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Can an Adulterous Spouse Receive Alimony?

Adultery is defined as the act of engaging in sexual relations with someone who is not one’s spouse. Adultery can be a devastating experience for the spouse who is betrayed and can often lead to a marriage breakdown. In this article, we will discuss how adultery causes marriages to fail and end in divorce. Infidelity causes emotional pain and betrayal, often leading to losing trust between spouses. The betrayed spouse may feel angry, hurt, and humiliated, leading to feelings of resentment and a breakdown of communication. The resulting emotional distance can create a sense of loneliness and isolation, causing the marriage to break down.

Adultery can also cause a loss of intimacy in the marriage. The betrayed spouse may feel that the emotional and physical intimacy they shared with their spouse is now broken. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and low self-esteem. The unfaithful spouse may also feel guilty and distant, leading to a breakdown of intimacy and communication. In many cases, adultery is a symptom of deeper underlying problems in the marriage. For example, if one spouse feels neglected, unloved, or unappreciated, they may seek affection and attention outside the marriage. If the underlying problems are not addressed, the marriage will likely fail, even if the adultery is forgiven.

Whether or not you need a lawyer in an adultery case will depend on the specific circumstances and the laws of the state where the case occurs. Adultery cases can be emotionally charged and legally complex, so it’s usually advisable to consult a lawyer specializing in family law to understand your legal rights and options. At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we know every case is unique, and we are here to help you every step of the way.

What Counts as Adultery?

Adultery is a term used to describe voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone who is not their spouse. Adultery is considered a serious breach of trust in marriage and can have significant legal and social consequences. But what exactly counts as adultery? In legal terms, adultery refers to sexual intercourse between a married person and someone who is not their spouse. It’s important to note that the definition of adultery may vary by jurisdiction, and different laws may have different requirements for what qualifies as adultery. For example, some jurisdictions may require that sexual intercourse be with someone of the opposite sex, while others may not have such a requirement.

It’s worth noting that adultery does not necessarily have to involve physical sexual intercourse. In some jurisdictions, other forms of sexual activity, such as oral sex, may also be considered adultery. Again, the specific definition of adultery may vary by jurisdiction. It’s also important to note that adultery can have significant legal and social consequences, especially in divorce cases. In many jurisdictions, adultery is considered a fault ground for divorce, which means that it can be cited as a reason for the dissolution of the marriage. This can have implications for issues such as property division, child custody, and spousal support.

In addition to its legal consequences, adultery can also have significant social consequences. In many cultures, adultery is viewed as a serious breach of trust, and it can lead to social ostracism, humiliation, and other negative outcomes. Despite the serious consequences of adultery, it’s worth noting that not all extramarital relationships necessarily count as adultery. For example, emotional affairs, which involve a deep emotional connection with someone who is not the spouse, may not involve physical sexual intercourse and may not be considered adultery in some jurisdictions.

Adultery and Alimony

Alimony, also known as spousal support or maintenance, is a court-ordered financial support payment that one spouse pays to the other after a divorce. The purpose of alimony is to help the receiving spouse maintain a certain standard of living after the divorce. However, one question that arises is whether or not an adulterous spouse can receive alimony. The answer to this question is not straightforward, as it depends on the laws of the state where the divorce occurs and the circumstances surrounding the adultery.

In some states, adultery is considered a factor when deciding whether to award alimony. The court may consider adultery when determining the amount of alimony, the length of time alimony will be paid, or even whether alimony will be awarded at all. For example, in Virginia, adultery is considered a fault ground for divorce. If one spouse committed adultery, the court may deny spousal support to that spouse unless the other spouse also committed adultery. Similarly, in North Carolina, adultery is a factor that can be considered when determining the amount and duration of alimony. In these cases, the court may reduce or eliminate the amount of alimony that the adulterous spouse would otherwise be entitled to receive.

However, adultery is not considered a factor in awarding alimony in other states. In California, for example, adultery is not a factor that can be considered in determining spousal support. Instead, the court will look at factors such as the length of the marriage, the earning capacity of each spouse, and the standard of living during the marriage. Even in states where adultery is considered a factor, there are exceptions. For example, if adultery occurred after the spouses separated, it may not be considered in determining spousal support. Similarly, if the adulterous spouse can prove that the other spouse also committed adultery, this may affect the court’s decision regarding spousal support.

In general, the purpose of alimony is to help the receiving spouse maintain their living standard during the marriage. However, this does not necessarily mean that an adulterous spouse will be awarded alimony, especially if the adultery is considered a factor in the state where the divorce is taking place. It’s worth noting that alimony can be awarded in different forms, including lump-sum payments, periodic payments, or a combination of the two. Lump-sum payments are a one-time payment, while periodic payments are made on a regular basis, such as monthly. The amount and duration of alimony will depend on various factors, including the length of the marriage, the earning capacity of each spouse, and the standard of living during the marriage.

Some possible arguments that could be made in support of awarding alimony to an adulterous spouse are:

  • Economic dependency: If the adulterous spouse was economically dependent on the other spouse during the marriage, the infidelity may not be relevant to the need for financial support after the divorce.

  • Marital misconduct: While infidelity may be seen as morally reprehensible, it may not be considered “fault” in a divorce proceeding. Moreover, some jurisdictions allow for “no-fault” divorces, in which neither spouse has to prove the other’s fault or misconduct to obtain a divorce.

  • Contribution to the marriage: If the adulterous spouse contributed significantly to the marriage (e.g., by taking care of children or managing household finances), this may be considered in determining the need for alimony.

  • Gender neutrality: In some jurisdictions, gender is not considered a factor in determining whether to award alimony. Therefore, if the adulterous spouse is male, he may be entitled to alimony just as a female adulterous spouse might be.

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