Marriage is rarely easy, it takes work to maintain good communication and
a loving, happy marriage. Just ask anybody who's been in one for more
than a decade and they'll tell you that you have to work at it.
Life takes many expected twists and turns; some couples take these changes
in stride, while others cannot withstand the strain of a growing family,
financial pressure, and sometimes even personality changes that spouses
experience as they grow and change over the years.
Whether a couple is happy or not, it is not uncommon for spouses to commit
adultery, though this is more prevalent in unhappy marriages. Unfortunately,
extramarital relations are often the final nail in the coffin of a strained marriage.
If your marriage has broken beyond repair because one of you cheated, you
are probably curious to know if adultery has any effect on alimony or
maintenance under New York's divorce laws. Our clients frequently
ask our Nassau County divorce attorneys about this, so it's a perfectly
reasonable question indeed.
Adultery is a Ground for Divorce
In New York, you can seek a fault-based divorce or a no-fault divorce.
If you wanted to seek a fault-based divorce on the ground of adultery,
you could, however, you must prepare for a higher-conflict divorce, which
would require you to produce evidence of the cheating from another source,
such as a private investigator.
Higher-conflict divorces are lengthier, more costly and significantly more
stressful. If you have children, you may want to reconsider this approach,
unless of course the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Even in the
case of adultery, a no-fault divorce is often the reasonable alternative.
Does adultery affect alimony in a New York divorce?
When spouses divorce in New York, either spouse can ask the judge to order
the higher-earning spouse to financially
support the lower-earning spouse during and/or after the divorce. The spouses
may agree on an amount, or they may have a
prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that clearly defines the alimony terms.
If there is no such agreement, the judge will decide whether or not to
order alimony. What if one spouse cheated, will that impact the judge's
decision? While some states consider marital fault when awarding alimony
– that is
not normally the case in New York.
Generally, New York judges are not concerned if a spouse committed adultery,
which is defined as having sexual intercourse with someone other than
one's spouse, nor is adultery considered when dividing marital property.
However, if the adulterous spouse spent significant marital assets on their
sweetheart, the judge can find this a
"wasteful dissipation" of the marital assets. In that case, spending marital funds on a girlfriend
can be a factor that influences the judge's decision regarding alimony.
Does your divorce involve adultery? To learn your rights, contact our firm
for a free consultation with our experienced Nassau County divorce lawyer!