The Impact of Adultery on Divorce and Child Custody Decisions

Extramarital sex that is deemed unacceptable for social, religious, moral, or legal reasons is called adultery (from the Latin adulterium). Adultery is a notion that exists in many cultures and is identical in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, despite the fact that the sexual acts that constitute adultery differ as well as the social, religious, and legal repercussions.  Many jurisdictions see adultery as a morally repugnant act that undermines the marriage bond. 

Regardless of the reason for the divorce, it is never easy, and adultery can make the whole divorce process even more agonizing for everyone involved. Nonetheless,  a competent divorce lawyer can play a pivotal role in securing a good divorce even in such cases.

Unless it can be demonstrated with concrete evidence that the adulterous spouse spent marital funds on the affair or that the affair had a negative impact on the emotional and/or financial well-being of the children involved, adultery cannot be taken into account by the courts when deciding on alimony, property division, or child custody and support.  

Many cultures have historically viewed adultery as a very serious offense, susceptible to harsh punishment, mainly for the woman but occasionally for the man too. These punishments included the death penalty, mutilation, or torture. Since the 19th century, such punishments have increasingly lost their appeal, particularly in Western nations. In nations where adultery is still a crime, penalties might include fines, caning, and even the death penalty. Criminal laws against adultery have drawn controversy during the 20th century, and most Western nations have decriminalized adultery.

Adultery may still have legal repercussions, even in countries that have decriminalized it. This is especially true in countries with fault-based divorce laws, where adultery almost always qualifies as grounds for divorce and may still be punishable.

Most U.S. states, particularly those in the South and the Northeast, had laws prohibiting fornication, adultery, or cohabitation until the middle of the 20th century. These laws have gradually been repealed or declared unlawful by courts. State laws that prohibit adultery are rarely put into action.

Impact of Adultery on Divorce Decisions 

When one partner in a relationship learns that their spouse has been having an affair and has committed adultery, many relationships and marriages end. Most people assume that the faithful spouse will receive the majority of the benefits from the divorce settlement when adultery is the reason for the dissolution of  the marriage. This isn’t always the case. 

Depending on the state, adultery may or may not have an effect on the divorce proceedings and decree. When determining the outcome of a divorce, infidelity is given little to no weight in several states.

Other states, however,go as far as to heavily favor the faithful spouse when deciding how to divide the family’s assets and who gets custody of the children during a divorce.

Marriages are no longer ended by adultery as they formerly were. Couples are “trying to sort it out” more often now. Men have historically received much more latitude than women to commit adultery. 

Adultery committed by women was typically punished more harshly. Even now, women who commit adultery risk being executed in some nations, including Saudi Arabia and Iran. A few states in the US still have laws that make adultery a crime, but the cases are rarely, if ever, brought to court.

Adultery almost never affects the division of assets in most divorce situations where one of the parties has committed adultery. The division of assets is only impacted by adultery when the unfaithful spouse used marital assets to pay for the extramarital affair. 

For instance, the court would probably consider this while allocating assets if an unfaithful spouse sold shares belonging to the wife to finance their mistress.

Impact of Adultery on Child Custody Cases and Their Decisions 

Adultery has no bearing on which parent is granted custody of the children as long as the cheating spouse did not engage in the extramarital relationship in front of the kids. However, in some states, 

Even if the unfaithful spouse can demonstrate a genuine financial need for the alimony, the faithful spouse’s responsibility to pay alimony to the unfaithful spouse may be affected if it becomes apparent during the divorce process that one spouse engaged in adultery. 

Additionally, when the spouse receiving alimony starts living with another partner or individual, the requirement to pay alimony is usually promptly canceled.

When a family splits up due to divorce, child custody is a difficult matter that arises quickly, particularly when adultery has been mentioned. 

Although Utah law does not require that adultery be taken into account when filing for divorce, it will likely influence the initial discussions about settlement and child custody. 

But how do situations differ for men and women in terms of  child custody following divorce because of adultery?

A husband or wife whose spouse has been unfaithful typically feels that they are entitled to full custody, but in the eyes of the law, adultery does not disqualify anyone from caring for a child. 

In Utah, the court does not take the unfaithful partner’s moral behavior during the marriage into account while deciding whether the man or woman will have full custody of their children.

Infidelity issues are kept separate from the legal divorce lawsuit throughout the custody procedure since providing the child with the most stable living environment is the priority. 

Divorce and child custody lawyers represent parents who are concerned that their children’s well-being will be impacted by adultery. The most effective child custody attorney will establish that the parent who experiences the least change or has the closest bond with the child will be the best parent and can put the interests of their offspring before their own.


The division of property and child custody in a divorce dispute is unaffected by adultery. However, adultery does have an effect on the divorce settlement talks. More than 85% of divorce cases are resolved before trial through settlement.

Even without errant behavior, divorce can cause emotional distress in individuals.

The revelation of adultery triggers a ticking time bomb of frantic agony on both sides of the negotiating table. Usually (and reasonably), the faithful spouse feels extremely hurt, enraged, and seeks retaliation.

Generally, the unfaithful spouse feels worse about themselves and is more furious with themselves. In the majority of states, adultery has no bearing on how assets are divided. 

Additionally, adultery is not taken into account when deciding who gets to keep the kids. Adultery is frequently the primary reason that brings a couple to divorce. Adultery plays a major role in the emotional state of each spouse during the divorce settlement negotiations.

What do you think?

Written by Grace

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