Adultery: Leading Cause of Divorce

Historically, adultery and divorce were much more closely correlated than they are today in the eyes of the law. Adultery is defined as extramarital sex that willfully and maliciously interferes with marriage. In the past, in order to get a divorce, the innocent party had to prove that their spouse committed some significant wrongdoing, such as adultery, in order to seek legal approval for the termination of the marriage. While adultery can cause significant pain and emotional distress in a marriage, it is not a significant factor in California divorce law.

Divorces in California are obtained on no-fault grounds, such as irreconcilable differences or the incurable insanity of a spouse, so the spouse asking for a divorce does not have to prove that the other spouse is guilty of any sort of misconduct.

So, if you’re having an extramarital relationship, thinking about divorce and wanting to know if your spouse will get mostly everything because of it, the answer is no.

Bottom line, adultery is a non-issue in California law and is totally irrelevant to the division of property, child support, and spousal support, and custody issues. However, the only time adultery does come into play is if the act is committed in front of a couple’s children.

Regarding finances: If your partner has spent money from your joint bank account on his or her lover, such as paying for an apartment or buying jewelry or a trip, not only could there be a claim for reimbursement, but also a claim for breach of fiduciary duty.

Legally, your partner has misappropriated community money, and that is the crux of the issue. There are specific laws in California as to breach of fiduciary duty and its ramifications. The fiduciary duty between husband and wife allows both spouses full management and control of all community property. Each spouse must make full disclosure of all material facts and information within their knowledge regarding the existence, characterization, and valuation of community assets and debts.

If you are thinking of divorce, contact Holstrom, Block & Parke. With our primary focus in family law, you can expect aggressive and compassionate legal representation. We are ready to put our divorce law knowledge, case experience, and client-friendly approach to work for you. Call us!

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