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How might an affair affect a potential divorce?

Many things can prompt a divorce. When a partner is unfaithful however, it can add another level of emotional complexity to the separation, even if one side feels the marriage was headed toward an end anyway.

You may be surprised to learn the repercussions of an affair have the potential to extend into the courtroom as well.

No-fault or fault

The state of Ohio allows for both no-fault and fault divorce.

Generally in a no-fault divorce, the couple is saying neither person did something wrong to prompt the separation. To do this, the couple has to have been "living separate and apart for one year without interruption and without cohabitation,” and neither can object to a claim that they are incompatible.

Though less common, there are some grounds for one party to pursue a fault divorce. Ohio allows for a number of reasons, such as constant drunkenness or extreme cruelty. The law considers adultery grounds for fault divorce as well.

Why does it matter?

If a spouse pursues a fault divorce and proves their partner cheated, it may potentially – though is not guaranteed to – affect some of the proceedings.

For example, a court can consider any factor it thinks is “relevant and equitable” when determining spousal support payments. That might include adultery in some cases.

Child custody is determined by what’s in the best interests of the child or children. Maybe a judge considers the nature of the affair when determining where a child should spend the most time.

It’s possible the affair could be used as a sticking point in the division of assets as well.

Should someone who cheated expect a fault divorce?

Affairs do happen, and both men and women cheat. Maybe it occurs after the couple has already decided to separate. Maybe it is a regretful one-time mistake, or the husband and wife decide to try to move past it and later realize it isn’t working.

Compared to a no-fault divorce, pursuing a fault divorce can take more time and be something of a burdensome process. It’s very possible that, even if one person in the relationship cheated, their partner won’t pursue a fault divorce.

No matter the case, an attorney can help prepare you and your family for any possible outcome.

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