Ask the Divorce Attorney: Does An Affair Impact Alimony or Child Support?

By Michael DiFalco
Partner

Infidelity is one of the most common situations that leads a spouse to file for divorce. An affair is an understandably hurtful situation. Trust is broken, and the spouse who remained faithful often feels like their entire marriage has been a lie. 

One of the most common questions divorce attorneys hear is whether an affair can impact the child support and alimony payment amounts from a divorce agreement. 

Legally it does not have any financial impact, but whether someone feels guilty and agrees to a more generous settlement often depends on the situation. 

Is an affair grounds for divorce in New York?

Some states require couples to give a reason for divorce. This is known as an “at-fault” divorce. Other states don’t require a divorcing couple to give a reason, and this is known as a “no-fault” divorce. 

The state of New York offers a combination of the two types of divorces. When a marriage ends due to infidelity, the spouse initiating the divorce can list adultery as the reason for the divorce although most case proceed on no fault grounds despite the actual reasons for the divorce. 

Is a divorcing spouse entitled to more money after an affair?

The division of assets after a divorce is based on a number of factors, but infidelity isn’t one of them. The courts don’t typically consider the actions of either spouse when it comes to the division of marital assets. 

Instead, the court considers what is equitable given each spouse’s contribution to the family’s finances and home responsibilities. 

Infidelity doesn’t impact how assets are divided, but a good lawyer might be able to help use an affair as a means of increasing the payments owed to the other spouse.

Can an affair impact child support payments?

Child support payment amounts are identified based on several factors, including which parent’s home the child will spend more nights at after the divorce, as well as the income of both parents. 

Child support payments are always intended solely to assist with the child’s cost of living and other expenses. 

Regardless of either spouse’s actions, child support amounts won’t be increased because one spouse was unfaithful. 

Can an affair impact alimony payments?

Alimony payments are the one area in which an affair can impact the total amount owed to the other spouse. However, there are conditions, and this won’t be the case for every divorcing couple.

Infidelity alone doesn’t automatically mean that one spouse owes more alimony to another. However, a skilled divorce lawyer can help you collect evidence of the affair and build a case that a greater alimony payment should be owed. Or the situation can garner sympathy for the spouse who was left behind by the cheating spouse and may be in a precarious financial position.

If the unfaithful spouse spent significant amounts of money on the affair, such as costly gifts or expensive vacations, you could also argue that they dissipated marital assets. 

Speak with a New York Divorce Lawyer Today

If you’re hoping to increase alimony payments during a divorce triggered by an affair, you should speak to a skilled New York divorce lawyer. 

A lawyer can advise you on what specific types of documentation you’ll need to provide to build a case showing that your spouse misused marital funds during the affair. 

The amount of money you’ll receive in alimony payments — and the extent to which you can increase that amount — is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

However, New York state law does make the caveat that if you choose to remain with an unfaithful spouse, it can be considered an act of forgiveness, which means you risk losing out on the possible payment increase. 

If you’re considering a divorce after an affair in New York, it’s safest to consult a lawyer as soon as possible about the standard proceedings for divorce and affairs. 

You can contact Aiello & DiFalco to schedule a consultation with a Garden City, NY, divorce lawyer today. 

About the Author
I am a partner at Aiello & DiFalco LLP, and my priority for my clients is to guide them through an arduous court case to provide them with the opportunity to write the next chapter in their life. I tailor my approach to each client’s priorities and positions, and to the extent that matters can be predicted, I will always provide a realistic perspective of how the law could be applied to the particular facts and circumstances of a case. Since I thrive on helping people and solving problems, I bring an optimistic and positive approach to practicing in a very difficult area of law. With more than a decade of experience handling hundreds of cases, I have the ability to get results on the issues my clients view as priorities. When cases or certain issues cannot be settled, I have a solid record of success at trials, hearings, and on appeals. Feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation, I am always available to help.