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How Does Adultery Impact Spousal Support in California?


It’s no secret that infidelity is a common cause of divorce. If your marriage has been impacted by adultery, you may be wondering if it influences spousal support in California divorces. This is a reasonable question because in some states if a lower-earning spouse cheated, he or she would not be entitled to spousal support, otherwise known as alimony.

California is a no-fault divorce state, which means family court judges are not concerned with marital misconduct. So, if a spouse cheated, he or she will not be denied spousal support on the basis of infidelity. Not only that, but California judges are not usually interested in the affairs of divorcing spouses.

Spousal Support in California

Spousal support is money a higher-earning spouse pays to a lower-earning spouse so they can meet their financial obligations. Contrary to popular belief, spousal support is not automatically awarded in California divorces. Much of it has to do with a lower-earning spouse’s need for support, and the higher-earning spouse’s financial ability to pay it.

If spousal support is awarded, it’s typically awarded for one-half the length of the marriage. For example, if a marriage lasted five years, spousal support may be awarded for 2.5 years.

With marriages of long-duration – marriages that lasted 10 or more years – a judge may order spousal support without an end date; however, it is possible for the spousal support to be modified or terminated if there is a substantial change in circumstances.

Spousal support usually ends when:

  • One of the parties dies
  • A court order says it ends
  • A judgment says it ends
  • The supported spouse remarries

While adultery does not usually impact spousal support, evidence of domestic violence can. For instance, if a lower-earning spouse commits domestic violence and it is proven, he or she may be barred from receiving spousal support they would otherwise be entitled to.

Also, if an unfaithful spouse wasted marital assets on a paramour; for example, if a cheating husband dropped thousands at a luxury spa for his girlfriend, and paid her car payments for six months, whatever he spent on his girlfriend could be added to his wife’s portion of the settlement to make things fair.

Contact Arnold Law Group, APC at (559) 900-1263 for all of your divorce needs in San Jose and Fresno.

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