Can a spouse’s cheating affect a California divorce?

People choose to file for divorce for a variety of different personal reasons. Some couples grow apart and find themselves struggling to connect with each other. Their relationship may slowly worsen over time, leading to one spouse filing for divorce.

Other times, it is the misconduct of one spouse that pushes the other to end the marriage. Discovering an extramarital affair can be a very traumatic experience. It undermines someone’s trust in their spouse and can also cause significant damage to their self-esteem. Those who learn that a spouse has been unfaithful often want justice for the wrongs that they have suffered.

It is only natural to assume that the family courts in California should hold someone accountable for violating their marriage vows and damaging a relationship. Many people begin the divorce process expecting to receive justice from the family courts. What impact can an extramarital affair potentially have on California divorce proceedings?

California is a no-fault divorce state

In some ways, no-fault divorce is a positive legal standard. Spouses in unhealthy relationships don’t need to gather evidence to convince the courts of misconduct to qualify for divorce. They simply have to assert that the relationship is beyond salvaging. No-fault divorce makes ending a marriage easier and faster for many people. It also helps reduce how much time divorce cases require in family court.

That being said, there are some drawbacks to the no-fault divorce process. One of those is that people don’t receive justice for the misconduct of a spouse. The courts generally do not consider even egregious misconduct, like extramarital affairs, when making basic determinations in a divorce. Adultery does not automatically influence economic decisions. It is also highly unlikely to have any impact on custody matters. However, sometimes adultery might affect the divorce process in California.

Affairs are often expensive

Someone maintaining a secret relationship or having one-night stands may spend quite a bit of money. Renting hotel rooms, paying for dates and buying gifts can add up to thousands of dollars over the course of the year or longer. Some people go so far as to acquire second phones or apartments to hide their behavior, which can also be quite costly.

While the courts usually don’t factor marital misconduct into property division matters, they may consider economic misconduct during the property division process. The use of community property for a purpose that damages the marital relationship can constitute dissipation. The court may integrate the value of dissipated resources into other property division decisions.

With all of this said, for many people, the best revenge possible after a divorce is moving on to develop a happier life. Learning about the rules that apply in California divorces may benefit those who have recently uncovered significant marital misconduct.