There can be no greater betrayal of the vows of marriage than adultery, but does it matter from a legal perspective when it comes time for divorce proceedings? The answer may surprise you.
According to a Time Magazine survey, 81% of people admitted they’d cheat if they knew they would not get caught, and 42% of both men and women admitted to already having cheated. Statistics like that make it plain that adultery is a major issue in modern marriage and divorce.
Does the law in California share that view? Let’s take a look at some common questions about divorce and infidelity to find out.
Is my spouse at fault for our divorce if he or she cheated?
Under California law, there are two legal grounds for divorce, irreconcilable differences or legal incapacity. The upshot here is that marital dissolution is “no-fault,” meaning one party cannot “take the blame” from a legal perspective for a marriage falling apart. While other states have made adultery a crime, which could impact certain determinations such as child custody, infidelity is not a crime in California. The long and the short of it, then, is that while a cheating spouse may be the actual cause of divorce, the law does not take sides.
Will I be able to get more in alimony or spousal support because my spouse cheated?
Unfortunately, because of the no-fault nature of divorce in California, the only way adultery can impact spousal support determinations is if the claiming spouse is cohabitating with someone, and in that case, the amount of alimony would actually be decreased.
Can I get full custody of my children because of the infidelity of my spouse?
Child custody in California is determined based on the best interests of the child. While adultery may reflect poorly on the cheating spouse, there is still a presumption that it is in the best interests of the child to have a healthy, ongoing relationship with both parents. While there is certainly a societal taboo around adultery, cheating does not in and of itself make a parent unfit to care for a child in the eyes of the law.
There are exceptions to every rule, of course, and if you are considering divorce from your spouse, you can contact the experienced Santa Barbara divorce lawyers at Kaspar & Lugay LLP to discuss your case confidentially.