Seth Eric Springer, Esq.
How Does Adultery Affect Divorce in Pennsylvania?
Divorce is a hard situation when spouses are parting on good terms. However, things can get more emotional and heated when infidelity is involved. While adultery is not illegal under Pennsylvania law, it is critical in a divorce proceeding.
The state of Pennsylvania recognizes adultery as a fault ground for divorce. If the divorce involves adultery, it can significantly impact the alimony and spousal support.
The Role of Adultery in Divorce
Most states only have no-fault divorces, but Pennsylvania allows someone to seek a fault divorce. In a fault-based divorce, the court will consider a spouse’s misconduct if it is associated with the divorce. Marital misconduct may conduct drug addiction, abuse, and adultery.
In a no-fault divorce, one spouse blames the other party for the divorce. In return, the spouse who files for divorce only needs to tell the court that the marriage is irretrievably broken with no hope for reconciliation or that both parties agree to the divorce. Some opt to engage in legal separation before divorce.
In Pennsylvania, adultery refers to voluntary sexual intercourse with a person aside from the spouse. Adultery can affect property division and alimony in Pennsylvania divorces.
Suppose one spouse pursues a divorce due to cheating on the other spouse. In that case, he/she must hire a divorce attorney in York PA with in-depth knowledge about family law for valuable information for proving that affair at trial.
Alimony Overview in Pennsylvania
Alimony refers to the financial support paid by one spouse, often the higher earner, to the other spouse at the time or after a divorce. Its purpose is to help the low-earning spouse meet his/her reasonable needs while the divorce proceeding is pending and after the court finalizes the divorce, if necessary.
One spouse may likely become financially dependent on the other spouse during marriage. Under Pennsylvania law, a judge does not automatically grant alimony to the financially dependent spouse. Instead, the court will reserve alimony for necessary cases.
The courts in Pennsylvania consider several factors when determining whether alimony is necessary or not, including:
· Misconduct of one spouse during the marriage
· Financial needs of each spouse
· Contribution as a homemaker of each spouse
· Assets and liabilities of each spouse
· Education of each spouse
· The couple’s standard living during the marriage
· Child support and custody obligations
· Length of marriage
· Potential inheritance of each spouse
· Physical and mental health, and age of each spouse
· Earning potential and income of each spouse
· Any contribution to the education or career of another spouse
· All sources of income for each spouse, such as insurance, disability, retirement, and other benefits
The Role of Adultery in Alimony
According to Pennsylvania law, if a spouse has cheated, he/she is not entitled to receive alimony or spousal support. If a person believes his/her spouse committed adultery and that person does not want to pay alimony, he/she should prove the existence of that affair.
In most cases, circumstantial evidence like hotel receipts, emails, and texts will suffice. A spouse must show the court that cheating was the cause of the divorce. If a spouse has an affair and the other spouse takes him/her back and files a divorce years later, there is a big chance that the court will not agree that adultery was what caused the divorce.
Adultery and Division of Property
The court in Pennsylvania typically does not consider marital misconduct when determining marital property distribution, including adultery. On the other hand, if the misdeed of one spouse caused financial harm to his/her partner and their marriage, it may be considered as a factor for division of property determinants.
Adultery and Child Custody
Adultery does not stop a parent from gaining child custody or affect child support payments. However, it can significantly impact child custody arrangements. The court often considers the child’s best interests as a top priority when determining custody. In short, a judge will review each parent’s parenting participation and abilities, living arrangements, character, and provision for the child’s physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
If cheating might affect or has already impacted the minor child’s well-being, health, and safety, the court will likely consider infidelity when awarding custody.
Divorce that involves infidelity is a hard battle, so working with an experienced divorce lawyer ensures the best chance of winning the case.