Unfortunately, extramarital affairs affect many marriages. In fact, according to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, up to 40 percent of people in long-term relationships have experienced adultery. Allegations of an affair can sometimes be the catalyst for seeking a divorce and can heighten tensions when negotiating a divorce agreement.
Even if your spouse’s infidelity is the driving factor in your divorce, though, you do not have to prove adultery to be granted a divorce in California. As a no-fault divorce state, California allows parties to file for divorce without establishing the fault of a spouse. Instead, many couples cite irreconcilable differences when filing for divorce.
How An Extramarital Affair May Affect Your Divorce Settlement in California
The California family court system does not usually take extramarital affairs into account during divorce proceedings. However, the judge does have the leeway to determine whether the infidelity impacted some areas of the marriage in any way that needs to be addressed. For instance, certain cases and situations can affect child custody agreements, spousal support, and the division of the marital estate.
Child custody and visitation rights
When deciding matters related to child custody agreements (i.e., visitation schedules, child support, etc.), the best interests and safety of the child should always come first. Infidelity does not necessarily reflect on parenting abilities, but an extramarital affair could still adversely affect the child. For instance, if the cheating spouse left the child unattended in order to conduct the affair, neglected the child while having an affair, or if the adulterous parent and the new partner create an unsafe or inappropriate environment for a child, the judge would take those issues into consideration when granting custody.
Although you cannot necessarily get out of paying spousal support, or alimony, if your partner cheated on you, their affair could have financial repercussions in your divorce. A common situation is where the adulterous spouse ends up moving in with their new partner. This new living arrangement might provide them financial security that they wouldn’t have on their own. If you can prove that they can support themselves financially, the judge might reduce or eliminate any alimony payment requirements.
Division of marital estate
When it comes to dividing up the marital estate, California is a community property state. Generally speaking, assets and debts accrued during the marriage are divided equally. However, if your spouse spent money on an extramarital affair, such as paying for hotel rooms or buying expensive gifts, the judge will likely either require the adulterous spouse to pay penalties or reimburse you for those assets during the division of your marital estate.
Get Help by Talking to an Experienced Family Law Attorney
Have you discovered an extramarital affair and are planning to file for divorce? Or has your spouse unfairly accused you of cheating? The well-established family law attorneys at Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri have almost two decades of experience helping our clients resolve complicated divorce cases both in court and through mediation. Call us at 408-553-0801 to schedule a free, 30-minute consultation to discuss your situation and your needs. We will fight to protect your rights and help you navigate this stressful season of life.
Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.