Divorce Based on Adultery: What You Need to Know

Posted by Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC on February 1, 2019

It’s an old expression that could easily be turned gender neutral. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”  When it comes to divorce complaints based on adultery, it’s a valid observation. Infidelity claims result in many ugly marital separations. And, yes, the injured party often focuses on revenge.

Consider the situation of the husband whose livelihood requires several out of town meetings. His wife knows his schedule and plans her rendezvous meetings with her lover by it. Truth be told, the businessman is so consumed with making deals that he has no idea that something is amiss at home.

Imagine the scene when one of the husband’s trip unexpectedly cancels. As he walks into his home, he is shocked to see another man in his marital bed. Fortunately, all live to remember the horrific encounter.

While this might seem like an encounter out of a made for television movie, it’s something that happens all across America every day. In fact, one psychology journal reports that men and women engage in infidelity at similar rates.  The same publication places adultery as the number one cause for divorce.

If you or your spouse have engaged in an extra-marital affair, you may wonder how it could impact various aspects of your break-up. Will the court reward the wronged party? You should at least know the basics of what happens when a divorce is based on adultery.

Divorce Complaint Cites Adultery

First, each state treats adultery different when it comes to divorce. In Tennessee, TN Code § 36-4-101 spells out the grounds for divorce from bonds of matrimony. Among them is an assertion that either party has committed adultery.

What exactly constitutes adultery? Although the injured spouse does not have to catch his or her partner in the act, infidelity includes sexual relations with another party. Meanwhile, rape or any type of sexual assault do not constitute adultery.

Proof of infidelity potentially impacts different aspects of the divorce.  For a moment, return to our example of the husband catching his wife with her lover. During the entirety of their marriage, he has been the sole provider. She does not work outside the home.

No doubt the divorce will put the woman at a financial disadvantage. She will request alimony – also referred to as spousal support. One can only imagine the husband’s anger at paying money to the woman who hurt him.

In such a case, an experienced family law attorney hired on behalf of the husband provides proof to the court regarding the wife’s infidelities. The court then uses its discretion concerning whether alimony should be granted. After all, there is the issue of rewarding bad behavior.

Meanwhile, adultery could impact decisions regarding other aspects of the divorce as well. These include child custody, parenting time, and division of marital property. Proofs demonstrating that the cheating spouse dissipated marital assets in conjunction with an affair are extremely relevant.

Contact Us

Marital infidelity brings an unfortunate aspect to divorce cases. At Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC, we help people move on to the next chapter of their lives. Give us a call to see how we can assist you with our experienced family law legal advice.

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