Many marriages fail for numerous reasons, infidelity, also referred to as adultery, being one of the most common. While some couples are successful in working through the loss of trust, others cannot stand to endure the stress and pain the infidelity has brought to the marriage and choose to divorce. Adultery as an issue in a divorce creates a more complex set of issues both as to financial issues as well as custody if minor children are involved.
One of the first questions a spouse considers after learning their partner has been unfaithful and decides to separate is how the infidelity will affect their divorce. So, to help you understand this, you first need to know that while Maryland has statutes that allow for a no-fault divorce, parties’ may litigate contested divorces and adultery is one of the fault grounds that can be the basis for a divorce. Also, recent changes in Maryland divorce law allow for fault grounds to be proved more easily, though no changes have been made to the impact adultery, or other fault grounds, will have on the financial and custody issues.
As the reason for the breakup of the marriage is one of a number of factors the court may consider in addressing marital property and awarding alimony, it is an issue to present to the court in every contested divorce. That being said, frequently adultery has limited impact on a division of assets and an award of alimony as the court does not render decisions on these issues to “punish” the offender. The impact that offending spouse’s behavior will have on a division of assets and a resolution of an alimony claim will vary significantly from one judge to another. However, if your spouse has used assets that belong to you both to “support the extra-marital relationship,” that should be taken into account when it comes time to determine how the division of assets will be addressed.
Similarly, in most instances, adultery has negligible impact on custody issues providing the children have been shielded from the adulterous behavior. If adultery is part of the makeup of an individual who is not a good parent, and simply puts his or her issues ahead of the children’s, then it can be part of a pattern of conduct that can be used to limit the custody rights of the offending parent. It is more likely to have a direct impact on the custody decision if the relationship was carried out in front of the child or they were “exposed to inappropriate people or situations during the course of the affair” and it has had a negative impact on the children.
The truth is, every divorce case differs as everyone’s circumstances vary. Adultery and the emotions that come with a contested divorce significantly compromise an individual’s ability to process the complex issues arising with the breakup of a family. The best way to become more informed on how infidelity will affect your divorce is by speaking with a Maryland family law attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in the field. Therefore, if you live in Rockville, Maryland and are planning on filing for divorce, it is best that you protect your interests and learn your rights by hiring a Rockville, MD divorce attorney.
At Barkley & Kennedy, we will help you through all the legal challenges that arise and be sure the outcome is one that is in your favor. Divorcing after finding out your spouse has been unfaithful is a stressful and traumatic process which is why you should have a support team working behind you and helping you get through this tough time.
To schedule a consultation or speak with an attorney, visit or call Barkley & Kennedy at:
51 Monroe Street, #1407
Rockville, MD 20850