Does Adultery Matter in a Divorce?

Does Adultery Matter in a Divorce?

There are many valid reasons why a couple may wish to end their marriage. Sometimes, the reason is that the couple drifted apart and no longer felt they could resolve their differences. Other times, the reason is that one spouse committed adultery. Does the reason affect the outcome of the divorce?

Many people assume that if their spouse cheated during the marriage, the cheating spouse will face consequences in court when it comes to things like child custody, alimony, and property division. Is this true? Do the courts really look at adulterers less favorably in a divorce case? First, it is important to understand the difference between no-fault and fault-based divorce.

No-Fault vs. Fault-Based Divorce

Because “no-fault” divorce grounds exist in all 50 states, it typically does not matter who is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. However, Ohio is one of a number of states that also allow couples to pursue fault-based divorce on one of nine grounds, including adultery. In pursuing a divorce based on adultery, the accusing spouse must be prepared to offer clear and convincing proof that the alleged affair occurred. It is not enough to simply believe that the other spouse was unfaithful in order to pursue a divorce on the grounds of adultery.

Does Adultery Impact Alimony?

Although there is no guarantee, adultery can potentially impact alimony in Ohio. The court may consider a spouse’s adultery as a relevant factor in determining whether to award alimony to the other spouse. Generally speaking, the court is not likely to allow a lower-earning spouse to suffer financially because his or her spouse’s affair ended the marriage. Furthermore, the court will likely take into account any squandering of financial resources by the cheating spouse to support his or her affair.

Does Adultery Affect Who Gets Custody?

The act of adultery in itself will not necessarily affect a cheating spouse's custody rights. What can affect the court's decision about child custody is who the cheating spouse is having a relationship with. When it comes to child custody, the judge will look at what's in the best interest of the child/children. If a cheating spouse is in a relationship with someone (or multiple people) that are dangerous or providing an unstable environment, they may not give as much custody or visitation to that spouse.

Tell Us About Your Case: (614) 344-4311

A spouse seeking a fault-based divorce must be prepared for a more contentious, lengthy, and costly divorce than one sought on no-fault grounds. Thus, pursuing a “fault” divorce is a big decision that should not be made without first consulting with a lawyer. The compassionate Columbus divorce attorneys at Grossman Law Offices would like to meet with you.

If you are considering a divorce and have questions about your specific set of circumstances. To schedule a case evaluation, please contact our Columbus divorce lawyers at (614) 344-4311today.