Adultery can cause a marriage to become an emotional nightmare, and it’s a common cause of divorce. When you’re ending your marriage because one or both of you has cheated on the other, it’s possible that the adultery will impact the outcome of your divorce in Minnesota.
Minnesota is a “no-fault” state, which means if you or your spouse believe that your marriage is “irretrievably broken” (it is so badly damaged that you can’t save it), the court will grant your divorce. There’s no need to get into why the marriage failed or who was at fault.
There are situations which “fault” creeps into the equation. For example, suppose an unfaithful spouse burned through your marital savings to buy jewelry for an extramarital lover. In that case, the court might very well consider that evidence when awarding bad conduct attorney’s fees or when deciding who gets what in the property division award.
Judges can award spousal maintenance when a supported spouse shows a financial need. However, spousal maintenance is not simply awarded because a spouse commits adultery. Minnesota law prohibits judges from considering adultery when deciding the amount and duration of spousal maintenance.
In general, adultery does not affect custody or child support. Judges in Minnesota must use the state’s child support guidelines, which do not include marital misconduct. Instead, the judge will consider the parent’s gross income, number of children, and any special circumstances, like childcare or extraordinary health care costs.
When evaluating child custody, courts only consider what’s in the child’s best interest. A parent’s marital misconduct will not impact custody directly. However, if a parent’s actions jeopardize the child’s best interests in the future, the court may limit or deny custody or visitation to protect the child.
For example, if a parent commits adultery during the marriage and continues the relationship after the divorce, but the new partner has a history of child abuse or domestic violence, the court may consider that relationship when deciding custody and may restrict visits based on any potential risk to the child.