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Child Custody | Divorce

Does Adultery Affect Child Custody?

3 min read
Philip Ahn, Attorney

by Philip Ahn, Attorney

A parent’s adultery can be a factor when courts are asked to decide on a child custody arrangement. Adultery can reflect poorly on a parent’s character and decision-making abilities. In cases of adultery, courts may consider the amount of involvement an adulterous parent had with the other person and how it affects the child’s welfare and other aspects of their life.

Child Custody Determinations

Child custody is a critical aspect of the divorce process, especially when the parents cannot agree on the terms.

The court determines child custody based on several factors, including:

  • The child’s best interests
  • Each parent’s ability to care for the child
  • Any history of abuse or neglect

It is not the court’s job to judge which parent is more deserving of custody, but rather to determine what arrangement will best serve the interests and needs of all parties. If one spouse has committed adultery, the judge may consider that when determining how to allocate parental responsibilities and parenting time.

Factors That Increase the Impact of Adultery on Child Custody

Judges will consider all aspects of adultery in child custody cases, including:

  • Length of the affair: If the illicit affair has been ongoing for some time, it may be seen as a sign of a continuous and serious relationship, which could influence a court’s decision.
  • Concealment of the affair: If the offending spouse has gone to great lengths to conceal their relationship, this could be seen as evidence of a serious and continued breach of marital trust.
  • Emotional or financial support: If the unfaithful spouse has been receiving emotional or financial support from their paramour, this could be seen as evidence of a continuing relationship.
  • Witnesses: If there are witnesses to the affair or the adulterous spouse has made statements regarding the relationship, this could be seen as decisive evidence in favor of a finding of adultery.
  • Neglecting parental duties: If the cheating spouse has neglected their parental duties due to their involvement in the affair, this could be seen as evidence of an ongoing relationship. Besides, a new partner in a child’s life can be challenging.

What Entitlements Do You Have if Your Spouse Engages in Adultery?

If your spouse engages in adultery, you have a better chance of winning actions that contribute to tipping a custody dispute in your favor. Depending on your jurisdiction, these actions could include:

  • Temporary or permanent custody of any children;
  • Restraining orders to prevent your husband from contact with you or your children;
  • Spousal support if adultery is found to be a factor in the dissolution of your marriage;
  • Child support payments from your spouse; and
  • Legal fees incurred due to adultery
    • While unlikely, this can still be included to pressure your spouse.

Going through a contentious child custody case is never easy, especially when adultery allegations are involved.

Family lawyers from Unbundled Legal Help have years of experience in divorce disputes and child custody cases. They offer pay-as-you-go legal help starting from $500 to $1,500, instead of the typical $3,000 to $5,000 retainer most family lawyers require. Lawyers in our network strive to offer other affordable options if pay-as-you-go help is not a fit for your case.

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