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How much impact could infidelity have on a New York divorce?

On Behalf of | May 21, 2023 | Divorce

Infidelity is a common catalyst for divorce in New York. Spouses who learn that their partner has been unfaithful may no longer be able to trust sharing their home, their health and their finances with that other person.

Oftentimes, the spouse who discovers the adultery will want justice, and they expect that the New York family courts will grant it. After all, there were vows made years ago and major violations of those vows that could have life-altering consequences for the innocent party. Yet, this expectation rarely becomes reality.

New York’s laws take fault out of the formula, for the most part

Those divorcing in New York typically pursue no-fault proceedings. Judges usually cannot consider most forms of spousal misconduct when deciding how to handle spousal support or alimony, child custody and property division matters. Infidelity is one of the many forms of fault that have minimal impact on the outcome of a divorce.

Judges should not consider the adultery of either spouse when making basic decisions about the dissolution of the marriage. However, there is one exception. In scenarios where people can prove that the infidelity involved the use of marital assets, the spending of the cheating spouse can influence property division. Using marital resources for a purpose that damages the marital relationship is a prime example of the dissipation of marital assets.

Dissipation is one of the few forms of spousal misconduct that may impact what happens in a divorce. Money spent on hotel rooms and dinners, as well as trips and gifts during the affair, could potentially add up to a sizable amount of money. Judges may factor in that wasteful spending when dividing property and may grant more to the other spouse to compensate them for that dissipation. They could also exclude debts related to the adultery from the marital estate.

Those who uncover an extramarital affair will typically need to conduct a very thorough review of household finances. Evidence of dissipation could play a role in their negotiation of a property division settlement or how a judge decides to split their assets and debts.

Oftentimes, there is no formal justice for those with a cheating spouse. Seeking legal guidance to better ensure a fair settlement, then moving on and living the best life possible is often the ideal revenge for someone who learns that their spouse has been unfaithful.


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