Adultery and Divorce in California

Did your spouse cheat on you? Has his or her affair led to the breakdown of your marriage? If you are considering filing for divorce, you may be wondering what impact will your spouse’s adulterous acts have on property division, alimony, or child custody and support. Well, depending on the nature of the infidelity, it can play a huge role in how the marital estate is divided. Read on to learn more about adultery and divorce in California.

California Adultery Law

Adultery is defined as voluntary sexual intercourse by a married person with someone other than his or her spouse. In some states, it is possible to legally end a marriage based on a spouse’s adulterous acts. For example, in Louisiana, adultery is one of three standard grounds for divorce. A spouse will have to prove that his or her spouse committed adultery in order to establish “fault” and prove that it led to the breakdown of their marriage.

In California, which is a no-fault state, the standard grounds for divorce are:

1. Incurable insanity
2. Irreconcilable differences

Adultery is not a valid legal ground for divorce in California. Courts do not consider evidence of adultery when deciding whether to grant a divorce.

How Adultery Affects Divorce

A judge can consider the financial impact a spouse’s adulterous acts has on the marital estate. For example, if the adulterous spouse spends any community property funds on his or her lover, he or she will be held accountable for reimbursing the marital estate. This does not mean a judge will give one spouse more property because he or she was cheated on. However, the judge can order the adulterous spouse to reimburse the marital estate for half the money he or she spent on his or her lover. The harmed spouse will have to produce evidence in support of his or her claim regarding how much his or her cheating spouse spent on the affair.

In regard to spousal support, if the adulterous spouse moves in with his or her new partner during the divorce, or anytime after, it can have a direct impact on whether he or she will receive or continue receiving spousal support. A judge will award spousal support based on the financial needs of one spouse and the ability of the other spouse to pay it. If the cheating spouse begins to cohabitate with their new partner, his or her need for spousal support will decrease. A judge can award less spousal support if this occurs.

Finally, because child custody is based on what is in the best interest of the child, a spouse’s adultery usually does not impact a parent’s visitation/custodial rights. The infidelity would have to have a tremendous negative impact on the child in such a way as to weigh on his or her fitness as a parent. For example, if an adulterous parent forgets to pick his or her child up from school because he or she is shacking up with his or her lover, then the court may subject him or her to supervised visitations.

Consequences of Committing Adultery in California

There are no direct legal consequences of committing adultery in California. Adultery is not punishable by law or as a tort in California. However, military personnel in California may be court martialed for committing adultery under Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Cheating spouses will likely suffer personal consequences. For example, family, friends, and colleagues may no longer wish to associate with him or her once they find out about the affair. The cheating spouse may also obtain a sexually transmitted disease and transfer it to his or her spouse. Damages resulting from an STD may be consolidated with the divorce settlement.

Adultery and divorce in California can be a stressful combination to handle. A People’s Choice can alleviate the pressure of dealing with a complicated legal system and help you through this difficult time. Contact us for more information on how to file for divorce in California. We can help you prepare and file your marital dissolution for a fraction of the costs an attorney charges. Call 1-800-747-2780 to discuss your matter in confidence.

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By | 2018-01-18T15:47:26+00:00 August 10th, 2015|Family Law|0 Comments

About the Author:

Sandra M. McCarthy, founder of A People’s Choice Inc., has worked exclusively in the legal field since 1976. She served as the 2004-2005 President of CALDA (California Association of Legal Document Assistants). She obtained a Paralegal Certificate from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During her career in the legal field, she has worked as a freelance paralegal, law office manager and paralegal studies teacher, and has co-authored numerous legal publications and written hundreds of self-help legal articles. As a registered Legal Document Assistant, Sandy is dedicated to providing affordable, low-cost, self-help document preparation services for California consumers in all 58 counties.

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