How Adultery Affects a California Divorce

It's not uncommon: Two people fall and love and get married, then years later one of the spouses has a fling or a full-blown affair with someone else. Hearts are broken and the innocent spouses files for divorce.

Often, emotions are raw and the innocent spouse wants to know if their spouse's affair will have any impact on spousal support, property division, and child custody.

Considering the fact that some states, such as Texas and Pennsylvania frown upon adultery and will use knowledge of an affair against an adulterous spouse, it's understandable why California spouses would want to know if evidence of a spouse's affair gives them any advantage in a divorce.

Unlike some other states, such as Texas, most California divorces are NOT affected by cheating or an affair. California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning spouses do not need to assign blame to their spouse and they do not need to cite "adultery" or "cruel and inhumane punishment" as a reason for the divorce.

All that matters to the courts is that the marriage is over; the courts are not concerned about why it's over. So, if you found out that your spouse was cheating by reading their explicit texts to a co-worker or Facebook messages to an old high school flame, please be advised that this ammunition will not necessarily affect spousal support, property division, or even child custody, but there are a few limited exceptions.

When Adultery Can Affect Your Divorce

Did your spouse have a one night stand with someone at a bar, or did they have a long affair where they spent marital assets on their romantic partner?

For instance, if your husband bought his girlfriend a $50,000 new car, took her to Europe under the guise of a business trip, and paid for her $2,500 per month apartment on the beach for the past year, a judge would likely consider that he wasted the marital assets on the affair, which could certainly impact property division.

Occasionally an affair can impact child custody, particularly when the children were somehow negatively affected by the relationship. If for example, a mother had an affair while married and introduced her children to her "new friend" and the children knew what was going on, a judge could consider that the children were emotionally harmed by the mother's actions, and in effect, the father could be awarded more time with the children.

If your marriage was impacted by an affair that you or your spouse had, you should know your rights. Contact our San Diego divorce firm to schedule a free case evaluation.