Does Infidelity Affect Divorce in California?

Infidelity is one of the leading causes of divorce in the nation, but what does it mean for your divorce in California? California is a “no-fault” state, which means divorces are based on “irreconcilable differences,” rather than placing the blame on one person. While this does not affect the pronouncement of the divorce, it can play a factor in matters such as property division, alimony, and child support / custody.

Property Division

In California, property is seen as community property, which usually gets distributed equally between the two parties. It is assumed that the couple shares a bank account, which funds the utility bills and other necessities for a functioning household. However, when one party uses that money to benefit the affair, a judge might request the adulterer to repay the money.

Child Custody

In most cases, adultery does not play a significant role in child custody, because the court wants to foster a healthy relationship between the child and both parents. However, in some cases, if the child is inappropriately exposed to sexual behavior or lewd scenes of the affair, the judge will vote in favor of the other parent.


In some marriages, one spouse may be financially dependent on the other. In the case of a divorce, the higher-earning party will be expected to pay spousal support. However, infidelity does not play a factor when a judge awards alimony to an individual. The spouse who cheated will not be required to pay solely for this reason. Rather, the judge considers living situations, earning potentials, and current jobs to make their decision.

At Burch, Coulston & Shepard, LLC, we understand that navigating a divorce can be difficult. Our skilledfamily law attorneys in Newport Beach have the experience and training to help you. Call 949.565.4158 to schedule your consultation today.