Scholl Law Firm
Will Cheating Affect
My Divorce Case?
Studies indicate that 35% of women and 45% of men have committed emotional, intimate, or sexual infidelity during their marriages. The emotional and psychological impact of adultery negatively affects not only the victim spouse and children of the marriage but the spouse who committed the act as well.
Although all states have a no-fault option for divorce, cheating can affect your divorce case in Arkansas.
If you are considering divorce or have started the process and adultery played a role in the breakdown of your marriage, you should seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney.
For more than 20 years, Scholl Law Firm has helped clients in Little Rock and Conway, Arkansas navigate divorce. The firm seeks to help clients and their families get through divorce so they can begin new lives. Get in touch today to schedule a consultation.
Arkansas is a “Hybrid” Fault State
Arkansas law accommodates both no-fault divorce and fault divorce.
In a no-fault divorce, the court doesn’t consider why either party is seeking a dissolution of the marriage. Rather than placing blame, one party needs only to petition for divorce on the grounds that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” The couple must have lived separately or apart for at least 18 consecutive months to be able to pursue a no-fault divorce.
In a fault divorce, the blame is placed on the misconduct of one spouse as the reason for the divorce. Adultery — a spouse having sex with someone other than the other spouse — is treated very specifically as one of those grounds.
Spouses who don’t want to wait the 18 months of separation required for a no-fault divorce may pursue other ways to obtain a more expedient divorce, such as using grounds of adultery. Adultery will not be considered grounds for divorce if any of the following are true:
- The adultery occurred because the married couple conspired to use it as grounds for divorce
- The cheating spouse committed adultery specifically to cause the divorce
- The victim spouse agreed to the other spouse’s commission of adultery
- Both spouses committed adultery
How Adultery May Be a Factor
Because adultery is treated specifically under Arkansas statutes, it can factor into several divorce-related issues.
The court considers multiple factors in choosing whether or not to award alimony, the amount awarded, and the duration it is to be paid. Awards are based on one spouse’s ability to pay and the other spouse’s need for temporary or permanent support. Adultery may factor into this deliberation if it affected the receiving spouse’s need for support or the paying spouse’s ability to pay in a meaningful way.
For example, did the adulterous relationship cause the victim spouse to suffer mental health issues that led to losing a job or promotion? Did the cheating spouse use separate assets on the adultery partner which reduced the perceived ability to pay support to the other spouse?
Arkansas law states that marital property must be divided equitably between the spouses, which does not necessarily mean “equally.” Although infidelity is not an issue that directly affects how marital property is divided, it can have an effect if there is proof that the unfaithful spouse spent marital assets on the commission of adultery or incurred debt related to the adulterous activity.
Child custody decisions by the court are driven by what is deemed to be in the best interest of the child. Furthermore, the court may consider the preferences of children of sufficient age and maturity in custody deliberations. The court also considers the character of each parent in determining a custody arrangement.
Within these parameters, infidelity could be a consideration in child custody. Did a cheating parent neglect the children by leaving them on their own to spend time with their partner in the affair? Did the cheating spouse openly flaunt the partner in front of children, causing confusion and emotional trauma? As a result, is the child’s preference to spend less time with the cheating parent?
How the Scholl Law Firm Can Help
Divorce is often difficult under even the best circumstances. The added emotional complication of adultery can make the process even more contentious.
Whether you are considering divorce or have already started the process, it is wise to consult with a family law attorney to help ensure that your best interests are protected. Divorce is a difficult legal process to pursue on your own, especially if infidelity has contributed to the failure of your marriage.
Scholl Law Firm has devoted more than two decades to clients in Little Rock and Conway, Arkansas who are going through the life-changing event of divorce. The firm believes in using knowledge and experience to advocate for people making the transition from a life together to a life apart. Call Scholl Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.