settlements

How-Infidelity-Affects-Divorce-SettlementsToday, one of the biggest causes of divorce is still infidelity within the marriage by either one or both partners, although the number of divorcing couples crediting their problems to adultery is dwindling each year. When one thinks of divorce, one of the first thoughts is of the ensuing legal battle, which can be arduous at best and maddening at worst. Not all divorces are messy, though, and even some involving infidelity end quickly and amicably just so that both parties can get it over with and move on with their lives. Still, divorce resulting from one partner being unfaithful can become complicated, and this is often one factor that can affect the outcome of divorce settlements. Emotions run high and patience runs thin, and these are two things best kept in check for successful and painless divorce proceedings.

Laws Change From State To State

The laws governing divorce for the most part vary state by state, and almost no aspect of legal action from infidelity resulting in divorce is a part of federal law. Still, there are general similarities and trends present in states that address infidelity in divorce cases. Today, there seems to be little impact in general of faithfulness in the marriage once divorce is the result. Basically, divorce is often the result of infidelity, but the infidelity itself often has little to no impact on the divorce proceedings. So if a partner thinks they are entitled to a large payout for being cheated on, they will unfortunately be disappointed. If the adulterous pair borrowed funds or other contribution from the faithful partner against his or her knowledge, then that partner can then seek return during distribution of the assets. Some states, however, still include fault in divorce proceedings which can then impact how much the faithful partner receives in return for being cheated on. For example, in some states the presence of infidelity in the marriage can cause alimony to be waived so that one of the divorcees doesn’t end up paying alimony to an adulterous ex-husband or ex-wife.

Adultery Has No Impact On Custody Battles

It may seem surprising, but adultery has no impact on child custody in divorce settlements either. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as losing custody if the affair was ongoing in front of the children or involved the children in any way, but in most cases cheating on a spouse will not cause the unfaithful partner to lose access to his or her children. In general, assets are still divided equally (or relatively equally) and custody remains unaffected by the infidelity unless extenuating circumstances apply. Infidelity puts an emotional strain on both parties involved in the divorce proceedings, and this fair division of assets is preferred in most states as a way of ensuring that both parties receive what is owed from the marriage.

Where You Married In A No Fault State?

Some states, referred to as “no fault” divorce states, (See List) do not consider adultery as grounds for divorce unless very specific criteria are met in order to prove that the affair took place. Often, this proof takes the form of an eyewitness who can testify in court to having firsthand knowledge of the affair, or any evidence gathered by a private investigator or by detectives as evidence in a criminal case related to the affair. Many judges will also allow proof obtained by the faulted party in place of the standard evidence to be considered, such as pictures or emails blatantly confirming and expounding on the affair in question. In other states, such a heavy burden of proof is not necessary to consider infidelity as grounds for divorce, but mainly because infidelity does not impact divorce proceedings in these states for the most part. In general, most states are “no fault” divorce states and therefore require no wrongdoing and no recompense in divorce as a result of infidelity.

Finding out your partner has committed adultery is one of the most terrible feelings a spouse can come across, and few marriages are able to recover from such a betrayal of love and trust. Still, it is more than likely that if divorce results from an infidelity then the infidelity in question will not have any impact on the divorce proceedings. It is merely the trigger, not the gunpowder. Due to this fact, some spouses decide to handle their divorce outside of court, but this is ill-advised. Infidelity results in anger, depression, erratic behavior, distrust, and pain, and none of these are conducive to quick and clean divorce settlements. It is best to handle these situations in court to receive the support of lawyers and allow an impartial judge to dissolve the union in the best interests of both parties.

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