Legal advice

Divorce Guide: How a Cheating Spouse Affects a Divorce


Research on common reasons for divorce cites a lack of commitment and infidelity as the biggest factors. Naturally, infidelity feels like the biggest breach of trust when it comes from someone you considered your soulmate. Unlike other types of marital issues, being unfaithful to your spouse can put intense pressure on your marriage, which is often difficult to overcome. Consequently, spouses may decide that their relationship can’t be saved and choose to go their separate ways.

But if you get a divorce because of cheating, how does it impact the outcome? Though courts don’t put much weight on whose fault it was, certain areas like alimony and property distribution are affected. Not to mention, the emotional tensions between both parties make it difficult to negotiate a divorce settlement.


How a Cheating Spouse Affects a Divorce

Spouses who cheat can end up facing significant obstacles in the divorce process. But before the court gets involved, you’ll need to prove that your partner did cheat on you.

You’ll need to provide evidence to prove that your statement isn’t based on rumors from other people. Evidence typically includes witnesses, credit card statements, recordings, and photos. Once you’ve proved that your partner cheated on you, it can potentially affect the following areas.

Property Distribution

The default divorce in most cases is often a no-fault divorce, which means that you’re citing ‘irreconcilable differences’ as the cause of your divorce. Therefore, the division of property will remain equitable. But when you claim that the marriage broke down because of one party’s actions, it’s an at-fault divorce.

If you’re the victimized spouse, filing for an at-fault divorce allows you to request a bigger share of the marital property during the distribution process. As the victimized spouse, you may worry that your spouse will empty any joint bank accounts you share. In this case, it helps to have separate bank accounts so you have access to cash if your spouse decides to restrict your access.


Potential Effects on Alimony

When it comes to cheating and divorce, it can impact matters regarding alimony and spousal support. In cases where the dependent spouse cheats, courts may decide to reduce how much alimony is received or eliminate it entirely.

However, the court will first examine the circumstances of the case to determine if adultery caused the divorce. This is usually assessed by seeing whether or not the victimized spouse continues to have sexual relations with the spouse who cheated. If this is the case, courts will consider it condonation of the spouse’s infidelity, and it won’t affect the claim.

Child Custody and Visitation Rights

In most cases, infidelity doesn’t affect matters regarding visitation rights and child custody. However, it can impact the outcome of your divorce if it harms your children. For instance, if your spouse cheats on you in front of your children or takes your children with them to a hotel to meet their partner.

Situations like these, especially if they’re a common occurrence, could lead to a change in the child custody arrangements. As the spouse who was cheated on, you’ll find that the outcome will lean in your favor. But if you were the spouse who cheated and made the above-mentioned mistakes, it’s best to consult your divorce attorney about which steps you should take.


Wasteful Dissipation

When a cheating spouse spends money on their partner, it has a negative impact on marital finances. This includes expenses like expensive vacations, accommodation, and luxurious gifts. If you can prove that your spouse spent money on their affair in this manner, the court will divide marital property in favor of the victimized spouse.

However, it’s important to speak to your divorce attorney before deciding to investigate whether or not your spouse is guilty of wasteful dissipation. As the spouse who was cheated on, you may feel tempted to get back every dollar spent on the affair; it’s an expensive and time-consuming process. Often, the money spent, such as on dinners and hotel rooms, is minimal, so the cost of proving it outweighs the return.

That being said, if you suspect that your husband or wife spent significant sums of money on the affair, then it’s worth the time to look through their bank and credit card statements.

Seeking a Fault-Based Divorce Due to Infidelity

Since the 1970s, couples no longer have to prove that one party wronged the other to get a divorce. If you want to get a divorce because of cheating, you don’t have to worry about proving that your spouse cheated on you. But keep in mind that getting a no-fault divorce means that your spouse’s infidelity won’t affect the outcome of your divorce proceedings.

If you want to file for an at-fault divorce, it’s best to discuss the option with your divorce lawyer first. An experienced attorney can walk you through the pros and cons of getting an at-fault divorce.



These are some of the commonly asked questions about how a cheating spouse affects a divorce.

What happens in a divorce when a spouse cheats?

Usually, cheating doesn’t affect the outcome of a divorce unless you file for an at-fault divorce. It largely depends on whether the cheating spouse used marital funds on their affair or caused harm to the children because of their affair. Under these circumstances, the outcome can lean in your favor.

What happens if I get caught lying about adultery in divorce?

If you cheated on your spouse, it’s important to respond truthfully during the discovery process. Lying about adultery in a divorce is perjury and is punishable by imprisonment. Even if you’re able to get away with it in the moment, the truth can come up later and harm your case.

How can I prove that my spouse is cheating on me?

Some examples of evidence include photos, text messages, and credit card bills with charges you don’t know about. Similarly, dating applications or hidden email addresses are ways to prove that your spouse is cheating.

Related posts

Real Estate Lawyers vs. Title Companies: What is the Difference?

Alan Goldberg

4 Signs You Should Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney for Your Case?

Adrianne Joseph

What Kinds of Damages Can I Collect After a Motorcycle Accident?

Alan Goldberg