One of the most common causes for spouses to separate and divorce is adultery. In New York and in many states throughout the country, adultery by a spouse may be considered by the court in various aspects of divorce.
Adultery: A Legal Ground for Divorce
Divorce spouses in New York may pursue a “fault” or a “no-fault” divorce.
In a “fault” divorce, adultery is considered a legal ground for divorce. Keep in mind, you need to be ready for a higher-conflict divorce case and provide evidence of adultery from a third-party. Divorces with higher conflict tend to result in more emotional harm to every party involved, including children.
A “no-fault” divorce means the couple cannot get along without one another any longer and are unable to remain married due to their differences. The filing spouse must demonstrate that the marriage has been “irretrievably broken” for at least six months. Even when there is evidence of adultery, a no-fault divorce is a better alternative.
Does Adultery Affect Alimony?
A marital fault such as adultery is not often considered by the court when awarding alimony and in dividing marital property. In other words, adultery alone will not instantly lead to an award of alimony.
New York courts only look out for “egregious” acts or behavior by a spouse when deciding alimony. For example, when one spouse is involved in an extramarital affair and uses a significant portion of marital assets—gifts, hotel rooms, or vacations—on a lover, the court may find this to be a “wasteful dissipation” of marital assets that could become a contributing factor in awarding alimony.