Many factors play a role in causing a divorce. Adultery is often a big one.
Infidelity often has a destructive, devastating effect on a marriage. It’s a huge breach of trust. In many cases, perhaps even most, if one spouse is caught having an affair, that’s it, call it a day.
But, despite the catastrophic impact on your relationship, how does cheating affect the actual divorce process? Or, does it? The real answer surprises a lot of people.
Does Adultery Affect Divorce?
Depending on where you live, adultery may or may not play a part in your divorce settlement.
In certain states, adulterers can’t receive spousal support after the dissolution of a marriage. For others, it influences the division of property.
North Carolina even 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 a great deal from state to state. But here’s what adultery may mean for your settlement if you live in Oregon.
Related Reading: How is Debt Divided in Oregon?
What Is A No-Fault Divorce?
Before diving into the deep end, it’s important to understand no-fault divorce. And know that 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.
Basically, you don’t have to prove either spouse caused the marriage to fail. All that’s required is for one party to declare there are “irreconcilable differences,” with no hope to resolve these issues, and the state will grant a divorce.
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’ll get your divorce.
Because of this, whether or not one spouse cheated often proves 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 doesn’t factor into the process at all, as it can impact other areas. However, exactly how much varies on a case-by-case basis.
Related Reading: How Long Does Divorce Take in Oregon?
Adultery and Property Division
Since Oregon is a no-fault divorce state, adultery has no bearing on whether or not you will be granted a divorce. 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 the word “may.”
This usually only happens 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? Did they empty shared bank accounts buying significant gifts? In cases like these, the court may take adultery into account when dividing assets.
Even if this is the case, however, it 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. 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 order 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.
Related Reading: How Is Spousal Support Calculated in Oregon?
Adultery and Child Custody
Exactly how much, if at all, does adultery factor into decisions regarding child custody in Oregon?
Much like in other areas, in order for this 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? Did they forget to pick up the kids at soccer practice because they were engaged in an illicit tryst? The court may consider that when it comes to custody.
Again, you must concretely show a spouse’s adultery impairs his or her ability as a parent. If not, it may not be allowed to be presented as relevant information in the case at hand.
This door also swings both ways. While you hope to demonstrate that infidelity impacts your ex’s capacity to care for a child, your ex 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: The Cost of Divorce: What You Should Know