How An Extra-Marital Affair Figures Into Your Divorce Case
When a couple’s relationship ends due to an affair, there are usually painful feelings and animosity throughout their divorce. When the case starts, the injured spouse may seek to file for divorce on the basis that their former partner has been unfaithful. Although adultery is not a ground for divorce in Wisconsin, this does not mean that infidelity will not be a factor in the case.
Wisconsin is a “No-Fault” State
Wisconsin is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that either spouse may file for divorce without stating a specific reason such as adultery. The only requirement is that the party who files must claim that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” If the court finds that the marriage is permanently damaged and cannot be repaired, the divorce will be granted. However, while a partner’s infidelity is not a legal ground for divorce, it can be a significant element in other aspects of the case.
While it is true that Wisconsin does not consider culpability a legal reason for divorce, this does not mean that adulterous conduct is irrelevant. The court is responsible for examining each person’s behavior as it decides how to fairly and equitably divide the parties’ assets and liabilities. The court’s assessment can take a partner’s infidelity into consideration under certain circumstances. For instance, if the unfaithful spouse used marital funds to finance their extramarital partner’s living expenses or purchase gifts for them, the court can consider this evidence when deciding how to divide assets equitably. Depending on the situation, the injured spouse could end up recovering a disproportionate share of the marital estate, essentially being paid back those funds spent on the girlfriend/boyfriend through spousal support or alimony.
Child Custody and Parenting Plans
Depending on the situation, an extramarital relationship can be injurious not only to a spouse but also to the couple’s children. Family courts will examine multiple factors in deciding whether a proposed child custody arrangement and parenting plan are in a child’s best interest. When there has been adulterous conduct, the court can consider harm caused by the parent’s behavior and whether the child’s future exposure to the parent’s new partner is detrimental to the child’s well-being. If the court finds that a parent’s action have been harmful to their child, this could result in limitations on where the child resides and their degree of contact with the parent.
When infidelity is part of a divorce, it raises multifaceted issues for both parties and potentially their children. If adultery is a factor in your divorce, you may be overwhelmed and unsure of what actions to take next. Karyn Youso has experience helping individuals in this situation connect with the right resources and evaluate their circumstances. We are here to help you figure out where to start. Please, contact us to schedule a consultation.