Effects of Infidelity on Divorce in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, infidelity is still considered to be a criminal offense although it is very rare that a spouse is prosecuted for this crime. Yet, if a spouse has been accused of infidelity by the husband/wife, it can have an effect on arrangements for child custody and is taken seriously during the divorce proceeding.
According to the Massachusetts law, a married individual who has had sexual intercourse with someone who is not his/her spouse or an unmarried individual who indulges in sexual intercourse with a married individual will be held guilty of infidelity. Such a person will be penalized by a maximum prison term of 3 years or a maximum jail term of 2 years or a maximum fine of 500 USD.
Adultery, as an offense is considered to be a Concurrent Felony and an adulterer spouse is not treated equally as a non-adulterer spouse in the eyes of the law. Infidelity in Massachusetts can affect child custody in case such an act is established to have caused impairment or harm to the kids. At the same time, cheating the spouse does not affect the awarding of alimony automatically in the state of Massachusetts. The court, however, considers it as a factor while awarding alimony in Massachusetts.
Another important issue here is when the innocent spouse decides to forgive the spouse who cheated on him/her. In case a person is aware that his/her spouse committed infidelity and yet decides to cohabit and live with him/her, the former cannot use infidelity as a cause for the divorce.
It is because when a person continues to have marital relations even after discovering that the spouse was involved in adulterous behavior, the courts get the impression that the person has forgiven their cheater spouse. However, when the spouse starts having an extra-marital affair once again, the other spouse can sue on the basis of infidelity.
Ways in which infidelity can affect a divorce in Massachusetts
While a married person can commit infidelity, such an offense does not necessarily affect their divorce case. It can emerge as an issue while splitting the marital assets, whether such a party should be awarded spousal support by the court and whether the kids were affected by the extra-marital affair or not.
Infidelity and distribution of assets
Marital assets in Massachusetts are equitably split between the separated couples by the state courts. However, it does not signify equal distribution but a division, which is fair. Also, marital property refers to all such assets like income and property that the couple acquired during or before their marriage.
When one of the spouses has used a part of the marital property to purchase gifts for his/her love interest, or booked trips or hotel accommodation with their lover, there is a possibility of the family court to award a bigger share to the spouse who is innocent while splitting the marital assets. However, the court will not penalize the cheating spouse just because they had an extra-marital affair.
Infidelity and alimony
Spousal support or alimony refers to a payment made by one spouse with the capacity to pay to his husband/wife who is not in a sound financial position. The Supreme Court of Massachusetts has directed that a spouse cannot deny alimony to the other spouse just because the latter had an adulterous relationship. At the same time, a judge can also consider the wastage of marital properties by the disloyal spouse who squandered the wealth on their girlfriend/boyfriend and uses it as a key factor while awarding alimony to the other spouse.
Infidelity and child visitation and custody
In case it can be established that the adultery had a negative impact on the kids or the kids can be at risk while visiting that parent along with the new boyfriend/girlfriend, the judge can consider it while making decisions related to child visitation and child custody.
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