How does adultery affect a Pennsylvania divorce?

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2023 | Divorce |

Adultery is one of the most commonly cited reasons that people file for divorce in Pennsylvania. Sexual infidelity damages marital relationships and can even endanger someone’s physical health. It is quite common for those who discover that their spouse has cheated to choose to divorce. 

Someone hurt by a spouse’s infidelity might hope that the courts would recognize the harm that cheating causes and grant them justice in the form of a favorable divorce decree. What impact does infidelity typically have on a Pennsylvania divorce? 

It can lead to a fault-based divorce

Adultery is one of the few grounds for a fault-based divorce in Pennsylvania. If someone has evidence of a spouse’s extramarital affair, they can obtain a divorce where the courts acknowledge that the other spouse is at fault for the end of the marriage. For those who belong to religious communities, a fault-based divorce might help them avoid the social fallout of ending a marriage. 

Unfortunately, unless people have prenuptial agreements with infidelity clauses, an extramarital affair is unlikely to have much impact on the outcome of a Pennsylvania divorce. Judges typically need to divide marital property without considering marital misconduct. Typically, adultery will not influence the term set for the social support or custody either. 

Some financial justice may be possible if someone can show that their spouse spent marital resources on the affair, judges may consider that when dividing assets or debts. Otherwise, infidelity has minimal impact on the actual terms of a Pennsylvania divorce. 

Setting realistic expectations when filing for divorce may help people achieve the best outcome given their unique circumstances.

FindLaw Network