Statistically, about 50 percent of married people cheat on their spouse, with men slightly more likely to do so than women. However, people list infidelity as the cause of divorce in only about 30 percent of breakups. The action may not be the main reason for the separation, but adultery could still affect the outcome of the settlement or a custody arrangement. Learn when adultery should be included as part of a divorce case.
Importance in Case
Ohio does not have an exact definition of adultery and does not have any laws against the action. A cheating spouse cannot face legal punishment, but the law allows people to use an adulterous relationship as grounds for a divorce in Ohio. An affair will not automatically help the injured spouse, but there are circumstances when it can be useful information.
People cannot list adultery as the cause in legal filings without presenting proof of the allegation. If the affair began after the spouses separated, the infidelity may have little relevance during the proceedings and may only cause embarrassment. However, a spouse mention infidelity if the affair caused harm to the relationship, the injured spouse, or the family in any way.
Influence in Settlement
An affair can affect the division of property. A spouse that used marital assets to benefit the person they were cheating with or to conduct the affair may receive a smaller share of the assets than they would have otherwise. For example, if they paid for gifts for their romantic partner or had a rental property for the purpose of conducting the affair, their settlement may be smaller.
Consideration for Alimony
Spousal support helps partners to keep a reasonable standard of living after a divorce is final. The payment usually applies when one person forgoes their career ambitions to take care of the house or children. The choice may reduce the ability of that spouse to earn a living on their own, so alimony prevents them from living in poverty.
The court can exclude the benefit from a divorce agreement if the partner that wants alimony is also the partner having an affair. Ohio law bases alimony payments on a variety of factors including the length of the marriage, the household income level, and any other relevant factor. The court may feel an adulterous spouse does not have a right to this compensation.
Proving someone was an adulterer will also not increase the alimony payments they must make. Factors related to alimony amounts include things like the ages of the spouse, the education or training needed to find adequate work, and the length of time it would take to become self-sufficient. An affair does not directly affect these types of details.
Effect on Custody
Adultery is an action that involves the married couple, so it is not usually a consideration during a custody battle. Of course, adultery does matter in some situations. An example is if a parent left children unsupervised or otherwise neglected their parental duties to conduct the affair. The other spouse must prove that the careless behavior is likely to continue after the divorce.
Benefit During Mediation
One of the biggest uses for the information about an extramarital affair is outside of the courtroom. Many people do not want the embarrassment of their infidelity discussed in front of strangers or want their children to learn about the affair. A non-cheating spouse can use the behavior to gain the upper hand in negotiations.
The discovery of an affair can permanently change how people view their spouse and their marriage. A faithful spouse should expect the person they love to give them the same treatment. At Mary E. Papcke, Attorney at Law, we know that not everyone takes their vows seriously. Contact us to discuss your case to see how the laws affect your situation.