What are my options in a divorce where my spouse cheated?

By Goodwin Como, P.C.

If your spouse cheated on you, you may want to file for divorce. In the state of Pennsylvania, adultery is considered a fault ground for divorce. There are certain things you should know about this type of divorce proceeding:

Accusation is not enough.

In order to use adultery as grounds for divorce, you need to be able to prove that your spouse was unfaithful. You don’t have to catch them in the act, but you do need to present sufficient circumstantial evidence to convince a judge of infidelity. For example, you may be able to provide photos, hotel receipts or testimony from the person with whom your spouse cheated.

A cheating spouse may be prevented from getting alimony.

Under many circumstances, the lower-earning spouse has the right to alimony payments from the higher-earning spouse in the event of divorce. However, if the lower-earning spouse committed adultery, they may be banned from this benefit.

If you want to keep your cheating spouse from receiving alimony, then in addition to proving the adultery occurred, your situation must also meet certain other requirements:

· You must demonstrate that your spouse’s infidelity caused the divorce. If you forgave your spouse and took them back after you found out about their infidelity, then you cannot later use this infidelity as grounds for divorce, because you have already disproved that it caused the divorce.

· You can’t be guilty of the same offense yourself. If you both cheated, then you can’t hold your spouse as solely to blame.

· You must not have benefited from your spouse’s adultery. This condition applies if, for instance, you knew your spouse worked as a prostitute, and you used the money earned from this activity to help finance your vacation the Caribbean.

Adultery can be an extraordinarily painful way for a marriage to end. Nonetheless, fault-based divorce can provide the injured party with greater benefits than in a no-fault divorce. It’s worthwhile to consult with an experienced family law attorney about the options available to you.