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How might one spouse’s cheating impact a Missouri divorce?

On Behalf of | Oct 31, 2023 | Divorce |

Adultery is one of the most common reasons that people file for divorce in Missouri. The discovery that a spouse has been unfaithful may make someone feel as though there is no trust remaining in the relationship.

Many people leave a marriage with someone who cheated for their own physical safety and mental health. They often hope that the courts will grant them some degree of closure. Some people prepare for a Missouri divorce after uncovering an affair with the expectation that an unfaithful spouse will pay the price for their misconduct in family court.

Sometimes, people approach divorce proceedings with unrealistic expectations. They end up feeling disappointed or committing time and money that would be better spent elsewhere. How much of an impact does an extramarital affair typically have on divorce proceedings in Missouri?

Missouri has a modified no-fault divorce statute

The unfortunate truth for those expecting justice related to marital misconduct when they go to family court is that a judge is unlikely to meet their expectations. Even those with credible evidence of an extramarital affair typically file no-fault divorces in which judges will not consider either spouse’s marital misconduct when making major decisions.

Cheating does not influence how a judge divides property between the spouses in most cases. It will also typically have no bearing on the outcome of any custody matters that the couple needs to address. However, in some cases, adultery could influence how a judge handles alimony matters, as conduct during the marriage is one of the considerations the law allows them to factor into a decision.

Still, many people who cheat also spend quite a bit of money while doing so. They buy a second cell phone, take their affair partners out on dates and pay for hotel rooms during their lunch break from work. That spending may constitute the dissipation of marital resources. The courts can exclude debts related to adultery from the marital estate and can adjust the value of marital resources to reflect the money they spent while conducting their affair.

People who have a realistic understanding of how cheating may influence a divorce will usually spend less of their time and energy demanding unrealistic terms and can instead focus on building an effective divorce strategy that will help to facilitate a healthier, happier life moving forward. In this and so many other ways, seeking legal guidance to learn more about the rules that apply to divorces in Missouri may benefit those shocked by what they have learned about their spouses.

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