Discovering that your spouse has engaged in an extramarital affair can break your heart. This is a person whom you trusted with your financial future, your home and your heart. Now, he or she has moved on to greener pastures. It is common for people to wonder if they, in some way, cause their spouse to stray.
In almost all situations, cheating is a symptom of something wrong with the person who cheats, not one's spouse. However, knowing that doesn't make it any easier to accept infidelity. If you believe you will soon choose to seek a divorce in California over an unfaithful spouse, you may be wondering if that affair will impact your divorce.
California courts do not require grounds for granting a divorce
Not so long ago, people would have to prove a significant wrongdoing on the part of their spouse, in most states, to secure a divorce. Divorce without cause was uncommon. Thankfully, that has changed. You no longer have to prove a reason for filing for a divorce. You also do not need the agreement of your spouse to seek and obtain a divorce.
For many people ending their marriage, simply filing for divorce is sufficient. They may not need to explain to the court why they are filing. However, in some situations, an affair can have an impact on the outcome of your divorce.
Typically, adultery does not affect asset division
Unless you have a prenuptial agreement on record that applies a financial penalty to a cheating spouse, the courts usually do not care about an affair. Since California is a community property state, the outcome of asset division is driven more by what assets and debts you have acquired during your marriage then by fault by either spouse.
Overall, however, you shouldn't expect the courts to penalize or reprimand your spouse for infidelity. If you believe your spouse wasted marital assets during an affair or has hidden assets, reviewing financial records can help substantiate that claim. Those records could influence the outcome of the asset division process when you file for divorce.
Sometimes, infidelity has a financial impact
There are some situations in which an affair could affect how the courts divide your property. If your spouse chooses to hide assets to jump-start a new life with this other person, those hidden assets could impact how the courts divide your property.
Similarly, if your spouse spent money or incurred debt while conducting this affair, the courts may consider that dissipation. Dissipation involves the squandering of marital resources in a manner that does not benefit the marital union.Clearly, an affair falls under that definition, especially if it involved fancy dinners, sleepovers at hotels, and vacations or gifts. The courts may allocate any debts incurred as part of the affair to your spouse or may subtract the value of any purchases made with marital funds from your spouse's allocation of marital assets.