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The Cheating Factor: Can Adultery Affect Alimony in NY?

Marriages can break up for a number of reasons. One of the more common reasons is that one of the spouses committed adultery. Under New York law, divorcing couples have the right to seek either a no-fault or fault divorce. The difference is the former requires no legal grounds other than that the marriage is “irretrievably broken,” while the latter requires a specific showing of fault on the part of one of the spouses. 

Fault in the divorce setting is a strictly legal definition. This means that, while a person may think it is their spouse’s “fault” that the marriage did not succeed, this reason may not pass muster on the court level. In these situations, it may make more sense for a couple to simply seek a no-fault divorce. There are four different legal grounds on which a person can seek a fault divorce in New York. These include cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment for at least one year, incarceration for at least three consecutive years and adultery. 

Though adultery can play a part in establishing fault in a couple’s divorce, it does not necessarily impact other portions of a couple’s divorce. For instance, courts rarely consider this behavior when dividing property or awarding spousal support. However, if the circumstances of the adultery were particularly egregious, the court may take it into consideration in deciding alimony and asset division. For instance, if the cheating spouse used the married couple’s joint assets to engage in the affair, the court may subtract this amount from that spouse’s portion of the split assets. 

Adultery could be an important factor in a divorce proceeding, so it’s important to secure strong legal representation when it comes to alimony, property division and child support issues. To learn more, speak with a skilled New York divorce lawyer at Bryan L. Salamone & Associates.

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