In his most recent column for Financial Advisor Magazine, Cordell & Cordell Principal Partner Joe Cordell wrote about the recent Ashley Madison security breach and the potential financial consequences of infidelity during divorce proceedings.
Several Cordell & Cordell attorneys have already commented on the scandal for various media outlets, and in his column Mr. Cordell wrote that there are both direct and indirect financial consequences when marriages end because of cheating.
“A spouse that is conclusively found to be guilty of committing an extramarital affair may be required to pay a portion or all of the opposing party’s attorney fees,” Mr. Cordell wrote. “In some states, such as South Carolina, adultery can be an absolute bar to receiving alimony even if you would be entitled to support otherwise. Infidelity can also impact the equitable distribution of assets depending on your state’s law.”
Although those are explicit ways infidelity can impact a divorce settlement, the emergence of no-fault divorce has lessened the direct effect that affairs tend to have on divorce proceedings.
However, even in the strictest of no-fault divorce states, marital misconduct can still be a factor.
“The largest impact of having an affair to come to light in a divorce often has little to do with statutes and case law, but in its ability to influence the mind of the court,” Mr. Cordell said. “The nature of family court gives far more discretion to the judge than arguably any other area of law, meaning there is often very little concrete criteria for a judge to employ when making a ruling.”