An affair is a life-altering event. The repercussions of infidelity affect far more people than just the spouse who was cheated on. Often, the party who suffers the most is the most innocent – the children. In addition to their family structure being shaken up, they will now have to split time between both parents. Before this happens, a custody agreement must be arranged in court. So, how does an affair affect custody agreements?
California is a no-fault divorce state.
Here in California, the court system does not need to know the specific reasons why a marriage is being dissolved. Even though an affair might be the reason why a couple is seeking a divorce, the court will rule it as “irreconcilable differences” without determining which party is at fault.
With that being said, infidelity typically has little to no impact on determining child custody. The spouse who was spurned by the affair cannot use being cheated on as a reason to deprive the other parent of custody. The best interest of the child is what the court bases custody rights off of, and a parent’s romantic interests usually don’t have much effect on that.
There are exceptions to every rule.
Although infidelity alone will not have an impact on the custody agreement, other factors which stem from an affair might. For example, if there was domestic violence or substance abuse in the home, that would certainly impact child custody. If the spouse having the affair was neglectful to the children and left them unattended and unsupervised to meet up with their romantic interest, that would also impact custody.
Likewise, if the parent who was cheated on proves to be vindictive and is going to create a negative environment for the children, the court would take that into consideration. The safety and well-being of the children should be the forefront concern for both parents. If either parent is not capable of providing a safe and nurturing environment for their children, that will become a factor in the custody proceedings.
How do I know if an affair will affect my custody agreement?
Every case is different, and there is no “one size fits all” advice when it comes to topics as complex as child custody. Here at Lonich Patton Ehrlich Policastri, we specialize in family law and estate planning. We are located in San Jose, CA, and serve the greater Bay Area. We are one of the largest practices in the Bay Area and we are Board Certified Family Law Specialists. We have been serving the community since 1994. Our attorneys genuinely care about each individual client and we want to take the time necessary to understand your objectives and meet your needs. We have the proper resources, training, and experience to serve your family with the best expertise in the area.