According to some estimates, about 53% of all marriages end in divorce, with about 17% of those breakups due to adultery by one or both spouses. Many women cheat to gain an emotional connection, while men cheat for sex. Themost likely times for cheating to occur are during the first year of marriage, following birth of the first child, the fifth to seventh year, and during middle age.
Whether or not a judge takes cheating into consideration during a divorce proceeding depends on a variety of factors beyond the actual alleged adultery. In some states, adulterous behavior has no impact upon a divorce decision, alimony or property division.
Legal View of Adultery
Definition – Adultery occurs when a married man or woman has sexual relationship with someone other than their legal spouse.
Potential Consequences – Divorce, Separation, loss of Child Custody, higher Support levels, loss of assets/property, embarrassment if publicized, high legal costs.
Does Cheating Matter?
For most cases, it does not really matter to the judge. This is because most states have "No-Fault Divorce" laws. A judge does not need to look for or find fault, nor does the couple need to provide any specific reasons why their relationship is on the rocks. In states with no-fault laws, like Nevada, the judge doesn't look as factors like adultery.
An endless list of accusations can be made in anger and under emotional stress. A judge and the couple do not need to waste time and money because each spouse is endlessly arguing that the other is at fault. A cheating spouse might claim the marriage was already over emotionally; therefore adultery was not a factor in the break-up. In Michigan, the state Supreme Court told judges to not put too much emphasis upon adultery or use it as a factor in property distribution.
When Does Cheating Matter?
Sometimes, adultery does become a factor in a divorce decision, even in a no-fault state. The main difference here is that the judge is not looking at how to punish, but rather at how cheating affected the marriage negatively. If adultery led to financial stress, it could be taken into account when making decisions about property and asset distribution. It may also affect decisions about child custody and support and spousal support.
Property Division – If the cheating spouse used marital assets or property to enhance the affair and it depleted marital assets, a judge may take that into account during property division decisions. The non-cheating spouse may receive a higher award because of that drain on their joint assets or property holdings.
Child Custody– If the affair caused the cheater to decrease parental quality or otherwise impact the care of minor children, it could become a factor in a divorce decision as well as custody and support decisions. Some states have "moral fitness" requirements to follow when making these decisions, and cheating would be a factor.
Spousal Support – Spousal support may be increased due to a partner's infidelity in certain situations, such as when the couples have a prenuptial agreement with an "infidelity" clause.
If differences can be settled through mediation instead of a long and expensive court battle, everyone saves time and money. Getting past adultery can make mediation challenging. The best advice for getting past this circumstance is counseling. The divorce lawyer can help with the legal side, a counselor can help with the emotional side.