The People’s Lawyer

Does adultery still matter in a divorce?

by | May 27, 2019 | Family Law

No-fault divorce has become the law of the land nearly everywhere in the United States, including West Virginia. So, does it even matter if your spouse committed adultery during your marriage?


There are a few situations where your spouse’s infidelity can still affect the outcome of your divorce — usually when a spouse’s extramarital affairs were either long-lasting or frequent.

It could affect the distribution of the marital assets.

Generally speaking, the vast majority of whatever assets you earn or acquire during your marriage are considered marital property. West Virginia is not a community property state, so the court will aim to divide the assets “fairly,” which is not necessarily equally.

If your spouse spent a great deal of the marital assets on their paramour — taking trips, paying bills, buying expensive gifts — you may be able to make a good case that it was an unfair dissipation of the marital assets and a waste. Therefore, you might be entitled to the lion’s share of what’s left.

If could affect the disposition of your child custody case.

For the most part, being a bad spouse doesn’t mean that someone’s a bad parent — unless your spouse exposed your child to their affairs or neglected your children because they were too busy with a new love interest to stay involved in your children’s lives.

If your spouse carried on the affair in front of your children or exposed your children to a romantic partner with a questionable background (like convictions for drug abuse, assault or something similar), you may be able to make a good case for sole physical custody and even supervised visitation until your spouse starts acting more like a parent should.

Whatever your situation, talk over your divorce options with an experienced family law attorney. The more prepared you are for what comes next, the better.