Will infidelity affect a divorce? 30 Answers as of May 25, 2011

I am a marriage counselor and I have several clients asking this question: Will the fact that infidelity took place (on my part (one incident)) in my marriage be grounds for loosing my house or affect child custody in a divorce proceeding?

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Keri Burnstein, P.C.
Keri Burnstein, P.C. | Keri Burnstein
Generally speaking infidelity does not affect a divorce. However, there is some argument to this. Without more detailed information, I cannot be more specific.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 5/25/2011
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
The reason the marriage breaks down is a factor for the court to consider in dividing the marital estate. Stay well.
Answer Applies to: Alabama
Replied: 5/24/2011
Beaulier Law Office
Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
No. Minnesota is a "no fault" divorce state. That means grounds for divorce are unnecessary and infidelity or fault base issues have little impact on the issues of the divorce.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 5/24/2011
Law Office of Joseph A. Katz
Law Office of Joseph A. Katz | Joseph A. Katz
California is a 'No Fault' divorce state, which means that you can file for dissolution at any time you want. The general, catch-all grounds are 'irreconcilable differences', which can be as simple as that you just cannot get along with your spouse any longer, and no intervention by the Court, passage of time, counseling or other measure will remedy the breakdown of the relationship. The Court should turn a blind eye to infidelity, unless it happens to impact the children or the finances in some way that could cause a claim for reimbursement by the faithful spouse. Otherwise, the grounds for divorce are very lenient in California. As for child custody, the Court will/should always do what is in the best interests of the children. If the children are safe and provided for, and the affair does not represent the threat of immediate emotional harm to them (any divorce harms the children, per se), then it is largely irrelevant.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/24/2011
Rice & Co., LPA
Rice & Co., LPA | Kollin Rice
Although infidelity is one of several legal grounds for getting a divorce in Ohio, in my experience, the adultery itself is very rarely a factor considered by the court in determining property division or child custody. This would almost certainly be true in a case where the infidelity was limited to one incident, or even more than one incident if the adulterous relationship has already ended. On the other hand, cohabitation with the person with whom you are committing adultery can have an impact to the extent that it may affect your financial circumstances and the children's comfort level living in your home. Likewise, moving out of the marital home may significantly decrease your chances of having it awarded to you in the divorce. The main factors that usually are considered as to who is awarded the house in a divorce are: 1) Who is living in the house now?; 2) Is that person financially able to keep living in the house on their own? 3) Is there substantial equity in the house, and, if so, can be divided without selling the house? 4) Who will have custody of the children, and would those children benefit from staying in the marital home? Though these factors are probably not codified in law, I cannot think of a case where the matter was not determined on the basis of one or more of these issues.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 5/24/2011
    Fredric H. Aaron, Attorney at Law, P.C.
    Fredric H. Aaron, Attorney at Law, P.C. | Fredric Harlan Aaron
    While infidelity is a grounds for a divorce, it will not affect the equitable distribution of marital assets in absence of any other evidence (such as wasting marital funds to pay for prostitutes). Similarly, infidelity will not affect child custody, unless other factors can be shown, like your clients having affairs with drug addicts, criminals, child abusers or other people who may be shown to endanger the welfare of a minor child.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 5/24/2011
    Beresford Booth PLLC
    Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
    Washington State is a "no fault state." Infidelity may only be a factor if children are involved (e.g., the "new person" a "bad person").
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    Howard W. Collins, Attorney at Law
    Howard W. Collins, Attorney at Law | Howard W. Collins
    In Oregon, Divorces operate under a statutory provision that this is a no fault state. The reasons for a divorce are not even proper questions to be asked by either counsel. Therefore they are to have no direct impact on the division of asset and debts, custody of the children or any other relevant divorce issue. Having said this as the general rule, understand that determinations are based upon several criteria with the overriding interest to do what is in the best interest of the child. So hypothetically assume Wife is the primary caretaker of the children but falls in love with a man over the internet who is a drug dealing sex offender who preys on children. Will the court consider awarding the children to father under these circumstances? Absolutely. Will this same poor choice in men lead Wife to be denied her interest in the equity of the home or her interest in the marital portion of his retirement account, no. I hope this helps; but it would be better to talk so we can discuss more sophisticated nuances that arise regularly.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    Law Office of Karen A. Clark, L.L.C.
    Law Office of Karen A. Clark, L.L.C. | Karen A. Clark
    Washington is a no-fault dissolution state. That means that the court does not review the parties' reasons for separation and dissolution. In general, property acquired during the course of the marriage is considered community property and each spouse has a partial interest in such property. Infidelity by itself is not an indication of one's parenting skills. If the parties are in agreement about the terms of the parenting plan, for the most part, the court will likely accept that agreement. If the parents' behaviors indicate neglect of or abuse of the child(ren) the court will carefully review the allegations.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    No. We have no fault marriage in California. Infidelity of a spouse will not affect property division or child custody rights in a divorce.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    Yes and No. Lets start with the obvious. In Texas, we recognize irreconcilable differences as a grounds for divorce. Proving adultery is more about personal satisfaction than anything, the exception being if there are religious reasons for wanting to prove it. The offending party cannot be expected to simply admit it - though they sometimes do. During the divorce, an innocent spouse may ASK for a disproportionate settlement from the estate based on the fault in the break-up of the marriage. The affair comes into play here, but then remember, the spouse having the affair can claim the marriage was over anyway on no fault grounds. Plus, if the innocent spouse "forgave" or tried to make it work, a good lawyer can argue that the fault is not the adultery, the fault is irreconcilable differences because the adultery is a past and therefore mute point. Finally, there is little guidance in the law on disproportional settlement, the court is left to do what feels right and must overcome the natural inclination to just split everything in half.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    Seattle Divorce Services
    Seattle Divorce Services | Michael V. Fancher
    Washington is a no fault state, so infidelity does not play a part in a divorce. It would not affect either the property division or the parenting plan.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    Infidelity does not play a major role any more, however, it does play some role, usually about 1/11th of the issues regarding equitable distribution. It would not normally be grounds for losing your home to your spouse and proof is a very difficult thing to obtain of such a thing. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    Fox Law Firm LLC
    Fox Law Firm LLC | Tina Fox
    For the most part, the one incident will not cause a person to loose custody of their children nor will it cause them to loose their home. There must be other factors that accompany the infidelity to cause the person to loose the home and/or custody.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    The cause of the breakdown of the marriage is one factor of many factors that the court will weigh when determining alimony and property distributions. Regarding custody there are also many factors a court must review but the child's best interests will always prevail. It is normally a better practice not to expose a child to third parties while the divorce is pending because there is enough turmoil for the child to process. But the fact that there is a third party will not be cause to deny custody unless the third party poses some physical or emotional threat to the child.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler
    Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler | Robert L Fiedler
    While it is considered fault as it pertains to the reason one is getting a divorce (as opposed to "no fault"), typically a single incident wouldn't necessarily have an effect. Multiple acts would more likely have an impact. I am not suggesting that there is nothing wrong with it, I am just indicating my opinion as to how the courts generally view it.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    To answer your question, yes, if adultery is the cause of the separation and divorce, then it can affect not only alimony, but also property division. As to child custody, it is a little trickier. If the adultery somehow affects the party's parenting, e.g. the party engages in a wild party life-style, then it could have impact on this issue, too. Of course, each person should consult with their own divorce attorney about the specific facts of their case! I hope this helps!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    No. Fault of any kind is totally irrelevant to issues between you and your spouse. However, your general conduct could be relevant to decisions affecting the allocation of parental responsibilities, including parenting time. Obviously, for example, a habitual pattern of improper behavior (partying, drinking, using drugs) could raise doubts as to your parenting ability or the health and welfare of the children.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    Law Office of Richard B. Kell
    Law Office of Richard B. Kell | Richard B. Kell
    Regarding property division, the conduct of the spouses during the marriage is one of several factors taken into consideration. Generally, a spouse will only be penalized for cheating if there were multiple affairs (or a lengthy one) where money was spent on his or her paramour(s). With respect to child custody, it depends on whether the infidelity affects the parent's ability to care for the child(ren). Generally, there are other factors that coincide with infidelity (such as drinking/drugs, financial mismanagement, or other irresponsible behaviors) that will have a much greater impact on a parent's fitness for custody. And all of this can also depend on the type of custody arrangement that is in dispute. Feel free to give me a call if you or any of your clients ever need anything clarified.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
    Well, to answer your question bluntly, infidelity will not by itself cost you any money. the Judges do not award more or less alimony and they do not change the division of property giving less to the cheating spouse. you wont lose your house just because of that. infidelity CAN have an effect on the divorce in a number of ways. I can give you a few examples: if the cheating spouse spent a ton of money on the paramour, then the other spouse can ask the Judge to take that into account. if the cheating spouse is sharing finances (rent or other expenses) with the paramour, then the cheating spouse's living expenses may be lower, and that may affect the financial awards that the judge makes. and of course it will have a huge impact on all of the adults and children touched by it. let me know if I can assist any of your clients with these issues or anything else.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    Edward A. Kroll, Attorney at Law
    Edward A. Kroll, Attorney at Law | Edward A. Kroll
    It depends on your jurisdiction. Some states, such as Oregon, have no-fault divorce, meaning that specific instances of misconduct (e.g. infidelity) do not generally affect the end result. Other states can and do apportion fault.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    Law Office of Curry & Westgate
    Law Office of Curry & Westgate | Patrick Curry
    Not in California.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    Infidelity has no relevance whatsoever regarding asset or debt division issues. As for custody, the determination standard is the "child's best interests." Thus, a fact analysis may include one parent's lifestyle. However, having an affair one time would be very unlikely to have any effect on a physical custody determination. On the other hand, if a parent was regularly having "romantic" encounters with many different partners at the home where a child lived, then that could have an effect on a custody determination. Again, it depends on the circumstances at the home. If a child is never exposed to a parent's "dating" life, then depending on how that parent is effected by their own dating, such dating lifestyle could be less relevant to completely irrelevant.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    Diana K. Zilko, Attorney at Law
    Diana K. Zilko, Attorney at Law | Diana K. Zilko
    In California, divorce is "no fault." As such, infidelity should not affect property rights, etc. It should also not affect child custody, however, it certainly could if the "other person" is still in the picture and the contention could be made that they are a negative influence on the children (i.e. drug/alcohol use, etc.).
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    Fault, like infidelity, is irrelevant unless it a) is connected to waste (this is almost never cost effective to prove) b) effects the"innocent" spouse so severely that he/she can't work c) it is somehow reflective of such a bad personality that it relates to the "sinner's" ability to parent.Therefore, usually, it doesn't matter at all legally. Of course it matters greatly to the spouses. Therefore, consider changing your marriage relationship with,and advising your clients about,a healthier way to divorce. To elaborate on the above. If a spouse spent thousands, or tens of thousands wine(ing) and dining their lover in Paris over multiple Lear Jet rendevous - it would probably be "waste" of a community asset and thus potentially important. If the affair caused a mental breakdown and the innocent spouse could not work that would effect his/her earning potential and thus could effect the property division/maintenance and child support but come on...get real. Chances are the judge you are talking to has had an affair or lived through one. Third, there are probably600 things more important about one's parenting abilities than whether one was faithful or not. That said, court is theatre. If the judge is a prude, they might hate the person who had an affair. If they are stereotypically French, they might hate the "innocent" spouse for trying to prejudice the proceedings with such trivial matters. I wouldn't worry about it. There are probably many more important and determinative things going on. Again, check out collaborative practice. My website also talks about the difference between traditional litigation and collaborative practice.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    Berner Law Group, PLLC
    Berner Law Group, PLLC | Jack Berner
    Generally no. Was there a prenup with a morality clause in it? Were the children involved by the cheating parent in covering up the infidelity (i.e., abusive use of conflict) or otherwise harmed by the infidelity? These kinds of things could affect the Court's determination. If your clients are in Western Washington, feel free to refer them to my office to schedule a free, no obligation, initial consultation-by phone or in person-about their case.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    California is a no fault divorce state, so infidelity isn't relevant. If your practice is in my area, referrals would be appreciated.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/23/2011
    Van Der Jagt Law Firm
    Van Der Jagt Law Firm | Grant Van Der Jagt
    Not in Colorado.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 5/23/2011
Click to View More Answers:
12 3 4 5 Free Legal QuestionsConnect with a local attorney