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How Does a Cheating Spouse Affect Your Divorce?


Throwing heaps of clothing, personal effects, and maybe the occasional television out a third-story apartment window and onto the unforgiving sidewalk is a cinema cornerstone to show that someone was caught cheating in New York City. Other than being enormously dangerous and slightly humorous, the act is also pretty unrealistic. Rather than resorting to a quick evacuation of the cheating spouse’s stuff, most people just file for a divorce instead. But when it comes to writing up the paperwork, is the infidelity of your spouse even worth mentioning?

No-Fault, No Harm… No Foul?

Since 2010, New York has been a “no-fault divorce” state, joining the rest of the country in a trend that started in 1970 in California – the West Coast has to be ahead of the game sometimes. This means that anyone can file for a divorce simply by saying that the marriage has come to an end, that the two of you have run into “irreconcilable differences.” Ever since then, divorce rates seem to be on the rise, as there was no longer a legal barrier stopping separations and no one needed to get slammed with the blame anymore.

However, what many people do not realize, is that New York is not a “true no-fault state,” and that you may still cite problems when filing for divorce. If your spouse cheated on you and you have proof, it is probably worth mentioning on the paperwork.

Infidelity is considered fault. In other words, it is a ground for a divorce in New York State. Technically pursuant to divorce law in New York, grounds does not affect the division of marital assets (equitable distribution) or support.

Thanking Them for Stabbing You in the Back

While it is true that county judges presiding over divorces in New York will usually try to split property 50-50, the act of infidelity can persuade them to see things otherwise when it comes to marital assets. The things your spouse with a wandering eye owned before the wedding is theirs – hard to avoid that – but items on the fence might fall more in your favor if you can show that you weren’t acting against your own marriage. This is especially true on matters involving alimony, child support, and child custody; someone who has been caught cheating is not likely to be seen as a positive parental figure in the eyes of a court-appointed judge.

In a way, for all the pain your spouse’s infidelity might have caused, it could ultimately prove to be a gilded lily. Think of it this way: you wouldn’t want to be in a one-sided marriage anyway, only now you can stand on some high ground when it comes to an end. By doing you a major romantic disservice, your cheating spouse might have actually done you a big favor. After all, if your glass is half full… you can dump the rest of your drink on their disloyal head.

Do you have more questions about divorce in New York? Do you need to file against a cheating spouse? Contact a Dutchess County Divorce Attorney from the Law Office of Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr., LLC today and we can help you figure out the next step with you.