Can cheating impact the outcome of your divorce?

Many marriages end in divorce these days. In the United States, cheating is one of the most common causes of divorce. It is the second most common reason that married couples separate and later divorce. If you have caught your spouse cheating, it can be a shock. Hurt and betrayal are common responses, but those feelings often fade quickly.

Most people become angry after a while, and that can lead to poor decision making. One of the most important things you can do after discovering an affair is speak with an experienced New York family law and divorce attorney. Your attorney can help you explore options regarding separation and divorce. You may want to try to use the affair as leverage in your divorce, but doing so rarely has much impact on the outcome of a divorce.

Divorce for adultery may not provide many benefits

Unless there is a prenuptial agreement on the record that penalizes your spouse for an affair, fault-based divorce is your only option for legally holding someone accountable for an affair. New York allows for fault-based divorces or no-fault divorces. It is important to note that just being granted a fault-based divorce for adultery will not inherently impact other aspects of the divorce, such as alimony, child custody, asset division or child support.

The courts generally will not penalize either spouse for an affair. There are two exceptions. The first is that if someone’s new partner is a sex offender or dangerous person. In that situation, the courts may consider it when deciding on custody. The second is if one partner spent a large amount of marital assets on their affair. Hotels, vacations, fancy dinners and gifts can cost a lot of money. In that case, the courts may factor that amount into asset division. If you have financial proof of this spending, you don’t necessarily have to go through a fault-based divorce to have it considered for asset division.

Many couples choose no-fault divorces, even in cases of adultery

Fault-based divorces don’t offer many benefits other than the satisfaction of having the divorce granted on the grounds of someone else’s bad behavior. No-fault divorces are quicker. An experienced attorney can still present evidence about the financial impact of the affair on your marital assets if it is substantial enough to potentially impact the division of assets.

While you may want to hold your former spouse accountable for the affair, you’ll be expected to prove it with actual evidence if you request a divorce because of adultery, instead of a “no-fault” divorce. This can make the divorce a much longer process and can cost you a lot in terms of your attorney’s time.