How Does Adultery Affect Divorce Financially in Missouri?

By Heather Frances J.D.

When one spouse cheats on the other, the marriage may be headed toward divorce. However, even when one cause of the divorce is adultery, the divorcing spouse may choose to file for divorce for another reason. Regardless of the reason for the divorce, in Missouri, marital assets are divided using the same factors.

When one spouse cheats on the other, the marriage may be headed toward divorce. However, even when one cause of the divorce is adultery, the divorcing spouse may choose to file for divorce for another reason. Regardless of the reason for the divorce, in Missouri, marital assets are divided using the same factors.

No-Fault

Missouri is a no-fault divorce state, which means that neither spouse has to prove that the other committed misconduct before the court will grant a divorce. Even if your spouse committed adultery, you don’t have to use that as your grounds for divorce. Under Missouri law, you just have to prove that there is “no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved” such that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Even though neither spouse has to be at fault in order to get your divorce, conduct is not irrelevant in your divorce proceeding.

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Adultery as Grounds

If you choose to, Missouri allows you to use adultery as your grounds for divorce. Missouri courts usually prefer joint custody and equal property division, but making your spouse’s adultery an important issue in the divorce proceeding can impact parts of your case, including financial aspects like property division, spousal maintenance, attorney fees and maybe even child custody and visitation. You can also include information about your spouse’s adultery in your divorce petition and proposed settlement agreement, even if you don’t use adultery as your actual grounds for divorce.

Proving Adultery

If you allege in your divorce papers that your spouse committed adultery, you may have to prove it if your spouse won’t admit to his adulterous conduct. It isn’t enough that you know he committed adultery if you can’t prove it. Proving adultery may prolong your divorce process and increase your expenses. Possible evidence of adultery could include emails, documents, printouts of Facebook posts, credit card statements, photographs and statements of witnesses.

Financial Impact

If you can prove to the court that your spouse had an adulterous affair, you may be able to receive a financial benefit. When the court determines how property is divided in a divorce, it considers multiple factors, including the conduct of both spouses, to make a “just” award of property. For example, if your spouse spent family money to buy expensive gifts for his girlfriend while you were married, the court could be more inclined to award you a higher proportion of the marital estate.

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Guide to Fault Divorce in Massachusetts

References

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Marital Misconduct & Florida Divorce Law

Marital misconduct is a tricky issue in a no-fault divorce state such as Florida. In fact, a Florida judge might not even permit evidence of infidelity to be introduced during the divorce process. However, in certain circumstances, marital misconduct becomes a relevant factor in determining a division of the marital assets or who should be granted custody of the children.

What Happens in Cases of Divorce Where Adultery Is Proven?

If your spouse cheated on you, you might assume that his adultery will have a significant effect on your divorce proceedings. However, depending on your state’s laws, the adultery may impact your case at varying levels. In fact, your judge may not be able to consider your spouse's adulterous actions at all.

Adultery & Divorce in Maine

When your spouse strays, your first instinct might be to seek revenge. You might be able to accuse her of adultery in your divorce complaint and let the world know she ended your marriage. Maybe the judge will agree that she's a despicable character and award you additional marital property or give you custody of your children. If you live in Maine, you'd be half right. You can file for divorce on grounds of adultery in this state, but it probably won't affect issues of property division or custody.

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