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 can be a big one. Infidelity often has a destructive, devastating impact on a marriage. It’s a huge breach of trust, and in many cases, perhaps even most, if one spouse is caught having an affair, it leads to the end of a union.

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. 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.

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 that there are “irreconcilable differences,” with no hope to resolve these issues, and a divorce will be granted. There are no “innocent” and “guilty” parties, and 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, though just how much may vary greatly on a case-by-case basis.

Adultery And Property Division

As Oregon is a no-fault divorce state, adultery has no real 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. This may be a bit rare, and is usually only considered when cheating directly impacts the financial circumstances of one party. For instance, if an affair incurred expenses like extensive travel and hotel fees, or if there were significant gifts involved, it may be taken into account. This, however, can be difficult to prove in court.

Adultery And Spousal Support

Similar to property division, getting spousal support awarded in cases of adultery may also be difficult. Proving financial hardship as a result of infidelity can be tough to demonstrate and confirm in any 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, or that infidelity led directly to a large debt, those are situations where temporary spousal support may be handed out. Another is if there was significant emotional distress caused, to the extent that it impacted your ability to work and hold a job. That might also be taken into account, though again, this is hard to prove in a solid, tangible way.

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 will usually be given credence ahead of any wrongdoing when the court makes a decision in this realm.

Adultery And Child Custody

Exactly how much, if at all, adultery factors into decisions regarding child custody in Oregon is also a big question. Much like whether or not infidelity caused a financial strain, in order for it to have a significant influence on guardianship and visitation, it will likely have to be shown that cheating directly relates to one party’s ability, or inability, to be a suitable parent. Perhaps you can prove that, because of an affair, one spouse showed a pattern of neglect, choosing their infidelity over parental duties. That is something that the court may consider when it comes to custody.

Again, unless you can show that 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 a definite, causal connection can be made between infidelity and things like financial hardships or parenting ability, the court may take it into consideration. If not, it could wind up having much less of an influence than you might initially expect.


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