Will Infidelity Affect the Outcome of My Divorce?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the marriage rate in Ohio is 16.1 per every 1,000 females versus 16.6 nationwide, and the divorce rate is 7.2 per 1,000 females versus 7.7 nationwide. In other words, Ohio marriage and divorce rates are about even with nationwide trends. (The bureau uses only female statistics because they are considered more transparent and reliable.)

Divorce, of course, is an emotionally – and often financially – trying time, whatever the statistics show. 

While the vast majority of divorces in Ohio are based on incompatibility – no-fault, so to speak – some spouses may resent the infidelity of their partners and hope to use that to exact punishment through the divorce process – to obtain a better division of assets, more child or spousal support, sole custody, or whatever it may be.

While infidelity can be considered by the courts, it’s not exactly the tool of revenge that some cheated-on spouses may hope for. It’s just one among many factors.

If you’re considering divorce, involved in one, or have been served papers in or around Columbus and Central Ohio, contact Heckert & Moreland Co., LPA. Our attorneys are experienced in every aspect of divorce law and can advise and represent you in whatever circumstances you face.

Ohio Is a Hybrid-Fault Divorce State

Most couples who divorce in Ohio choose the no-fault route. To qualify for a no-fault divorce, you need only cite incompatibility or live apart for at least one year. You can also seek a fault-based divorce, which must be based on one or more of the following:

  • Adultery
  • Gross neglect of duty (failing to provide financial support)
  • Bigamy
  • Willful absence of your partner for at least a year
  • Extreme cruelty
  • Fraudulent contract
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Imprisonment of the other spouse

A fault-based divorce may also be necessary if one partner cites incompatibility, but the other disagrees.

Of course, if you choose a fault-based divorce, you’re going to have to air your dirty laundry in public – in a court of law – so the vast majority of people steer clear of this option.

Another no-fault route is called dissolution of marriage. Dissolution is similar to an uncontested divorce in that the couple must decide all the issues of life after marriage by themselves. This includes all financial arrangements, child custody and support issues, and parental rights and visitation arrangements. This must then be presented to the court as a settlement agreement.

Ways That Infidelity May Factor In

If during court proceedings, one spouse asks the other for financial support, called spousal support in Ohio, the court will consider many factors, including:

  • Earnings potential of each spouse
  • Age and physical/mental condition of each spouse
  • Length of the marriage
  • Retirement benefits of each
  • Custody issues: whether one spouse must stay at home to care for minor children
  • Assets and liabilities of each spouse

The list above is not exhaustive, but it does not include whether one spouse was unfaithful as a factor. However, a final clause allows for the consideration of “any other factor the court finds to be fair and relevant.” This, of course, could include adultery and infidelity.

It would thus be up to the court whether to take infidelity into consideration; it is not a required factor. In other words, you can play the infidelity card, but you may not prevail in the long run. The court will look to make a fair and equitable distribution of assets according to the factors listed above, as it will for spousal support. Infidelity may or may not play a part.

Likewise, when it comes to child support and custody issues, the court is not required to consider marital infidelity. The main factor is determining what is best for the well-being of the child or children involved. If the relationship of one spouse with another person outside of marriage can somehow jeopardize the well-being of the children, that would be a factor to consider, but past actions may be deemed irrelevant.

Getting the Experienced Legal Help You Need

Heckert & Moreland Co., LPA has more than 45 years of combined experience in issues of family and divorce law. We have helped countless others just like you going through a divorce, and we have both the experience and resources to help you navigate the process.

Contact us immediately with any issues arising from divorce proceedings or considerations. We proudly serve clients throughout Central Ohio and will be happy to help you. Having an experienced attorney on your side can make all the difference.

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