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How does adultery impact a divorce?

On Behalf of | Nov 27, 2023 | Divorce

Infidelity is one of the hardest things for couples to overcome, particularly if they are married. In fact, many married people decide to get divorced because of adultery, or extramarital affairs.

However, in most states, including Michigan, you do not have to explain why your marriage ended in your divorce petition. In these no-fault divorce states, you can cite to a “breakdown” of the marriage. This basically means that if you are filing for divorce, it is enough to say that you and your spouse are getting a divorce because you are no longer able to get along. You will not need to “prove” anything in order to get a divorce.

While adultery will not be cited in your divorce documents, it can still affect several divorce-related issues, such as:

  • Spousal support: Though Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, adultery and other factors leading to the divorce may be considered when evaluating whether to award spousal support and how much to award. While spousal support cannot be awarded just to punish the unfaithful spouse, courts can consider the impact an extramarital affair may have had on the marital couple’s finances and lifestyle when deciding on spousal support.
  • Property division: Courts in equitable division states like Michigan have the authority to decide how to divide up the marital assets fairly and equitably in the divorce. If the spouse who had the affair used marital funds to buy gifts for their affair partner or to provide for them in some way, the non-cheating spouse may be compensated for that.
  • Child custody: Courts will not prevent a parent from spending time with their child just because that parent was unfaithful to their spouse. However, child custody may be impacted if the non-cheating spouse can show that the affair negatively impacted the child or prevents the cheating spouse from being able to properly parent the child.

Infidelity can end a marriage and have long-lasting consequences. However, it is important to remember that in no-fault divorces, an affair is generally not a significant issue of relevance absent certain circumstances.  If your spouse was unfaithful, consult with an attorney to find out more about how infidelity may impact your divorce.