Does Cheating Affect Spousal Support in California?

California Alimony Laws: Infidelity

A marriage unraveling can be highly emotional, especially if infidelity is involved. Without a firm grasp of California’s divorce laws, an innocent spouse who’s been cheated on often thinks that a cheating husband or wife won’t be entitled to alimony, which is called “spousal support” in California. Sure, this might be true if the couple lived in say, Texas, but this is not the case in California.

Do You Have To Pay Alimony If Your Spouse Cheats?

Cheating does not affect spousal support awards in California. In this state, a dependent spouse can have a one night stand or a full-blown affair and it will not reduce or eliminate their ability to receive alimony.

California is a no-fault divorce state, which means unhappy spouses can get divorced simply because they don’t want to be in the marriage anymore. The judge is not concerned with “why” the marriage fell apart. All that matters is that at least one of the spouses wants out. Unlike some mixed states that allow fault and no-fault divorce, California family court judges are NOT concerned with marital misconduct.

Spousal support can be awarded during and after a divorce; however, it is not automatic. Judges have discretion when awarding support and it often comes down to:

  1. The lower-earning spouse’s need for support; and
  2. The higher-earning spouse’s ability to pay it.

If these are off balance, the judge may not award alimony. Cheating is not a factor. Instead, the judge considers the following factors:

  • The length of the marriage.
  • The age and health of both spouses.
  • Each spouse’s assets, debts and earning capacity.
  • The standard of living established during the marriage.
  • Any documented history of domestic violence.
  • Any other relevant factors.

There is situation where marital misconduct might make a spouse ineligible for spousal support, but it is not cheating. Instead, it has to do with domestic violence. If an abusive spouse has been convicted for child or spousal abuse, then the judge has the power to reduce or eliminate the alimony he or she would otherwise be entitled to receive.

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