How Infidelity Influences Court Decisions in Divorce Cases

If you are an adult and you have adult friends or family members, you may know someone who has had an extramarital affair. Infidelity is a favorite topic of tabloids and talk shows and has even made daytime television programs major profits.

Adultery is a leading cause for divorce in the United States. Infidelity creates a host of problems for the divorcing spouses ranging from loss of friends and family members to a massive breach of interpersonal trust. Divorce is never an easy process from an emotional standpoint and it will affect every former spouse’s life in a profound manner.

That being said, infidelity may play a larger role in one’s divorce process, and mindset about the divorce process, than a person might suspect. Here are some things you need to know about the relationship between infidelity and divorce:


Gone are the days when a court would require a spouse to prove that under the law the marriage has deteriorated. In the past courts would not grant a divorce solely based on the fact that two people found themselves in a loveless relationship.

The law even previously set out the grounds for a proper divorce, all of which required playing a mini blame game before the judge. Spouses could show that their soon-to-be-ex had abandoned them, had a substance abuse problem, or, of course, had engaged in an extramarital affair.

Now, Minnesota is a no-fault divorce state. This means that so long as you or your spouse pleads before the court that your marriage has deteriorated beyond repair, you may be granted a divorce. This strategy removes the need to point the finger at your spouse in order to leave the marital house.


This does not necessarily mean that bad behavior during the marriage is irrelevant to the divorce proceeding. While no-fault does remove the need to identify bad behavior it does not prevent evidence of bad behavior from coming before the court.

Interestingly, under Minnesota law the old definition of adultery remains on the books. Infidelity is defined as a woman having intercourse with a man who is not her husband, not vice versa. Logically, of course, most courts will recognize that a man having intercourse with a woman who is not his wife does constitute adultery as well.

If a court entertains evidence of infidelity, it will not do so when it is deciding whether to grant a divorce. The evidence, if permitted, will come into play when a court is deciding a fair division of assets or alimony.

Alimony will not be more or less based on a spouse’s good behavior. Rather, the court will determine where the marital assets were spent, for example, if they were used on a mistress. This evidence may also come into a discussion of attorney’s fees.

For more information about the role of infidelity in the divorce process, contact the family law attorneys at the Kohlmeyer Hagen Law Offices. We know this is a difficult time in your life, and we are prepared to help.

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