Adultery could be the reason you file for divorce, or it could be something you discover once you start talking about the end of the marriage with your spouse. Realizing that the person who shares your life and your bed has been intimate with someone else can feel like a deep violation.
People often struggle to overcome the damage adultery does to their relationship even with the help of counseling. People may realize the only option is to move on, but considering divorce can be difficult when you don’t know what to expect.
If you hope to file for divorce to end your marriage to a cheating spouse, will their unfaithfulness affect what happens in the divorce?
Adultery isn’t a crime in California
In some states, extramarital affairs can trigger criminal prosecution with consequences ranging from find to incarceration. However, California does not have a statute criminalizing adultery, meaning there are no penalties for cheating in the vast majority of divorces.
Additionally, because of the state’s no-fault divorce process, it is unlikely for an affair to affect the decisions in your divorce. In most cases, one spouse’s cheating does not affect child custody, community property division or alimony responsibilities. The courts cannot consider marital misconduct when they divide property, award alimony or split up parental responsibilities.
However, there is one way that adultery could affect your divorce proceedings. When an affair has financial consequences for your household, you can hold your spouse accountable for the money they wasted while cheating.
You can ask for compensation for dissipated assets
Both spouses have a community interest in income and property the couple obtains during the marriage, so it is inappropriate for one spouse to use marital resources for a purpose that wouldn’t damage the relationship.
The dissipation of marital assets involves wasteful misuse of shared resources, including when someone conducts an affair and spends thousands on gifts, restaurants and even vacations. The financial records showing what your spouse spent on their extramarital affair could influence your divorce. The courts may adjust the division of your community property to reflect how much your spouse spent on their adulterous behavior.
Understanding the rules that applied to California divorces can help you leave a cheating spouse behind.