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  • Seth Eric Springer, Esq.

Does Cheating Affect Alimony in PA?

If adultery is involved in a marriage, there are critical things to know about how it is going to affect the divorce proceedings. A cheating spouse ruins a marriage, and it plays a vital role in most Pennsylvania divorces.


Adultery massively destroys a lot of marriages in the US each year. Marriage often does not survive after one spouse is caught cheating on the other spouse.


However, many people become reluctant to file for divorce since they need to expose their “dirty laundry” in the proceeding. As a result, they choose to end the marriage by filing a no-fault divorce. This means none of the spouses blame each other for the failure of their marriage. Instead, one spouse of both of them believes that they have an irretrievably broken marriage, and it cannot be repaired.


In Pennsylvania, people can file for a no-fault divorce despite the availability of fault grounds. In terms of adultery, it motivates the spouses to file for a divorce and changes how the divorce is handled.


Fault-Based and No-Fault Divorce in Pennsylvania

Fault-Based and No-Fault Divorce in Pennsylvania


How does adultery affect divorce in Pennsylvania?


According to the PA Department of Health, over 32,000 annulments and divorces were filed in 2019 alone. This US state recognizes two divorces types: fault-based divorce and no-fault divorce.


In a fault-based divorce, one spouse blames the other party for destroying the marriage. It often takes longer to resolve compared to a no-fault divorce. The state law has six grounds for this divorce type:


· Adultery

· Incarceration for a crime

· Bigamy

· Indignities

· Barbarous and cruel treatment

· Desertion


In a no-fault divorce, both parties agree to the divorce, and either of them can get grounds for divorce without blaming the other, instead, after a period of separation or by reaching an agreement.


Proof of Adultery


In Pennsylvania, adultery means voluntary sexual intercourse with a person aside from one’s spouse. Evidence is presented to consider adultery as a fault ground for a divorce. Proof may include:


· Receipts for things like gifts, dates, and hotels

· Texts or emails

· Social media messages

· Phone call records

· Photos or videos

· Testimony from a person or people with whom cheating was committed


What is the Role of Adultery in Alimony?


If you are wondering if you should pay your spouse maintenance after divorce, it is highly plausible especially if adultery is involved.


Marital misconduct, like adultery, is considered by Pennsylvania law a relevant factor in deciding whether the innocent spouse should receive an alimony claim. If financial support is raised, adultery is considered even in a no-fault divorce.


On the other hand, it is not common for adultery to make a vast difference in the alimony decisions. Besides being used to prevent the cheating spouse from getting alimony, it also boosts the claim of the innocent spouse for spousal support.


Alimony or spousal support is one of the things in a divorce that is likely to be impacted by adultery. The court has a list of various factors when deciding if it is necessary to award alimony and how it is done. These factors include:


· Length of the marriage

· Relative earnings of each spouse

· Relative needs of each spouse

· Education of each spouse

· Assets and liabilities of each spouse

· Potential inheritance of each spouse

· Earning the potential of each spouse

· The standard living of each spouse

· Misconduct of each spouse during the marriage

· Age and health of each spouse

· Each spouse’s sources of income, including benefits, retirement funds, and medical insurance


In Pennsylvania, the spouse who has committed adultery often becomes ineligible for alimony. Most people assume that it is awarded to the woman and given to the spouse of lower-income. However, the courts in Pennsylvania do not automatically grant to the spouse of lower incomes. Instead, the courts consider the above mentioned factors before deciding whether a spouse must pay alimony to the former spouse. The courts examine those factors of each spouse, not just one party.


Additionally, alimony in PA does not last forever. Once the person who receives alimony improves his/her financial situation, he/she may not receive payments as stated by the court. In some cases, the court may order that the spousal support be paid for a specific period.


In Pennsylvania, alimony is not paid monthly but rather on an annual payment basis. The court also has the right to modify or end the spousal support according to both parties’ changing financial circumstances.


If someone is going through a divorce that involves adultery, it is best to hire a skilled divorce lawyer in York for a better chance of a positive outcome.

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