Can Cheating Affect Alimony in a California Divorce?

It happens all of the time, after marriage spouses change and they sometimes grow apart. The spouses were managing to cohabitate just fine until one of the spouses cheats, and the other discovers the affair. The pain is too much for the innocent spouse to bear and the marriage heads towards divorce.

If your marriage is over because of infidelity, you may be wondering if the affair will have an impact on alimony.

Will the court consider evidence of cheating?

In a word, no. California is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you can divorce because of irreconcilable differences, you don't need to testify that your marriage was ruined because of cheating.

You won't be asked to testify as to "why" your marriage has failed, the only thing that matters to the court is that it's over, and that at least one of you believes that it can't be saved.

While fault-based states are more traditional and may punish a cheating spouse by denying them spousal support, or insisting that they pay it, California takes the modern no-fault approach.

So, if you have been gathering racy text messages, emails, credit card receipts, Facebook messages, or even photographs documenting your spouse's affair, they won't be any use in the courtroom.

In a fault-based state, the divorce papers could say that a divorce was granted due to marital conduct, or in this case adultery. However, California courts will not consider any evidence of a spouse's cheating, or any other kind of fault when granting a divorce.

Adultery & Spousal Support

Spousal support is money paid by one spouse to the other spouse during and after a divorce. The purpose of spousal support is to ensure that the lower-earning spouse does not fall into poverty because of the divorce.

Alimony or spousal support is awarded on a case-by-case basis, and awarding alimony is at the judge's discretion. Do judges consider marital misconduct when ordering deciding on alimony?

Generally, no they do not. They do however, consider evidence of domestic violence in a marriage. If a spouse was convicted of domestic violence, the judge may decide to reduce or eliminate any alimony that the abusive spouse would have been entitled to receive.

Searching for an Encino divorce attorney? Contact Cutter & Lax to schedule your initial consultation.