How does adultery affect divorce in California?
It’s a question we hear often – and it’s one that has a simple answer: It doesn’t.
But that answer isn’t absolute. Here’s what you need to know about how adultery affects divorce in California, whether you’re in Stockton or elsewhere.
How Does Adultery Affect Divorce in California?
Adultery can certainly cause divorce – in fact, it happens every day. But when it comes to hashing out the legal details, adultery (the act of cheating on your spouse) doesn’t have much of an impact on the divorce itself. Keep reading, though, because there are a handful of instances in which the adulterer ends up paying for what he or she did financially.
Adultery and No-Fault Divorce
Always a leader, California was the first state to implement no-fault divorce. What that means is that you don’t have to prove someone was wrong in order to get a divorce here – you just have to assert that your marriage is irretrievably broken and nothing’s going to fix it.
If you walk into court and say, “My spouse cheated and I want him to pay,” the court can’t do anything but work through the divorce settlement you and your attorney have proposed.
Judges can’t make a cheating spouse pay because he or she strayed.
That is, unless your spouse blew your life savings on a paramour, or his or her affair affected your children.
When Your Spouse Spends Money on His or Her Affair Partner
If your spouse has spent big bucks on his or her affair partner, you have every right to be mad – you should be mad, because some of the money he or she spent belonged to you. You and your spouse equally own everything either of you acquired during your marriage, and that includes the money in your bank account. When your cheating spouse spends money on his or her affair partner, that cash is coming from your marital estate.
And while a judge can’t give you more property because your spouse cheated, he or she can make your spouse reimburse your marital estate for half the money that went toward the affair partner.
The catch: You have to prove what your spouse spent. It might be easy if your soon-to-be ex wrote a check to a car dealership, but littler things, like hotel stays and dates, might be tougher to prove. If your spouse spent a bunch of cash on his or her affair partner, let your divorce attorney know – you may be able to ask the court to order your spouse to reimburse your marital estate for it.
The court can’t punish someone for cheating by ordering him or her to pay alimony – but the courts can consider a decreased need for support. If the cheating spouse is demanding alimony but lives with his or her affair partner, he or she likely has less of a need for support because the affair partner should be kicking in to pay some bills.
When Your Spouse’s Affair Affected Your Kids
California custody law doesn’t care that your spouse cheated on you. In fact, custody is almost completely untouched by unfaithfulness – what’s most important is what’s best for the kids, and in the vast majority of cases, that’s having good, quality time with both parents. The only way infidelity is going to have an impact on child custody is if the affair changed the cheating partner’s fitness as a parent, such as engaging in sexual acts in front of them.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About How Adultery Affects Divorce in California?
If you need to talk to an attorney about the ways adultery affects divorce in California, we’re here to help.
Call us at (209) 989-4425 or get in touch with us online to talk to a lawyer who can help today. We’ll help you with every aspect of your divorce, from child custody and child support to alimony and property division. We can also refer you to a divorce therapist who can help you work through the emotions you’re experiencing.
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