Infidelity does massive damage to marital relationships. Without trust and honesty, spouses may not feel comfortable sharing their lives or their homes with another person. Although some couples do try to work through extramarital affairs, many others head to divorce court when one spouse discovers the other’s infidelity.
As someone betrayed by your spouse, you may look to the Washington family courts as a potential source of justice. You would like to see your spouse punished for their actions that resulted in your divorce. Can you expect the courts to give you justice by penalizing your spouse in different aspects of your divorce?
Adultery and property division
Washington is a no-fault divorce state, and that means that your spouse’s cheating will not inherently influence property division decisions. A judge must abide by the community property law on the books, which instructs the judge to divide marital or community property without consideration of marital misconduct.
The cheating itself will not mean that you receive more of the marital estate. However, if you have proof that your ex used marital funds on their affair, that may have an influence on how the judge splits your other assets.
Adultery and child custody
Many people consider an extramarital affair an indicator of someone’s moral shortcomings. However, having engaged in unethical behavior is not grounds for the termination of someone’s parental rights.
Unless your ex has endangered or abused the children while conducting their affair, their infidelity will have no impact on custody decisions.
Adultery and alimony
Alimony or spousal maintenance involves a payment made regularly from a higher-earning spouse to a dependent spouse after the end of their marriage. Often, such payments are a temporary means of support for someone who must re-enter the workforce. Judges should not consider marital misconduct when awarding alimony or making decisions regarding how long it will last or how much one spouse will pay.
Unfortunately, while you feel betrayed by your spouse’s behavior, the courts can offer you very little vindication for those emotions. What they can offer you, however, is an opportunity at a future not tied down to a cheater. Understanding the minimal impact adultery has on the outcome of a divorce in Washington can help you handle the process better.