The impact of adultery on divorce proceedings varies from state to state and each jurisdiction places a different weight on allegations of infidelity. In some states, allegations of infidelity during the marriage can impact alimony, property division, and even custody determinations. In other states, adultery in the marriage makes little difference in the ultimate resolution of ancillary divorce matters. As adultery can be difficult to prove, many couples pursue a no-fault divorce action, which does not require either spouse to prove misconduct on the part of the other spouse.
Alimony, or spousal support, is an amount of money awarded from one spouse to the other pursuant to a marital settlement agreement or divorce decree. Alimony can be awarded in one lump sum or monthly installments. In some states, including states that only allow no-fault divorce, a judge may be granted the authority to take a spouse’s misconduct into account when deciding whether to award alimony and in what amount. For example, evidence of adultery may bar the unfaithful spouse from receiving alimony.
Depending on your jurisdiction, you may be able to cite adultery as a ground for divorce. Not every state offers this option, however, and you may have to file for a no-fault divorce, which simply requires a showing of irreconcilable differences or irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. In a no-fault divorce situation, the judge may consider evidence of adultery when deciding other matters related to the divorce, but will not require evidence of the affair to grant the divorce. In a fault-based divorce, the filing spouse must present evidence of the infidelity and prove to the court’s satisfaction that adultery led to the breakdown of the marriage.