Does an Extramarital Affair Affect a Divorce Settlement in Alabama?
Cheating is often cited as one of the factors contributing to the end of a marriage. What does that mean for your divorce settlement? Will it be ignored, or does the cheating partner stand to lose a lot during negotiations? When you get the answers to these and other questions, you can make choices that protect your financial well-being and security after divorce.
Divorce can be unpredictable but having a strong legal team can help you prepare and minimize your stress. The team at Coumanis & York is here to help you through this challenging time. Call our Daphne office at 251-990-3083 or our Mobile office at 251-431-7272 to schedule a consultation.
The Length of the Divorce Process
To start, it’s important to know the difference between fault and no-fault divorce. Most states only allow no-fault divorce, which allows one or both parties to divorce because of irreconcilable differences. This protects the privacy of both parties and allows the divorce to move forward with minimal fanfare. However, Alabama is one of a few states that also allows individuals to file for fault divorce.
Fault divorce often takes considerably longer than a no-fault divorce. The person requesting it must be able to prove that the other party engaged in one of several specific behaviors that can lead to the breakdown of a marriage, one of which is infidelity. Because a fault divorce requires clear and convincing proof, you may find that the process takes months longer than a no-fault divorce.
However, if a divorcing spouse is granted a fault divorce because of their partner’s misdeeds, it could benefit them in several ways.
The Division of Property
To start, the at-fault partner could lose out during the division of property and debts. If the other party can show that the unfaithful spouse used marital assets to fund their affair, they may be able to secure a larger share of the marital assets. Bank statements, credit card receipts, and receipts from hotels, jewelry stores, and restaurants can all work against a cheating partner in court.
An affair can also hurt the at-fault partner if their spouse stayed at home or otherwise sacrificed their own career and education for the sake of the family. In order to give the other party a fair chance at a fresh start, the court may grant them a larger share of marital assets.
Child Custody and Support
In some situations, an affair can have devastating consequences for your relationship with your children. The court generally won’t consider the existence of an affair as a reason to give one parent less custody. However, they may be more willing to do so if there’s evidence that the unfaithful spouse prioritized their affair over their children.
For example, if they had the affair partner over when the children were home, introduced the children to the affair partner, failed to pay for the children’s activities in order to fund the affair, or otherwise negatively affected the kids, the court may view them as an unfit parent. This could lead to them paying a greater share of child support and other expenses.
Spousal support is another aspect of your divorce settlement that could be affected by infidelity. Consider a marriage where one partner is the breadwinner and the other stays at home with the children. If the affair directly caused the end of the marriage, the stay-at-home partner could be entitled to significant alimony from their cheating partner. The court could award this to make up for the loss of stability suffered by the homemaker because of their spouse’s decision to cheat.
On the flip side, what if the party who would receive alimony was the unfaithful one? Alabama doesn’t automatically bar the unfaithful partner from receiving alimony. However, the judge can use this information to determine if alimony is awarded and how much they receive.
Get the Answers You Need from Coumanis & York
Infidelity can make any divorce significantly harder, more painful, and more time-consuming. It’s important to choose a legal team you can trust during this trying time. Schedule a meeting with the team at Coumanis & York now by contacting us online, calling our Daphne office at 251-990-3083, or call our Mobile office at 251-431-7272.
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