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Can Cheating Affect Your New York Divorce?


The Impact of Adultery on Divorce Proceedings in New York 

In the state of New York, adultery is technically classified as a Class B misdemeanor. Despite this classification, it's important to note that prosecutions for adultery are exceedingly rare.  

Even though it remains in the books as a crime, the day-to-day impact of this law is minimal. However, where the issue of adultery can become significantly more relevant is during divorce proceedings

Adultery as Grounds for Divorce 

New York allows for both no-fault and fault-based divorces, and adultery can serve as a fault-based ground. This means that if one spouse has committed adultery, the other spouse can use this as a reason to request a divorce. However, to do so, the spouse alleging adultery must substantiate their claim with evidence. 

The Influence of Adultery on Alimony 

In New York, alimony is also referred to as spousal maintenance. One of the primary purposes of maintenance is to help financially unstable spouses become self-supporting following a divorce. While marital fault, including adultery, can potentially influence a judge's decision when determining alimony, it's only considered if the misconduct is particularly egregious. 

Property Division & Adultery 

When it comes to the division of marital property, New York follows an equitable distribution model that aims for a fair, but not necessarily equal, split of assets. If it can be proven that adultery resulted in wasteful dissipation of marital assets, then this could potentially affect how the court divides property between spouses. 

When one partner is unfaithful, they may spend considerable amounts of money on the affair, including:  

  • extravagant gifts,  

  • luxury hotel stays,  

  • expensive dinners,  

  • trips, or  

  • even supporting the other person financially.  

This not only reduces the couple's shared resources but also diverts funds that could have been used for family expenses, savings, or investments. Also, if the affair leads to divorce, there might be legal consequences related to the division of assets and spousal support. 

The Impact of Adultery on Child Custody & Support 

While adultery can impact various aspects of a divorce, it's unlikely to directly affect child custody decisions. These decisions are primarily based on what is in the best interest of the child, and adultery alone doesn't automatically deem a parent unfit. Similarly, adultery doesn't play a role in determining child support payments. 

In cases where adultery might impact child custody, the court may be concerned about the kind of people the child is exposed to. For instance, if you often bring partners around your child, the opposing counsel may investigate these people to try to prove they are unsafe because of criminal records or certain behaviors. 

The Cost of Alleging Adultery in Divorce 

It's also important to consider the potential downsides of using adultery as grounds for divorce. This approach can increase the cost and complexity of the divorce process, as it requires proof and could potentially lead to a contested divorce. Therefore, it's advisable to consult with a lawyer to weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks of pursuing a fault-based divorce. 

Proving Adultery in Divorce  

Proving adultery in a New York divorce can be a complicated process due to the stringent evidentiary requirements involved. Your testimony alone isn't sufficient; you'll need additional evidence to substantiate your claim. One may prove adultery with direct or circumstantial evidence.  

However, it's important to note that there are specific defenses to adultery, including: 

  • the plaintiff's consent or procurement,  

  • forgiveness (condonation),  

  • the defendant's belief in the plaintiff's unfaithfulness, or  

  • the lapse of five years since the discovery of the adulterous act. 

Given the complexity of these cases, hiring a lawyer can be beneficial if you choose to file for divorce based on adultery. Remember, listing cheating as grounds for divorce can complicate the process of ending the marriage. 

Consult with Our Attorney 

Rubenfeld Law Firm offers clients sound legal counsel in divorce and family law cases. If you or your partner have been accused of being unfaithful, our firm can help you develop a case strategy and work to obtain the best possible case results.  

Call (631) 777-7200 to get started on your case today.  

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