How Does Cheating Affect Alimony?

How Does Cheating Affect Alimony?

A Lawyer for Family Issues Explains How Infidelity Can Impact the Amount of Spousal Support

If you are getting a divorce in California, you have a lot of litigation and mediation ahead of you. Only the best divorce lawyers in LA can negotiate so that child custody, property division, and alimony fall in your favor, and even then, it’s hard to tell who the judge will rule in favor of.

Even the happiest of marriages can end in divorce; whether it’s because of a big event or slow decline, about 1 in 2 marriages in the United States are dissolved, and these odds get even bigger with every subsequent marriage after the first.

A study by the American Psychological Association found that infidelity is responsible for 20-40% of divorces, as proceedings often come after one partner has cheated. If you find yourself in this exact situation, a lot can seem uncertain. A divorce is going to affect just about every aspect of your life, especially your financial situation. You may be wondering: does the mandated alimony amount get affected by divorce?

What is Alimony?

Marriage combines the finances and assets of two people, and once you split up, those assets have to be divided again. It’s possible one spouse stopped working since the other was making more than enough to support the household. If this is the case, family courts have in place regulations so that they aren’t left destitute.

Alimony, also referred to by family court lawyers in Los Angeles as spousal support, is the amount one spouse has to pay the other spouse each month so that they can have more time to become financially stable. If you are the higher-earning spouse, then the average amount of spousal support in California you’ll have to pay is 40% of your monthly income, divided by 50% of the receiving spouse's monthly income.

However, you may be wondering if your inappropriate behavior during the marriage is going to increase the amount you have to pay in spousal support. California alimony laws are a bit different.

No-Fault Laws in California

Some states may increase mandated alimony payments to serve as a sort of punishment if one spouse was unfaithful during the relationship.

California is a no-fault state, which means that the courts won’t compare who is more responsible for the divorce. In a fault-based state, attorneys for family issues will debate each side’s marital conduction, and the reason will be listed by the judge in the final divorce papers. Common grounds for divorce in other states may be domestic violence, substance addiction, abandonment, or adultery. However, California only gives two options for the grounds for divorce. They are:

  • One spouse suffers from incurable insanity
  • Irreconcilable differences

Irreconcilable differences is the more commonly listed reason, as it serves as a blanket statement that two people have such a damaged relationship that no amount of mediation can save it. “Irreconcilable differences” does not specify who exactly damaged the relationship.

While your spouse’s alimony attorney in Los Angeles may drag your name through the mud as much as possible, your infidelity won’t be listed as a reason for the divorce.

Does Adultery Affect the Amount of Alimony You Have to Pay?

Even California divorce judges have some freedom to decide the amount of monthly alimony to award and the duration of the payments. The law specifically states that the decision has to be fair for both sides.

Judges can analyze the following factors before deciding the amount of spousal support that must be paid:

  • Whether or not each spouse’s earning capacity is enough to maintain a preset standard of living
  • Whether or not the lower-earning spouse can compete in the current job market with their experience
  • How much the lower-earning spouse contributed to the higher-earning spouse's education, training, a career position, or licensure
  • The higher-earning spouse's ability to pay spousal support each month, taking into account the paying spouse's earning capacity, assets, and standard of living
  • Debts and assets
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Any children under the age of 18
  • Age and health of both spouses
  • Police evidence of any history of domestic violence between the spouses, including emotional distress resulting from the incidents and any history of violence by the paying spouse against the receiving spouse
  • Tax consequences to each spouse
  • Balance of the hardships to each spouse
  • Whether or not the receiving spouse has a set goal or deadline to achieve self sufficiency
  • Criminal history of either spouse
  • Any other factors the court thinks are just and equitable

Adultery is not on this list, so your past sexual indiscretions won’t be considered. Marital misconduct is generally not allowed to be considered when determining alimony.

The purpose of spousal support is to make sure that both spouses are financially stable after going through this life event. Alimony is meant to ensure that neither spouse falls into poverty, not to punish anyone for bad conduct during the marriage.

However, if one spouse behaved violently during the marriage, then the judge has the power to reduce or eliminate spousal support based on this factor so that the abusive spouse does not receive money.

About Our Law Firm

The Law Offices of Nigel Burns is a law firm for family issues, like those surrounding marriage, divorce, and adoption. These are personal matters, so it’s natural to become emotionally invested in your civil lawsuit; our attorneys can handle the legal process to minimize any stress that you may feel. Our attorneys are experts in civil litigation, ensuring that your lawsuit brings you the most favorable results. Our attorneys can help litigate:

  • Restraining orders
  • Divorce
  • Child support
  • Child custody
  • Property division
  • Trust and probate litigation

Our attorneys can also help you pursue compensation if you were in an accident and need to sue for damages. If you suffered a car wreck, bike accident, or were hit by a car as a pedestrian, we can get your personal injury lawsuit started. Our offices are located across greater Los Angeles, so accessibility shouldn’t be a problem. We’re also offering virtual services due to COVID-19. To see our full list of contact options, click here.


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