Does cheating effect a divorce?


Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Cheating can effect a divorce in the following ways. First, if you or your spouse uses marital assets to “support” an affair, a judge could compensate the non-cheating spouse with a greater property or alimony award. Also, the court will look at how cheating affects children of the marriage when deciding on child custody.

Divorce and Infidelity

This post will explain what happens in a divorce when a spouse cheats. No one likes to about cheating during the marriage, but numerous studies have documented that a good share of spouses-both men and women have cheated at some point during their marriage. Many of my clients ask me about divorce and infidelity and in this post, I’m going to break down when infidelity affects divorce.

What happens in a divorce when a spouse cheats?

The general rule is that it won’t affect the divorce process. But, as I mentioned above, there are exceptions.

Divorce and infidelity-how it effects the property settlement.

Florida follows the principle of equitable distribution in divorce. This means that the court tries to divide all the marital assets in a fair way between the parties based on the events of the marriage, employment income, household contributions, and so on. But, say one of the spouses has been spending marital assets on his mistress, a court would consider this a misuse of marital property. To compensate, the court could compensate the faithful spouse give him or her additional marital property in the property settlement.

Divorce and infidelity-how it effects child custody in a divorce.

In Florida, the Court must use the best interest of the child in determining child custody, time-sharing, and so on. The list of factors can be found here. One of these factors is the moral fitness of the parents. A spouse could make the argument that the other spouse is less morally fit than the other parent. This could affect the amount of custody that a parent is granted in the divorce.

To summarize these two points:

What happens in a divorce when a spouse cheats. Image shows ways infidelity can affect divorce.

Other questions regarding divorce and cheating

Can you sue a person for cheating with your spouse ?

The general rule is you cannot. There used to be a law called alienation of affection, where a jilted spouse could bring a civil case against the mistress. Most states have abolished this law. Florida abolished this cause of action in statute 771, which can be found here.


Infidelity usually affects divorce in one of two ways. First, property division-the non-cheating spouse can be awarded an additional property award to compensate for marital assets wasted in the pursuit of the affair. Second, if the extra-marital affair negatively impacts the children, then it could affect child custody and visitation.

Joel Lipinski is a Divorce Attorney in Clearwater, FL, and can be reached on his cell phone at 727-643-8964 or by completing the form below.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes