What You Need to Know About The Legal Consequences of Adultery
Divorce can be an emotional process, especially when cheating and infidelity are involved. Here’s everything you need to know about – – Adultery in Washington: Does Cheating Affect Divorce?
Adultery has no bearing on divorce in Washington state. Washington State is a “no-fault” state, which means either party can file for divorce without providing proof of a particular cause, such as adultery.
What Are The Grounds For Divorce in Washington?
Some states require the spouse filing for divorce to have a legal reason or “grounds” for divorce. In these “fault states,” the filing spouse tells the judge why she wants a divorce and explains the other party’s marital misconduct (such as adultery). The grounds are a record and may impact the child custody, alimony, and divorce settlement.
Washington state, on the other hand, is a no-fault state. Because Washington subscribes to a no-fault philosophy, the courts don’t give any consideration to the reasons you want a divorce. In fact, Washington judges won’t hear couples’ specific personal matters. The filing party must specify the marriage is unfixable and irreconcilable.
Related: Washington State Divorce FAQs
What Are Some Factors Judges Consider For Divorce?
The law clarifies judges should not consider fault when determining divorce arrangements. As such, adultery does not come into play in custody or property division decisions, nor does it impact spousal support, a common concern amongst couples.
Many wronged spouses want to use adultery as the reason to convince the judge that they deserve alimony, but this won’t impact the judge’s decision.
The only kinds of factors Washington courts consider when determining alimony include the following:
- The income and financial resources of the spouse requesting alimony (obligee)
- How much time the obligee needs to obtain adequate education/training to find suitable employment
- The duration of the marriage
- The couple’s standard of living before the divorce
- The age, physical health, and financial obligations of each spouse
- The paying spouse’s (obligor’s) income, assets, and ability to pay spousal support until the obligee can earn an adequate living
Does Adultery Affect a Settlement?
Since Washington is a no-fault divorce state, you cannot cite your spouse’s infidelity or cheating as the reason for divorce. The courts are not interested in why your marriage fell apart. However, this does not mean that cheating has absolutely no impact on the divorce or that your spouse’s adulterous behavior does not influence your financial settlement.
While you cannot name your spouse’s adultery or cheating as the basis for the divorce, you can use their behavior to influence the financial terms of the divorce settlement.
If your adulterous spouse rents a luxury apartment for his girlfriend, your attorney could argue you deserve the apartment cost in addition to the standard dissolution of the marriage settlement. However, you must prove these expenses with documented evidence.
You cannot undertake illegal activities like hacking your spouse’s social media or email accounts. While commonplace, logging on to someone’s account is illegal without permission.
Any evidence you procure through such activities is probably not admissible in court. If you suspect your spouse is cheating on you, use legal means to obtain evidence, such as hiring an investigator. You should verify whether the cost is worth it.
If you were mistreated during the marriage in other ways, like having your spouse openly flaunt their affair, your settlement could ostensibly be higher. Higher settlement amounts very often are determined by hiring a competent divorce lawyer.
If the adulterous relationship was also accompanied by violence or abuse in your marriage, a court might consider this an extenuating circumstance. If your divorce goes to court, you could receive additional funds as the abused spouse.