Does an Affair Matter in Divorce?
Many wonder whether an affair matters during divorce proceedings any longer. With the advent of no fault divorce, many think that the conduct of the parties during the marriage is of no relevance whatsoever.
The reality is that this belief is only partly true. Again, to get divorced, it is no longer necessary to show that fault has taken the place. While the exact language varies by state, a party generally has to show that a marriage is irretrievably broken and there is no reasonable likelihood that it can be saved to get divorced. This means that a party does not have to show fault, like infidelity or adultery, to get divorced.
However, an extramarital affair during a marriage can sometimes have a bearing on the overall outcome of the case. For example, in Missouri and Kansas, an affair can be one factor that the court looks at in dividing marital property and marital debt in a just manner. An affair is also one factor that the court may look at in a spousal maintenance award in Missouri and Kansas. In contrast, in Illinois, courts are not to look at marital misconduct like an affair for these matters.
An affair could also have a bearing on the best interests of the children in both Missouri, Illinois, Kansas and Oklahoma for child custody and parenting time purposes. Not every affair could be relevant for purposes of custody. But in some cases, the facts could be such that it is relevant to the best interests of the children.
Parties should not overestimate the effect that an affair can have on the case outcome. It is true that many judges are leery of looking at infidelity in terms of spousal maintenance, property division and child custody. Courts oftentimes do not look at it except in rare cases. At the same time, a party cannot assume it is completely irrelevant. There are cases where judges can find it relevant. Take cases where the affair had a financial impact on the marital estate. Additionally, in cases where the new significant other has criminal or drug related issues, it can be relevant.
Divorce Attorneys in St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia, Springfield, Wichita, Tulsa and Beyond
If you are looking to hire a divorce attorney in one of our multi-state offices where an affair has taken place, Stange Law Firm, PC can help. You can contact our law firm to schedule a consultation by calling 855-805-0595 or by contacting our law firm online.