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How Adultery Affects Pennsylvania Divorces

Posted By Cairns Law Offices || 11-Apr-2016

If your marriage is in trouble and adultery is a factor, you may be wondering if cheating has any impact on a Pennsylvania divorce – this is a valid question indeed.

Cheating destroys many relationships and marriages each year. If your marriage has fallen apart because you or your spouse had an affair, you'll want to know if the cheating will affect spousal support, property division, or child custody. Continue reading to get your questions answered.

Spousal Support in Pennsylvania

Spousal support is money that the higher-earning spouse pays to support the spouse with less income and resources. Spousal support is not automatically awarded in a divorce, it is only awarded when a couple agrees on it, or when the court deems it necessary.

Once spousal support or alimony has been awarded, the court has the right to modify or end the support when financial circumstances change, or when the receiving spouse begins living with a new romantic partner, remarries, or when either spouse passes away.

How does cheating affect alimony?

Under Pennsylvania law, once a husband or wife commits adultery, he or she is not entitled to receive spousal support or alimony. If you believe your spouse has been cheating on you and you don't want to pay alimony, you'll have to prove the existence of the affair.

Often, circumstantial evidence, such as texts, emails, or hotel receipts will suffice.

If your spouse had an "emotional" affair and there was no sexual contact, it is not adultery under Pennsylvania law. For it to count as adultery, voluntary sexual intercourse must have taken place.

You will need to show the court that adultery was what caused your divorce. If your spouse had an affair and you took them back, and decided to file for divorce years later, the court may not agree that adultery was the cause behind your divorce.

Additionally, you must have not cheated yourself if you want to convince the court that your adulterous spouse does not deserve alimony.

PA Courts Take Adultery Seriously

The Pennsylvania courts take adultery very seriously. While it generally won't affect child custody, it can impact spousal support and property division. Meaning, the cheating spouse may receive a smaller share of the couple's marital assets.

Occasionally, an affair can affect child custody. Though rare, it is possible, especially when the unfaithful spouse's cheating had a negative impact on the couple's children. For example, the unfaithful spouse left young children unattended overnight so they could be with their romantic partner – who was not their spouse.

If you have questions about adultery and how it affects divorce, contact a Pennsylvania divorce lawyer from Cairns Law Offices. All of our initial consultations are free.