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Does Adultery Affect Divorce in Massachusetts?

| Jul 6, 2021 | Child Custody |

Does infidelity impact the divorce process? While adultery can cause an emotional upheaval for a divorcing couple, it may not significantly affect the process of a no-fault divorce in Massachusetts. However, there are ways infidelity can make a legal impact on divorce in certain circumstances. Moreover, adultery can provide grounds for a fault-based divorce. Partners who believe infidelity played a role in their situation should review the potential impact with an experienced divorce attorney before moving forward. 

Assets Distribution & Alimony

While courts do not specifically punish cheating spouses for misconduct, cases of infidelity may influence a court’s decision as it relates to some financial considerations. 

When it comes to property division in Massachusetts, a court does consider spouses’ conduct during a marriage among other factors. While courts generally divide assets in a fair and equitable manner, a court could be influenced in a case where marital misconduct financially impacts a family. For example, in a case where the unfaithful spouse lavishly misspent marital assets on an affair, courts might consider this dissipation of assets when deciding on matters of property division.

Similarly, a court could consider misused funds for an extramarital relationship when deciding on alimony payments. If the other spouse is financially dependent, the judge may order an unfaithful spouse to pay spousal support at a higher rate. However, a judge cannot deny alimony solely on the grounds of infidelity if the unfaithful spouse is otherwise entitled to support.  

Parenting Time and Custody

In some cases, parenting and custody matters can also be affected by the infidelity of a spouse.

When negotiating parenting plans, it is common to prohibit parents from introducing children to new partners for a period of time. Depending on the situation, a divorcing spouse may also request limited information on their ex-spouse’s new partner. If the partner has a criminal record or if it can be proven that the new relationship endangers or negatively impacts a child’s best interest, visitation and custody can be impacted. 

Infidelity could also affect a court’s decisions on custody and parenting time in other ways. Because timing can be crucial, it is a good idea to consult a custody attorney sooner rather than later if concerns arise about extramarital relationships. 

A Family Law Attorney Could Answer Your Questions About the Effect of Adultery in Your Divorce Case

At Koiles Pratt Family Law Group, we realize every divorce in Massachusetts is unique, and we work to find solutions best suited to your individual circumstances. To learn more about how we could answer your questions and help you reach your goals, contact us today for a confidential consultation.