cheating and divorce

Your Cheating Heart: What Adultery Means For Divorce

Goldberg Jones Divorce Leave a Comment

Many factors play a role in causing a divorce. Adultery is often a big one. Infidelity often has a destructive, devastating impact on a marriage. It’s a huge breach of trust. In many cases, perhaps even most, if one spouse is caught having an affair, it leads to the end of a union.

Related Reading: The Cost of Divorce: What You Should Know

How does adultery affect divorce?

Depending on where you live, cheating can also have an impact on your divorce settlement. In certain states, adulterers can’t receive spousal support after the dissolution of a marriage. For others, it can influence the division of property.

North Carolina has “homewrecker” laws. In one recent case, a man sued the man with whom his wife cheated. The courts awarded the plaintiff $750,000

The consequences, from a divorce perspective, vary state to state, but here’s what adultery may mean for your case if you live in Oregon.

Related Reading: What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Oregon?

Adultery And No-Fault Divorce

Oregon is a no-fault divorce state. What that means is fairly simple:

  • there are no grounds for divorce,
  • and no specific criteria must be met.

You don’t have to prove that either spouse was the cause for the failure of a marriage. All that’s required is for one party to declare there are “irreconcilable differences,” with no hope to resolve these issues, and a divorce will be granted.

There are no “innocent” and “guilty” parties. As long as you are legally married, meet the Oregon residential requirements, and follow the proper procedures, you will get your divorce.

Because of this, whether or not one spouse cheated is largely irrelevant when it comes to ending your marriage. Legally speaking, the why is not the important part of this equation.

The simple fact that one party wants to end the union is the key element. That doesn’t necessarily mean infidelity won’t factor into the process at all, as it can impact other areas. However, exactly how much varies greatly on a case-by-case basis.

Related Reading: How Long Does Divorce Take in Oregon?

Adultery And Property Division

As Oregon is a no-fault divorce state, adultery has no bearing on whether or not you will be granted a divorce. In fact, unless it directly relates to a decision the court has to rule on, you may not even be allowed to testify about any wrongdoings on the part of your spouse.

One place where adultery may play a part is when it comes to the division of property in the divorce settlement. Emphasis on may.

This usually only factors in when cheating directly impacts the financial circumstances of one party. For example, if an affair incurred expenses. Did your ex rack up extensive travel and hotel fees, or if it involved significant gifts. Then, the court may take adultery into account.

This, however, can be difficult to prove in court.

Related Reading: How Oregon Divides Property in Divorce

Adultery And Spousal Support

Similar to property division, we rarely see cases of adultery impact spousal support awards. Proving financial hardship as a result of infidelity can be tough to demonstrate. You must confirm the impact in a concrete way for the court. There are instances where this happens, however.

If you can show that your spouse drained your savings in the course of an affair. Perhaps infidelity led directly to a large debt. In those situations, the court may dole out temporary spousal support.

Another situation is if cheating caused significant emotional distress. So much so that it impacted your ability to work and hold a job. That might also play a role, though again, demonstrating this in a tangible way often proves difficult.

More than misdeeds like infidelity, other elements will likely figure into any potential spousal support. Things like job prospects, financial need, the length of the marriage, custody of minor children, and other considerations usually take precedence ahead of any wrongdoing when the court makes a decision in this realm.

Related Reading: Spousal Support, Taxes, and Divorce

Adultery And Child Custody

Exactly how much, if at all, does adultery factor into decisions regarding child custody in Oregon?

Much like whether or not infidelity caused a financial strain, in order for it to have a significant influence on guardianship and visitation, you must show that cheating directly impacts one party’s ability, or inability, as a parent.

Perhaps you can prove that, because of an affair, one spouse showed a pattern of neglect. Did your ex choose infidelity over parental duties? The court may consider that when it comes to custody.

Again, unless you can show a spouse’s adultery impairs his or her ability as a parent, it may not be allowed to be presented as relevant information in the case at hand.

This door also swings both ways. While one party may hope to demonstrate that infidelity impacts the others’ capacity to care for a child, the spouse who had the affair may attempt to show that it does not.

As traumatic and damaging as adultery can be to a marriage, and as great an impact as it can have on the state of the relationship between two people, it may not have a massive effect on your actual divorce proceedings.

If you demonstrate a definite, causal connection between infidelity and things like financial hardships or parenting ability, the court may take it into consideration. If not, it usually winds up having much less of an influence than you might initially expect.

Related Reading: Child Custody and Divorce: Keeping the Kids Out of the Fray

Editor’s Note: This is an updated version of an earlier post and has been revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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