Everyone can agree that adultery and situations involving an affair can wreak havoc on a spouse’s emotional state. If you decide to pursue a divorce because you, your spouse, or both spouses cheated, it can get hostile or all-around unpleasant.
Many people contemplate how the affair will affect the decisions concerning divorce, or whether it will impact child custody. That’s why it’s essential to know the laws of your state to understand what you’re getting yourself into. Let’s break down how Minnesota chooses to address adultery in a marriage.
Minnesota Laws About an Affair
In Minnesota, the act of adultery is technically a crime. If a married woman engages in sexual intercourse with a man that isn’t her husband, whether he’s married or not, both of them become guilty of committing adultery. This crime is punishable by imprisonment for up to one year, and both parties may have to pay a fine of $3,000. (Minn. Stat. 609.36.)
This punishment is seldom sought or executed, as it leaves gaps regarding the man having sexual relations with someone other than his wife. Still, these are the laws in Minnesota.
At-Fault Vs. No-Fault Divorce
If you’re filing for divorce in Minnesota, you should know it’s a no-fault divorce state.
That means all you have to cite as a reason for the divorce is irretrievable differences. The judge will take your word that irreparable damage to your marriage prevents you or your spouse from continuing in the union. (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 518.06.)
Because this is a no-fault divorce state, the judge will then review your case and grant the divorce without anyone needing to substantiate who was at fault for the marital collapse.
Additionally, in a no-fault divorce state, the court may not consider someone’s marital misconduct when making decisions regarding issues like property division, child custody, etc. The judge will not instinctually offer any legal remedies or emotional compensation for the person on the receiving end of the adultery. There are a few examples of times when the court may consider adultery.
Impact of Adultery
Although the judge is not allowed to consider the spouse’s misconduct, there are a few places where it can weigh in on the final decisions. You also need to consider how the divorce will impact any children you may have. Adultery can make a divorce worse, so be prepared to work hard to maintain a peaceful divorce.
Property and Debt Division
As stated, an affair won’t impact property division, which should be equal and fair between the two parties according to the law. However, adultery might play a factor in deciding if the cheating spouse was using marital funds on the person they were cheating with.
That could appear to be extravagant gifts, expensive trips, and other forms of splurging. The judge will view this as a significant reason the funds dissipated during the marriage.
Therefore, the other spouse may receive a higher percentage of the property. This route requires extensive documentation to prove that that’s where the money was spent and that there was significantly more spent than the average spending within the marriage. The judge might then decide the other spouse should be reimbursed.
If the spouse that cheated ends up moving in with their partner once the divorce is complete, it might affect spousal maintenance.
The judge will consider cohabitation and determine whether it should impact that spouse’s ability to request alimony. Also, if the cheating spouse has a higher income, it might sway the judge as to whether they can afford spousal maintenance.
If the spouse that cheated wants to stay with their current partner, it may cause the judge to determine how it affects the child’s well-being.
If the new person will be around the children, the judge has to ensure that they don’t have any dangerous tendencies or a criminal background. There shouldn’t be any drug abuse or domestic violence issues the child will have to deal with in the home. Critical facts about the new partner will determine custody arrangements.
It may also be detrimental for the child to spend more time at the cheating spouse’s home with the new partner. It may confuse them, and they may feel like their mom or dad cares more about their new partner than them. This is certainly a consideration if the child is young.
While an affair is especially painful and can lead to a divorce, the judge is not likely to consider the behavior when making decisions, except in specific circumstances. Remember that adultery can be included in an at-fault divorce state, but you need no reason aside from being “irretrievably broken” to get a divorce. In these cases, consider counseling to help you get through the rough period. If you suspect your partner has had an affair and you want to learn how it might impact your divorce, contact the talented legal team at CJB Law today.