How Does Adultery Affect Divorce in PA?

October 22, 2019

Adultery in any relationship is deeply hurtful, but in a Pennsylvania marriage, cheating can also be used as the “fault” of a divorce. If your partner has not been faithful and you decide to end the marriage, it is crucial to consult with a divorce attorney and to understand PA divorce laws surrounding adultery so you can protect yourself.

What Is Adultery?

Adultery in PA is defined as consensual sexual relations with a person who is not your spouse. Divorce laws in the state only allow one partner to claim adultery as the grounds for a fault divorce if the infidelity was not forgiven and if the non-cheating spouse did not take back the unfaithful partner. In addition, adultery cannot be named as the grounds for a fault divorce if both partners sought sexual relationships outside the marriage.

Proving Adultery in PA

If you want to use adultery as grounds for a fault divorce in PA, you must prove your spouse cheated. You can do this with pictures, hotel names and dates where various rendezvous took place, text messages, online activity or the testimony of a partner’s lover.

How Adultery Affects Alimony in PA

Alimony is a form of spousal support paid in some Pennsylvania divorces from one spouse to another after the divorce. It is awarded in the final divorce decree. This support is intended to ensure each partner has the financial resources to reasonably live their lives and meet their financial obligations. In some divorces, alimony may be for a set time period, while in others it may continue until the individual receiving the alimony no longer qualifies for such support.

Divorce courts in Pennsylvania take many factors into consideration when determining alimony, including the financial resources of both partners and the potential for future earnings. One factor considered is any marital misconduct, such as adultery.

Any infidelity occurring before the final separation can mean the at-fault partner may be asked to pay alimony. However, a partner’s health and financial resources may mean they get alimony, even if they were not faithful.

Pennsylvania courts can also use accusations of infidelity to reduce the award of other forms of spousal support. For example, an attorney may argue that because a partner cheated, he or she should not be eligible for temporary alimony before the divorce is finalized. Courts can determine even an unfaithful partner should get some spousal support, however.

If your partner has been unfaithful and you are the higher-earning partner, you may find it difficult to accept you still may need to pay alimony to your former spouse. If you are concerned and seeking to leave your partner after they cheated, consult with a divorce attorney.

Does Adultery Affect Child Support?

In general, divorce laws in PA are interested in protecting the best interests of any children in the marriage. For this reason, adultery does not affect visitation, custody or child support unless the infidelity may negatively affect the children. Even in such a situation, child support is unlikely to be affected by accusations of cheating.

Do You Still Have Questions About Adultery and Divorce?

If your partner has cheated and you are now facing divorce, contact a divorce attorney as soon as possible in the process to ensure your interests are protected. The attorneys at MPL Law understand the end of your marriage may affect your financial, personal and professional life, and they will carefully listen to you to make legal recommendations based on your current and future needs. Contact MPL Law for a consultation.


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